Holy Wells, Sacred Waters, Customs and Cures

Lecture by Tamlyn McHugh

Friday 22nd March 2024 at 8.00pm

Sligo Education Centre (on the ATU campus)

Non-members of Sligo Field Club:  €5

Ireland’s holy wells are sacred places steeped in long held traditions and customs. Holy wells hold an important place in Ireland’s cultural heritage and religious tradition, offering visitors a peaceful place for personal devotion, prayer and healing. Embedded in the landscape,  they can take many forms: a simple spring, a large pond, a small lake, a pool in a waterfall, or even a hollow in a tree that holds rainwater. Although they are not unique to Ireland, with over 3,000 holy wells Ireland has far more than any other country in the world.


Tamlyn McHugh is originally from Co Cork and has been living in Co Sligo since 2013. Tamlyn’s interest in holy wells began in her youth through visits to her local shrine at St Gobnait’s pilgrimage site in Ballyvourney Co Cork.
Tamlyn has worked as a professional archaeologist in Ireland for over 20 years since graduating from University College Cork with a BA in Archaeology and History in 1998, and an MA in Methods and Techniques of Archaeological Practice in 2000.
Tamlyn has a wide variety of archaeological experience having worked throughout Ireland both in the public and private sector. From 2017-2021 she delivered the Sligo Community Archaeology Project for Sligo Heritage Office and the Heritage Council.  She has lectured on the subject of holy wells, and has surveyed holy wells on behalf of the Heritage Offices of counties Mayo (2022-23) and Roscommon (2023).