Cures and Curses

Roaringwater Journal

Wishing Stone at MaulinwardWishing Stone at Maulinward

I am a firm believer in wart wells: there is one at Clonmacnoise, the holy centre of Ireland, and some years ago when I was visiting the place I dipped my finger – warts and all – in it. Within… well, perhaps it was two or three weeks… the warts had gone. The Cynics among you will be saying that they might have gone anyway, but I have had other warty experiences to reinforce my beliefs. When my daughter Phoebe was 11 years old and we were living back in Devon she had a really bad outbreak of warts on her hand. The doctor couldn’t recommend anything but our neighbour was very sure of what to do: take her to see Auntie Grace who lived up the lane. We duly knocked on Auntie Grace’s door and showed her Phoebe’s hand. “That’s alright, Dear” she said, and shut the…

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Molaga of the Bees

Roaringwater Journal


I know I’ve said this before – but, wherever you find yourself in Ireland there’s history on the ground, and a story to be found! Recently we ventured into North Cork: so large is this county that it is a good half a day’s journey from Nead an Iolair, here in the far west, to Mitchelstown, beyond which lie the wild frontiers of Tipperary and Waterford. The purpose of our journey was exploration – archaeology, history, folklore – and we found ourselves drawn back into the time of the Saints.

1400 AD

Artist’s reconstruction of the site at Labbamolaga as it might have looked in 1400 AD: the smaller building on the right is the saint’s original oratory, dating from the seventh century. Note the antae – the projecting stone walls on either side of the entrance, supporting the huge verges. These features represent the builders’ wish to recreate in stone the very earliest…

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1919 – Two members of the Royal Irish Constabulary are shot dead by Irish Volunteers including, Seán Treacy and Dan Breen, in an ambush at Soloheadbeg, Co Tipperary.

Stair na hÉireann/History of Ireland

On the same day, the first Dáil was meeting, an ambush takes place at Soloheadbeg, Co Tipperary that is now seen as being the opening skirmish in the War of Independence.

An unauthorised attack led by Seán Treacy and Dan Breen resulted in the deaths of two RIC constables, James McDonnell and Patrick O’Connell. Although much of nationalist Ireland went on to support the war against Britain, this attack evoked outrage at the time. Breen, a ruthless, brilliant guerilla fighter later said ‘The people had voted for a Republic; now they seemed to abandon us who tried to bring that Republic nearer, for we had taken them at their word. Our former friends shunned us. They preferred the drawing-room as a battleground.’


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Today in Irish History – 21 January:

Stair na hÉireann/History of Ireland

1600 – Charles Blount, 8th Lord Mountjoy, becomes Lord Deputy of Ireland. Mountjoy went to Ireland as Lord Deputy and brought the Nine Years War to a ruthless end. His tactics were harsh on the Irish population. The Nine Years’ War, from 1594 to 1603, was fought between the forces of Gaelic Irish chieftains (Hugh O’Neill and Hugh Roe O’Donnell) against English rule in Ireland.

1684 – Chidley Coote, future MP for Kilmallock, is granted £500 for the upkeep of six lighthouses.

1793 – Louis XVI is executed in Paris; he is attended by an Irish priest, Fr. Edgeworth. Lord Edward FitzGerald is the only member of the Irish parliament not to appear in mourning following the execution.

1861 – Katherine Tynan, poet, novelist and journalist, is born.

1876 – James Larkin, organiser of Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union and socialist politician, is born in Liverpool.

1919 – Daíl…

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The Travelling People

Stair na hÉireann/History of Ireland

“When I was a child we were hunted from place to place and we could never have friends to be always going to school with. The little settled children would run past our camps – they were afeard of the travellers. Other people had a sort of romantic idea about us, because of the horses and the colourful wagons. They would ask us did we come from some place special like the gypsies you see on the films. They thought that the travellers had no worries and that we didn’t feel pain or hunger or cold. The truth is that we’re people like everybody else but we’re a different speaking people with our own traditions and our own way of life and this is the way we should be treated, not like dirt…” ––from ‘Traveller’, an autobiography by Nan Joyce.

Travellers are often referred to by the terms tinkers, gipsies/gypsies…

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Dame Alice Kyteler – Kilkenny’s Medievel Witch

Stair na hÉireann/History of Ireland

Dame Alice Kyteler was born at Kyteler’s House, Kilkenny in 1280 to wealthy Norman parents. Forty-four years later, in 1324, she fled to England to escape being burned as a witch and in July of that year, her property, including Kytelers Inn was confiscated.

In the intervening years Dame Alice had married four times, had been Mistress of Kytelers Inn and had become a central figure in a battle between the Church and the Temporal Power in Ireland.

Her first husband was one of her father’s former associates, William Outlawe, who was also a highly successful banker from Coal Market St and like her father, of Norman stock. This man was the brother of Roger Outlawe, Chancellor of all Ireland, whose position and power could one day play a dramatic part in the saga of witchcraft and heresy for which she would be charged, found guilty and sentenced to death.

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