St Colmcille's Well

Dublin Core


St Colmcille's Well

Description of Well Item Type Metadata

1 Name of well and saint

St Colmcille's Well

2 Townland, County, GPS

Kells, Meath

3 Physical description of well and its surroundings

Located north of the town of Kells on a narrow laneway off the road to Oldcastle. Noel French notes that "the field beside St Colmcille’s Well is called Curragh Murragh, meaning the flat swamp. This wetland area may have been a lake originally which was then drained… The well adjoins the site of St Mary’s Abbey, re-founded by Hugh de Lacy in the twelfth century. The monks at the nearby abbey may have taken their water from this well” (French 2012: 21-22).

4 Cure

headaches, sore legs, toothache

5 Pattern day

“In the early part of the twentieth century large crowds assembled on the eve of St Colmcille’s day and recited the Holy Rosary in honour of the saint. Townspeople assembled there and decorated the well with flowers and candles. People visited the well to pray and brought home water to drink…after the merriment the Rosary was recited and people went home” (French 2012: 22).

In 2012, French writes that “the annual pattern day is now celebrated on the ninth of June, the anniversary of Columcille’s death in 597 AD” (French 2012: 22).

8 Stories

“In 1938 a school child recorded that the previous year Mrs. Reilly of Carrick Street was suffering from toothache and her face was badly swollen. She went to the well, blessed herself with the water and immediately the swelling and town and the pain ceased” (French 2012: 22).

“The well is named after the patron saint of the parish. According to tradition St Colmcille founded the monastery of Kells in 550 AD and the community at Iona moved to the settlement in the early years of the ninth century” (French 2012: 22).

During the evenings on pattern days, “the local band played popular tunes. Sometimes a Dublin band also played as well” (French 2012: 22).

French notes that “according to local tradition five fish appeared in the well on a certain night of the year, possibly on the eve of St Colmcille’s day” and “according to tradition the well will never run dry” (French 2012: 22).

9 Publications

Thunder, John M. “The Holy Wells of Meath.” The Journal of the Royal Historical and
Archaeological Association of Ireland. Oct 1886-Jan 1887, pp 655-658.

French, Noel. 2012. Meath Holy Wells. Trim: Meath Heritage Centre.

10 More

Also spelled Columbkille and Columcille.

“The Book of Kells was discovered near this spot when it was recovered after being stolen in 1007” (French 2012: 22).