Laghtsenan, Leacht Sheanáin Holy Well, Moylougha
Townland: Moylougha, Kilrush
Description of Holy Well and Landscape Setting
This holy well is a part of a larger sacred landscape that begins with a cairn of stones northeast of the well, known as Senan’s Altar. The well has constant clear water. Above the spring is a glass enclosure containing a large effigy of the saint. A wall with some domestic hedging protects the site. There are two torn bushes to the north east of the well and a large flag-stone lying on the ground here. This is said to mark the home or birthplace of Saint Senan.
In the graveyard at the site is a small oratory, an old church and an unusual bullaun stone, possibly the base of an old stone cross, which now serves as a holy water font.
In the low ground to the south is Saint Senan’s birthplace. It includes a mound, trees and an important birthstone, known as Leacht Sheanáin. Beyond the birthplace of Saint Senan, the pilgrimage route goes a little further south to Loch Sheanáin, which is now mostly dry.
Folklore tells that the lake was formed by Saint Senan in one of his early miracles. The pilgrimage route continues around the lake in the direction of the sun, before finishing at the holy well that lies midway along the north shore.
Saint and Feast Day Associated with Holy Well
Saint Senan’s feast day is 8th March. The well is still very active on the Saint’s feast day, with occasional religious ceremonies led by local clergy.
The following instructions for the pilgrimage route of the well were recounted by local man, John Mulqueen:
- Start at the Marian Year Shrine by walking five times around it while praying.
- Kneel at the holy water font in the graveyard and then walk the circuit of the graveyard perimeter five times. Return to the water font to kneel and pray.
- At Saint Senan’s Oratory, kneel and make the sign of the cross five times. Walk around the oratory five times while praying.
- Move down to Saint Senan’s birthplace and circle the upper tree five times while praying.
- Continue praying while making five rounds of Leacht Sheanáin, the birthstone of Senan, on your knees.
- From Saint Senan’s well, walk east along the shore of Senan’s Lough until you return to the well.
- Complete pilgrimage with prayers and invocations at the well.
Natural Heritage Around the Holy Well
The well site is situated in a somewhat mixed landscape. There is a graveyard, a grazing field where Senan’s birthplace lies and marshy ground, which contains the remains of the mostly dried out lake.
Heritage Attractions Nearby
The town of Kilrush is 10 minutes from the site of the holy well. The site of Senan’s 6th century monastic community is close by at Scattery Island, in the Shannon estuary.
There are a number of holy wells associated with Saint Senan in County Clare. Others include Carrowmanagh South, Inishcealtra Doonass Wells 1 & 2, Tullaher, Shyan, Kilkee Termon East, Erribul, Feagarroge, Kilcloher (Kilballyowen) Leadmore East, Drim, Teernagloghane, Scattery Island, Killanena (Clonlea), Rinemackaderrig and Molougha.
Record of Monuments and Places Number
Surveyed by Michael Houlihan