We are honoured to be part of another exciting and culturally important event in Working Artist Studios, when the launch of the wonderful and definitive book on the Holy Wells of County Cork by Amanda Clarke, will take place.
Amanda, who has spent over seven years pouring over maps and archives, trudging through mud, tearing through brambles and talking to anyone who might have a clue as to the whereabouts of a hitherto hidden or forgotten holy well has visited, reported upon and describes probably all the holy wells in the county. An amazing feat, a wonderful resource and one that serves us all, she deserves the highest praise for this extraordinary book.
358 holy wells are listed in the Archaeological Survey for County Cork, which is the highest density for any county in Ireland. Alarmed by how many seemed to be disappearing, both physically and from community memory, Amanda Clarke decided it would be interesting, enjoyable and possibly useful to attempt to visit each holy well in the county and record what she found.
Amanda set out on her peregrination on St Brigid’s Day 2016 and seven years later had visited 325 holy wells, the remaining 33 not found. At each site she took photographs, made notes, gathered local information and researched its history and folklore.
Amanda has been recording her work on her website since she began but the frequent request from her friends and followers on social media of ‘When’s the book coming out?’ encouraged her to start writing.
So many themes have emerged including over 30 recorded cures and a multitude of over 60 saints who are patrons of the wells, including some very colourful characters. The rituals and pilgrimages that are still carried on today are timeless and the intriguing complexities and stories surrounding the sacred trees and blessed fish connected to the wells make for a fascinating read.
The book is written in a lively and accessible style and richly illustrated, mostly with Amanda’s own photographs.
“I travelled to every corner of our beautiful county, encountered an extraordinary mixture of wells, had many adventures and met some wonderful people – my favourite phrase in the world is: I’ll just get my wellies!
My book is an audit with observations, about these often undervalued yet fascinating monuments and gives a broad overview of their current situation. I hope it will encourage others to find out about their local holy wells and to appreciate the unique, historic and frequently complex role they continue to play within the community.”