I’m not sure if the same situation carries here in Dublin, it probably does up in North County anyways, but the mother said something today that put the notion of it back in my head… When I was younger, much younger, you’d hear tell in the house of “Oh, she has the cure for the croup” or “He has the cure for the shingles, he inherited it from his father.” This mysterious cure, administered in secret in the homes of even more mysterious septuagenarians was spoken of in hushed reverent tones in households and bars all over town, and was seen as a gift or a burden, or in some cases, a bit of both. The “man” or the “woman” was generally a bit… odd, and more often than not would be quite pious, but fond of a drop at the same time, their methods for ridding you of whatever they had the cure for, secret to only them.
My first memory of hearing something like this was many moons ago and was a story about the Da, who for thirty years had been burdened with a wart on his thumb the size of an old penny. On his rounds, this caused him great discomfort, be he tweaking at cars, fixing a lock, or replacing a door for the woman down the road or whatever job he was doing in his job away from a job, he often came home with his hand covered in blood. Not nice for him, and not nice to hear about either. One day, my brother in law stopped by for a cuppa on his break from work and said “Jaysus Dick, would you ever get that looked after. I know a man down in Caseys who said to write your name on a bit of paper and give it to him; he has the cure for the warts.” So, with that, the Da wrote his name on a bit of paper and gave it to the brother who went back to work that evening and passed it on to “the man.” Now, I’ve absolutely no idea of what the hell happened after he got the bit of paper, but within a week, that wart of thirty years was gone. Sounds mental, I know, but it’s true.
I could dismiss it as myth and superstition, had I not experienced it myself, having had a similar, though much, much worse ailment to the Da. This time, though, it meant a visit out to a whitethorn bush in an ancient, crumbling graveyard around 12 miles outside of Mullingar. Three visits, dipping your hands in a little pot of water in the middle of the bush each time, and the warts would be gone. Now I’m not superstitious in the slightest; but after three visits, the warts shrinking each time, and a week after my last visit, they were gone. I won’t shock you by telling how many there were but, to say losing them was a relief would be the understatement of the century.
I know of an old friend, crippled with shingles so much that he had to be carried into an old ladies house three times in a week, for “the cure.” He went from being crippled, to being up and about, though having shed four stone in the two weeks he was sick, (I jest not; he wasted away,) it took a lot longer to recover fully. But he went from being laid out in a bed in his kitchen, in so much pain it hurt to blink, to walking around again, it was close to a miracle. Now, I never would have thought this lady was one of the religious types of faith healer, she was closer to the mad cat lady type, but this “cure” worked anyways. The Ma had a similar complaint shortly after the Da passed away and went to the same lady and she described to me how it worked. On each visit, the woman would welcome the Ma into her home, take off her wedding ring, bless it, and touch the inflicted part of her body (In my Ma’s case, it was around her ear) with it, while muttering a few words, of prayer or what, I don’t know. She would do this for a few minutes, and then sit you up and talk the head off you apparently. She was a mine of knowledge, and would describe the healing properties of various common garden plants and herbs, lamenting the fact that a lot of the weeds and herbs are much harder to come by these days, and harping onto the Ma about the wonders of apple cider vinegar . I’d love to get an interview with this woman, the Ma says she’s a wonderful lady; sure we might have a look into it in the future.
My nephew, who is now in his eighteenth year, gave us many a sleepless night in the first year of his life, a small little thing but his body was wracked with croup (Think of the cough you hear from auld lads down the pub, forty a day and ten half ones before bed and put that cough in the body of a wee baba. The cough now IS probably from forty a day and ten half ones before bed but thats another story.) This went on for ages though, the medicine given by the doctor not having the slightest bit of effect, nor the nights of boiling kettles in the room, hoping the steam would clear the chest out. So “the man” was called upon to administer “the cure,” which, if I remember correctly involved him laying a hand on his chest and muttering a few words. Within a week, the cough was gone. I know, again with the jiggery pokery but…
Now it’s an odd tradition, I know. And certainly not one with my political persuasion I should have any time for. But whether it’s a psychological thing or whatever I don’t know, and to be honest, care; it’s an interesting one. So whether it’s a cough that ails you, or you have a wart you need rid of, give me a bell. I know a man.