Holy wells and ancient ways
I moved to Glendalough in 2010, drawn to the area by the imposing landscapes and palpable sense of history. The area’s old holy wells were of particular interest to me.
In Ireland, there has long been a tradition of water worship and ritual in both pre-Christian and Christian cultures. These wells were at the heart of that spiritual ecosystem, and I felt compelled to study them further.
There are about 3000 holy wells sites marked on old maps going back to 1800. Some local friends and I set up a group called Wicklow Wells with the aim of documenting, researching and restoring about 30 of the total 120 holy wells in the county.
Often set in beautiful but hidden locations, many of the holy wells were completely overgrown and neglected, and in some cases in danger of being lost forever. Researching and documenting these sites has brought me together with some fascinating people, and recording the lore and traditions from the older generations has been a privilege.
We hope to make these holy wells accessible to local people and tourists, and in some small way make them once again part of community life.
Becoming a tour guide...
Many of the holy well sites form key points on ancient routes and pilgrim paths. Wicklow Wells group often organises walks and talks for the community. Events are posted on Wicklow Wells Facebook Page and proceeds from all walks and talks go towards funding the stone signs, information plaques and restoration work of the 30 wells.
I am also a professional tour guide for the area and lead heritage walks for both groups and individuals. Please contact me for more information firstname.lastname@example.org