STILL TIME FOR OUT-OF-FAVOUR SAINT
During 13 years of photographing new recruits to the region’s 40 plus national schools I can’t recall encountering a single male pupil called ‘Fanahan’. Granted, there are quite a few ‘Fanahans’ residing in the area but hardly any are under 40 years of age - for better or worse the North Cork saint has fallen out of favour with locals.
Interestingly, this trend isn’t replicated when it comes to other saints’ names - the discrimination is very narrowly confined to ‘Fanahan’ who according to local historian Bill Power was a warrior saint, as adept with the sword as he was with the Bible.
Thursday last (November 25) was St Fanahan’s Day in Mitchelstown – a date that traditionally drew significant crowds to ‘do the rounds’. Assigned to join the faithful who are determined to uphold the tradition, I can report that some 15 to 20 people visited the well in a one hour period (4pm to 5pm).
I was reliably informed that there had been a stream of pilgrims from early morning and that while it doesn’t have the same attraction it once had, there’s still a strong connection to the well among local people.
In the main devotees are mature individuals who, typically, approach the well, dip their Rosary beads in the water, recite a prayer before walking around a grove of beech trees, anyone I encountered didn’t leave without making a contribution to the Well Fund.
In the absence of an unexplained phenomenon (a miracle) it’s unrealistic to think that droves of people will again return to the well made famous by the combative saint who was once the height of fashion but whose pulling power has waned in recent times.
Friday 3rd December 9:50am