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Healing And Old Remedies

Ardmore Memory and Story - Traditions

9. Healing And Old Remedies
The gift of healing was a strange one. Bone-setting was one particular way in which it showed itself. The Towlers of Gurteen (near the Seanchái) were known far and wide for this gift. John Towler there was father of Sheila Towler, Ellen Towler (Mrs Hallahan), Mrs Murphy, Glenmore; Johnny Murphy, Summerhill, was son of Mrs Murphy. Mossy Hallihan says he often saw a queue outside Murphys in Glenmore after a match and indeed his own house in Tynalyra, Grange was much frequented by people with broken bones. Sometimes people actually came in the middle of the night. The cure was often simple but more often involved the application of a plaster.

My sister tells the story of her late husband, Eddie Colbert, who had some injury to his ankle which prevented him putting any weight in that foot. The Colberts lived in Ballymacoda and he and his brother went by pony and trap to Youghal, then by hired car to Mrs Murphy of Glenmore. He fully expected the treatment to be painful, but Mrs Murphy merely laid her hand on his ankle, and told him to walk round the table and he reached for his stick, so she said "no" and from that on his ankle was completely cured.

Other families had cures for skin disease, but the story of the 7th son of a 7th son is the strangest of all. Terry McGraths grandfather (Paddy McGrath, Ballinamertina) was in that category and he had the gift of healing, but a gift which he was most reluctant to practice. Terry says on one occasion, his wife Rose was in really dire straits with f frightful toothache, but it took him a long time to yield to her entreaties. When he did and applied his hand to the afflicted part, the pain disappeared.

These practices belonged to the Ireland of 40/50 years ago, though bone-setting is probably still practised here and there.

The following cures and snippets of medical advise are taken from a manuscript of 1855 by Martin Driscoll, Bawnard, Grange (my husband's uncle) somehow I don't think they would be acceptable in the 2000.

For the Chincough: Take a mouse and flea (?) it and dry it in an oven and reduce it to powder and let the party grieved drink it in ale and it will help him. This is also good for them that cannot hold their water.

The Youthful Draught: Make powder of the flowers of Elder gathered on Mid Summer day being well dried and using a spoonful thereof in a good draught of Borrage water, morning and evening for the space of a month and it will make you seem young.

Periwinkle Venus: The leaves eaten by man and wife together cause love between them.

Author: Siobhan Lincoln

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