Ireland is the resting place of many holy wells – these sacred springs are steeped in ritual and Pagan mysticism.
One of the most famous Irish holy wells is found in County Cork – it’s named after the Irish goddess, Brigid. This goddess was worshiped by the Druids – she was perceived as the goddess of wisdom, much like the Roman deity, Minerva.
If you’re interested in Celtic history, you’ll enjoy learning more about the history and meaning of Gaelic holy wells…
Lore And History
The worshipers of ancient Ireland would circle holy wells in a clockwise direction – this practice was known as circumambulation.
Today, visitors to Irish holy wells may skip the circumambulation ritual and simply stare into the waters, seeking solace or good fortune – others will pray. Some people believe that these sacred springs have magical healing properties.
Just as they did in early medieval times, holy wells (or sacred springs) continue to offer a tangible symbol of the Creator’s power and grace.
Sometimes, the sick or forlorn visit these sites to gather strength – in a sense, Irish holy wells are outdoor temples.
Since the Druids believed in worshiping Nature (as it was a manifestation of the Great Goddess), these sacred springs were popular gathering places, where townspeople or travelers would congregate to pray.
In sunshine or moonlight, these stone wells would celebrate the Otherworld, or spirit world…
Ireland’s Famous Holy Wells
St. Brigid’s Well – Liscannor
Close by the splendid Cliffs Of Moher, a medieval cemetery is found. Named Dabnach Bhride, this final resting place of many Irish kings is marked with a huge cross – and an Irish holy well known as St. Brigid’s Well…
The Well itself is located in a low-lying area of the site, inside a tiny abode filled with religious symbols – these include rosary beads and other spiritual offerings. Many visitors to this sacred spring feel an aura when they enter – this sense of peace and tranquility often inspires intense prayer and reflection.
Today, visitors who want to pay homage to God at the Well follow the ancient rites. They fall to their knees and intone a series of Our Fathers, Hail Mary’s, and Glorias. While they say these Christian prayers, they circle a St. Brigid’s statue while performing circumambulation. This process is repeated five times, completing the rite.
St. Moling’s Holy Well – County Carlow
Today, the ancient holy well of St. Moling runs dry – however, for centuries, it was a popular site for religious pilgrimages. This sacred spring measures about 11 feet around, and it is surrounded by trees.
Named for an Irish monk, the story of this holy well appeared in ancient manuscripts created by an Irish friar. Its provenance can be traced back as far as 1348 (A.D.).
At this time, the plague swept through the land like wildfire, bringing terrible death and destruction. Believers would journey to the well because they wanted the sacred protection and healing of the waters. Often, they would perform a ritual that involved splashing the sacred fluid on their faces and also drinking the well water.
Prayers were also uttered close to St. Moling’s Holy Well – sometimes, pilgrims would congregate in a nearby outbuilding, where they worshiped under a window – they would leave a leaf upon the window’s sill as a spiritual offering.
Then, in the spirit of gratitude, they would begin to pass out food or money to the poor villagers who learned to wait for them there…
Holy wells appear in other Celtic lands, including Edinburgh, Scotland. These sacred springs remain a powerful way to connect with the traditions and beliefs of a different time…
Celtic Jewelry Honors The Spirit World
Modern Celtic jewelry designers take their cue from the ancient Druids, who celebrated the awesome power of nature.
The silver Tree Of Life earrings shown at left are a fine example of authentic Celtic craftsmanship.
According to Pagan lore, the Tree of Life represents the number three – a very important and sacred number in Celtic mythology.
The tree has three parts – the roots, the trunk, and the branches. The roots symbolize the Underworld, the trunk represents the Earth, and the leaves illustrate the Heavens.
In time, Pagan symbolism was replaced by Christian faith, and the sacred power of three came to symbolize the Holy Trinity.
These affordable sterling silver earrings are adorned with green gemstones that glitter like leaves touched by the sun.
Each pair of earrings is handmade in Ireland, and assayed (stamped) at Dublin Castle. Enjoy a stronger connection with your own Celtic background by wearing these beautiful and meaningful pieces.
For more Irish jewelry ideas, please visit our online Irish jewelry store…
One thought on “Celtic History – Ireland’s Holy Wells”
You mentioned Bridgid as a pagan God. it is my understanding thatshe was a lesser known Patron Saint of Ireland.
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