Carryblagh, Co. Donegal

Dublin Core


Carryblagh, Co. Donegal


C Ray

Description of Well Item Type Metadata

1 Name of well and saint

St Colmcille

2 Townland, County, GPS

Carryblagh, Co. Donegal (near Portsalon), Fanad Peninsula

3 Physical description of well and its surroundings

The well is enclosed in a dry stone square structure beneath a cliff. During the twentieth century, hazel bushes grew around the well site and were recipients of votive offerings until recently. In a 2010 renovation, ten metres on either side of the well were cleared and additions were made to the site. The well and turas grounds are now separated from the road by a low stone wall. Another stone structure to the left of the well enshrines two tablets, one explaining who St Colmcille is and the other noting the rounds to be performed in the wellside turas with St. Colmcille's prayer. A small statue of the saint (under 12 inches in height) is behind glass in the same structure. The well structure now has a large cairn of stones behind and on top of it as it appeared in photos from 1900 (see Nic Chearáin, 2012:25).

4 Cure

The well is known as a cure-all. Cures particularly mentioned in the locality include toothache and aching limbs. Brídiín Nic Chearáin notes that if a petitioner slept beside the well, a cure was assured (2012:28).

5 Pattern day

The Pattern Day is June 9th (St Colmcille's Day), but the turas continues from June 9 through the 17th (a novena). Most people asked reported visiting during one of the nine days if they visited at all, but some came to the well on each of the nine days in 2017.

6 Offerings

Votives are now deposited on top of the well structure. These include candles, rosary beads, small religious statutes, empty medication bottles, sports trophies, limpet shells, hair ornaments, children's toys, and a water bottle brought from Lourdes.

7 Prayer rounds and stations

The turas was punctuated by three cross-inscribed stones. At the first one says 5 Our Father's, 5 Hail Mary's and 5 Gloria's. This is repeated at the second station stone. At the 3rd station, the numbers of prayers are seven of each. When stations are completed, one says the Rosary at the well walking around the well cairn three times and leaving a stone on the cairn with each circumambulation. After the completion of prayers, one may access the well water to bless oneself

8 Stories

St Colmcille was to have mislaid some books on one of his journeys. He prayed to find them and then spotted a deer with his books on its back. The deer managed to slide the books down into an orderly pile beside the well

9 Publications

The digitized Schools Folklore Scheme has accounts of the well.

Nic Chearáin, Brídiín. 2012. The Holy Wells of Fanad. Gaeltacht Bheo Fhánada: Fanad, Co. Donegal.

Lacey, Brian, Eamon Cody and Claire Cotter 2013. Archaeological Survey of County Donegal : A Description of the Field Antiquities from the Mesolithic Period to the 17th Century A.D. Donegal Heritage Office.

In his Life of Colmcille, Manus O'Donnell (d. 1564) wrote about the book-returning deer (see Lacey, Brian. 1998. Manus O’Donnell’s life of Colum Cille. Dublin: The Four Courts Press.).