The spirit of Saint Patrick lives on in ancient holy wells that bear his name


The Rituals and Traditions:

Supposedly, one of Saint Patrick’s favorite places was on the Sligo-Leitrim border in Tullaghan, Co. Leitrim where two wells now bear his name: ‘Tobair Phadhraig’ (Patrick’s Well) and ‘Tobair na Bheartha’ (Well of the Shaving) where St. Patrick and his companions were said to have stopped to shave. Joe Mc Gowan writes that The Schools Manuscript Collection of 1938 records how this ritual should be performed around the well: “The pilgrim begins on the east side of the well at the statue of St. Patrick. Here he says 5 Our Fathers, 5 Hail Mary’s, 5 Glorys and the Creed. He then goes clockwise and on reaching the cairn on the south side he says 3 Hail Marys and casts a small stone on the heap. He proceeds to the well on the west side where he kneels and says 3 Hail Marys and casts another stone on the cairn. On again to the north where he says the same and again casts up another stone. This is done 3 times casting up 9 stones in all.

 Similar prayer rituals are performed at other wells dedicated to Saint Patrick.

At the site of many holy wells, it is also a custom to tie rags and handkerchiefs to the trees that surround the well. This is done with a specific request in mind and with the faith that as the piece of cloth wears away, so too does the illness that the person has prayed about.

This tradition is still carried out and many sacred wells sport the colorful and ragged remains of its devotees prayers.

Some of the holy wells dedicated to Saint Patrick in Ireland:

- St. Patrick's Well, Patrickswell, Rathvilly, Co. Carlow
- St. Patrick's Well, Ballymurphy Road, Tullow, Co. Carlow
- St. Patrick's Well, Ballyshannon (near ruins of Assaroe Abbey), Co. Donegal
- St. Patrick's Well, Sheeplands East, Lecale, Co. Down
- Saint Patrick’s well, Saul (Mearne well), Co. Down
- St. Patrick's Well, Nassau Street (in the grounds of Trinity College), Dublin, Co. Dublin
- St. Patrick’s Well - Belcoo, Co. Fermanagh
- St. Patrick's Well, Mám Éan (Maumeen), Co. Galway
- St. Patrick's Well (Tobar na Mult - Well of the Wethers), Tubbrid More, Ardfert, Co. Kerry
- St. Patrick's Well, Glasealy, Co. Kildare
- ‘Tobair Phadhraig’ (Patrick’s Well), Co. Leitrim
- ‘Tobair na Bheartha’ (Well of the Shaving), Tullaghan, Leitrim
- St. Patrick's Well, Ardpatrick Parish, Co. Limerick
- St. Patrick's Well, Cartron, Granard, Co. Longford
- St, Patrick's Well, Ballintubber, Co. Mayo
- St. Patrick's Well, Downpatrick Head, Co. Mayo
- St. Patrick's Well, Ballyhaunis, Co. Mayo
- Tobar Patraic, Ardmulchan, Co. Meath
- Saint Patrick's Well, Carlanstown, Kilbeg, Co. Meath
- St. Patrick's Well, Kilcorkey parish, Co. Roscommon
- Cluain Patrick, Athleague, Co. Roscommon
- St. Patrick's Well - Dromard, Co. Sligo
- St. Patrick's Well - Aughris, Co. Sligo
- Saint Patrick’s Well, Magherakeel, Castlederg, Tyrone
- Saint Patrick's Chair and Well, Altadaven, Clogher, Co. Tyrone