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LECALE & DOWNE HISTORICAL SOCIETY



Society's Publications

Established in 1974, the Society has published a journal annually since 1983.

In 2010 the Society published Struell Wells by Finbar McCormick, the first of series of occasional monographs.

In the Foreword to the monograph Ronald Buchanan, MRIA Professor Emeritus Queen's University, Belfast, says -

Struell Wells Finbar McCormick's monograph on St Patrick's Wells at Struell is a welcome initiative by the publisher, the Lecale and Downe Historical Society. The Society's annual journal, now the Lecale Review, has an established reputation but this is the first time it has sponsored a larger publication on a specific topic. The subject is appropriate, a recognition of the importance of this historic site in the story of Ireland's patron saint and his close association with this district

Holy wells are found throughout Ireland and in many other countries, for certain springs are thought to have curative powers, and their veneration seems to have been a feature of many pagan rituals, long before the advent of Christianity. Struell was almost certainly one such site, and Dr McCormick suggests it may have been used in the inauguration of local chiefs of the ruling Dal Fiatach family. Proximity to Saul, the site of Patrick's first church in Ireland, must have encouraged the Saint to 'Christianise' the wells at an early date. Folk tradition, backed by descriptions in contemporary documents relating to Patrick's early life, are ample testimony to his links with Struell and the annual pilgrimage on St John's Eve in mid-summer, was well established by the early sixteenth century. It continued for the next three hundred years, though its popularity was marred by some raucous behaviour, which made it less acceptable in Victorian times, in particular the practice of mixed sex nude bathing.

Visiting the Wells today it is hard to imagine the scene when this narrow valley was crowded with pilgrims from all over Ireland and even further afield. Struell is now a peaceful place, the small buildings dotted around a level green enclosed within high rocky outcrops and fringed with golden whip in springtime. Dr McCormick gives a detailed description and probable dates for each of the wells and bathhouses, and provides an historical narrative using contemporary sources. His is an important study of a very special place within Lecale and in the story of our Patron Saint.

Copies available - 3.99 Sterling (GBP)+1.50 p&p (more if overseas) per copy, from

Mr Philip Blair
Lecale & Downe Historical Society
6 Monabot
Saul Road
Downpatrick
Co Down
BT30 7BB
Northern Ireland

or
Email: Lecale & Downe History