People believe this West Cork well can heal pesky warts
To the naked eye, it’s a murky pool sunken into the grass in a muddy field.
According to ancient Irish beliefs however, the holy well at Lissagriffin has some rather magical powers.
For hundreds of years, believers have travelled to the remote site on a pilgrimage to cure a common ailment: warts.
A harmless lump of skin caused by viruses in the human papillomavirus, or HPV, family, most people will have at least one wart at some point in their lives and there are plenty of over-the-counter medications to get rid of them.
If it’s a more natural remedy you’re after however, it might be time to plan a trip to wild West Cork. It is there, in an ancient ruined church yard in Lissagriffin, near Barley Cove, that you’ll find an unassuming pond with an interesting history.
According to explorer Amanda Clarke, author of Holy Wells of Cork, it could be something to do with the type of stone formed in the area.
“This well is made out of a large ballaun stone now sunken deep into the ground to the south of Kilmoe Church. Although not strictly a well as such, ballauns are often associated with healing on account of the properties of the water that gathers in the basin.” she says.
Clarke has visited more than 300 holy wells throughout Ireland, hiking through muddy fields and bogs in remote areas of Sheep’s Head, Mizen Head, Goleen, Whiddy and Dursey Islands, to name but a few, in search of the most interesting examples.
Two other popular ‘wart wells’ are located inside the ruins of Timoleague Abbey and at St Gobnait‘s Well, Ballyvourney.
But that’s not all: of Cork’s vast collection of holy wells, 29 are also reported to contain a blessed fish, usually an eel or a trout.
“To see a blessed fish is considered very good luck, your prayers will be answered or your affliction cured.” says Clarke.
While there are no medical studies to back up the healing power of a holy well, local lore does offer some basic instructions if you want to give it a bash:
Amanda explains: “You are meant to dip your hand three times into the water, leave a small offering and your warts will go.”