Friday August 14th, 2020 Water Blog

Holy Wells, Waterlores & Sacred Springs


When I was writing the blog yesterday on private wells in Ireland it got me thinking about wells.

Everyone in Ireland has come across or has a story of a wishing well or holy well as apparently there are over 3000 in Ireland. There has always been something mystical about wells in Ireland as I remember as a child visiting on a Sunday drive or a school tour.

Some myths, legends and waterlores say that wells and sacred springs were known to have spiritual healing powers, bring good luck, could curse third parties and are also depicted as originating in the Otherworld – that parallel dimension whose inhabitants have the power to control the natural forces of this world. [1]

Holy Wells seem to have significance in the folklore of the area where it is located whether in the form of a particular name, an associated legend, the attribution of healing qualities to the water through the numinous presence of its guardian spirit or Christian saint, or a ceremony or ritual centred on the well site [2].  Holy wells date back to pagan times before Christianity, however well beliefs merged over time and now bear names of Irish saints and share a commonality of Pagan/Christian beliefs of the curative and restorative powers of pure clean water, and recognise water as essential for new life and growth.

The value of water seemed to be very different in those times – Holy Well Water was sacred in so many ways. Today, we take this ancient resource for granted. To see it literally springing out of the ground must have seemed invaluable, even spiritual, to our ancestors [3]. Unfortunately, it seems the sense of respect for our ancient heritage of water has been lost to bigger thrills and spills of what we want out of a trip or holiday as you don’t hear all that much about them these days.

Maybe we need to return to the folklore of our ancient ancestors and understand more why they value water so much more then we to today.


By Ruth Clinton

Water Innovation Officer


If you would like to visit any of the wells in Ireland please visit

Cover image: Holy WellsWaymark – Cregg Holy Well – Cregg, County Clare, Ireland



[2] tps://


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