Michael Houlihan The Holy Wells Of County Clare


Code LB6

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The tradition of Holy Well visitation is still strong throughout Clare. It is now mostly continued by an older generation of Catholics, though its origins may precede that of Christianity, when certain waters were held precious. Clare has a majority of indigenous saints (5th-8th centuries), and to a lesser extent universal saints honoured by Holy Wells.

Typically, on the feast day of the saint (the patron or pattern day) people visit the well in large numbers. Some wells will have Mass performed at the well. There is an etiquette to be observed while there.
There are also many private visits to wells during the year. Many wells will have tokens left behind from a visitor – religious medals, prayers cards, coins etc.

This is a great read and a must have for anyone interested in holy wells or the history of County Clare. Clare has 240 known holy wells, the highest
concentration of holy wells of any county in Ireland, while there has been some research carried out on individual holy wells or wells within a select
geographical area such as the parish, this is the first comprehensive countywide study.

The book begins by exploring the origins and antiquity of holy wells.
The author then discusses the Clare group of wells against the social and historical landscape of the county during 19th century, charting the rise and fall of the popularity of devotion at wells, their significance to the community and the slow decline to modern times.

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