The Holy Well as a Window onto Irish Life (Part 1)
The modern human being who lives in a technologically advanced society no longer has an intuitive reverence for water. We take it for granted that it comes out of the tap at our command. We have no sense that its supply may be limited. Indeed, in Ireland households receive it free of charge.
This having been said, Irish people are less removed from their water supply than people in more heavily urbanized countries. In the countryside, people operate private wells or are part of community water schemes with small distribution networks. This means that the population remains more aware of where their water comes from – such as a spring in a hill overlooking the village. Disruptions are more frequent than in the city; to remedy them, one phones not a national ‘LoCall’ number, but the neighbour who has assumed the part-time job of operating the pumping station.
Since the water supply is less mediated in the country than in urban areas – there are fewer steps from well or spring to tap – water is less taken for granted.