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Aspects of Athenry Folk Medicine by Ronan Killeen

‘Many of the men and women who practised it (folk-curing) were intelligent and honest and believed in the effi-cacy of their treatment’ – Seán Ó Súilleabháin , Department of Folklore UCD.

First of all I would like to thank the South East Galway Archaeological and Historical Newsletter for being the first to publish my article on folk medicine.

As far back as the 17th century, before so called modern medicine, people the world over could not explain (in any rational way) the causes of ailments or the diseases from which they suffered. This led them to look else-where for the explanations, and it seemed obvious to them that the blame for bodily disabilities / afflictions could rest with inimical beings i.e. fairies, spirits, the dead, and such.

The role of a ‘healer’ against such illnesses was an important one. The healer’s diagnosis of the ailment, and of the cause, was one of the main parts of these functions. The key to unleashing any placebo-effect appears to have been to leverage t…

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