St Ciaran's holy well

This holy well may be some 800 metres south of the monastic city, but was a very important part of the pilgrimage route at Clonmacnoise. It was the first stop for the pilgrims who decided to do the "Long Station". They would customarily walk in bare feet, circumnavigating the well. Then stop to pray at the slab bearing a crucifixion and kiss the head of Christ. They would pray at one of the two stone heads that existed here; only one remains today. There is also a cross inscribed slab at the holy well, pictured below, typically carved in the style associated with Clonmacnoise.

The pilgrims would more than likely leave a votive offering at the well before walking north to the monastic city. There they would continue their journey by doing three circuits of the graveyard stopping at the various churches and crosses to pray. They would then travel along the pilgrims way to the Nuns' Church which is a further 500 metres north of the main complex, stopping to pray at the cairn of the three crosses on the route. The final stop was at St Fingins well. The pilgrimage takes place on the 3rd Sunday of September. A local man had stopped to pray at the well at the time of our visit, proving the tradition of visiting holy wells is still very much alive in Ireland today. The practice of visiting holy wells was made even more popular during penal times.

Steps down to the well

Cross slab

Situated: Very Easy. Located 800 metres south of the Monastic site on the left hand side of the main road. The well is situated along a small track 30 metres from the road.

Discovery Map 47: N 003 300. Last visit March 2011.

Longitude: 7° 59' 39" W

Latitude: 53° 19' 15" N

Google Map

Photos: Jim Dempsey and Deb Snelson.

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