Some reviews of Amanda’s book ‘Holy Wells of County Cork’

Amanda Clarke’s book, “The Holy Wells of County Cork” brilliantly fulfils the First Rule of guidebooks: reading the book makes you want to grab your wellies, jump in the car, and head off to explore these curious, ancient, humanistic, paganistic and enduring artefacts of Ireland’s historical geography.
Holy wells are strange, and their endurance as places of devotion is even stranger. From the outset, these destinations boast healing waters, sacred trees, blessed fish, elusive eels, waters that will never reach boiling point, cures for warts, and devotional rags hung on trees, which makes them seem like the feverish outpourings of a Hayao Miyazaki manga movie.
But this strangeness is in no way foreign to the Irish psyche, and Amanda describes how the new Christian faith absorbed and adopted the pagan feasts and festivals of old Ireland, annexing the pattern days into Catholic practice which straddles the centuries.
Underpinning everything is the ageless practice explained by Daphne Pochin Mould, which Amanda quotes at the outset: “It is likely that devotion to wells is as old as humanity, for water is essential to life.”
Amanda Clarke set out on her investigations on St Brigid’s day, 2016. Seven years later, she has delivered a book as precious as a well filled with clear, clean water, a precise and respectful text that shows her crisp intellect, and her empathic patience. Her work describing the holy wells both stills your heart, and makes you want to leap into action, following her peregrinations, in search of the sacred.

Mckennasguides on Instagram

Just added to stock is a handsome production by West Cork’s Wildways Press, from Amanda Clarke… A fascinating guide to the (long) history of wells throughout the county, illustrated throughout in colour, examining myths, belief, local lore, particular saints and cures, and much more. I doubt a better book on the subject can be written. on Instagram

Your beautiful book arrived and I’ve just started to read it. I had very high expectations, and your book has easily exceeded them already. Thank you so much for all the work you put into bringing this book to light. The stories, the writing, the photos, all of it, is certainly one for the ages. It’s absolutely incredible.


Holy wells a spring of inspiration

Cork being a county of superlatives in many things, can add to its feathered cap the mystical holy well. According to archaeological surveys of the county, Cork has 358 holy wells, more than any other county, with hundreds dotted around West Cork. In a painstaking seven-year journey, author and photographer Amanda Clarke from the Sheep’s Head has located 330 of them, researching the facts and legends behind each and collated her findings in a valuable collection of stories and photographs in her immensely entertaining new book. Holy Wells of County Cork is 258 pages of historical intrigue and vivid pictures which make for a fascinating read.

Sarah Canty, Life and Community, The Southern Star, 29 July 2023

My Country Living: Wells of inspiration

Since setting off on St Bridget’s Day 2016, Amanda Clarke has visited over 330 holy wells in Co Cork; and is sharing her findings in a new book. In conversation with Maria Moynihan

Irish Farmers Journal article by Maria Moynihan 16 August 2023

My pilgrimage to the 330 holy wells of Cork

Cork author Amanda Clarke tells NOEL SWEENEY how seeing people ’doing the rounds’ at a holy well led to her writing a book about the phenomenon 28 July 2023