Pilgrimages to sacred wells are traditionally part of the celebration of St. Brighid's feast day. Kildare has its own well sacred to Brighid but perhaps the most popular place of pilgrimage is the well at Faughart, the birthplace of Brighid. This well is located in the old cemetery.
Pilgrims recite the rosary as they enter the cemetery. They then walk three times clockwise around the old ash tree by the ruins of the old parish church reciting Our Fathers and Hail Mary's as a caim of protection. The pilgrimage continues to the well where the pilgrims kneel in prayer before walking three times around the well and drinking the water. Along the pilgrim path there are three stones. At the Head Stone pilgrims place their head onto the stone and pray for a cure of any ailment of the head. At the Eye Stone pilgrims bathe their eyes in the water. At the Knee Stone pilgrims kneel in the marks on the stone and pray for a cure.
Sacred wells frequently have small pieces of cloth from clothing tied to bushes close by. There is a natural magic link between the cloth and the person who left it by the well. As the cloth disintegrates in the wind and the rain the petitioner's illnesses are cured. At wells sacred to Brighid it is common to find rosaries, crosses, and medals left as offerings.
The Isle of Man lies in the Irish Sea between England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. The Isle is just 33 miles long and 13 miles wide and was once on an important trade route from Scandinavia, Orkney, the Hebrides to Ireland. The Vikings established a system of government known as “Tynwald” but the Manx language remained Celtic. The sayings below are all Manx:
“Laal' moirrey ny gianle, lieh foddyr as lich aile.”
— At Candlemas you must have half your straw and half your hay.
“Choud as hig y scell-ghreinney stiagh Laa'l Breeshey, hig y sniaghtey my jig laa boayldyn.”
— As long as the sunbeam enters in on St. Bride's day, the snow will come before Beltain.
“Laa'l Breeshey bane, dy choolley yeeig lane, dy ghoo ny dy vane.”
— By Candlemas, fill up every drain, both the black and the white.
“If Candlemas be fair and bright winter will have another flight.
But if it be dark with cloud and rain, winter is gone and will not come again.”
In Wales a blessed candle is placed on the window sill as a reminder that this will be the last day that candles are needed to work by. On the Isle of Man a candle is lit by the food and drink that is left for Bride. In Brittany candles are blessed and then kept in the home to be lit whenever anyone is sick or there is a thunderstorm.
The 2nd of February became known as Candlemas. In ancient Rome there was a festival of “Februa” when candles were carried in a procession through the streets and women observed rites of purification. Candlemas is also called The Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Candles are blessed in church and given to the congregation. There are stories relating how Bride, The Foster Mother of Christ, accompanied Mary to her purification.
The 3rd of February is St. Blaise Day. He is the patron saint of those who suffer from ailments of the throat. On this day the priest places crossed candles against the throats of the congregation to preserve them from all sickness in the throat.