St. Ultan's well
Description of Well Item Type Metadata
1 Name of well and saint
St Ultan's Well
2 Townland, County, GPS
3 Physical description of well and its surroundings
This well is proximal to the land of Ardbraccan House, the house that was at once O'Conor's (Thunder, 1886:656). A visitor will find the well over nine feet in diameter with six steps down into its stone basin (French, 2012:60).
The well may hold cures for tooth aches and eye pain, which may be achieved by either drinking or washing the problem area, respectively. A pilgrim may also wash their fit in the well to cure sore feet (French, 2012:61).
5 Pattern day
Historical records indicate a range of patterns between the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Until 1850 pilgrims held stations on the eve of St Ultan's Day, September 4th. This tradition faded until the 1920s into the 1950s when there was a resurgence of pilgrims visiting the well. French (2012) writes, "In the 1930s there was a pilgrimage of St. Ultan's Well every year on the first Sunday in September and the Rosary was recited in Irish... today the well is dry" (French, 2012:61). Current gatherings at the well on the saint's feast day in the second decade of the 21st century range in attendance from 20 to 40 people. The well has dried in part due to zinc mining in the vicinity.
St Ultan is known to have been a devout humanitarian, offering food, clothes, and education to over 500 children orphaned by the yellow plague. Given this history, St Ultan's inspired the 1919 founding of Dublin City's St Ultan's Hospital for Infants (French, 2012:60-1; hospital closed in 1975).
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. 656; French, Noel. 2012. Meath Holy Wells. pp. 60-2.