by Pamela McLoughlin
St Fíonnán – a 6th Century Kerry Saint
Due to the Pandemic, many people are seeking comfort and solace from their religious beliefs more than ever, be it through the online Masses, support networks or the reciting of traditional prayers, customs and beliefs. Throughout centuries many people have made a pilgrimage to Holy Wells. It is believed the waters have healing properties. It is estimated there were approx. 3000 wells in Ireland. Many Christian churches were built near wells, and the early Celtic church used them for Baptism until the Roman church replaced them with the font inside the building.
A number of wells dedicated to St Fíonnán a 6th century Kerry Saint have seen a rise in pilgrims in recent weeks. This Christian saint is believed to protect people from sickness, plagues and misfortune.
According to local folklore and a 17th century Gaelic poem the Saint was credited with saving the people in the area from a terrible plague.
Na Toibreacha Beannaithe i gCinn Aird
Three wells – Mary’s Well, Fionán’s Well, and Michael’s Well – are there and the turas is still made to the festivals associated with them.
When St Michael and St Fionán were coming from the Skelligs there was a fog so they did not know where they were when they came to land at Charles Strand.
They went to the mountain but a great thirst was coming over them and not a drop of water was to be had. They prayed to God to provide water to them and a beautiful well with clear water sprang up for all of them at the bottom of the hill. Then Fionán said, ‘Now that God has given us this gift,
I will make a sanctuary, everything that is from the river to the sea and from the mountain to the strand and each person who comes into this sanctuary, his enemy shall not get him and they will not get the plague’.
They gave thanks to God then. The Virgin Mary came from among them and she praised highly their blessings and devotion. A third well sprang from the side of the hill where she stood and from then on there were three holy wells in Kinard. (Schools Folklore Collection: 050-054:0426)
From Ballintubber Abbey stretching out to Croagh Patrick is Tóchar Phádraig, the ancient pilgrim path gives the pilgrim reminders throughout their walk.
Things you can bring to your home during this time:
Penance – No complaining. Instead say “Thanks be to God”
Community – Include ‘the stranger’
Faith – Light a Candle as symbol of your faith
Celebration – Share your Food, your Joy, your Love and your Care
Go dté sibh slán - May you go safely.
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