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Rag on twig votive offering, Ireland, 1900-1930

Found at St Kieran’s Well in Clareen, Offaly, Ireland, this rag wrapped around a twig was left in the hope of a receiving a cure for an illness – the well was believed to have healing properties. The rag may have been used to wash the diseased parts of the body (such as the eyes) and then left next to the well – usually tied with others to the branches of nearby trees, which became known as fairy trees. Some believed that when the rag has rotted away, the person would be cured. It is shown here with a rosary (A95431), another item found at the well.

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Glossary: votive offering

Objects or monuments donated by an individual for a public place or shrine. The object is usually given in gratitude for deliverance from distress.