HAS ST FANAHANS DAY LOST ITS LUSTRE?
Today (Thursday, November 25) is the feast of St Fanahan and many people will be making their way to his well to pray but, as the times continue to change in Mitchelstown, has the town’s patron saint lost his lustre?
Avondhu reporter, Brian Moore this week looks at the evidence: Reports from years ago tell of thousands of people arriving at St Fanahan’s Well on November 25 every year to do ‘the rounds’ and to partake in a ritual that has survived hundreds of years.
“It was a time of great excitement growing up in Mitchelstown when St Fanahan’s Day came around. While a trip to the well was a must there was also a sense of fun and excitement as the funfair came to town,” Mitchelstown resident, Bunty Flynn told The Avondhu.
A DAY OUT
St Fanahan’s Day was always a big event, as people from the surrounding countryside would come into the town.
“The town would be packed not only with people from the area but from right across Munster who would come to Mitchelstown to visit the well but to also go to the funfair or shop and enjoy a day out,” Jack Flynn said as he remembered St Fanahan’s Day in the 1950s.
Today, there is no funfair in the town and, while there will be many people at the well to honour St Fanahan, the numbers will be perhaps up to a hundred and a long way off the thousands that once congregated.
Local historian Bill Power has vivid memories of the way St Fanahan’s Day used to be: “When I was growing up in Mitchelstown it was a very big event in our year. The workers in the co-op would have a day off and the schools would be closed. I remember seeing long lines of people heading for the well, there was a steady flow of people arriving from early in the morning until late at night and there was many stories of people being cured of illnesses at the well.”
“There was a time when St Fanahan’s Day was the second biggest ‘Pattern’ day after Ballyvourney but today, in 2010, the tradition of St Fanahan’s Day is in danger of dying out. November 25 is now little more than a local tradition.
"However, having said that I think that St Fanahan’s well still holds a special place in the community of Mitchelstown, it is the atmosphere at the well that draws people there. For a lot of people most of whom are not religious St Fanahan’s well represents a quiet spiritual place, and has done so for many years now. November 25 and St Fanahan’s Day may not be what it was but the well will always draw people to pray and after all isn’t that what the day is all about.”
Thursday 25th November 5:42pm