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.
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.
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.