The Good Woman's Son

The Legend of the Good Woman’s Son (Holy Cross Abbey, Thurles):

A local tradition claims that the canopied sedilia structure in thechurch of Holy Cross Abbey near Thurles (Co. Tipperary) is the burial place of a prince. The story goes that a younger son (unknown to history) of King Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitane‘s, sent to Ireland to collect the Peter’s Pence, was attacked and killed by members of the O’Fogarty Clan, who left his body half-buried in a thick wood not far from the Abbey. Two years later, an old blind monk had three dreams instructing him to go to the wood, where he would find a herd of swine among which would be a huge white sow. Here, he would recover something that would bring the abbey great fame and glory. At first he ignored the message, but on the third night he was told that if he did as bade he would also regain his sight. With the blessing of the abbot he and a guide set out and found the scene as described in the visions. Nearby, they found a hand protruding from the ground, and on one finger of the hand was a gold ring. After hearing this, the monk regained his sight.

The abbot seeing that the ring bore the royal seal of England, told the monk to travel to the  English Court and present it there. Seeing the ring, the queen knew that some terrible fate had befallen her son. On hearing the tale of the prince’s murder, she wept and flew into a fit of rage and cursed the O’ Fogarty Clan “that they would grow up and die like bracken for the lack of male heirs”.

As a sign of gratitude to the monk, and wishing to make a gift to the monastery, Eleanor asked her husband for a portion of the True Cross which he possessed. In the place where the prince was buried a spring appeared, and this became known as the Good Woman’s Son’s Well.

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