I took this images on a visit to Heywood Gardens, County Laois, two years ago and then place some of the photographs into an exhibition held in Callan, Co. Kilkenny the same year.
Heywood Gardens are not vast, but they offer one of Ireland’s most private wildlife locations.
St Patrick’s well is located In Clonmel, County Tipperary.
The Well pre-dates Christian times by a considerable period, clearly only being referred to as belonging to St Patrick since he or the local church converted the local people to Christianity.
There is a lot of evidence to show that in ancient Ireland well worship was widely practised. Many if not all of Ireland’s holy wells of later Christian times had been objects of pagan veneration, and regarded as sacred, centuries before the advent of Christianity. In fact many Irish place names which have their origins dating from pre-Christian times are derived from wells. One of those sacred springs Tipra Arann in the present Barony of Clanwilliam around Tipperary Town, gave its name to County Tipperary. In the Bronze Age there seems to have been no temples constructed for the purposes of worship. Pagan rites were performed in the open air. Those were places of popular assembly as well as centres for pagan worship and sacrifices.”
Sacrifices ? There is no evidence of this so I think the writer of the page is talking about offerings. Items of personal value placed into the well as a thank you to the water gods.
“St Patrick and his disciples on their travels throughout the country took advantage of those assemblies to preach the Gospel and to baptise the new converts. To St. Patrick coming from lands within the former Roman Empire some of those Celtic customs must have appeared strange. Well worship was re-orientated and transformed into a Christian context. In due course, from being places where pagan rites had been performed, the wells became places of Christian worship. There was a tradition which has died out that people visited St Patrick’s Well before sunrise on the first day of May – a date which coincides with the Celtic Festival of Bealtaine.”
I find the idea of Holy wells in the early Christian period to be fascinating, It appears, as covered above to be a clear attempt by the church to override the previous worship of water gods and to move this worship over to the new God that the modern christian church now worships.
I first exhibited this Infra-red photograph of this bridge that crosses the river Anner, Clonmel, County Tipperary. The exhibition was held in the public Library in Clonmel town.