St. Farnan’s Shrine

St. Farnan’s Shrine, in the townland of Doonalton, is situated on a rocky ledge on the slope of a steep-sided, wooded, ravine overlooking the Ballymeeny River, where the three parishes of Templeboy, Kilmacshalgan and Easkey meet.
The access path leads from the river up the steep slope to the well and passes a natural rocky shelf, which according to tradition, is known as the “Saint’s Bed”, where the hermit saint is said to have slept. On the other side of the river is a natural rock outcrop with a flat slab that was used as an altar. Pilgrims would have crossed the river from here and climbed the slope of the ravine to visit the holy well. Having visited the well, they returned and picked up a stone from a natural river pool, known as D”abhach Fharannain”, which was also used as a holy well. Tradition has it that St. Farnan used this pool for the baptism of pilgrims and for “personal mortification”, standing praying for hours at a time. From there the pilgrims then climbed to the ridge top and deposited the stone on a large cairn, known as the “Saint’s Grave”. The cairn is heavily compacted with small river stones and is roughly oval in shape. The cairn is surmounted by a statue, presumably a depiction of St. Farnan, and surrounded by an enclosing fence.
The traditional pilgrimage to the well was held on Garland Sunday, the last Sunday in July, a popular day for visiting wells which is also associated with the festival of Lughnasa. Mass is celebrated by the Parish of Templeboy annually, on the last Sunday in July at 6:00pm.