Co.Wicklow has approx 120 Holy Wells.Many of them are protected and looked after by individuals where the tradition has been passed on in the family for a number of generations.Others are in danger of forever being lost from memory as the older people are the only ones who have the information needed to preserve the traditions and locations of the wells.
This short article will give an example of a well preserved Holy Well where the owners of the land are totally open to people visiting and spending time there, and another Holy Well which had totally disappeared from living memory that we have now restored and marked and the tradition of the pattern day renewed once more.
The first Holy Well is Lady’s Well Ballymoney near Ballinaclash owned by the O’ Neill brothers who look after the Well and are very welcoming to visitors. Cures have been recorded there and a pattern was held there on Aug 15th.Water was brought home from the well. There is a grotto where flowers are left and beside the well there is a really old holly tree. A mass is still said there on Aug 15th.A really special beautiful place to visit.
The second well Lady’s Well Ballymanus Upper Glenealy had been totally lost for many years with nobody with any living memory of the well that we could talk to in figuring out the exact location. There were also the changes to the landscape with the Coillte roadworks which made it more challenging to find. We worked from OSI maps and got the location of the well using the old boundary ditches as guidelines. We opened up the well, we marked the well with its name and pattern date with a hand carved limestone sign to preserve it’s location for the future with inscriptions in both Irish and English.We also planted a hawthorn tree as that was the tree that had originally been there at the well. Similar to many of the Holy Well traditions in Co.Wicklow the pattern day of Aug 15th ended in 1798.We visited the well last year to commemorate the day so we would have been the first visitors there since 1798.
We hope to make this an annual event. There was a cure for colds in the water and the water could not be used for household purposes. It is located at the side of a Coillte road.
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