Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Gaelic Wise Woman of Claddagh 1913

This is the oldest colour photo of an Irish 'wise woman' and was taken in 1913.  The woman's anglicised name is Nan (Anne) O'Toole.  She was born in Claddagh, west Galway town in 1877. She was a native 'healer, what we would call a 'granny doctor' in the South.  She had cures for many ailments. For infants suffering with bowel problems Nan prescribed sacred well water mixed with burnt turf dust, which was then fed to the child. Babies born prematurely were hung in a fishing net over a basin of hot warm water, as this was said to replicate the womb, providing the greatest comfort to the child. Nan died in 1952. (info via the Galway City Museum, photo: The Albert Kahn Collection )  

What I find of interest is the connection of these 'Yarb Doctors' (herb doctors), and Granny doctors, to what is a very old cultural continuum that goes to the deep past.  It is an example of a Dual Faith, or what some call the Dvoeverie, or 'dual faith.'  which is the practice of pre Christian folkways within Christian and even post Christian society.  The topic unfortunately has been tainted by the cultural marxists'  political theory, i.e. seen as a type of peasant/female resistance to 'elite/patriarchal' Christianity, which is certainly not the case.  Such political dogma is a post modern phenomenon and nonsense.  The reality is more profound, as these old ways have existed since the Bronze Age, and before for all we know, and their practice has been observed over the centuries. I approach the topic from a Irish, Scottish, and Scots-Irish, perspective, and examples of Dual Faith practices are numerous in those societies. 


Eric Eldritch said...

Do you have other sources and citations for researching Nan O'Toole and other Yarb Doctors?

Unknown said...

Check the Archive of the Planet, a project funded by Albert Kahn to document disappearing cultures around the world.