In Sickness and Health
Before 1948, when the free National Health Service was introduced, medical help was only sought when absolutely necessary, mainly because of the financial burden involved. There were also many sick people who didn’t want the neighbours to know they were sick enough to need a doctor. People depended on local cures and the taking of herbs to survive and only went to the doctor when death was imminent. Even today some people have such good faith in ‘the cure’ that they are still reluctant to accept medical help.
I mind old Dr. Bradley coming from Fintona on a bike to my grandfather. That was out Dromore Lower and it was a pound. He wasn’t hard to pay, but the pound was hard enough to come by.
My brother died in 1923, when he was 21 years old, with a germ in the blood, it’s connected to consumption you know. He was in Omagh, Derry and Belfast hospitals. They said it was bad teeth that poisoned the blood and they told him if he had been smoking he wouldn’t have taken pyorrhea of the gum, as the smoke would have killed the germ. The smoke would keep the blood from congealing. That was when I started to smoke and I smoked to save my teeth for 60 years.
Six years ago I was told, by my doctor, to stop smoking because of the damage to my lungs!
When my brother was ill, the doctor charged three guineas per visit and the specialist’s fees were five guineas. When he became ill we had six cows and a couple of horses. When he was buried we jist had the wan cow.
John C… got the ‘Scarlet’ and the major’s wife used to come to the end of the lane and shout at the top of her voice, “How’s John today?” She was scared to go any closer in case she got ‘the scarlet.’
Mickey B… had the ‘flu and Kavanagh’s cow broke out and went to Mickey B…’s back garden. Packie came looking for her but wouldn’t go into the wee garden in case he got the flu.
There was a very bad ‘flu in 1918 and many people died from it. My mother had it and Dr. Warnock, who was in Clogher that time, came to her. She had eaten a raw onion the night before he came and he said, “That’s what saved your life.”
There was a cobbler lived up beside Bell’s Cross and he had a daughter, beautiful young girl. She took a pain in her stomach. The doctor came and attended to here. He sent for the ambulance. I remember well the day it came. It was Sunday morning and the ambulance was at the house when we were going to mass. She died from burst appendix a few days later in Omagh Hospital at the age of 17 years.
When I was 18 or 19, my hands were all warts. Ah! Lord save us, my whole hands were black. There was a fella used to ceili in our house and he says, “You and me’ll go for a run on Sunday.” He took me to a well in Aughantaine for three Sundays in succession. It was a Holy Well. I rubbed the water on them and they disappeared.
Leave a scarf outside on January 31st in honour of St. Brigid. It will cure a sore throat.
If you happen to be anaemic, or run down in any way, drop a raw egg into a cup of tea, glass of milk or just a raw egg on its own. Let it slip down your throat.
For a bad cough or if you’re inclined to be ‘chesty.’ Get that clove of garlic. Eat it raw, cook it in soup, stew or use in salads. But get it into the system. If you don’t fancy the taste of it cut it in thin slices and put them in the soles of you socks and it’ll have the same satisfactory results. Should you suffer from piles insert a clove of garlic in the back passage.
Wear red flannel to get rid of rheumatism.
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