Many Cures

I promised you more cures.  The first I remember being applied to myself as a young boy!

Chest Infection and Colds:  Apply camphor oil to brown paper resting on the chest beneath one’s clothes.
Chin-Cough:  ‘To cure this it is necessary to find a man and his wife who had the same name before marriage.  Affected children are then sent to them for some griddle-bread which must not be paid for and must be given with a blessing.  No expression of thanks must be given’.
Toothache:  ‘Procure a nail from a blacksmith in God’s name and bury it at the roots of a hawthorn bush.’
Stye:  This can be cured by a married woman who has now the same surname as her maiden name.  The cure is affected by pricking the stye with a thorn from a gooseberry bush’.    We called the fruit, goosegams.
Warts:  ‘If washed in water used to cool blacksmith’s irons they will perish.’
Sprains:  ‘An eel skin bracelet prevents such happening.  There is a charm as well’.
Arthritis of hands:  Wear a copper bracelet.
To stop bleeding:  Take a cobweb and place it on the cut.
Whooping Cough:  Again, a house where the married woman has the same name as her maiden name.  Ask for bread, butter and sugar.
Burns:  Find a mankeeper and lick its belly three times in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.  After that the person doing the licking will be able to cure a burn by licking it.
Mumps:  Sufferers were led to a drinking place of farm horses.  They were paraded wearing horses’ winkers.  There they swallowed three mouthfuls in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.  It was essential to remain silent on the way to the water-hole and back.

The Rose


We have John and Annette Macan with us for three weeks and yesterday your editor gave them the personal touch, with the whirlwind tour of the Ring of Gullion.  They were greatly impressed and why would they not be? 

I learned that besides professional counselling, John dabbles in acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicines.  For the benefit of the odd patient not partial to pin-cushion treatment, I print below one traditional Irish cure for a common ailment. [More ‘cures’ later!]

Erysipelas as you know – or your medical dictionary will inform you – is a skin disease involving a diffuse and spreading inflammation of skin and subcutaneous cellular tissue especially of the face, neck, forearms and hands, caused by Streptococcus pyrogenes.

Too technical, all that!  This is what my source, an old lady from Annahaia told me of it.

It might take ye anywhere but it’s a gentle thing, a very gentle thing, an’ the cure is one the doctors know nothing of.  Your head might swell up big an’ red as anything.  The Lord save me from having it agin an’ keep ye from it too.

I was tuk till the bog-hole but I first went till the doctor.  An’ says he,

‘It’s some oul’ woman ye want!  It’s she will tell ye what till do.’ 

He wus Dr Quinn’s father and the quare civil man.  I min’ the lot of them an’ sure the world an’ all knowed me. 

I’m the aul’ standard, I am, an’ I nivir lay off me work yit, even when I had me ankle sprained in the flax-hole.  There’s no dirty blood in me or anything like that!

But ‘The Rose’, God save ye from that!  It wus in me face I had it an’ it wus in a terrible rage.  But min’ ye, ye cud take it anywhere:  in yer legs or in yer feet.  But sure it wus in me face I tuk it. An’ the cure wus a boy an’ a girl whose father and mother wus livin’ an’ nine wee stones from off the road. 

It wus Peter tuk me an’ we went till the oul’ Red Bog at Larry’s, an’ Peter threw a stone in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, an’ then lifted water an’ bathed me face. 

Then he stuck he’s hand in the bog-hole and brought out a poultice of bog-mud that wus placed on the spot, an’ sure in the mornin’ it wus gone. 

An’ I wus big then, a near grown girl, but I min’ it worked well.’

You’ve got bogs in the Brisbane area, don’t you, John?     

Which reminds me!  Paddy and Seamus Murphy determined to put the past behind them and emigrate to Australia.  It was slowly explained to them that things weren’t that easy any more.  Way back in the 50s, Australia would take most applicants but now they wanted only skilled tradesmen.  They had to undergo a test.

‘And what do you do, by way of making a living?’ Paddy was asked.
‘Oh, pilot!’ he  replied breezily.
‘That’ll do fine!’ says yer man of the Embassy.  ‘We can always find work for a man of your talents.’

Paddy left smiling and gave the thumbs-up to his brother Seamus who was entering for interview after him.  Seamus smiled in response.

‘And what do you do for a living?’ Seamus was asked.
‘I’m a turf-cutter,’ Seamus replied.
‘I’m sorry Seamus, we have few bogs in Australia and no work for men of your talents.’

Seamus was devastated. 

‘But you let my brother Paddy in,’ he countered.

‘But he’s a pilot!’ the Ambassador said.

‘Sure he can’t pile it till I cut it!’ Seamus rejoined…

Cure for warts


‘Is it the Wart Stone of Kilnasaggart ye’re after?’ he asked me, for I was hoking in the field beside that ancient pagan/Christian monument.  It was.

‘An’ shure I know it well.  It’s an aul stone wid a hole in it that wud be good for warts.  But shure Thomas Mallon used till be able to cure them as well.  He jist came down an’ said, ‘Kate – for that’s me name – Kate, here’s a penny’ and I niver had a wart since, thank God for it’s they’s the quare articles!  He cud do it with childer and big people both.  He wud give ye a penny and say ‘I’ll buy yer wart’.  He was paddy’s father that’s now in bed.’

‘A wee black snail will cure them too. Cut it open ye must an’ rub it on the wart an’ then ye stick it on a thorn, an’ as it withers away, away goes yer wart.  Ye must meet it on the way an’ pick it up.  It’s no good whatever till look for it.  I tried it meself once an’ it’s a sure cure.

But doctors don’t like them cures.  They’d like that people shouldn’t know about them.’

In my youth, we sliced open a potato and rubbed it on the warts.  You had to say a prayer at the same time.  And then bury the two halves of potato.  Why is it that people seldom suffer from warts nowadays?  Perhaps all the prayers and the cures banished them like the snakes!