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Holy Wells of Ireland

Holy wells are places of popular religious devotion where people come to pray and leave simple offerings. Holy wells invariably tend to date from pre-Christian times, during which they served as a form of natural religion in which the well was held to be sacred.


There are hundreds of holy wells all over Ireland, many of them still in use. They vary greatly in appearance, some are very simple, decorated only with rounded river pebbles, others are highly ornate and adorned with holy statues, medals, pictures, rosary beads, flowers and candles. Many of the wells were famous for their power to heal diseases, powers which were usually attributed to the patron saint. Many stories relating to a particular well usually tell that the saint was reputed to have used the water of the well to baptise converts, thereby bestowing a blessing on that well. Days of special devotion were associated with many of the wells. This day was usually on the feast day of the particular saint, a day which commonly became known as the Pattern (or Patron) Day.


The water at many of the wells is believed to have curative powers, and a few are said to have power over the weather. Many customs and traditions have been associated with some of the wells. Religious customs and practices are closely linked with most of the wells.


In some places, rags, handkerchiefs or clothes are tied to the trees above or around the well. In many instances the piece of cloth was red as it was believed that the colour red would resist the power of evil spirits. The idea about this custom is that as the rag rots away, so too does the illness.


At some wells it was customary to bathe a diseased part of the body with a piece of cloth. When this had been completed the piece of cloth was attached to a tree in the vicinity of the well as a votive offering.


Stones and trees are also associated with many wells. Such stones and trees are believed to be sacred because of their special association with the well.


Holy Wells can be found in all types of areas all over Ireland. They are found near the seashore, on the top of mountains and hills and in bogs. However, the greatest majority of the holy wells are to be found at or near churches and graveyards. In many cases, the church may be no more than the ruins of an ancient building, or the church may even no longer exist.


Many holy wells appear to have specialised in the curing of specific diseases - toothache, backache, headache, eye diseases, sick children, mental illness, sprains, wounds, rheumatism, diseases of the stomach and bowel, obstetric and gynaecology illnesses.  Such illness are sometime reflected in the names given to the wells: Tobar na Súl (the Eye Well); Tobar na Plaighe (the Well of the Plague); Tobar na nGealt (the Well of the Insane); Wart Well.



The Holy Wells of Ireland

"As a rule, all the Irish saints have one or more blessed wells dedicated to their memory in the immediate neighbourhood of the churches which they founded. Indeed, the church was never founded except near a well. Pure water was necessary, not only for Baptism and for the Holy Sacrifice, but also for the daily needs of the holy men and women whose lives were given there to the service of God. What wonder these became holy wells - blessed for Baptism, used at mass, giving daily drink to generations of saints, who, with pure and grateful hearts, blessed God who gave them those crystal springs.


We believe that some of their (ie the saints) ancient holiness still lingers round our blessed wells, that their holy patron's still pray in a special for those who frequent them in a pious and confiding spirit, and that God often hears those fervent prayers and grants special requests to the faithful suppliants through the fervour of their faith and the merits of the saints.".

- Extract from "Holy Wells of Ireland"

by Most Rev. John Healy, D.D., Archbishop of Tuam


Holy Wells of Ireland

It is not known with certainty when pilgrimages to the Holy Wells of Ireland began. Some historians hold that the springs from which St. Patrick and the early saints of Ireland took water to baptise their converts were held in veneration by the early Christians, and were regarded even in those early times as places of pilgrimage. However, it was only when the persecution of Catholics began after the Reformation that large numbers began to assemble for devotional purposes at such wells.


When Catholics were forbidden under the Penal Laws to assemble for mass in churches, altars were erected beside these wells and mass was said there in secret whenever possible for the assembled faithful. If no priest could be found, private devotions were carried out by a lay leader of the people.


All Holy Wells in Ireland bear a striking resemblance to one another. Each well is usually found in a quiet place, sheltered by trees, and covered by a flat stone slab to preserve it from contamination. Round the well a circle is traced and there are "stations" or resting places for prayer and meditation at regular intervals along the outline of the circle. Close to the well there is a crude altar beside a tree trunk on which a crucifix in wood or stone is hung. On the branches of the trees in the vicinity, small pieces of cloth may be fastened. These are memorials of pilgrims' visits. At the close of the visit, the pilgrim may drink some water from the well out of a vessel secured by a chain to a nearby stone or wall.

- Extract from "Sight Unseen" Programme

Bernadette Players, 1958


Locations of Holy Wells in Ireland

Patrick Logan, in his book "The Holy Wells of Ireland", cites a claim that there are approximately 3,000 Holy Wells in Ireland. He claims that almost every parish in the country has at least one holy well. Some holy wells may not be well known as they have fallen into disrepair or may not be visited any more. The following is a list of holy wells that can be found in Ireland. This is not an exhaustive list, just a list that has been garnered from books and internet searches. I'm sure there are many more wells throughout the country. Please e-mail me using the link below to include any other wells in your locality that are not on the list. Let me know also if there are any inaccuracies in the list of holy wells.


Click on a link to view Holy Wells in that county

Antrim Down Leitrim Roscommon
Armagh Dublin Limerick Sligo
Carlow Fermanagh Longford Tipperary
Cavan Galway Louth Tyrone
Clare Kerry Mayo Waterford
Cork Kildare Meath Westmeath
Donegal Kilkenny Monaghan Wexford
Derry Laois Offaly Wicklow





bullet Seashore Well, White Head
bullet St. Ailbe's Well, Kilroot
bullet Tobar na Súl, Ballymena
bullet Saint Colman's Well, Cranfield





bullet Pin Well, Coney Island
bullet Sunday Well, Ballybot
bullet Glenoran Well, Teemore





bullet St. Patrick's Well, Patrickswell, Rathvilly
bullet St. Bridget's Well, Myshall
bullet St. Moling's Well, St. Mullins
bullet St. Mogue's Well, Clonmore
bullet St. Columcille's Well, Sandyford
bullet St. Michael's Well, Tinnahinch, St. Mullins
bullet Tobar Cranavan, Barragh Parish
bullet St. Brigid's Well, Kilranelagh Parish
bullet St. John's Well, Kiltegan Parish
bullet Ballinacrea Well, Myshall Parish
bullet Killoughternane Well, Sliguff Parish
bullet St. Martin's Well, Cronelea, Mullinacuff
bullet St. Bernard's Well, Rampere, Rathbran Parish
bullet St. Patrick's Well, Ballymurphy Road, Tullow
bullet St. Laserian's Well, Old Leighlin Cathedral





bullet St. Mogue's Well, Drumlane
bullet St. Mogue's Well, Templeport
bullet St. Patrick's Well, Carna, Mullaghorne
bullet St. Damhnat's Well, Lavey
bullet St. Brigid's Well, Killinagh Parish
bullet St. Ultan's Well, Baileborough
bullet Well of St. Kilian of Würzburg, Mullagh





bullet St. Brigid's Well - Liscannor
bullet Magh Adhair - Quin
bullet Eye Well - Burren
bullet Tooth Well - Burren
bullet Margaret's Well - Ennis
bullet St. Augustine's Well - Kilshanny
bullet St. Senan's Well, Cloonlara (Tober Curnan)
bullet St. Flannan's Well, Killaloe
bullet Howard's Well, Kilmihil
bullet Tobar Lachtainn, Kilnamona
bullet St. Martin's Well, Noughaval Parish
bullet Tobar Ghráinne, Feacle Parish
bullet St. Cravan's Well, Ennistymon
bullet Tobar na Taise, Kilnamona Parish
bullet St. Duran's Well, Doora Parish
bullet St. Sgreabhan's Well, Clondagad Parish
bullet St. Luctigern's Well, Fenloe
bullet St. Colman's (McDuach) Well, Oughtmama
bullet Tobar Colman McDuach, Slievecarron
bullet St. Senan's Well, Scattery Island
bullet St. Senan's Well, Kilrush
bullet St. Senan's Well, Molougha, Killimer
bullet Poll Insheen Wells, Gleninsheen, Rathborney
bullet Saint Caoidhe's Well (Tobar Caoidhe), Foohagh, Kilfeeragh
bullet Saint Brigid's Well, Ballysteen, Kilmacrehy
bullet Saint Joseph's Well, Dulick, Templemaley
bullet Saint Flannan's Well, Drimanure, Inagh
bullet Well of the Holy Cross (Tobar na Croiche Naoimhe), Gleninagh





bullet St. Olan's Well - Aghbullogue Parish
bullet Tubrid Holy Well - Millstreet
bullet Ballinspittle
bullet Inchigeela
bullet Sunday's Well and Mary's Well - Walshestown
bullet St. Finbar's Well, Gougane Barra
bullet St. Bartholomew's Well, Cork City
bullet St. Brigid's Well, Castlemagner
bullet St. Brigid's Well, Mountbrigid, Buttevant
bullet St. Laichteen's Well, Blarney
bullet All Saints Well, Blarney
bullet Tobar an Ratha Bháin, Aghinagh Parish
bullet Sunday's Well, Clonmeen Parish, Banteer
bullet St. Fursey's Well, Clonmeen Parish, Banteer
bullet Ronogue's Well
bullet St. John's Well, Kilcorney
bullet St. Gobnait's Well (St. Abbey), Ballyvourney (Baile Mhuirne) - Feast Day February 11th
bullet St. Fanahan's Well, Mitchelstown
bullet Skour Well, Highfield, Creagh





bullet Tobar na Súil, Inishowen
bullet Doon Well, Kilmacrennan Parish
bullet Malin Well, Malin Head
bullet Angels Well (Tobar na nAingeal), Bindoo, Kilteevogue (Benndubh, Cill Aobhóg)
bullet St. Columcille's Well, Beefan, Glencolumcille
bullet St. Columcille's Well, Gartan
bullet Tobar na mBan Naomh (Well of the Holy Women), Rinnakill, Glencolmcille
bullet St. Patrick's Well, Ballyshannon (near ruins of Assaroe Abbey)
bullet Cathal Dubh's Three Wells, Black Rock, Strabreaghy
bullet St. Columcille's Well, Clonmany
bullet Eas Fionnáin, Dunfanaghy
bullet Tobar Faoi Cnoc, Cnoc Fola (Tobar Alt na Peiste)
bullet Well of St. Aodh Mac Bric, Slieve League
bullet Tobar na Súil, Slieve Sneacht, Inishowen
bullet Tobar na Súil, Cnoc 'a Toighe, Churchill
bullet St. Catherine's Well, Glebe, Killybegs Upper
bullet St. Ultan's Well, Culdaff Parish, Inishowen
bullet St. Columcille's Well, Gleneaney, Inver Parish
bullet Tobar na Deilg, Lough Foyle
bullet Tobar Aibheog
bullet St. Columcille Well, Fanad
bullet Wart Well, Stradgraddy, near Tarmon
bullet Saint Ciarán's Well, Bavan, Kilcar





bullet Struel Wells, Downpatrick
bullet Tobar Doney, Halsly's Town
bullet St. Patrick's Well, Sheeplands East, Lecale





bullet St. Brigid's Well, Balrothery
bullet Lady's Well, Mulhuddart
bullet St. Patrick's Well, Nassau Street (in the grounds of Trinity College)
bullet Tobar Caillin, Rush
bullet St. Mochuda's Well, Bunnow
bullet Tobar MacLarney, Carrickhill, Portmarnock
bullet Tobernea, Newtown, Blackrock
bullet Chink Well, Portrane
bullet Gregan's Well, Garristown
bullet St. Movee's Well, Grange
bullet St. Senan's Well, Slade
bullet St. Catherine's Well, Drumcondra
bullet Lady Well, Tyrellstown
bullet St. Begnet's Well, Dalkey Island
bullet Jacob's Well, Monkstown
bullet St. Fintan's Well, Sutton
bullet St. Donogh's Well, Upper Kilbarrack
bullet St. Brigid's Well, Castleknock Village
bullet St. Colmcille's Well, Ballycullen Road, Tallaght - The widely known Shrine and Well of St. Columcille at Ballycullen lies off the Old Ballycullen Road within the boundary of St. Annes parish. The shrine was set up through the efforts of Fr. Philip Doyle and Fr. Malachy Hughes both of the Augustinian order. The project came about when Fr. Doyle noticed that the local postman had a habit of disappearing into a field close by whilst on his rounds. Subsequently Fr Doyle learned that there was a well situated in this field which was venerated locally in the name of St. Columcille.  It was discovered that the postman Pat Murray, never passed the place without dropping in to say a prayer at the well and to take a drink from its waters, doing what his father and grandfather had done before him, and in doing so following the same custom of the people in the district. According to local history, St Columcille rested here after a long walk from Glasnevin. It was believed that he quenched his thirst from the sparkling spring and left a blessing on it and all who might come to drink from it thereafter. In June 1922 the well and shrine were formally blessed and the shrine became more widely known and the number of pilgrims increased. A tree guarded gateway admits the pilgrim who must then cross the small footbridge spanning the stream curving down past the shrine. Steps mounts to the small plateau and the eye is drawing to the white statue of the saint, bearing  the traditional staff and satchel and at his sandaled feet the well glints in the sunlight.
bullet St. Marnock's Well, Kilmarnock
bullet St. Sylvester's Well, Malahide



(These are wells which have been identified by Petra Skyvova, 2005 - see Bibliography)

bullet Graham's Well, Balbriggan
bullet Lady Well, Balcunnin
bullet St. Bridget's Well, Baldurgan
bullet St. Doulagh's Well, Balgriffin
bullet St. Catherine's Well, Balgriffin
bullet Biddy Boughy's Well, Balrothery
bullet St. Bretsha's Well, Ballyboghill (Ballyboughal)
bullet Bridetree Well (St. Bridget's Well), Lusk
bullet Holy Well, Broadmeadow, Swords
bullet St. Mochuda's Well, Burrow, Portrane
bullet The Caveen Well, Abbotstown, Castleknock
bullet St. Bridget's Well, Castleknock Village
bullet Lady's Well, Cloghran
bullet St. Werburgh's Well, Crowcastle, Swords
bullet Tolan's Well, Courtlough, Balrothery
bullet Rag Well, Diswellstown, Castleknock



bullet St. Molaisse's Well, Devinish Island





  • Tubbermacduach, Kinvara
  • Tobar Naoimhéid, Kilscorbe
  • St. Columcille's Well, Kilconickery
  • St. Patrick's Well, Mám Éan (Maumeen)
  • St. Michael's Well, Belclare
  • Tobar Mac Duach, Oranmore
  • Tobar Ros, Fahy Parish (Tobar Os)
  • St. Bernard's Well, Knockroe, Knockmoy
  • Tobar Eidhne, Inishmore, Galway Bay
  • St. Colman's Well, Kinvara
  • Well of the Seven Daughters, Renvyle
  • St. Feichin's Well, Gooreen, Omey Island
  • St. Colmcille's Well, Inishnee Island
  • Our Lady's Well, Athenry
  • St. Augustine's Well
  • Mary's Well (Tobar Mhuire) Dooghta, Cong
  • Saint Fechin's Well (Tobar Feichín), Dooghta, Cong
  • Saint Patrick's Well (Tobar Phádraig), Teernakill South, Ross
  • Saint Ceannanach's Well, Clooncree, Ballynakill
  • Saint Fechin's Well (Tobar Feichín), Cammanagh, Ross
  • Saint Kieran's Well (Tobar Chiaráin), Kilkieran, Moyrus
  • Saint Colman's Well, Corker, Kiltartan





bullet St. Patrick's Well (Tobar na Mult - Well of the Wethers), Tubbrid More, Ardfert
bullet St. Dahlin's - Ballyheige
bullet St. John's Well - Dingle
bullet St. Erc's Well - Listowel
bullet St. Eoin's Well - Listowel
bullet St. Michael's Well - Ballymore West
bullet Lady Well - Ballyheige
bullet St. Brendan's Well, Dingle
bullet St. Buonia's Well, Kilabuonia
bullet Tobar Fionáin, Valentia Island
bullet St. Michael's Well, Ballinskelligs
bullet St. Martin's Well, Cloghane Parish
bullet Tobar Olla Breanainn, Valentia Island
bullet St. Finian's Well, Kenmare
bullet Tobar a' Bhile, Kilcrohane Parish
bullet Tobar Monachan, Dingle
bullet St.Dathalan's Well, Ballyheigue
bullet Lady's Well, Ballylanders Parish
bullet St. Nicholas' Well, Ballyduff Parish
bullet Our Lady's Well (Tobar Mhuire), Kinard




bullet Earl's Well - Kildare
bullet St. Brigid's Well - Ballymore Eustace
bullet Father Moore's Well, The Curragh
bullet St. Brigid's Well, Tully
bullet Trinity Well, Carbury
bullet St. Patrick's Well, Glasealy
bullet Toberara, Athy
bullet Saint Brigid's Well, Riverstown, Ballybracken





bullet Tober Moling, Mullinakill, Rosbercon Parish
bullet St. Fiachra's Well, Ullard, Graignamanagh





bullet St. Brigid's Well, Outeragh
bullet St. Mogue's Well, Rosinver
bullet St. Brigid's Well, Greaghnafarna townland
bullet St. Boey's Well, Inismagrath Parish
bullet Mary's Well (Tobar Mhuire), Killarga





bullet St. Coleman's Well, Colmanswell
bullet St. Colman Mac Duach Well, Ughtama (Sruthán na Naomh)
bullet Tobar Bhríde, Darragh Parish
bullet Our Lady's Well, Rochestown Parish
bullet St. Bernard's Well, Rathkeale Parish
bullet St. Patrick's Well, Ardpatrick Parish
bullet The Blessed Well, Ballingarry Parish
bullet St. Mary Magdalene Well, Kilmurray Parish
bullet St. James' Well, Ardgrove South, Nautenan Parish
bullet St. Fintan's Well, Doon - reputed to cure eye diseases
bullet Tubberbreeda, Cappaghmore - This is reputed to heal vomiting if the water is taken before daylight and fasting in the name of the Saint. Local tradition holds that in times past a Feis was held at this well every Summer on a particular day. The local people got new clothes for the day. Hurling, racing, song and dance made the day enjoyable and all took a drink from the Well. Ribbons, medals and other holy objects were hung from the trees near the Well. On one occasion a row broke out and blood was spilt. Next morning the Well was dry and a new one burst out of the ground at the other side of the road and this still remains to this day although it is not visited. At the former site is a flag stone with cup markings said to be the prints of the saint's knees when she visited the Well. There is the ruins of an old Church and graveyard, Towerhill,  between the two sites and St. Bridget was said to have been visiting here when she rested at the Well.





bullet St. Brigid's Well, Ardagh
bullet St. Patrick's Well, Cartron, Granard
bullet Tobar Rí an Domhnaigh, Abbeylara





bullet St. Brigid's Well, Faughart
bullet St. Brigid's Well, Dunleer
bullet St. Brigid's Well, Marlerstown
bullet Sunday's Well, Mullery
bullet Trinity Well, Kildemock
bullet Trinity Well, Termonfechin
bullet St. Michael's Well, Charlestown
bullet Tobar Halamog, Salterstown Parish
bullet Our Lady's Well, Dublin Road, Dundalk





bullet St. Marcan's Well, Rossclave Inlet, Newport
bullet St. Anne's Well, Knockrooskey
bullet St. Dominic's Well, Kiltarnet
bullet St. Patrick's Well, Ballintubber
bullet Carrowkennedy Well, near Westport
bullet St. Columcille's Well, Iniskea North
bullet St. Columcille's Well, Oughval
bullet St. Dervla's Well, Mullet (Dabhach Daerbhle)
bullet St. Dervla's Well, Iniskea South
bullet Tobar Deirbhill, Dunfeeney
bullet Tobar Adhlain, Kilconickny Parish
bullet St. Brendan's Well, Kilmeena Parish
bullet St. Bride's Well, Kilbride Parish
bullet St. Patrick's Well, Downpatrick Head
bullet Tobar Keelagh, Tourmakeady
bullet St. Patrick's Well, Ballyhaunis
bullet Tobar na Cannuana (Well of the Cannons)
bullet Well of the Stringle (Cranereen Well)
bullet Well of the Deacons, Aghagower
bullet St. Brendan's Well, Lankill
bullet Holy Well, Loughmask Road, Ballinrobe - The reason it's famous is because during Penal Days it was blocked up by the English Soldiers. However, miraculously it sprang up on the other side of the road shortly afterwards.
bullet Saint Colman's Well (Tobar Cholmáin), Slievemore, Achill
bullet The Blessed Well, Kilgeever
bullet Tobermurry/Mary's Well, Rosserk, Ballysakeery





bullet Tobar Patraic - Ardmulchan
bullet St. John's Well - Warrenstown
bullet Tara (Neamnach, Toberfin, and Leacht) - Castlebye
bullet St. Ciarán's Well, Castlekeeran, Kells
bullet Tobar Alt an Easa, Kilmainham Parish
bullet Saint Patrick's Well, Carlanstown, Kilbeg





bullet St. Ciarán's Well, Clonmacnoise
bullet St. Finian's Well, Clonmacnoise
bullet All Saint's Well, Banaher (Tobar na Naoimh)
bullet St. John's Well, Knockbarron Hill, Drumcullin Parish
bullet All Saints Well, Reynagh Parish
bullet St. Manchan's Well, Lemonaghan





bullet Ogulla Well (Tobar Oigh-Ghiolla), Tulsk
bullet St. Lassair's Well - Lough Meelagh, Kilronan
bullet St. Attracta's Well - Monasteraden
bullet Tobar Mhuire, Elphin
bullet Tobar Bhríde, Brideswell
bullet Tobar Barry
bullet St. Ciarán's Well, Taghmaconnell Parish
bullet Tobar Mhuire, Shankhill Cross
bullet Tobar na Greaghta, Kilteevan Parish
bullet St. Patrick's Well, Kilcorkey parish
bullet Tobar Achuma, Clonmore
bullet St. John's Holy Well, Lecarrow, Knockcroghery
bullet Cluain Patrick, Athleague
bullet Tobar Liagan, Rahara





bullet Tobernalt - Sligo
bullet St. Brigid's Well - Cliffony
bullet Tullaghan Well - Tullaghan
bullet St. Patrick's Well - Dromard
bullet St. Patrick's Well - Aughris
bullet The Bog - The Culleens
bullet Kingstone Well, Greenan
bullet St. Lazier's Well
bullet Tobar na bhFian, Carrowmore, Sligo
bullet St. Attracta's Well, Glenavoo, Kilmactigue - Near this spot St. Attracta is reputed to have killed a wild boar, which had already claimed the lives of many people
bullet Saint James's Well, Carrownyclowan, Shancough





bullet Perry's Well, Kilboy, Kilmore





bullet St. Ciarán's Well, Errigal-Kerry Parish
bullet Saint Patrick's Chair and Well, Altadaven, Clogher





bullet St. Declan's Well, Ardmore
bullet Father O' Donnell's Well, Ardmore
bullet St. Colman's Well, Kilcolman Parish
bullet Tobar a' Tresnane, Ardmore
bullet Tubbernahulla, Mocollop (St. Michael's Well)
bullet Tobar na Gloire, Waterpark and Ballineaspog
bullet Tobar Naomhtha, Ballyheafy
bullet Tobar Mochuda, Lismore
bullet Tobar Carthaig, Carrignagower
bullet Tobar Mocholmoig and Cillin, Cappoquin Demense
bullet Tobar na Turais, Camphire
bullet Tobar na Ceardtan, Lismore, New Way and the Gate Lodge
bullet St. Michael's Well, Tubbernahulla
bullet St. Carthage's Well, Lismore





bullet St. Brigid's Well, Mullingar
bullet St. Columcille's Well, Durrow
bullet St. Brigid's Well, Killare
bullet St. Feichin's Well, Fore
bullet Saint Hugh's Well, Rahugh





bullet St. Ann's Well, Killane
bullet Our Lady's Well, Bunclody
bullet St. David's Well, Oylegate
bullet St. Davan's Well, Kildavan
bullet St. Michaels' Well, St. Michael's Parish
bullet St. Boec's Well, Carnsore Point
bullet St. Mullin's Well, New Ross
bullet Lady's Well, Ladyisland
bullet Saint David's Well, Ballynaslaney
bullet Blessed Well, Ballinacoola, Templeshanbo





bullet St. Boden's Well, Lacken
bullet St. Kevin's Well, Wicklow
bullet St. Martin's Well, Shillelagh
bullet Trinity Well Ashford (on the road to Roundwood)