St. Dymphna's well

Dublin Core


St. Dymphna's well

Description of Well Item Type Metadata

1 Name of well and saint

St Dympna's Well

2 Townland, County, GPS

Kildalkey, Meath

3 Physical description of well and its surroundings

St Dympna's Well is easily identifiable within a field beside the grounds of an old church by its meter-high stone wall that encircles the well (French, 2012:71). A metal gate marks the entryway to the well, beside which a sign reads the name of the patron saint (see Mullen photograph).

4 Cure

According to folk tradition people pilgrims may dip cloth into the well then tie around their head to alleviate headache pain. Toothaches may also be helped by simply drinking the water. People believe that the mere presence of the well in Kildalkey helps ward off illness (French, 2012:70).

5 Pattern day

St Dympna is commemorated on May 15th, the feast day, and is when pilgrims visit to receive cures. In the 1860s and 1880s the well was thought to have dried up, yielding a case of the associated pattern day. Through the nineteen hundreds the well was neglected until 1999 when a local retirement association re-opened and revitalized the site (French, 2012:70).

8 Stories

Folklore states that the well appeared after St Dympna cried with such vigor following runaway from her father, a pagan, that a well appeared at her feet. She is regarded as the "patroness of the nervous, emotionally disturbed and the mentally ill" and can be seen in stained glass depictions in churches throughout Ireland (French, 2012:71).

9 Publications; Thunder, John M. 1886. The Holy Wells of Meath. The Journal of the Royal Historical and Archaeological Association of Ireland, Fourth Series, 7:68, pp. 657; French, Noel. 2012. Meath Holy Wells. pp. 69-71.