Mystery of the Well

St. Corán Well (1)

On our recent family vacation in Cork, I spotted a road sign for a Holy well on the side of the road. And never being one to pass by on a chance to find something new, I hauled the entire family off in search of the Well. Surprisingly it was well sign posted, not much hunting was required four separate sign posts, led me off the main road and up a rather step hill into what can only be described as a housing estate. And there just off the road near the summit was the Well of St. Corán. The wife has unfortunately never been keen to go exploring, but thankfully the three kids are always excited to do so.

St. Corán Well (2) St. Corán Well (4) St. Corán Well (3)

The Well itself is situated in a rather tranquil, well maintained piece of land adjacent a bunch of houses. From the Iron Cross guarded enterance, a long narrow path leads up to the actual spring which is contained within a concrete Well House. Inside the water is rather stagnant, I would not recommend drinking from this, and there are the usual coins, pins and relics that have been thrown into the water by previous visitors.

St. Corán Well (5) St. Corán Well (6)

It is claimed that Ireland contains an excess of 3’000 holy wells scattered across the country. Most have been taken over by Christian association and are named after various Saints. But many of these were places of importance & ritual for our pre Christian ancestors. Many of the customs associated with holy wells, such as their healing powers can be traced back to pre-Christian times, where the ancient Deities where honoured. These natural springs were often believed to be sourced from the otherworld and  as such contained magic from this realm which could bestow certain powers on you if you drank from, or bathed in its waters.

St. Corán Well (7) St. Corán Well (8)

The mystery associated with this well, concerns its namesake, St. Corán. Although he is briefly mentioned on some tourist sites as being responsible for bringing Christianity to the Youghal area in the 5th century. A monastic settlement is said to have been established here and a church and graveyard once stood in an adjacent field, but the only trace of this to be found today is the Well. There is no mention of him to be found in any of the ancient texts or research sources. Corán is not even listed on the Saints of Ireland list! I wonder, perhaps he might have been one of the monks from the nearby monastery of Ardmore, and decided to bugger of to Youghal and establish his own little hermitage? So unless the name has been corrupted of the years, Corán may very well remain a mystery for me. If you can shed any light on the subject or know anything further about Corán, I would love to hear from you. Please PM me or feel free to share in the comments section below.

St. Corán Well (9) St. Corán Well (10)

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the comments section below.

About edmooneyphotography

Photographer, Blogger, Ruinhunter, with an unhealthy obsession for history, mythology and the arcane.
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49 Responses to Mystery of the Well

  1. Ali Isaac says:

    Ooooh…. intriguing, Ed! I love visiting holy wells, but in spite of all the Christian paraphernalia you find there, they always seem powerfully pagan to me.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. beetleypete says:

    Nothing like a mysterious holy well to get the imagination working.
    Another good one indeed, Ed.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Most annoying Pete,
      I spent about three weeks trawling through old books and records looking for any mention of this Corán character. Even many hours on the internet failed to provide anything of interest. Im just hoping that someone reading this may be able to shed some light on its history,
      Fingers crossed 🙂


  3. noelleg44 says:

    What a grand mystery to follow up! I would love to hear more if someone has information. Too bad about the water – probably polluted from people throwing things in, or maybe the source of the water has slowed.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post Ed, and a mystery! I too would like to know if you find out any more about this site!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You speak of the site having “higher vibrations” than others, and that one of the other sites (Tobar Bhride) “stank” of pain… that is interesting.

    Are you yourself Christian, or some kind of (spiritual?) empath who can feel/”smell” in some kind of enhanced way?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hey Dan, most certainly not Christian. I wouldn’t even call it spiritual in the religious sence. I believe that everything living or not is made up of energy. Call if what you will, chi, life force spirit or plain old electricity.
      Music is the best way I can compare it. You listen to some of Eddie Van Halens solos which have a high positive vibration, and you feel good when you listen to this as the vibrations interact with your own energy.
      Or you could listen to some Panthera or sepultura which have a more aggressive vibration and this also has an effect. Not saying that either is bad as I listen to either or both depending on my mood.
      Well places can have this vibration or energy too, it can be either the remains of something that once was or something that was left there.
      I reckon we can all feel this whether we realize it or not.
      Hope I’m making sense?

      Liked by 2 people

      • Makes total sense, since it is true that humans/biological entities emit energy in many ways. Plus, I can see the influence from your martial arts studies (ki/chi). I think the problem with ki are all the outlandish claims fake martial arts practitioners make about it in order to sell books or themselves. The best (meaning worst) example of this are the ridiculous tai ch’i competitions in the States with music and loud outfits, with big trophies and titles. Complete and utter bullsh*t. If an elderly person can only move their arms, shoulders, and feet a few inches either way they can still benefit greatly from tiny tai ch’i movements and postures. The old people I did tai ch’i with in Tiananmen Square with their tiny movements displayed more health and power than a million tai ch’i “champions” combined.

        As you know as a real practitioner, this energy usage/knowledge is useless if it is not used for good in the community. All REAL martial artists work with the disadvantaged, disabled, at risk youth, the elderly, and so on, or in whatever way they can, in order to make the community so strong no one remains so inwardly weak that they have to hurt others to “fix” themselves. As you well know, photography can be “kata” and especially “community kata” if you practice it in an uplifting way. The kata of compassion is the REAL kata… and the enervated can become the energized through your actions/pursuits.

        As my iaido teacher used to say, when tigers (white belts) meet they fight, when dragons (masters) meet, they bow to each other and have tea…

        Liked by 1 person

        • There was a similar saying in Kenpo. Itsquite sad the way Martial Arts from whatever discipline have become so diluted these days.
          Again due mainly to a lack of balance, and many whom claim to teach internal as well as external MA tend to be Charlatans.
          The reson we learned who to fight in the early days, was so that we did not have to fight.
          So many lessons learned along the way, which apply in many situations in life.
          Which leads to me to my main princaple. Its not the end of the journey that counts, its how you get there 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          • I totally agree.

            The WORST example of this was when I visited Steven Seagal’s old dojo in Juso, Japan. I used to live about 3 minutes away by train, and wandered in there one day (July 2000) to see it. Steven was the first foreigner to open his own “approved” aikido dojo, so it has historic value. But it was a disgrace. The locker rooms were filthy, and the students wore jewellry (ear rings, gold neck laces) while they trained. There was also a sign that laid out how many hours you had to spend training in the actual dojo before you were handed your black belt and how much it would cost!! The training was terrible, and disorganized, and clearly set up to be a place to hang out and do time until you had paid enough to wander off with a piece of paper. It had become merely a place you could go to buy a black belt and say you “trained” at this legendary dojo. It was f*cking sickening. It was run by his ex-wife (Steven had long since left) and clearly she was only interested in making a good living letting idiots buy black belts from her.

            The worst part was I got a free “lesson” because I was a friend of a friend, and my sempai had no idea how to teach anything. He told me my ukemi (falling technique) was terrible and tried to get me to do it like he did (which was truly terrible). Not like I am a master of ukemi, but MY judo sensei trained Olympic judoka, and I had 2nd degree black belt level ukemi, good enough to train with/fight 3rd and 4th degree (Olympic) judoka. Good enough that when I got my ass routinely kicked by 3rd/4th dan guys I walked away with only a bruised ego!

            So this jackass told me I had the ukemi of a beginner… not that I had improper ukemi for aikido… but no ukemi skill… at all! AND he was wearing a Reebok T-shirt (!!) with his hakama. Completely disgraceful…

            Once again, I learnt more profound and beautiful lesson(s) about true strength and mastery from 80 – 90 year old Chinese housewives doing tai ch’i in the middle of Beijing at sunrise. These gals had been doing it for their entire lives, and their grace and peace was truly humbling.

            T-shirt dojos and tai ch’i competitions make me sick! 完全に嫌!

            Liked by 1 person

            • OMG, Steven was an idol of mine back in my teens. But when I heard about the wife and two kids he left behind in Japan I lost alot of respect for him.
              He seems to be a bit of a media slut, trying to portray himself as this peaceful, warrior buddist type character, when in reallity he is just a shitty B movie actor.
              Thats really sad that the Dojo is selling black belts for profit. I remember being told by Hatsumi Soke duriing a seminar in Europe that belts were a great device for holding up you pants. Thats advice that I have followed ever since. Colour belts and gradings do serve a purpose, but they should not be the sole reason.
              Sadly many martial artists are just in it for the money and end up teaching utter crap.
              I would much rather train with those little old ladies than all these spanky 10th Dan masters of POOP.
              Although, I would not say no to training with Miss Rousey of UFC fame 🙂


              • Mercy, compassion, and forgiveness are the highest forms of “martial” arts. making peace is the highest power. Turning enemies into friends and allies means not having to even lift a finger to stop violence. The best martial moves are the actions of the heart. THAT is what the “do”-s teach. The “jutsu”-s should lead to the greater “do”-s, the ways to transcend the fist. You don’t prevent war with war…

                You, Ed, have the rank of an 7th or 8th dan martial artist by unclenching your fists and picking up a camera, bringing light to people internationally. You have earned the levels of black belt that don’t…can’t exist… in martial arts. Our respective karate/iaido/judo/kenjutsu teachings can only be applied to the body for a certain time but the greater lessons leave the body behind and bring the mind/heart forward.

                The tai ch’i ladies grasp/grasped what was beyond the body… friendship, peace, health, and unity through gathering to do tai ch’i with anyone else who might show up… no matter what level, nationality, gender, etc. They didn’t wear special clothes, hold titles, earn belts, or anything.

                That very same state of being is the exact same state I encountered years earlier in Seoul, Korea while doing research for my Ph.D degree. I was visiting Jogyesa Temple downtown and often ate in the community kitchen (free) in the temple. The local old ladies and nuns who ran the kitchen served with the same spirit as they tai ch’i ladies. There was/is no need for fists when hearts and minds are fed healthy thoughts and great food. Not a lot of fights after a delicious bowl of bebimbap with some japjae on the side! They even got me involved to help on the serving line. The first day I did this was the day I actually (l)earned my black belts.

                Peace, love , joy, mercy and compassion are the only ‘belts’ that matter.

                Liked by 1 person

  6. Rajiv says:

    3,000 is a lot!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. gaiainaction says:

    The water in those holy wells is supposed to be healing, that is what I hear said anyway. A great illustrated story!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thanks for another fascinating post. I love the holy strands that transcend time and belief systems particular to the eras.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Again some great photo’s Ed, always very ethereal looking, as though you see them and then next time you look they will be gone. It ramps up that feeling even more so when against the back drop of a housing estate.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. belshade says:

    Many ancient sites preserve the energy they once had. Preservation is tricky. St. Coran’s Well would seem to have been heavily “restored”, and I was surprised it still retained some power. I have often felt that ancient sites with manicured lawns have lost something. Grianan Fort in Donegal has acquired a car park – admittedly a little below the structure and nominally out of sight – but I still saw it as an intrusion. How far should we go in search of the mighty tourist dollar? In the case of St. Coran’s Well it looks as if “civilisation” in the form of a housing estate had already crept up on it. With its 3,000 wells and perhaps 20,000 other ancient sites Ireland poses problems for anyone wanting to build a house! The prehistoric home of the first settlers at Mount Sandel, near Coleraine, was only discovered when they started digging foundations for a “posh” housing estate – so it can’t be all bad. The last time I saw the holy well at Grianan it had acquired a cross, but was otherwise in its very natural state. Des.


    • So true Des. when you leave nature to its own devices it does tend to do quite well.
      Sadly humans like to control and manipulate things, which aint always bad unless you are going against nature itself.
      Unfortunatly modern man has lost the knowledge which allowed him to exist in harmony with nature.
      Will we ever get this back?
      I sure hope so, before its too late 🙂


  11. Great moody photos, as always, Ed.

    The townland name is Seafield now, but the original Irish name is Cill Chuairán, the Church of Cuaráin, or Coran. Likely the site of a church dedicated to same. Placename is recorded as far back as 1604. The townland to the immediate south is called Dysert, (‘desert/wilderness’), which is a very common term used in early to late medieval Ireland to denote a monastic hermitage. There are several other ‘Kilcoran’ placenames scattered throughout Ireland, mainly in central/south.

    Re: the holy well, as it appears now, seems to have been ‘created’/revived around 1975. Can’t see it marked on older maps, although there is a blurry ‘blob’ on the 1st Ed OS map (c.1840s) that may have been a 19thC ‘roof covering’, of the type that sometimes survive elsewhere. It doesn’t seem to be there around 1900 however.There seems to have been a linear waterway running along from the well, crossing the road and then going off at an angle. That long pathway and fence line seem to respect the original path of this waterway. Unusual that the holy well isn’t marked on the early maps. May suggest that it was in use as a standard watercourse during the period.

    The date of veneration is apparently Feb 9th, which ties in to a ‘Cuaran the Wise’ in ‘Desi (Tribal name) Mumu (Munster)’; who is commemorated in the Martryrology of Donegal on the same date. In it he is given another name ‘Cronan Mac Nethseman’ and there is also a later gloss (scrawled addition) calling him ‘Mo-chuarocc’. (Mo- was a title/term of endearment commonly used of Irish saints, kind of like ‘Dear’). that name also appears in the Martyerology of Oengus too.

    All in all, a lot of residual indications of a medieval church site, that, although long disappeared, seems to have been remembered in local lore. Ironically, the holy well itself, is probably the ‘newest’ addition.

    Lastly, at the risk of deflating romantic pop culture impressions (again!) I’m afraid that current archaeological thinking on Irish Holy Wells is that a great many of the c.3000 are post reformation in date/creation. Some would be late medieval, and a fairly small number again can be traced back to early medieval. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Pingback: Defending the Town | Ed Mooney Photography

  13. jazzfeathers says:

    Fascinating place. I love the photos with the cross and the ‘corridor’ behind it. It’s like there’s a story in there 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. unironedman says:

    Great pics as always. Love that holy wells wherever they are found around the country are still essentially treated as a pagan sites in the way people use them and leave little votive offerings. I suspect some of these folk are not even aware of the pagan links.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. What an excellent find. Hope you find out who Coran was.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Darlene says:

    I love places like this! What a story it would make.


  17. Well done on those photographs, Ed. I’m ashamed to say I live not too far from the well but haven’t been to it yet. Must rectify that.

    Liked by 1 person

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