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The Holy Wells

Holy Wells are a feature of the Irish countryside and almost every parish must have one or more. We have three, St Patrick’s Well (Tobar Phádraig), in Magherakeel; St Davog’s Well in Crighdenis and Fr McLaughlin’s Well at Meenard in Slievedoo.

No one is quite sure of the origin of holy wells. It is known that the Celtic peoples had sacred springs before the coming of Christianity. Some think that these were blessed by the early saints and continued as places of Christian devotion.

Others believe, since many of the holy wells are adjacent to early church sites, that the well that supplied the church became in later centuries, when the churches and monasteries were abandoned, places of pilgrimage for the people and so became “holy wells”. Then perhaps, the traditional explanation could be the true one, that they are simply domestic wells which were blessed, in the case of St Patrick’s Well by St Patrick himself, who stopped here to quench his thirst when passing by on his way from Lough Derg, and in the case of Fr McLaughlin’s Well by Fr James McLaughlin, the Parish Priest.


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