Votive Offerings at St Brigid’s Well

Whenever I’m in the Burren or the north-western part of Clare, I try to call by St Brigid’s Well¬†near Liscannor. It is a wonderful site complete with a marvelous collection of votive offerings, for which it is known, in the grotto leading to the well.

The vast collection of offerings which fill the grotto leading to the well.

The vast collection of offerings which fill the grotto leading to the well.

Votive offerings are beautiful objects each of which as an intention behind it. It has been left there for a particular reason by a person who firmly believes in the power of the place and the saint and the benefit of partaking in this custom. While some of the intentions may appear obvious, others relating to seemingly odd items are shrouded from everyone except the believer and the saint.

The grotto spaces is crammed full of offerings, with every conceivable space being used to leave and insert items.

The grotto spaces is crammed full of offerings, with every conceivable space being used to leave and insert items.

Initial fascination with these objects, is replaced by curiosity, concern and speculation on their intentions. This is a rich material-based cultural practice, linked both to Catholicism and folk customs, but it is also people’s lives. Dreams, despairs, anxieties, losses and a host of deeply personal motives are materialised. Accordingly, regardless of your beliefs they and the place should be treated with respect.

A small bible (wettened from the exposed spae above the well), with rosary beads inside, sits next to a whiskey bottle filled with some of the (presumably) well water.  The rest bwetween a statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and a cushion.

A small bible (damp from the exposed space above the well), with rosary beads inside, sits next to a whiskey bottle filled with some of the (presumably) well water. The rest between a statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and a cushion.

A collection of offerings hanging from the ceiling, including rosary beds, miraculous medals and a feather.

A collection of offerings hanging from the ceiling, including rosary beds, miraculous medals and a feather.

The rag tree which is over the well, with a selection of rags tied to the branches.

The rag tree which is over the well, with a selection of rags tied to the branches.

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