Lesson: ALL I’VE EVER KNOWN (C1-C2)

7. Later in the film, Margaret describes some places of interest in the local area.

One of these is the Holy Well, which can be found on Google Maps. In the video, she is seen taking a group of local schoolchildren to see the well.

a. Watch and answer:

  • What was the significance of the well?
  • Why did the Church decide to prevent pilgrims from visiting this site?

Vocabulary:
– paralytic disorders = illnesses which restrict the ability to move (causing paralysis).
Saint Sinell = an early saint who spread Christianity in Ireland. Not as well known as Saint Patrick.
market cross = a traditional monument where markets were held; market crosses were also used as a meeting place.
bullaun stone = a bowl-shaped stone to collect water, used in rituals to cure illnesses or to curse enemies.
gallon = a liquid measurement, approximately 4.55 litres.
poitín (“potCHEEN”) = a very strong Irish alcoholic drink, made from grain and vegetables, often produced illegally.
shebeen = an unlicensed pub.

Answers: here.

b. Here are some quotations from the video, but with some incorrect words. Listen again to the extract (13:05 – 15:12) and write down the correct words.

  • Before the birth of Belcoo, which came along with the railway, the most famous town in County Fermanagh was called Holy Well.
  • It is said to have the cure of paralytic disorders.
  • As you can see, it’s a pool of clear spring water, reportedly issuing 23 thousand gallons of water per hour.
  • With a fair day, it meant a lot of activity.
  • The church put restrictions on the religious pilgrimages carried out here, due to all the drunkenness and debauchery that occurred as a result of the holy well being so closely located to the shebeens.

Answers: here.

c. Answer these questions, using the vocabulary from the video:

  • What (or who) does your home town derive its name from?
  • Prior to the birth of your home town, were there any older settlements in the area?
  • Do you know of any places or objects locally that are reputed to have curative properties?
  • On which occasions is there a lot of to-ing and fro-ing in your town or region? During fairs? Markets? Festivals?
  • Which traditions in your country have the authorities clamped down on? And why?

d. Choose a heritage site that you know: it could be a monument, a castle or fortification, or a religious site. Prepare a short presentation introducing it and briefly describing its history.

Discuss: How important is it to know about the ancient traditions and way of life in the area where you live?

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