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4.5 St Columb’s Well

This holy well is the focus for a celebration on 9 June – Colmcille’s feast day. A procession comes down the hill from the Long Tower Church and the well is blessed – the priest asking for protection for the followers of St Columba who ‘walk where he walked, and pray where he prayed’. People fill bottles with the water to take home. The water is said to cure disease – particularly of the eyes.

According to Manus O’Donnell’s Life, a child was brought to Colmcille to be baptised but there was no water nearby so the saint made the sign of the cross over the stone and water came out of it.

The origin of the name Derry is the Irish word doire meaning oak grove. On June 9th the well is decorated with oak leaves and pilgrims wear an oak leaf on their clothes.

In medieval times there were three wells here dedicated to St Colmcille, St Adhamhnán (a successor to Colmcille as Abbot of Iona and his biographer), and St Martin of Tours. A bullaun stone which once stood here can be seen at the Long Tower Church.

The decorative pump dates from 1897. At the time it was the main water supply for the houses which once lay on this slope under the city walls.

The well is among a row of single-storey houses called St Columb’s Wells. It can be reached via a long flight of steps at the side of Áras Cholmcille. Visitors can also go to the well via Fahan Street through Butchers’ Gate on Magazine Street. You can also go back via Fahan street and the Butchers’ Gate to St Columb’s Cathedral or to return to the starting point of the trail.

 

  • 4.1 Port na Long (Guild Hall Square)

    In the medieval city, Guild Hall Square was Port na Long - ‘the port of the ships’ on the banks of the Foyle. This is was a main approach to medieval city. It was also the starting point of a medieval pilgrimage described by Manus O’Donnell in 1532, and is the start...

  • 4.2 St Augustine’s Church

    St Augustine’s is a beautiful quiet space on the city walls, and from Easter to the end of September parishioners open the church during the day to welcome visitors. Modern research suggest that St Augustine’s is at or near the site of the earliest monastery church, the dúreigléas or ‘black...

  • 4.3 Áras Cholmcille

    Áras Cholmcille – the St Columba Heritage Centre – is in the grounds of the Long Tower church. It is an ideal place to get an overview of the stories of Colmcille, patron of the city. It has interactive and audio-visual displays and artefacts, and a range of facilities for...

  • 4.4 Long Tower Church

    The Long Tower Church, like St Augustine’s and Áras Cholmcille, almost certainly stands within the enclosure of the monastic settlement of medieval Derry. It gets its name from a round tower which stood here up to the 17th century. The round tower stood beside the Teampall Mór, Great Church, which was...

  • 4.5 St Columb’s Well

    This holy well is the focus for a celebration on 9 June - Colmcille’s feast day. A procession comes down the hill from the Long Tower Church and the well is blessed - the priest asking for protection for the followers of St Columba who ‘walk where he walked, and...

  • 4.6 St Columb’s Cathedral

    It was the first Anglican cathedral built in these islands since the Reformation. The dedication stone for the building of the cathedral is inside the west door and commemorates the Londoners who paid for it, If stones could speake
    Then Londons prayse should sounde
    Who built this church and cittie


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Colmcille

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Colmcille

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