Castlemagner Holy Well




N 52° 10' 00.9"   W 008° 48' 47.7"

Nearest town


Grid Ref.

R 44366 01992

Map No.


Elevation a.s.l. (m)


Date of visit

Friday 17 June 2016

GPS Accuracy (m)

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At the end of the field there's a timber fence that protects the holy well.

When I first saw the photos of this holy well on the internet several years ago I thought that I absolutely wanted to be there, but it took me years to make my dream come true.
We wouldn't have ever found it if it wasn't for a local who guided us there. The holy well is very well tucked away at the corner of a field, behind rows of trees and along stone and timber steps and pathways down to the Catra Stream. Castlemagner Castle is 80 metres northwest on the other side of the stream.
The holy well is protected with a timber fence and gate from the cattle grazing nearby. A pair of timber benches are provided within the fence. The well house is made with stone and mortar, with a massive lintel above the entrance. Above the well house a thick layer of moss and vegetation forms a rounded roof. The lintel carries an inscription that reads "Owen Egan of Knucknanufs Erected this in HOnour (sic) of God. An Bl..... A.d 1787" The last part of the inscription has been erased by chipping away a regular and neat rectangle of the surface of the stone. The words are arranged on three lines with a wide space in the middle of the lintel. Here was a bas-releief of a cross and the letters IHS, but these features have been erased as well. In their places there's a scratched cross made by pilgrims and visitors during their visits.
On each side of the aperture to the well, below the lintel, are two carved figures.
On the left side there's a naked human figure with her arms raised above her head and palms open towards the visitor. Her head is round and bald, with visible big eyes and half-closed mouth. Her belly, hip and thighs are plump. It could be a sheela-na-gig but she lacks the most important feature, her genitalia exposed. Crosses have been scratched on her palms, belly and forehead by pilgrims. The figures measures 46 centimetres of height and 33 centimetres of width.
On the right side of the aperture, on an oval stone insert, there's a male figure dressed in a Roman robe, with belts and laces. His left hand rests on his hip, the other hand is raised as in an offer. According to some interpretations, this figure could be St. Michael. The insert measures 20 centimetres of height and 17 centimetres of width.
Above the lintel a metal cup is provided for visitors who want to drink from the well. The water is clear and bubbling from the soil, but we didn't trust it. It seems that some blind people regained their sight after drinking this water.
The well house faces east (90°). A small square window is on the west side of the well house and gives light to the inside.

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