The sacred wells of Ireland are steeped in traditions and rituals which are an integration of both pre-Christian and Christian traditions. These wells were considered holy wells and the water was only used for blessing or ritual purposes. It could not be used for household purposes.
The visit to the sacred well and the ritual of walking around the well was done in silence and prayer, and often in bare feet. Offerings were left at the well including coins, cloth belonging to the sick person, red ribbons for health and to keep away evil, and many other religious symbols including medals and statues.
Each well had its own cures and folklore stories and can be partly attributed to the minerals in the well water in addition to the faith and belief in the intention. The well was walked around clockwise which goes back to sun workshop while walking in the direction of the sun.The wells often have trees beside them and these trees too were considered sacred. The most common was the hawthorn or fairy tree, and others were hazel and ash.
The wells were looked after and kept clean by a family or by the community and shared by all. The Pattern Day was a big event in the community and still continues in many areas. It involved mass or a blessing, followed by games, music, dancing and refreshments. This tradition goes back to the old Celtic festivals that were merged with Catholic patron saint’s days.