St. Olcan's, Cranfield, Co. Antrim

Dublin Core


St. Olcan's, Cranfield, Co. Antrim


C Ray

Description of Well Item Type Metadata

1 Name of well and saint

St Olcan's Well

2 Townland, County, GPS

Churchtown Point, Cranfield, Co. Antrim

3 Physical description of well and its surroundings

On the shores of Lough Neagh, by 13th century church ruins, St. Olcan's "well" is more of a pond encircled by a low stone wall impoundment with steps for access.

4 Cure

Well water was thought efficacious for safe delivery from childbirth, as were the gypsum crystals called "amber pebbles" that could be found in the well. These pebbles were placed in beverages to effect various cures and were reputed to have been swallowed by emigrants to protect themselves from drowning on ocean journeys. Both well water and the amber pebbles were thought to also protect homes from burning.

After completing the rounds, well water cures were often obtained by dipping a rag into the well, rubbing the rag on the affected part of the body and then tying the rag to a nearby tree. The belief, common to holy wells in Ireland and elsewhere in the world, is that as the rag decayed, a cure would be received. Rounds were to be completed on three consecutive days at any point between May Eve and the 29th of June (St. Olcan's Day).

5 Pattern day

The main season for visiting the well was between May Eve and St. Olcan's Day, the 29th of June. Mass is celebrated on the Sunday closest to that date.

6 Offerings

Rags, rosaries and other votives are tied to overhanging trees.

7 Prayer rounds and stations

The rounds entailed prayers first at the door of the ruined church, then seven circumambulations of the church ruin (counted with small stones dropped on each round), and seven circumambulations of the well (also counted with small stones).

8 Stories

St. Olcan was supposed to be a contemporary of St. Patrick and is associated with the Dál Riata. By legend, he was buried near the site.

9 Publications