SAINT ANN’S HOLY WELL – IN SAINT ANNE’S PUBLIC PARK
St. Ann’s Well in Raheny, Dublin, Ireland was once a popular holy well, and gave its name (with a slightly different spelling) to the well-known St. Anne’s Park, the city’s largest municipal park, home for many years to the Guinness family.
The well site has a protective hood of stones, and lies just beyond the old lake of the park, with its Roman temple, and below the Watchtower folly, near the main coastal entrance.
The well itself dried up in the 1950s, and although Dublin City Council made several attempts to relocate the source, it remains dry as of 2021. The site is still respected, and was visited in 2000 by a formal joint procession of worshippers from the Raheny parishes of the Roman Catholic Church and Church of Ireland. The site was cleaned of soil and vegetation by a specialist contractor in early 2018, the original well opening located, and a safety grille, also keeping leaves out, was fitted over the former outlet.
A holy well or sacred spring is a well or spring or other small body of water revered either in a Christian or pagan context, sometimes both. The term holy well is commonly employed to refer to any water source of limited size (i.e. not a lake or river, but including pools and natural springs and seeps), which has some significance in the folklore of the area where it is located, whether in the form of a particular name, an associated legend, the attribution of healing qualities to the water through the numinous presence of its guardian spirit or Christian saint, or a ceremony or ritual centred on the well site.
In Christian legend, the water is often said to have been made to flow by the action of a saint, a familiar theme especially in the hagiography of Celtic saints.