New Uses of Traditional Healing in Contemporary Irish Literature

By Lynch, Patricia A. | Estudios Irlandeses - Journal of Irish Studies, Annual 2012 | Go to article overview

New Uses of Traditional Healing in Contemporary Irish Literature


Lynch, Patricia A., Estudios Irlandeses - Journal of Irish Studies


INTRODUCTION

Historical and Cultural Research into Folk Healing

Traditional healing was once found all across the world, especially the herbal forms ("Domestic plant medicine represents the home survival kit" Hatfield 2005: 1). Remnants of these old customs can be found documented across the world, in written form, and these are possibly just a fraction of the knowledge passed down orally over the centuries. However, all is not lost. Herbalists in various Irish counties have flourishing practices. In Ireland, informal groups such as the Clare Oral History Project collect information and pass it down to others in meetings and publications; in one such meeting recently, fear was expressed by several attendees that such knowledge was being lost to our age, and that unless action is taken now it will be lost to future generations. More formal associations such as the Centre for the History of Medicine (CHOMI), based in University College Dublin, hold regular academic conferences and seminars for the same purpose. Similar research is being carried out in other countries in Europe, and books such as Evidence-Based Herbal Medicine (2002) are coming out from the United States. Some of the more enterprising works are not content with description and documentation, but attempt to construct a rationale for the value of the research, for example, Moore and McClean's Folk Healing and Health Care Practices in Britain and Ireland (2010), which seeks to link folk healing with Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). Attempts are also being made to understand how some of the more esoteric practices, such as using cobwebs to heal cuts, and charms, can be effective. Some of these are clinical trials, as in the US book above. One of these fields centres around investigations of what is called, sometimes dismissively, the "placebo effect", but which a number of serious practitioners and researchers believe has more deep-rooted physical and psychological effects yet to be fully explored, for example Finniss et al 2010.

This system of healing has parallels in the ancient history of all cultures throughout the world, whether it be the efficacy of herbal remedies discovered locally, or the power and respect accorded to the medicine man or woman (Keith Thomas 1991, Rotblatt and Ziment 2002, Wildwood 1999). In Western Europe, it has largely yielded place to conventional medicine, but with pockets of older belief and custom in place; as Gabrielle Hatfield says: "... within the Celtic tradition, it is more likely that magico-religious elements of healing have played a greater part than in the rest of Britain, and the remnants of this can still be seen today ... [in the] Highlands of Scotland ... Wales ... [and] Ireland" 2005: 139). This will be echoed in Faith Healer, in that the characters in that play confine themselves to practice in Wales, Scotland and Ireland (Friel 1984: 332). However, as we see in Moore and McClean's book above, these pockets of belief and practice have expanded in the last decade.

Some aspects of the older customs may seem to be rooted in pre-Christian tradition. Christianity adapted itself to this in converting old practices into religious ones. However, vestiges of paganism remained, to lead to conflict between the establishment, particularly the organised Churches, and the healers. Timothy Corrigan Correll describes the historical situation:

   From the seventeenth century onwards, the
   leaders of the Catholic Church followed
   Tridentine directives that sought to impose
   uniformity in religious standards and practices.
   This included the enactment of synodal statutes
   aimed at routing magical and quasi-religious
   customs, including superstitious curing and
   beliefs ... (2005: 1).

Perhaps the notable of these disputes in Ireland were those of clergy with the Co. Clare wise woman, Biddy Early, paralleled in two of the literary texts considered below, the healing women in both Keegan's and Curtis' fiction. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

New Uses of Traditional Healing in Contemporary Irish Literature
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.