Fifty Holy Wells, #2
This is a wonderful series Paul.
Did you sample the water? Is it potable?
Oh if that well could talk! If those offerings could talk. I love the mythology and history behind all these well series
Thank you Paul
"...protected by a drystone wellhouse". Hmm. I can't recall ever having seen that very nice-sounding word "wellhouse" before. "Drystone" either. What are the common features of these kinds of wells? Do they vary a great deal? Is some set of features necessary for a small body of water to qualify as a proper well? Have they all been dug, or more commonly began as exposed pools or streams that had things like drystone wellhouses built to protect and identify them? Inquiring minds...
I suppose if this were a book (or one day becomes a book) there should be an 'Intro to Irish Wells' section that illuminates some of these sorts of mysteries for we modern wretches who've never constructed (or even visited) such a well.
Yesterday, I heard a talk on the Water Walkers, female American Indians, who were walking around various bodies of water, including the Great Lakes, to bless them and draw awareness for the need to protect them. Perhaps your project runs a parallel course?
I just took out my Oxford English Dictionary to check on the history of the word "coin".
I had the idea, maybe not all that far fetched, that it could be in relation to the word "koina" in Greek, which refers to the Greek vernacular language used all over the Roman Empire (I think... who knows where the words come from when they come from way back).
"Coin" (wedge/corner/angle, is the corner stone on a wall or building.
In reference to money, what emerges is the fact that money is IM-PRESSED with the stamp of someone with authority.
In French, I have done an etymological history of the verb "press", as in "the press", for example, and just recently realized that the word "EX-PRESS" which can be compared to the word "IM-PRESS" 'also enters into this genealogy. All of the words in relation to "press" suppose the use of (physical) force to modify.
The area looks lovely and out of the way.
This story is great, and I'm glad there are 48 more of them where that came from.
By the way, I read *Savage Gods* last week, and I think I got a better understanding of the ambivalence you wrote about in "Inis Cealtra". I'm a writer, so I thought I saw what you meant, but I didn't realize it was that bad. Reading it, I was glad that I knew what happened to you next, because otherwise I would have felt worried. One thought I had was that the opposite of words as savage gods is Leonard Cohen's lyric: "There's a blaze of light in every word." Also, are you familiar with the Catholic writer Walker Percy? The same thing happened to his father, and that really drove his spiritual search; it's also a significant theme in two of his novels.
If only the offerings in partiicular could talk! I remember as a very small child (back in the 1940s/ early 1050s) being brought to a religious site ( not a well) back in my Italian homeland. The offerings were sometimes very moving, always intriguing, sometimes frightening to me. Especially anything referencing a child for it probably meant the child was either ill or dead. Ways to cope in this vale of tears which is life.
I can see why sites like this were seen as holy, or maybe to earlier people, magical.
To be wandering across a mountain and then to suddenly find a stream of fresh water appearing out of the earth, and then immediately disappearing again?
Sounds magical even now! And would be a true blessing if you were in need of a drink!
The act of leaving a personal item is touching to me, seems alot more personal. I make "offerings" in the form of money to my Church but its not the same. My pastor wouldnt know what to do if I dropped an old shoe in the plate. God wants whats in our heart not whats in our pocket.
Fascinating! Do you know if there are any holy wells in Wales? - land of my birth. You've started something here...
About 25 years ago my sister and I were driving to a town in a rural county where she had recently bought a house. While approaching the town by a side road, we drove by a marker for a shrine, and immediately turned around to check it out. The shrine was located about a hundred yards off the road and was built to commemorate the spot where the first mass was said in the county in the 1850s. I think that there is something special about stumbling across a shrine or cross set out of the way someplace, off the beaten path. There is a sense of wonder that anyone would have taken the trouble to do it in the first place, apparently unmindful and unperturbed that it would rarely be seen by anyone. Therein lies the charm. This happened in California, where the chances of coming across such markers are few. Mores the pity. The discovery of this little shrine certainly enlivened our day.
Thank you. Again a beautiful way to start The Lord’s Day.
I love that so many of the offerings at holy wells and shrines are a testimony to that person being cured of whatever malady made it necessary to own that item. Someone went home not needing their glasses anymore that day. Similarly, there is a wall with racks of unnecessary crutches at St. Joseph's Oratory Basilica in Montreal, Canada.
I loved this well story. It made me think that faith runs underground where we least suspect it. And always has done. Today I went to Harvest Festival at a Surrey church in the prosperous Home Counties less than an hour from central London. Pretty cosmopolitain. Yet this place had a churchyard full of ancient yews, all decorated with brightly coloured ribbons and other offerings. It's an 11th century church with a mural of the ladder between heaven and hell created by an artistically inclined monk around 1200. You can feel that spirit still in the place. It's like a stream of faith runs through this spot and has done for centuries. I love that. Looking forward to the next well and loving the series.
The prayers to God float up to heaven and by the rule of opposite reaction the coins of man float down to the sea. It's not only good theology it's good physics :-)
Will you be posting a map with the locations of the Holy Wells? Love the series! I’d like to follow along on a map…