Holy wells are places of popular religious devotion where people come to pray and leave simple offerings and invariably tend to date from pre-Christian times, during which they served as a form of natural religion in which the well was held to be sacred. Pure water was necessary, not only for Baptism and for the Holy Sacrifice, but also for the daily needs of the holy men and women whose lives were given there to the service of God, so most churches were founded near a well.
There are hundreds of holy wells all over Ireland, many of them still in use. They vary greatly in appearance, some are very simple, decorated only with rounded river pebbles, others are highly ornate and adorned with holy statues, medals, pictures, rosary beads, flowers and candles. Wells were famous for their power to heal diseases usually attributed to the patron saint. Stories relating to a particular well usually tell that the saint was reputed to have used the water of the well to baptise, bestowing a blessing on that well. Days of special devotion were associated with many of the wells. This day was usually on the feast day of the particular saint, a day which commonly became known as the Pattern (or Patron) Day.