Supernatural fish and river goddesses are associated with several thousand holy wells on this island promising good fortune and good cures and more.
Almost 2,900 were recorded from the early 19th century, and many still survive.
However, the documentation is inconsistent. When Irish Folklore Commission director Séamus Ó Duilearga and archivist Seán Ó Súilleabháin chose holy well practices as a “national shibboleth” in the 1930s, they sought information from school teachers and received a poor enough return.
Now citizen science researchers are participating in a new survey, with support from National Geographic magazine. Locations, the history and oral traditions of holy wells, along with associated flora and fauna, patron saints and cures are being researched by secondary school students and members of archaeological and historical societies, using a mobile- friendly Omeka website.
Dr Celeste Ray, who is professor of environmental arts and humanities and anthropology at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, is leading the project with support from University College Dublin. She intends to donate all the information to the National Folklore Collection at UCD, where it will be publicly accessible.
The project also welcomes submissions. For more, email firstname.lastname@example.org or see ihwcbc.omeka.net.