Visit the ancient wells and pilgrim paths of Co. Wicklow. Discover hidden wells and the deep connections between landscape and spirituality in historic Ireland.
In Ireland, there has long been a tradition of water worship and ritual in both pre-Christian and Christian cultures. These wells were at the heart of that spiritual ecosystem. There are about 3000 holy wells sites marked on old maps in Ireland dating back to 1800. Some local friends and I set up a group called Wicklow Wells (facebook group) with the aim of documenting, researching and restoring about 30 of the total 120 holy wells in the county.
Often set in beautiful but hidden locations, many of the holy wells were completely overgrown and neglected, and in some cases in danger of being lost forever. Researching and documenting these sites has brought me together with some fascinating people, and recording the lore and traditions from the older generations has been a privilege.
Founded in the 6th century by St. Kevin, Glendalough is a world famous monastic site with round tower, set in a beautiful valley with two lakes and surrounded by the Wicklow mountains.
Visited by pilgrims for hundreds of years, this ancient site is steeped in spirituality and history.
The old pilgrim paths of Ireland were and are a journey to a destination with a focused prayer or desire for healing or assistance. With the monastic city of Glendalough pilgrims walked long distances from all directions to bring offerings to the monastery and to get help with the healing herbs that were used in those days for physical ailments.
Many of the wells on the old paths would have been visited en route. Pilgrims left an offering of money, a red ribbon or a piece of cloth, or a belonging of the person who was sick.
The ritual of walking around the wells a certain number of times clockwise goes back to the sun worship tradition on walking in the direction of the sun. The walking at the wells was often done in bare feet.
From local people keen to learn more about their history, to international tour groups, academics and pilgrims; Irish Sacred Well Tours offer a range of customised walks with a personal touch.
Focusing on history, folklore, nature awareness or relaxation, each walk is customised to suit the visitor and help them get the most from this amazing part of Ireland.