St. Colmcille's Well

Dublin Core


St. Colmcille's Well

Description of Well Item Type Metadata

1 Name of well and saint

Holy Well of St. Colmcille, Gartan Holy Well,

2 Townland, County, GPS

County: Donegal

Townland: Churchtown (Gartan Education Centre)

3 Physical description of well and its surroundings

Surroundings: Located within the ecclesiastical site of Gartan and is 2 km northwest of Church Hill. It is located near a graveyard, which has a structure known as the ‘Abbey’. There is badly preserved cross remains which are 20 m south of the graveyard. At the south base of the cross, there is a pile of loose stones that are used in the turas and pilgrimage at the holy well site. The holy well is northwest of the cross. Southwest of the graveyard is St. Columbkilles Chapel. There are views that overlook Gartan lough, Lough Nacally, and Lough Akibban on the east, southeast, and south. The well is surrounded by a modern rubblestone wall and has a modern cast-iron gate. The area is paved with large, flat flagstones and this enclosed area has the well and a low flagstone altar. There are modern stone markings that mark the well itself and the stops of the turas.

Well: The well has an opening which is a small square aperture on the northern side of the enclosing wall. The water is clear.

4 Cure

Cure: Loneliness

Obtained: Visiting St. Colmcille’s natal stone (Cronin et al., 2012).

5 Pattern day

Pattern Day: No pattern due is known to take place, but a celebration may take place on St. Colmcille’s birth, December 7th. His feast day is June 9.

6 Offerings

Offerings: There is a donation box for coins (Cronin et al., 2012).

7 Prayer rounds and stations

Prayer Rounds: There are modern stone marking the different stops along the turas, which are still followed. Loose stones at the southern base of the cross are connected and used with the turas performed at this holy well site (Cronin et al., 2012).

8 Stories

Local Story: Gartan, which is the ecclesiastical site in which the holy well is located, is reputed to be the birthplace of St. Colmcille. This saint is said to be the greatest of all of the Donegal saints (Cronin et al., 2012).

The well is described by Ó Muirgheasa (1936) as:

“Gartan Holy Well. See Reeves’ Adamnan, page Ixviii. It is in Gartan, the birthplace of Colmcille, and near the graveyard. The turus is still made. A visit to Colmcille’s natal stone also cures loneliness” (Cronin et al., 2012).

9 Publications

"Survey of the Heritage of Holy Wells in County Donegal" - John Cronin & Associates.

“The Birthplace of St. Colmcille” -

“Emerald Isle Tour” -

“Gartan Monastic Site” -

“Gartan” -

“Holy Wells & Abbey” -

10 More


Cronin, John and Associates. 2012. Survey of the Heritage of Holy Wells in County Donegal. Donegal County Council.