Holy Well: OS Grid Reference – C 367 196
To be found somewhere between the two outer embankments on the southern side of the legendary Grianan of Aileach, this — one of many St. Patrick’s Wells in Ireland — is typically attributed with healing properties. It was described in Henry Morris’ (1938) survey (amongst others) as being the place where, in the 5th century when St. Patrick came here, Prince Eoghan was baptised and thereafter turned his back on the heathen gods of his ancestors for this new christian cult which was just growing at that time. (‘Eoghan,’ pronounced owen) Thereafter other people were baptised by the waters from here, which in ancient days would have been the water supplies for those at the Grianan.
Henry Swan (1938) told that in previous times there once grew a legendary tree by this well, into which pilgrims inserted pins and other artefacts as offerings and to make wishes to the spirit of the waters. A similar thing (with the same underlying mythic structure) occurred at the tree and holy well of Loch Maree.
Up until quite recently, the well was very overgrown and in a condition that Rear Admiral Pascual o’ Dogherty called “disgusting.” He called for renovation work and action to bring this ancient site back into good health, and thankfully, as a result of the man’s proclamations, St. Patrick’s Well here has been brought back into a good state of life. Excellent stuff good sir!
- Lacy, Brian, Archaeological Survey of County Donegal, DCC: Lifford 1983.
- Morris, Henry, ‘The Holy Wells of Inishowen,’ in H.P. Swan’s Book of Inishowen, Buncrana 1938.
- o’ Muirgheasa, Enri, ‘The Holy Wells of Donegal,’ in Béaloideas 6:2, 1936.
- Swan, Harry Percival, The Book of Inishowen, William Doherty: Buncrana 1938.
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian