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Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Cranfield Church & Healing Well

Hello! Sorry for the hiatus from uploading pix of historical places around N.I. Yes, I have been visiting them but the fact is my camera suddenly decided to break at Cranfield Church :-( What an inconvenience! Anyhow, I did manage to salvage some photos, and even though they're not the best quality I do hope you enjoy them. 

Cranfield Church is located just outside of Randalstown on the shores of Lough Neagh, I'd heard of the healing well but not of the church, so it was a treat to explore! The church dates back to the 13th century and its current state is in ruins and the body of St. Olcan (ordained by St. Patrick) is said to be buried on the grounds in soil brought from Rome. There is an old burial ground at the church with some interested headstones, one in particular which has a skull and cross bones and is dated from the 1700s! Don't worry, I do have a photo of it.

Pilgrims visit the church, particularly twice a year to pay their respects and to bathe in the healing well, which is filled with water from the Lough. There are ancient customs associated with the well...Individuals who are sick or troubled by an ailment dip a rag in the well and rub the water onto the afflicted area, once this ritual has been carried out they tie the rag to the large tree next to the well and as the rag disintegrates it is believed the ailment will clear up. Secondly, another strange custom is to swallow a small pebble from the well, this is said to protect you against danger...During the Irish Famine immigrants heading for America would swallow the pebble in order to ensure a smooth crossing.

Last but not least, another odd custom is still carried out by pilgrims today... they collect seven stones from the well, and as they walk around the ruins of Cranfield church they drop a stone at each corner, including the front door and once this is complete they bathe in the well. I think the well is relatively safe, there are steps down into it and the water is not overly deep, however it is covered in a layer of green moss on top of the water, so this did put me off!

All in all an interesting day out! The scenery is lovely and the views across the Lough are spectacular, including a great view of the Sperrin mountains in Co. Londonderry. Actually, we can see them from my brothers bedroom, isn't he lucky!

Randalstown Forrest is very close to Cranfield and this proved to be another surprisingly nice day out, the World of Owls is located just off the car park where they have a very sweet pygmy goat, I noticed him through the fence. There is not much to see in the forest except for trees upon ponds or waterfalls etc but the main point of the forest is deer spotting and we were lucky enough to catch a glimpse, relatively close up, of three or four deer as they grazed. Oh yes, the deer look out tower is quite handy but it is not for the faint hearted!

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