Saint Brendan's Holy Well, Gowlaun

Saint Brendan's Holy Well, Gowlaun
James Feeney
Saint Brendan's Holy Well, Gowlaun
James Feeney
Saint Brendan's Holy Well, Gowlaun
James Feeney
Saint Brendan's Holy Well, Gowlaun
James Feeney
Saint Brendan's Holy Well, Gowlaun
James Feeney

Townland: Gowlaun, Lisdoonvarna

Description of Holy Well and Landscape Setting

Saint Brendan’s Well is located about 1 mile east of Lisdoonvarna along the Gowlaun River.  It appears to be located in peat soil, beside a wooded rise of ground. At the time of the research visit, the well had a sheet of plywood over the mouth to protect the waters.

The area is considered to be of geological importance with a mixture of rock types meeting in the area.

Saint and Feast Day Associated with Holy Well

Saint Brendan, a Kerry saint, is most closely associated with Ardfert (Kerry) and Clonfert (Galway). There are several wells dedicated to Saint Brendan in Clare. His renown extends along the western seaboard into North Sligo. His feast day is 16th May. John O’Donovan, writing as part of his work with the Ordnance Survey, states that stations were still being offered at the well in 1839:

‘There is another Holy Well in the Townland of Lisdoonvarna dedicated to the great navigator, St. Brendan, at which Stations are still performed, but St. Brendan’s Day is not remembered.’

Other than the recent restoration, there was no evidence of this well still being an active place of pilgrimage.

Natural Heritage around the Holy Well

There is no immediate foliage near the well. Ash, poplar and alder trees grow along the river bank.

Heritage Attractions Nearby

The town of Lisdoovarna is three kilometres from the well site. The cliffs of Moher are approximately 20 minutes by car.

Additional Information

‘N. of the townland there is a hill named Lisateeann. Through the townland there is a river running nearly E. & W. named Owen Goulann, and south of the townland the ruins of an old mill viz Millinagoulaun’

-Descriptive remarks, from the Ordnance Survey Parish Namebook, record on 
Gowlaun, Gábhlán meaning ‘a small fork’. The townland name must refer to the topography of the place.

Discover More…

Clare County Library

Clare County Library 2

Entry for Gowlaun Townland at

Ordnance Survey Letters, Royal Irish Academy

Ordnance Survey Letters, Ask About Ireland

Record of Monuments and Places Number


Surveyed by Michael Houlihan

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