A number of stipulations accompany the cure. The curer often must not ask for or acknowledge the receipt of a gift as payment for the service. They may accept the gift only if it is not acknowledged. It is to protect against fake healers who are in it for profit. Usually the healed person too is forewarned by others who have recommended the healer, that he/she must not offer recompense nor indeed even say ‘thank you’.
Cures or the power of healing are said to be possessed by the seventh son of a seventh son: others believe too, by a seventh son; a seventh daughter or the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter. The power once owned can disappear if for example a cure for human complaints is used to cure an animal. Some Holy Wells became useless and abandoned after horses, for example, were brought to drink and be mended there. Others may have the ‘cure’ of specific complaints. We will write of that next.
Many priests in the past had the cure. Some have been renowned as faith healers (Padre Pio) and have made use of the gift openly.
If a charm is used there is usually a requirement for its repeated use three times to be effective. Many of the cures must be done at a certain time and in the case of herbal cures some of the herbs must be picked or prepared at certain stated times. Certain cures involve the use of an object such as a small white stone (which is required in at least three of the cures for bleeding).
The connection between religious belief, faith and healing has a long history in Ireland that precedes the coming of Patrick. These traditions of charms, herbs, the use of wells and standing stones, became absorbed into the Christian tradition. We conclude this article with reference to P. W. Joyce’s story of the Tuatha De Danaan.
In the De Danaan history, the leech-god or physician god Diancecht had great healing skill. During the second battle of Moytura when the De Danaan fought the Fomorians, Diancecht chose a health-giving well ‘into which he put a number of sanative herbs gathered in every part of Ireland’ and over which he and his daughter and two sons chanted incantations.
During the battle all wounded De Danaan were brought here from the field and plunged into this bath. They all came out whole and sound and ready to do battle again. Unsuprisingly the De Danaan won.