11th August - Lady Day, Slane

Written by Anne Newman Tuesday, 25 August 2020

This was the great "Pattern Day" in Slane, a day of celebration, joy, good humour and a Holy Day visit to the Well of Our Lady.

The holy well is dedicated to Our Lady, the waters of which are said to cure sore eyes. It is also known by some as Airmid’s well. The waters of this well can only be obtained once each year, on the 15th August - the feast of Our Lady's Assumption; hence its name "Lady's Well."

For six to eight weeks before, every house in the village redecorated their homes and shops. There was no other holiday in the year that had the same interest or determination in its preparation for the great day. The adults spent a lot of time and money in having their houses looking fresh, smart and inviting for impending visitors and pilgrims to The Holy Well and village. Most of the houses were lime-washed, windows were painted, doors were varnished and grained, streaked with a special painters comb. Shop names were proudly repainted.

There is a tumulus nearby which shows that the place was of importance in pagan times. The site of Lady Well in Killyon had probably been an important chief’s residence at the time of St. Patrick, and was donated to Liadhán, a young kinswoman of the chief, who founded a convent there and built a church.

The way to The Well was from the Boyne Bridge Gothic Gate. The Lodge gate entrances were open from midnight to midnight on the 15th of August every year. Crowds come from all parts to partake of it's waters and carry home bottles of it to their friends and relations. The water is applied as a lotion to the eyes. All day long the well continues to spring and never seems to diminish in volume notwithstanding the many gallons which are drawn off; but at twelve at midnight the waters recede and disappear completely from sight leaving no trace of its existence save the many footprints on the soil near-by.

The pilgrims passed by the Hermitage and the Apostles Stone. It was here that St. Erc ministered his Diocese after St. Patrick consecrated him first Bishop of Slane in 433 AD. St. Erc lived for four score and ten years and died in his hermitage on November 20th, 514. The pilgrims walked around the Apostles Stone several times reciting prayers and continued on along the Boyne to Lady Well. The Hermitage is in a bad state of decay in recent years.

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Anne is sharing a series of events throughout the year - you can find them listed by clicking to the link Other Notable Dates and Festivals.