A single signpost points towards St Patrick’s Holy Well along R665. I have driven along this route a few times and noticed the signpost the other day. When Louise talked about it, I expected a small well; a partially covered natural spring. Instead, I was greeted by a beautiful glen that shows the importance and reverence towards the well.
The well, oblong in shape flows from a natural spring and into a larger reservoir. In the center of the reservoir is a stone cross. The pedestal that it sits upon is ‘new’. The cross, itself is considerably older, possibly as early was the 5th century.
On the location is a 17th century church. A single grave is located inside the church walls.
As we left, we took an opportunity to drink from the well. We will see what ails it may heal.
Once the holy wells and their importance was explained, I began to see them on a daily basis. Some are well marked; others have a small sign that is easy to miss. The holy well, Tobar Losa or ‘Jesus Well’ does not have a marker from a primary road.
Instead, you need to know that down a lane in the edge of Cahir, with the motorway not far from it, is a small, but frequently visited holy well. It has a nice gate that marks the entrance … And then a small path. The water rises in one section of the well and flows to the other.
Next to the well, was a holly tree or more commonly referred to as a ‘rag tree.’ Tied to the tree were numerous ribbons they people have left behind. This custom is said to date to pre-Christian or pagan times. Behind the well, a stone with two crosses that they believe date to the 7th or 8th century.
Here are the pictures. Note … If you click in the sign, you should be able to read the explanations of the ’rounds; a practice that is still used today.
Location via Google Maps:
I was given another gift today. During my trip to Jerpoint Park, I met Louise Nugent. An Archeologist; her research focus is on Pilgrimages in Medieval Ireland. Therefore, she is very knowledgeable in medieval parishes, abbeys, etc. Today, she offered to show me some hidden gems within the area that I am staying. It was truly remarkable. And … She was very patient with all of my questions!
As you drive through the countryside, you often see ruins … Sometimes to your left, sometimes to your right; there are castles and high towers. What is very common to see is an 11th or 12th century church, abbey, or monastery in every town or village; each in different stages of ruin. Sometimes all four walls are standing, sometimes only one partial wall covered in vines makes its existence mostly unknown.
What I have found interesting is that the graveyards, which start outside of the church, spread inside the walls … meets the need or desire to be buried closer to God. Grave markers range from simple stones to slabs to elaborate engraved headstones.
In our discussions, Louise had picked up that I was interested in Celtic knots, but that I was also interested in the iconology/symbology. What better place to explore this than church ruins and graveyards.
I was amazed how she would wander through the site and point out a variety of Christian symbols from lambs to ladders to the sun and moon. Some were barely visible, others more elaborate … All were truly, well …. Remarkable. Many will be serving as inspiration for some artwork.
Here is a list of the sites that we visited:
I am going to do separate posts on each site that we visited. In the meantime, I would suggest exploring Louise’s websites ….
And here are some gravestones to pique your interest.