Lake of the Cures (Loch an Leighis)

How The Loughanleagh Got Its Name – There was once a lake on top of the mountain known as LOCH AN LEIGHIS lake of the cures, famous for its healing powers.

Loughanleagh used to be known as LOCH AN LEIGHIS which means the Lake of the cure. Local history tells us that this lake was near the top of the mountain, beside the old coachroad, and was reported to have been a sacred Celtic pool in pre-christian times. It was much resorted to by patients suffering from scurvy, but especially for two or more Sundays at the end of July.  It is said that great crowds used to visit in thousands with their sick and ailing for the healing properties in the water as it was believed that the water and mud of the lake were specially potent in curing skin diseases.

In Chealingoote’s Statistical Survey of County Cavan of 1802, we have his account of the famous pool.

“This lake”, he says well deserves a minute investigation, as much from the singularity of its situation and the virtues of its waters, as well as from the peculiar circumstances attending it, of never rising or lowering, neither is there any evident supply to keep up so deep of water, nor does any discharge appear to issue from it, besides it is remarkable that the sun has no effect in imparting its genial influence, or in reducing its waters by attraction, nor has it ever been frozen, or its temperature altered in the severest winter. Coote goes on to tell that the mud from the lake has been frequently sent many miles to patients afflicted with skin complains and many instances were known of cures being effected. It is remarkable that a military gentleman, who had been dreadfully afflicted with a leprosy, and had ineffectually tried the most celebrated waters in England, and on the continent, was in one season effectually cured with the mud from the Loughanleagh. This vicinity was ever after dear to him, and there he resided in perfect health for many years, and lived to a very old age.

The holiness of the lake and the well that is fed from it, is accounted for by a legend set in penal Days. A priest was celebrating Mass at a rock beside the well 1. Peggy Dunt, a goat woman who lived beside the cairn on top of the mountain, saw an army coming from the direction of Moybolgue. She filled her apron with stones which she threw at the goats to make them rush past the priest, thus warning him and giving him time to throw his chalice into the lake, this giving it its miraculous cure. Dr.Maire MacNeill suspects that the holiness of the lake far ante-dates penal Days. It must go back to a faith much older than that of Saint Patrick, whose knee-mark is shown on a rock beside the alter and well, which, perhaps significantly faces the rising sun coming up over Dundalk Bay, for in ancient times the Irish were sun-worshippers. Sad to say, the mysterious little lake has dried up, turf cutting caused the water to leave it, and the ancient pool where so many cures took place, is no longer to be seen, and a sedgy spot of about half an acre in extent, is all that remains to show the place where so many afflicted persons gathered in years long past.


  • The mass(altar) rock is still to be seen this day and continues to be a place of reflection for those who visit the site.  In recent years, it has become an annual event to celebrate a “Dawn Mass” on Easter Sunday morning at the mass rock.  The event continues to attract hundreds of people who celebrate the rising of Christ and the arrival of Eastertide.