St Fursey’s Well

St Fursey’s Well

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St Fursey’s Well is situated in the townland of Killurley West, in the Parish of Cahersiveen, Co Kerry, Ireland. It lies at the foot of Knocknadobar (Cnoc nadTobar -the Mountain of the Wells).

It is named for St Fursey who washed his eyes there and was cured from threatened blindness.
Fursa or St Fursey as became known, (c.597-c.649) was a monk who did much to establish Christianity in England and East Anglia in particular. The name ‘Fursey’ or ‘Fursa’ means virtue.

In addition to his reputation as a missionary and miracle worker, St. Fursey is credited with having originated the Christian visionary genre in the West. As a visionary, he saw the heavenly delights enjoyed by the blessed and the torments suffered by the damned.  Such concepts loomed large in the Medieval mind and paved the way for Dante’s Paradise and Inferno and numerous artistic depictions of heaven and hell.

Fursey was son of Fintan, son of Finloga, prince of South Munster, and Gelgesia,daughter of Aedhfinn, prince of Hy-Bruinn in Connaught. He was baptized by St Brendan the Traveller, his father’s uncle.

Fursey founded a monastery at Rathmat on the shore of Lough Corrib. He wished some of his relatives in Munster to join him there and travelled home for that purpose. Near home he was seized with a mortal illness and fell into a trance. He received ecstatic visions of heaven and hell. His reports of these visions were the forerunners of the Renaissance visionary writings such as those of Dante. After his recovery Fursey preached throughout Munster and it was at this time he visited the eponymous Well. Before then it was known as Cumhar Uisce: Sweet Water. He then went to East Anglia with his brothers and others, and built a monastery there in 633. He spent some years there converting the Picts and the Saxons, but when war broke out he went on to Normandy in 648. He was invited to Peronne by the King there to set up a monastery wheresoever he wished. He chose Lagny, about six miles from Paris (near present-day Eurodisney!) and had very many followers there. As he believed he was going to die he set out to visit his brothers Faolán (after whom Killelin townland and Reilig Chill Fhaoláin in the Parish of Cahersiveen is named) and Ultan, but he died in the village of Forsheim (i.e. the house of Fursey). He was buried in Peronne, and later his remains were transported to Paris. In the “Annals of the Four Masters” Peronne is called “CathairFursa” (the City of Fursey).

Prayer of St.Fursey

The arms of God around my shoulders,
The touch of the Holy Spirit upon my head,
The sign of Christ’s cross upon my forehead,
The sound of the Holy Spirit in my ears,
The fragrance of the Holy Spirit in my nostrils,
The vision of heaven’s company in my eyes,
The conversation of heaven’s company on my lips,
The work of God’s Church in my hands,
The service of God and neighbour in my feet,
A home for God in my heart,
And to God, the Father of all, my entire being,
A Blessing to be said at the Well……
Lord, bless this water, source of life and nourishment. It gives fullness to all living things and refreshes us. Protect us from all danger, ill health and broken dreams. May we always thirst for you, knowing that you alone can satisfy our quest for freedom and wholeness. Give us your protection, strength and life-giving presence today and always. We ask this through Christ Our Lord. Amen
Lord, bless each pilgrim here today. Bless their families and friends. May their search for you, for meaning and peace, for health and happiness, find fulfilment in you. Grant these and all our requests through Christ Our Lord. Amen