I recently visited this amazing little church of St. Aidens in Magilligan for the second time and there is something very special about it, not least the gorgeous surroundings. The church of Tamlaghtard that originally stood on this site was founded by St. Columcille in the 6th Century and in his quest to convert the ungoldly, Columcille chose the site as it was a place held sacred by the pagan world. The pagan spring and well that still exist today were later re-dedicated, or rather re-appropriated to St. Aiden.
St.Aiden died in Northumbria in AD651 and his remains were brought to Tamlaghtard a few years later at which point the church was named in his honour. Soil from his grave is said to alleviate all manner of ailments (as is the spring water). The church ruins that you see in these photographs date from medieval times and have been used by both the Church of Ireland and the Catholic Church over the centuries. A path leading out of the graveyard leads to a mass rock at Croaghan which was used during penal times in the 18th Century.
If you happen to be in the Benevenagh/Magilligan area, keep an eye out for the signpost to this little church and fill up a few bottles of the clear and clean water. It tastes better than any bottled water you'll find and it's lovely to see that it is still well used by locals.
Around the well you can see rosary beads, rags and bits of tissue that have been dipped in the water and tied to a tree or pushed in to crevices in the wall. In the water I saw coins, holy icons and medical bracelets. Like the clootie tree we saw in Connemara last month, this is a beautiful remnant of our pagan roots in Ireland.
The graveyard holds the grave of one of Ireland's most famous harpers - Denis O'Hampsey (1695 - 1807) who judging by the dates lived until the ripe old age of 112 years. His epitaph describes him as the blind harper of magilligan, last of the great Irish bards.