St. Brigid’s Well at Liscannor, Co. Clare, is one of many wells throughout the country dedicated to St. Brigid, also known as ‘Mary of the Gael‘. The pictures show the modern statue at the well, and to the left there is an entrance to the small ‘grotto’ where the well is housed. Inside, the walls of the house are lined with many hundreds of statues, holy pictures, rosary beads, photographs, etc., which are left as offerings in thanksgiving for favours received through the intercession of the patron saint. A particularly poignant photo is of a fireman, missing since the 9/11 attack of the Twin-Towers in New York.
Many years ago there was an annual pilgrimage to the site which took place on the day before the first Sunday in August, a date that coincides with the ancient Festival of Lughnasa. Contemporary writers describe how the crowds would gather in the evening to do the ‘rounds,’ and would pray aloud at the well. Large numbers of people would stay overnight, and in the early hours of Sunday morning, dancing and singing took place; it was a great religious and social occasion in the days when there was not much to celebrate in Ireland. The ceremony is now held on the 15th of August, the Feast of the Assumption, and while large crowds still gather to pray there, it is a much more sedate occasion.
St. Brigid’s Well is about 4 kilometres northwest of Liscannor on the Doolin road, and is situated beside a tall, 19th century monument, erected to honour Cornelius O’Brien, M.P., who incidentally, forced his tenants to pay for building the monument.
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