St. John's Well

At St. John's well, County Cork, there is a large stone, believed to be the real true head of John the Baptist, grown hard and solid from time and the action of the elements. And the stone has certainly a rude resemblance to a human head.

Suspected persons are brought to swear on it for a clearing from guilt; for it is held in high reverence. Compacts are also made there, which are held inviolate, for no one who swears with his hand on the stone, would ever dream of breaking the oath, and each person present as witness scratches a cross on the surface with a sharp piece of slate.

A number of pagan remains are in the vicinity, but they are now held in reverence as places of Christian sanctity.

Some time ago an ancient stone image was dug up from the earth, which antiquarians pronounced to be a pagan idol, probably the Irish Siva. This was at first consecrated as Saint Gobnath, but afterwards the priest destroyed the image with his own hands.

All the paths round the well are marked deep by the lines of praying pilgrims who go round it on their knees. And there are piles of the little stones that mark the prayers of the penitents, all ready for the angels to count. Most of the stones are of pure quartz, white and glistening, and these are highly esteemed.