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    Small health pilgrimages: Place and practice at the holy well


    Foley, Ronan (2013) Small health pilgrimages: Place and practice at the holy well. Culture and Religion, 14 (1). pp. 44-62. ISSN 1475-5610

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    Abstract

    While established pilgrimage sites have extensive literatures, holy wells are less well documented, yet remain significant sites of pilgrimage with healing associations within more localised settings (Rattue 1995). Health geographers describe such settings as therapeutic landscapes where established reputations for healing are central to the production of place (Gesler 2003). Drawing from a sample of holy wells in Ireland, the operation of holy wells as markers of mind/body/spirit health is explored through a deep mapping of place. Taking account of material, symbolic and inhabited dimensions of wells, they are explored under three parallel themes. Retreat is identified as a core aspect of the well visits informed by phenomenological engagements and material spaces of the well where stillness forms the basis of a spiritual health practice (Conradson 2007). The histories of the wells also contain surprisingly liminal and carnivalesque recreational elements wherein the sacred mingled regularly with the profane. Finally, well pilgrimages connect to a range of scale issues around their position as between special-and-everyday spaces within which heterogeneous healing practices emerge. In the sustenance and revival of holy well visits, the notion of the small pilgrimage as a performance of health emerges to broaden our understanding of the wider pilgrimage process.

    Item Type: Article
    Keywords: pilgrimage; holy wells; therapeutic landscapes;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Geography
    Item ID: 8854
    Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1080/14755610.2012.756410
    Depositing User: Dr. Ronan Foley
    Date Deposited: 28 Sep 2017 15:26
    Journal or Publication Title: Culture and Religion
    Publisher: Routledge
    Refereed: Yes
    URI:

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