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The Holy Wells of Ireland

All that rain makes Ireland one of the greenest places on the planet. The water seeps into the earth, through purifying strata of sand, shale and limestone, then percolates back up again in streams and rivers that crisscross the island. And in almost every county, natural underground cisterns feed thousands of crystal-clear pools that for eons the Irish have revered as Holy Wells.

In prehistoric times, pools of water appearing without a seeming source were thought to spring from the Otherworld, the land of eternal youth, a place of power and wisdom. A well in the palace courtyard of Manannan Mac Lir, the faerie king, was encircled by nine magic hazel trees and inhabited by a large salmon, which ate the hazelnuts and acquired the wisdom of the ages. From the well flowed five streams representing the five senses through which knowledge is obtained. In Echtra Cormaic Maic Airt i Tir Tairngiri (Cormac Mac Art’s Adventure in The Land of Promise), third-century A.D. King Cormac Mac Art meets Manannan MacLir who explains that only someone who drinks from the streams can attain true knowledge. In the Fianna Cycle which recounts the adventures of Finn Mac Cumhaill, Mac Art’s son-in-law, Finn catches and eats the salmon and becomes the wisest of men.

Read the original article at: Irish Abroad

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