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St. Ciaran's Holy Well
 

County

Offaly

Coordinates

N 53° 19' 15.24"   W 007° 59' 38.4"

Nearest town

Shannonbridge

Grid Ref.

N 00394 30073

Map No.

47

Elevation a.s.l. (m)

38

Date of visit

Friday 14 June 2019

GPS Accuracy (m)

2
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The holy well is in a green area surrounded on three sides by a tall hedge.


Due to lack of time, when we came here at Clonmacnoise last year, we had to skip this holy well, which is about 800 metres southwest from the main settlement.

The holy well is within a fenced area at the end of a path that departs from the R444. The holy well is enclosed in a semicircular low stone wall with an entrance on the west (285°). A timber fence surrounds it all and four steps give access to the place where there should be the water, but it was dry when we visited it, and this is strange because the days before were particularly rainy.

This well has been a place of pilgrimage since the 7th century, and was the starting point of the pilgrimage to the monastic settlement.

The most interesting features of this holy well are the four stone slabs placed outside the timber fence.
One is a crucifixion slab. This slab is on the south (170°) side and bears a crucified figure in bas-relief with his arms outstretched horizontally. Above the crucifixion is a worn inscription that reads "Redent...".
On the east (95°) side is what remains of a carved figure. It is said it was a carving of St. Ciaran, but the head of the sculpture has been stolen and the rest of the figure has been vandalized. What remains to see is a torc collar around his neck. A much weathered inscription is hardly visible under the neck.
On the northeast (55°) side of the timber fence is a stone decorated with what might seem a Latin cross and a strange symbol in the top-right corner. A cupmark is on the top edge of this slab.
Another beautiful cross slab is on the north (10°) side. It bears a wonderful carving of a double outline cross with a ring at the intersection of the arms and with enlarged terminals. On the right of the cross the inscription "OR DO" can be seen. I had seen something like this at St. Caimin's on Inis Cealtra.

This holy well isn't marked on the OS Map.


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