Following the cancellation of the Cavan V Meath match last weekend due to a mumps outbreak, Jenny McGovern is writing about cures...
There was a GAA match cancelled a couple of weeks ago and not for the reasons you’d expect. Not bad weather or lack of players, no. This match was cancelled due to a mumps.
I never heard tell of anyone having the mumps when I was growing up. I got the MMR vaccine as a tot and was protected but, unfortunately, it seems to be making a comeback.
So there I was ruminating after Easter Sunday dinner when the chat turned to cures. I’m a believer in cures, there’s no harm in them…to a certain extent. If it’s something really worrisome, the injured/ill person should, of course, check in with a doctor too. I’ve seen two cures in action and heard tell of many others. My sister’s badly burnt arm was cured by a man ‘spitting’ on it and saying some prayers and a wart on my finger disappeared after a visit to a wart well in Redhills.
But here at the dinner table I heard a new one - the cure for the Mumps. What you do is the following: Put a donkey’s winkers on the head of the sufferer and walk them around a pig pen three times, while saying some prayers and uttering the phrase “Muc muc seo duit do leice”. Translating as “Pig, pig here are your mumps” assuming that this mystical Irish phrase transfers the disease to the unfortunate pig.
Ah old Irish cures are wonderful, steeped in mystery - don’t question how it works, just believe that it will.
There’s an absolutely fantastic website that I came across earlier this year called Duchas.ie , it houses something called ‘The School’s Collection’, which contains the folklore and local traditions from over 5,000 primary schools in Ireland in the 1930s. Children spoke to the elders in their community and jotted down the tales they heard and they are all compiled on this website in beautiful hand written detail. You can search any topic and search for schools in a particular locality. So of course I went to search for some more cures from Cavan and I found some gems. I wonder how many of these you’ve heard tell of?
Cure for Corns
A finely bruised turnip when applied to a corn as a poultice night after night for a certain period of time will cure the corn.
Cure for rheumatism
Carry the stumps from the nails of the shoes of a chestnut covered horse.
Cure for chilblains
Heat the lid of a tobacco pipe and place it to the chilblain.
Cure for measles
Boil the roots of a nettle and drink.
Cure for warts
Rub a snail on the wart and then hang the snail from a whitethorn tree. As the snail whithers, so will the wart.
Cure for a stye in the eye
Pull ten gooseberry thorns and point nine of them in the direction of the stye, throw one over the shoulder each morning for nine mornings while saying ‘In the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost’.
Bury the tenth thorn!
Cure for burns
Have a person who was born with a caul lick and then blow on the burn.
Cure for a pain in the wrist
Get an eel and wrap it tightly around the affected wrist, leave it for a couple of nights.
The cure for the Running Evil (something similar to TB)
A person born on Good Friday and baptised on Easter Sunday would have the cure for the Running Evil.
If two people are married and the woman has not to change her surname then this woman has the cure.
(Alarmingly) it was also said that if you brought milk to a ferret and let him drink some of it, bring the remainder of the milk to the child and let them drink it they shall be cured of the whooping cough.