Saint John's Well, John the Baptist's Well or Cratloe Holy Well, Cratloemoyle
Townland: Cratloemoyle, Killeely
Description of Holy Well and Landscape Setting
This holy well is in a field to the west of Cratloe Road, 500 metres north-west of Cratloe Tower House. It lies on a path descending from the field. The well is a spring from which there is a slow but active stream. Work was carried out on the flow of the well in the summer of 2020 and it is now renewed and strong, giving fresh pure water from below.
Saint and Feast Day Associated with Holy Well
Visits to the well on the feast day of Saint John were once numerous, with many people visiting the well in the evening from Limerick City. It was a day of prayer and celebration, with tents offering refreshments. James Frost writing in 1893, mentions that the day often ended with fights between groups, as was tradition with Pattern Days in the past.
Records in the National Folklore Schools’ Collection state:
‘St John’s feast-day is celebrated on the twenty fourth of June. On that day the people used come from all over the parish to the well. They used do certain rounds around the well.They used go around the well nine times on their knees and at the same time say a round of their beads. Tents used come out from Limerick to the well, just the same as they come out to Clonmoney races now. In the evening then the people used enjoy themselves. There used be every kind of a tent such as tea tents, whiskey tents and tents in which sweets and cakes were sold. In the evening the people used to fight and sing and dance.There is hardly any water in the well now except about an inch of dirty water.’
Natural Heritage around the Holy Well
The holy well stands in rich grassland which is no longer cultivated. Two fine sycamore trees stand guard over the well. There is also blackthorn, whitethorn, alder and elder in the immediate area around the holy well. There is a stream close to the hedge in the distance on marshy ground, making its way towards the Shannon River.
Heritage Attractions Nearby
Historic buildings near the holy well site include Cratloe Castle and Cratloe Church.
Frost, J 1893, The History and Topography of the County of Clare: From the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the 18th Century, Sealy, Bryers & Walker, Dublin
Record of Monuments and Places Number