All posts by richard

  • Holy Well workshops

    Holy well workshops in Cork:
    Tuesday 28th Nov 8pm, Millstreet Parish Centre
    Friday 1st Dec 2.30pm, Kinsale Library
    Tuesday 5th 3pm, Mitchelstown Library
    Workshops exploring holy wells as part of the Cork County Council Creative Ireland supported (Re)sounding holy wells project. Led by:
    • Vicky Langan, independent artist
    • Dr Richard Scriven, Dept of Geography, UCC
    Please bring any old photos or mementos of holy wells
    ReSounding Holy Well Workshop - All
  • Book: Journeys of Belief and Belonging: Modern Irish Pilgrimage

    This book, based on the research of Dr Richard Scriven, explores the pilgrimage tradition and how it is manifest in contemporary Ireland. It illustrates how pilgrimage, an activity usually associated with the past, is a vibrant cultural phenomenon that inspires millions of people annually to leave home, go on a journey, and try to connect with the more meaningful aspects of life.

    The text uses images taken during Richard’s fieldwork at some of Ireland’s main pilgrimage sites, Lough Derg, Co Dongeal; Croagh Patrick, Co. Mayo; Knock, Co. Mayo; and, a holy wells in Munster. These photographs of pilgrims and rituals offer a window into this living and evolving tradition. Quotations from people interviewed during the research add personal stories revealing how pilgrimage is a rich spiritual and emotional journey for many. It is based on research funded by the Irish Research Council.

    Copies are in numerous local and institutional libraries in Ireland, and it is available to order through Amazon.

    Journeys of Belief and Belonging: Modern Irish Pilgrimage by [Scriven, Richard]

  • Creative Ireland Project

    (Re)sounding holy wells is an artistic and cultural heritage project being led by Vicky Langan, independent artist, and Dr Richard Scriven, Department of Geography, UCC, to imaginatively explore holy wells in Cork through workshops, audio recordings, and oral histories. It is being funded by the Creative Ireland County Cork Grant Scheme under the community participation strand of the Creative Ireland Programme 2017-2022. Using a collaborative approach with both primary schools and community heritage groups, the project will examine and highlight the roles of holy wells as cultural amenities and sites of vernacular heritage. Fresh understandings of the wells will be produced through the use of audio by combining field recordings with accounts of the holy wells from young people and community members. Participative workshops and performances will be advertised in local media and online; also, all materials will be available on a forthcoming website.

    Vicky Langan is a Cork-based artist whose practice operates across several overlapping fields, chiefly performance, sound, and film. She has gained bursary awards from Cork City Council and the Arts Council of Ireland. She has also been awarded a residency at the Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris.

    Dr Scriven is an Irish Research Council Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellow and a Royal Irish Academy Charlemont Scholar in the Department of Geography, UCC.

    CI_Mark_Right_Gold Cork County Council logo.jpg

  • Holy Wells in Ireland today: a conversation

    Seminars June 17

    ‘Holy Wells in Ireland today: a conversation’ is an event I am holding  in conjunction with my exhibition in the UCC Library ‘Journeys of Belief and Belonging: Modern Irish Pilgrimage’.

    Several speakers, including a local authority official, researchers, and explorers, will start the seminar, followed by a public discussion exploring the role of holy wells. This event hopes to consider the rich place of holy wells in local communities and in Irish heritage.

    It is on at 7pm Wednesday 21stJune, in the Geography Building, UCC. Refreshments will be served from 6.30pm.

  • LibFocus Post: Universities, Research and Public Engagement

    I have a guest post on the LibFocus blog to accompany my exhibition ‘Journeys of Belief and Belonging: modern Irish pilgrimage‘. I discuss the topic of ‘Universities, Research and Public Engagement‘ by highlighting the importance of researchers sharing their work with the general public and having conversations about it.

    Public engagement is “the idea that researchers need to communicate their work not only to others in their field – usually through peer-reviewed journal articles and conference presentations – but also to a broader range of audiences.” It is an important part of modern research agendas, but can does not always receive the support and acknowledgment it deserves. You can read more in the blog post.   

  • Graves, Wells & Statues: Exploring the heritage and culture of pilgrimage in medieval and modern Cork

    This book, co-written with Dr Louise Nugent – who blogs at Pilgrimage in Medieval Ireland, explores the often underappreciated story of pilgrimage in Cork city, from medieval to modern times. It was a research project funded by Cork City Council’s Heritage Publication Grant Scheme 2015, which enabled us to do a survey of pilgrimage locations in Cork and to produce a monograph on the topic.


    By examining former sites of pilgrimage, such as St Francis’s Well on the North Mall and Lady’s Well off Leitrim Street, and current sites, including St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Nano Nagle’s Grave, and Our Lady of Graces in St Mary’s Pope’s Quay, this book sheds light on the important role of pilgrimage in the social, cultural, and religious life of Cork. It offers a distinct approach to the heritage of the city through an examination of the themes of pilgrimage and sacred sites that draws together different features of the urban landscape, and also provides context and discussion of their historical and contemporary significance.

    The book is available in several Cork bookshops, including Liam Ruiséal and St FinBarre’s Cathedral shop; also, it can be baought in printed and kindle versions at

    This publication has been funded by Cork City Council’s Heritage Publication Grant Scheme 2015. Thanks to Niamh Twomey and all the staff in the Heritage section of Cork City Council for their advice.


  • International Conference of Historical Geographers 2015, London

    I am presenting that the International Conference of Historical Geographers 2015 in London as part of the Topographies of piety: Maps, texts, icons and pilgrimage sessions. I am returning to the subject matter of my MA in history, which had a strong geographical emphasis. Here’s the abstract for my piece.

    Peregrinatio, sanctity and place in the early Celtic Church: St Adomnán’s writings on St Columba and the Holy Land in the seventh century
    Using the writings of St Adomnán, the abbot of Iona in the Inner Hebrides isles, Scotland (679–704AD), I consider how the early Celtic Church in Britain and Ireland developed distinct conceptions of the sanctity of person and place, which contributed to the emergence of Christian pilgrimage within these islands during the early medieval period. This paper is based on comparative analysis of his Vita Columbae (the Life of St Columba), which outlines the virtues and deeds of the saintly founder of the monastery on Iona, and De Locis Sanctis (On Holy Places), an account of travels to the Holy Land based on the testimony of Arculf, a Frankish bishop. It also builds on discussions of the Celtic idea of peregrinatio, the role of hagiography in the creation of spiritual landscapes and debates on the nature of sacred locations within Christianity. Through these texts, I explore how clerics from Britain and Ireland understood their spiritual and geographical place within the world, and how the figure of the saint was central to the sanctification of locations at the edge of the earth.

  • St Brigid’s Well & Exit 13

    Just off the M7 (the primary road between Dublin and Limerick/Cork), lies St Brigid’s Well. This is a very active site associated with one of the most prominent Irish saints. While Feb 1st is the main day to visit the well, it receives pilgrims throughout the year.

    The well is only a few minutes from Exit 13 on the motorway, a junction more associated with the adjacent Kildare Village Outlet Centre. This position presents a geographical juxtaposition between the modern, flowing motorway and the stationary, sedate well. Two aspects of Irish social and cultural life overlap here. The new roadway designed to seamlessly connect major urban areas, with the purpose built retail centre, boasting world-famous brands, is a newer ‘Celtic Tiger’ Ireland. While, St Brigid’s Well, a site off heritage and spiritual/religious activities, seems to be of an older, vernacular Ireland. However, there isn’t a tension, more of a co-existence. People visit either, both, and neither. Perhaps, approaching Exit 13, you might consider this and what you will do.

    St Brigid's Well, enclosed by a low circular stone wall.

    St Brigid’s Well, enclosed by a low circular stone wall.

    A rag tree by the well, with a selection of fabrics, tokens, and other items hanging off a branch.

    A rag tree by the well, with a selection of fabrics, tokens, and other items hanging off a branch.

    A statue of the saint by a modern structuring housing votive offerings.

    A statue of the saint by a modern structuring housing votive offerings.