Mystery of rag tree at holy well in Dungiven stripped bare

Rags have since been placed on the tree at the Wart Well in Dungiven.

Rags have since been placed on the tree at the Wart Well in Dungiven.

Mystery surrounds who stripped bare a rag tree beside a holy well in Dungiven.

The holy well and rag tree are popular with people looking for a cure for warts, and people interested in the history of the Old Priory.

Dungiven man, Michael Coyle lives about a quarter of a mile from the site.

“During the summer it’s well used, and in the winter too. Some go for the history of the Old Priory and some for the wart well. It’s rumoured it’s where St. Patrick knelt and his knee print is on the stone.

“Over the years it’s been the case that people come and dip rags into the water and rub the rag on their warts and then the rags hang on the tree,” said Michael.

“People believe it can get rid of warts, and normally you would find quite a few rags on the tree but I noticed, before Christmas last year, the rags were removed although I see there is one back up now.”

Mr. Coyle says he doesn’t know who removed the rags.

“Council have said they didn’t remove the rags and the Department for Communities have said the same. I noticed that some of the trees at the Old Priory were pruned back. Over the years the site is used by different groups for various events and sometimes they voluntarily do a tidy-up.

“I’ve a feeling that’s what happened on this occasion. They thought, ‘we’ll give it a tidy up’ not knowing the weight the story of the well carries.

“The tree has been untouched, and I see there’s a rag back on it. People have a belief in it and the story is well documented. It’s not just locals who use it, but I’ve known people from the continent and from America to visit.”

Another local man, who preferred not to be named, said he had visited the well and rag tree twice, once being cured of his warts.

“It would have been a tricky job to remove the rags because there were hundreds of them, and some of them would have been there for years,” he said.

Causeway Council confirmed none of their staff was responsible.

“Council’s maintenance squad, grass cutting squad and hedge cutter are aware of the tree and would have no reason to remove or touch any of the rags,” a spokesman said.