Doon mass rock is where secret mass was held during the penal years (1695 -1741). During this time Irish Catholics were not allowed to openly practice their religion or display their faith. The Priests said mass under the threat of death. If caught they faced a horrendous death such as being placed into a barrel of nails and thrown over a cliff. This was called ‘Binn an Sagairt’ (hill of the priest) which is located near Doon.
With the constant threat of death, the mass rocks in Ireland were located in rural areas where people could gather to practice their faith. Many of the mass rocks today are now shrines attracting pilgrims from local areas and afar. This rocky outcrop was chosen by the O’Donnell clan to inaugurate their chieftains, a ceremony that was earlier taken at the abbey in Kilmacrennan. From 1200 to 1603, from Eigneachan to Niall Carbh, 25 chieftains were inaugurated at this place.
Situated beside Doon Rock is the Holy Well whose origins are pre-Christian. The natural spring water would have been used by the pagans either as a healing source or for inauguration ceremonies like of the O’Donnell clan. Bronze age artifacts have been unearthed near the well and there is a ‘togher’, an ancient wooden road that runs underneath the bog adjacent to the Doon mass rock.
Doon Well became a Holy well possibly in the 15th century when a man called Lector O’Friel blessed the well.
Lector O’Friel was a powerful healer and a very holy man. Sufferers of all sorts of illnesses and incurable conditions came or were carried to see him in the hope of a cure. Legend says that when he was in his old age and death was upon him the people became upset at the thought of losing such a holy man into whom God had placed such a wondrous gift.
On hearing the people’s lament, Lector O’Friel is reported to have said, “When I die, my powers will live on after me.” With this, he blessed the well and told them that those who drank or applied the water would benefit from his prayers of intercession.
The well itself is behind two little wooden doors and there is a plaque that tells you what prayers need to be recited it reads
Doon Well Prayers of Station
Repeat Our Father and Hail Mary 5 times
And apostles creed for your intention
Repeat same for each bottle of water
Our Father and Hail Mary for Father O’Friel who found it
Our Father and Hail Mary for Father Gallagher who blessed it
Our Father and Hail Mary for the person who put the shelter around it
N.B These prayers must be recited with bared feet.