Lady Wilde (Oscar Wilde’s mother) reports a traditional Irish cure for epilepsy

Jane, Lady Wilde.

From Lady Wilde’s fascinating book, Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms, and Superstitions of Ireland (Dublin: Ticknor, 1887). For epilepsy:

Take nine pieces of a dead man’s skull, grind them to powder, and then mix with a decoction of wall rue. Give the patient a spoonful of this mixture every morning fasting, till the whole potion is swallowed. None must be left, or the dead man would come to look for the pieces of his skull.

And here are various other slightly unsettling Irish nuggets unearthed by Lady Wilde:

There is one hour in every day when whatever you wish will be granted, but no one knows what that hour is. It is all a chance if we come on it. There is also one hour in the day when ghost-seers can see spirits — but only one — at no other time have they the power, yet they never know the hour, the coming of it is a mystery.

In some parts of Ireland the people, it is said, on first seeing the new moon, fall on their knees and address her in a loud voice with the prayer : ” O moon ; leave us well as thou hast found us ! “

It is unlucky to meet a cat, a dog, or a woman, when going out first in the morning ; but unlucky above all is it to meet a woman with red hair the first thing in the morning when going on a journey, for her presence brings ill-luck and certain evil.

To know the name of the person you are destined to marry, put a snail on a plate of flour — cover it over and leave it all night ; in the morning the initial letter of the name will be found traced on the flour by the snail.

If, by accident, you find the back tooth of a horse, carry it about with you as long as you live, and you will never want money ; but it must be found by chance.

When a family has been carried off by fever, the house where they died may be again inhabited with safety if a certain number of sheep are driven in to sleep there for three nights.

2 thoughts on “Lady Wilde (Oscar Wilde’s mother) reports a traditional Irish cure for epilepsy

  1. That puzzled me too. The plant guy says…. “With club-shaped leaflets on its fronds, wall-rue is easy to spot as it grows out of crevices in walls. Plant it in your garden rockery to provide cover for insects.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s