St Anastasia’s holy well is located on farm land in the townland of Tullygarvan West a few miles from Lahinch in Co Clare. The well is dedicated to Anastasia a sixth century martyr whose relics are held in the Cathedral of St Anastasia in Zadar, Croatia.
The wells dedication appears to be late as the 1st ed. OS 6 inch list the well as ToberIneenboy suggesting the well was once dedicated to the early Irish saint Inghean Bhaoith.
For generations there has been a tradition of local people visiting the well on Christmas Eve. Having arrived at the well the pilgrims say a prayer and light a candles.
Today I drove down to Clare to be part of this special and unique pilgrim tradition. In between the sleet and rain I was able to meet and speak with pilgrims. No on was sure why exactly pilgrimage was preformed on this day but it was the tradition. One gentleman I spoke with told me that he had only missed the pilgrim one year in his lifetime.
Michael Houlihan author of The Holy Wells of County Clare, points out that the feast-day of St Anastasia is the 25th of December, in the early church her feast was honored with the second mass on Christmas day. Its likely the origins of this tradition are connected with the dedication of the well to Anastasia.
Despite the rain and the long drive this was one of the nicest pilgrimage I have been too and its fantastic to see this tradition surviving and long may it continue.