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Scenes at a Holy Well

SCENES of holy faith, of tender love, and human pity are, however, happily more frequent amongst the devotees at the holy wells of Ireland than the fierce mutterings of malediction. At these sacred places may be seen the mother praying for her child, the girl for her lover, the wife for her husband; going the rounds on their bare knees, with the crucifix in their clasped hands and their eyes raised to heaven in silent prayer, with a divine faith that this prayer will be answered; and who can say but that the fervour of the supplication has often brought down the blessing of healing for the sick, or comfort for the sorrowing? The picturesque grouping round the holy well, the background of purple mountains, the antique stone cross at which the pilgrims kneel, the costumes and often the beautiful faces of the praying women, with their long dark hair and purple Irish eyes, form a scene of wonderful poetic and dramatic interest, which has been immortalized by Sir Frederick Burton in his great national picture, The Blind Girl at the Holy Well--a work that at once made the young painter famous, and laid the foundation of the subsequent career of this distinguished and perfect artist.

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