Friday 13 October 2017

Participants sought for survey of Ireland's holy wells

A nationwide crowd-sourcing survey project has been launched to identify and document Ireland's holy wells, and the associated traditions/beliefs associated with them held by our ancestors. County by county across both the Republic and Northern Ireland, it will record those holy well sites that remain in active use and also those nearly lost to living memory.

The project is being managed by its creator, Dr Celeste Ray, Professor of Anthropology at the University of the South in Swanee, Tennessee, USA. She has been researching Irish holy wells since 2000.

Project participants will find suggested research questions and instructions on the Ireland's Holy Wells project website. Any data submitted will be appreciated and you do not have to answer every question to be a contributor.

It's hoped local researchers will capture accounts of the prayer 'rounds' unique to each well, plus details of the patron saint, associated flora and fauna, and cures; audio clips of the pronunciation of well names and townland locations; video clips of interviews, pattern days, or demonstrations of the rounds; and photographs of the sites, votive offerings and associated stations.

Items are already starting to be added to the website, which is worth browsing. So far, the only counties with entries are Cork, Dublin, Kerry, Offaly and Tipperary.

The information gathered from the survey will produce a permenant open-access archive of known holy wells and the beliefs attached to them. The database of geographical and archaeological data, oral recordings, videos of the sites and demonstrations of the traditions, written memories and stories etc – will be donated to the National Folklore Collection.

St Patrick's Well, Gortmore, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary is one of the largest holy wells in Ireland.