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The “Holy Rag Tree” at “St Patrick’s” Abbey Well


Ballyshannon, County Donegal, Ireland

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Ballyshannon, County Donegal, Ireland

Ive always visited this amazing tree with hundreds of objects, rags, jewellery, childrens items, and even shoes tied to it! Never understanding the reason why until now after researching it. I’ve included the info below if you are still curious 🙂

The Abbey Well Ballyshannon. St. Patrick’s well is the most significant well in the Ballyshannon area that has survived to the present day from all the wells that were in the area. Patterns or festivals were celebrated at this Well in honour of the patron saint of a district. The pattern of the Abbey well was held on the Feast of the Assumption on the 15th August each year. Patterns were important social occasions and according to tradition, the pattern at the Abbey well was attended by large crowds in the nineteenth century with the religious and social events lasting for a few days.

On arrival at the well the pilgrims would have performed the station. The station would have involved reciting set prayers and moving around beds (large boulders with a cross on top). A rag or medal was left on the bushes near the well after the station was completed. Holy trees’ were taken over with the wells. They are often called ‘rag’ trees because rags were tied to trees or objects were left there in belief that, while they remained, the prayers were still effective.

The idea has no small reason to be respected when one realises that pilgrims might walk 50 or even 250 miles in order to pray there, but some things are left in remembrance of healing received. Wells are said to have healing powers also and the The Abbey Well Ballyshannon water was said to be the most beneficial for trouble of the eyes.

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