A bigoted landlord called Johnston, finding peasants visiting a Holy Well located on his property, drove the poor unfortunates off with a bull whip and ordered that the well (which was attributed to St. Brigid) be filled in immediately.
The next day his hilltop mansion was flooded by a spring in the basement. “Oh, we knew it wouldn’t be lucky sir to touch the holy well” wailed the distraught kitchen maid. Johnston instantly dismissed this suggestion as ‘papish superstition’ and threatened to use the bull whip on whoever might mention it again, but agreed to re-open the well, stating that it would prove him right, that the closing of the well had nothing to do with the flooding of the house. No sooner had the well been re-opened than the flooding subsided. Dismissing this as mere coincidence, Johnston ordered the mess within the house to be cleaned up. However, a new pond formed as the waters returned to the well, and thereafter maintained its level no matter how dry the weather, even though there was no drain or channel linking it to the well or any other water source.
Soon people took to washing their feet and afflicted parts of their bodies in the waters of the pond, and rumours of miraculous cures began to circulate. This new development sent Johnston into a rage, and he filled the pond with broken glass and watched in glee as the poor peasants coming to get relief from their pain and misery, experienced further agonies as they sought solace in the waters of the pond.
Johnston’s contempt for such superstitious practices was matched by his treatment of any poor unfortunate approaching his door begging for alms or assistance. A poor travelling woman who had the misfortune to come begging to his door returned to her husband bleeding from a lashing with the bullwhip. When the husband confronted Johnston, the landlord produced a gun and threatened to use it When the man pleaded for his life, Johnston offered the alternative of walking barefoot in the pond. The traveller, bending down on the pretence of removing the little footwear he had, caught Johnston off his guard, jumped on him and wrestled the gun from his grasp. Pointing the gun at Johnston, whose turn it was to plead for mercy, the traveller ordered him to remove his boots and walk barefoot in the glass strewn waters. Having no agreeable alternative Johnston had to walk the pond in his bare feet. Throwing the gun in after him, the traveller made good his escape.
Johnston emerged with badly cut feet and limped to his mansion. It is reported that no matter what medications were applied, his wounds never healed, and he died soon afterwards.