Ballinahinch Lower Well

View of a thermal well and pump-room in Spa, near Ballynahinch, Co. Down. The octagonal building is surrounded by gardens backed by a line of trees, with an impression of hills beyond. An elegantly dressed couple is walking in the foreground. Further in the distance and closer to the pump-room, a woman is sitting on a bench and a woman and child are walking on the lawn.

Inscribed in Image

  • Caption outside of boundaries of image – Ballinahinch Lower Well.

Image Details

Genre Landscape
Technique Wood engravings
Subject(s) Cities and towns
Geographical Location
  • Spa, near Ballynahinch - Village
  • Down - County
  • Ulster - Province
Keywords(s) Bathhouses, Children, Gardens & parks, Hats, Men, People, Trees, Women
Colour Monochrome
Dimensions 7.5 cm x 4.6 cm
Published / created 1845

Bibliographical Details

Travel Account The Irish Watering Places
Note Alexander Knox
Print or manuscript Print
Location of image in copy p. 270
Source copy National Library of Ireland Ir 61312 k 1
Rights Courtesy of the National Library of Ireland

Related text from travel account

BALLINAHINCH / How little appreciated our best mineral waters are, may be gathered from the fact, that this spa is not known even by name to numbers of the medical profession in Ireland, yet it has held its ground in the estimation of those acquainted with its virtues, through all changes of Opinion and caprices of fashion, for more than a century. Ballinahinch spa wells are situated near the improving town of the same name. Local tradition attributes the discovery of the spa to its fortuitous and successful application in a case of inveterate ulcer. It gradually grew in repute, and considerable attention was paid to it by Sir John Rawdon, the then proprietor, and ancestor to the present Marquis of Hastings. Its virtues were well established in 1774, when Harris published his History of the County Down, in which he describes it as "a rich sulphureo-chalybeate spring of very clear water, and withal very cold; of disagreeable smell, resembling the waters of Aix-la-chapelle, or the water used in scouring a foul gun." Rutty also describes it at length, and gives instances of its great efficacy, in what he terms in the loose phraseology of the day, "scorbutic disorders." Hitherto two springs have been held in universal repute, but the chalybeate well was discovered at a period long subsequent to the other. When examined on the spot, it gave no indication of the slightest trace of iron, after repeated and careful investigations. // Struck with the incongruity of my own experiments with the universal belief in its ferruginous properties, I submitted a specimen of it for analysis to Dr. Kane, who, in his report now lying before me, says—" The Ballinahinch spring (called chalybeate) has no iron, and is nothing more than ordinary water, containing lime, sulphuric acid, muriatic acid, carbonic acid, and soda, and these in smaller quantities than many of the ordinary springs of the country." The sulphureo-chalybeate water springs from a peat surface and blue clay, below which there is a white manly substance, and has a temperature of about 50°. at all hours of the day. In very wet weather the strength of the water is much diminished, in consequence of the ground soakage, a defect that might easily be remedied. It contains sulphuretted hydrogen and iron combined, in proportions sufficient to impart a degree of stimulus and tone to the stomach and general system, without being so strong as to produce over excitement, unless taken in immoderate quantities. It is adapted to a great variety of cases, and the chemical analysis confirms the correctness of the popular impression of its value, and justifies the uninterrupted recourse which has been had to it for more than a century, as the increase of visitors has been steady since the time of Harris, and it is more frequented than any mineral spring in Ireland at the present day. The water is cold, and the flavour rather disagreeable, though the " apres gout" is not so, and it generally diffuses a pleasant glow of heat over the frame. In particular cases it causes a feeling of lightness of the head at first, which usually wears off in a few days, but its constant and general effect is diuretic; nausea, vomiting, // and increased action of the bowels being only accidental results. The effect of the waters, when judiciously employed, is seen in a daily increase of appetite, strength, and flesh, buoyancy of spirits, and gradual improvement of the general health. The quantity to be taken varies of course with the constitution of the patient and the stage of the disease; and much injury arises in some cases, as I have had opportunities of observing, both from using it, when unsuitable, or in proportions greater than the patient could bear. Half a pint twice a day may be looked on as a proper quantity to begin with, increasing the dose according to its effects or the necessity of the case. The season is from May until October, and some hundreds of patients visit it yearly. The best months are June, July, August, and September. The company assemble in the walks about eight o'clock, and again between one and three, for the purpose of drinking the waters. The diseases benefitted by the Ballinahinch spa are very numerous, especially some forms of cutaneous eruption, dyspepsia, chronic hepatic affections, and general debility. The most profound and deplorable nervous maladies are frequently much alleviated, and in some cases entirely removed. If taken up at a proper season and carefully corked, the water will keep for months, and bear carriage remarkably well. Among the inducements to visit this spa, are the dry situation of most of the lodgings, and the clear, pure, bracing, mountain air, the united effects of which are very frequently to restore to the faded countenance the clear glow of health, and to restore the energies of the frame shattered by toil, care, or disease. The wells are situated in a vale, lying in a // direction about north-west and south-east, and screened by a belt of plantation, and still further sheltered by the adjoining high lands, which are thrown into the form of circular hills, and command very varied and extensive views. To the southward Slieve Croob rises to the height of 1,800 feet, whilst the sky line is marked by the magnificent range of the Donard mountains. Visitors are accommodated with lodgings in the houses of the farmers, which are annually improving, in a circle of about half a mile round the wells. The charges of course vary, and average from about ten or fifteen shillings to two or three pounds a week, and additional accommodation is provided in a large and excellent hotel, erected by the proprietor in the town of Ballinahinch, in which lodgings may be had by the day or month. Provisions are in good supply on moderate terms. The pump-rooms are two neat octagonal buildings, furnished with Bramah's patent pumps, situated in the centre of a variety of pleasant walks, ornamented with planting, which afford to the visitors agreeable promenades, in the intervals of water drinking. A residence at the wells may be varied by excursions to Downpatrick, the beautiful church of Hillsborough, Newcastle, Tullamore park, Dundrum, and the demesnes of Seaforde and Montalto, which are always open to strangers by the courtesy of the owners. As the character of this place has grown up gradually, ("occulto crescit aevo,") so every thing points to the increase and permanence of its reputation. Its pure, dry, bracing, mountain air, its elevated situation, quiet but cheerful retirement—its excellent tonic and alterative waters—the favourable opinions of the neighbouring physicians—the vicinity of Belfast the rapidly growing // metropolis of the north, will, I doubt not, long combine to render Ballinahinch a favourite resort of the inhabitants of the north-east of Ireland at any rate, and perhaps even more than this, as invalids from a great distance are beginning to make their way to it. Strangers will find Newry or Belfast their best points of approach. In leaving this part of the subject, I cannot debar myself the pleasure of acknowledging, the valuable information I have received from Dr. White, of Ballinahinch who is well experienced in the uses and adaptation of the waters, and my obligation to Dr. Moore, of Belfast, who politely forwarded the drawing from which the following very accurate vignette was executed. And I believe it will not be venturing too much to assert, that the majority of invalids to whom the Ballinahinch waters may be suitable, will have no reason to regret a visit to this most healthful vicinity. // Ballinahinch Lower Well (KANE.) / 10,000 grains of the water evaporated to dryness, gave a brown residue of 3.21 grains, which consisted of— / Muriatic acid, - 0.18 / Sulphuric acid, - 0.24 / Soda, - 0.35 / Protoxide of iron, - 0.15 / Lime, - 0.35 / Carbonic acid, - 0.39 / Organic matter, - 1.55 / [total] 3.21 / The specific gravity was 1000.539, and the colour a yellowish brown, from the organic matter of turf which it holds in solution. The presence of large quantities of hepatic gas is indicated by taste, smell, and the usual chemical re-agents. [pp. 266-271]
Ballinahinch Lower Well