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…