Holy Wells in the Burren
The 1st February is an important day in Ireland – it is St. Brigid’s Feast Day, and also the beginning of spring. There are many holy wells that resemble each other, in spite of a huge variety of the ways they are built (or occur naturally). And then there is St. Brigid’s well in Liscannor, on the inland side of the Cliffs of Moher.
If you have visited it, you will know what I mean when I say that this is a place that would deeply impress anybody entering the short tunnel. A tunnel which seems to lead into a different world. Which is filled to the rafters with prayers, pieces of paper with pleas and thank yous, statues and nicknacks that were precious to those who placed them here. Reading through the notes and looking at the photographs almost feels like intruding into somebody’s privacy. A very moving experience, no matter what your own religious background is.
At the end of the tunnel is the well which opens up to the outside overhead. A constant trickle of water can be heard. Opposite the offerings, on the right, is a setback shelf in the wall with burning candles.
The well with the surrounding cemetery is a site of pilgrimage and prayers. On 1st February, mass is being held here, and a lot of people come to renew their connection with this potent and vibrating site.
St. Brigid was not only an Irish Roman-Catholic patron saint, but going back in time, also a Celtic goddess. That would partially explain the ancient feel about the place.
Her feast day is 1st February, formerly celebrated as the Imbolc quarter-day of the pagan Irish year, which marks the beginning of spring and – in Celtic terms – the start of the circle of seasons.
A new and at the same time ancient kind of spirituality seems to be associated with holy wells these days.
The popularity of holy wells is steadily increasing. There is a huge interest by all kinds of people. Traditional catholics, spiritual pilgrims, those seeking the old ways. This is not all that surprising as especially in these modern, and oftentimes worrying, times, people are turning their backs on the “modern gods” like success, money. They might feel lost and want to go back to the roots of pre-Christianity, when the people of old were worshipping water and nature.