Instruction without reservation, and correction without harshness, are due from the master to the pupil, and to feed and clothe him during the time he is at his learning."
There were free hospitals for the sick poor, maintained free of taxation, with compensation for those whose conditions worsened through medical negligence or ignorance. Medical treatment and nourishing food was made available for everyone who needed it, and the dependents of the sick or injured were maintained by society until he or she recovered. Each physician was required by law to maintain and train four medical students and unqualified physicians were prohibited from practicing. It was also seen to be important that physicians had time to study or travel so that they might acquaint themselves with new techniques and knowledge, and that the clans to which they were attached made provisions for this. Under the Brehon laws, women were also eligible to be physicians (Bryant 1923).
Among the famed medical families were the Ó Caisides (Cassidys) and Ó Siadhails (Shiels) of Ulster, Ó hÍceadhas (Hickeys) and the Ó Lees of Connaught, and the Ó Callanains (Callanans) of Munster, to name just a few. Their medical schools, such as that of Tuaim Brecain (Tomregain in County Cavan) founded in the sixth century, Aghmacart (in County Laois), and the medical schools at Clonmacnoise, Cashel, Portumna, Clonard and Armagh were famed throughout Europe. (4) Famed hereditary physicians in Scotland, like the MacBeathas, or Beatons, who provided medical services to generations of Scottish kings, originated in Ireland, and Scottish students studied at the medical school at Aghmacart (Mitchell: 2008).
A vast body of medical texts exists, written in Irish or translated from Latin into Irish. Some were of Arabic origin, thus making available to Irish physicians a wealth of new medical knowledge and techniques influential in new schools of Arabic medicine in Europe. These works, together with the books of the old medical families written in Irish and handed down to succeeding generations, such as the Book of the O’Lees, compiled in 1443; The Lily of Irish Medicine, compiled by the O’Hickeys, physicians to the O’Briens of Thomond, compiled in 1352; (6) Book of the O’Shiels, hereditary physicians to the MacMahons of Oriel, and the many manuscripts written by the O’Cassidys, physicians to the chieftains of Fermanagh, constitute the largest collection of medical manuscript literature, prior to 1800, existing in any one language (Nic Dhonnchadha 2000: 217-220).
PW Joyce But there were secular hospitals for the common use of the people of the tuath or district. These came under the direct cognisance of the Brehon Law, which laid down certain general regulations for their management. Patients who were in a position to do so were expected to pay for food, medicine, and the attendance of a physician. In all cases cleanliness and ventilation seem to have been well attended to; for it was expressly prescribed in the law that any house in which sick persons were treated should be free from dirt, should have four open doors, and should have a stream of water running across it through the middle of the floor. These regulations —rough and ready as they were, though in the right direction—applied also to a house or private hospital kept by a doctor for the treatment of his patients.
Sick maintenance," i.e. the cost of maintaining the wounded man in a hospital, either wholly or partly, according to the circumstances of the case, till recovery or death; which payment included the fees of the physician, and one or more attendants according to the rank of the injured person
In the Battle of Moyrath, fought A.D, 637, a young Irish chief named Cennfaelad [Kenfaila] had his skull fractured by a blow of a sword, after which he was a year under cure at the celebrated school of Tomregan in the present County Cavan. The injured portion of the skull and a portion of the brain were removed, which so cleared his intellect and improved his memory that on his recovery he became a great scholar and a great jurist, whose name—"Kennfaela the Learned"—is to this day well known in Irish literature.
Derryloran in Tyrone.school
The art of closing up wounds by stitching was known to the old Irish surgeons. In the story of the death of King Concobar mac Nessa we are told that the surgeons stitched up the wound in his head with thread of gold, because his hair was golden colour.
The structures in which these baths were given are known by the name of Tigh 'n alluis [Teenollish], 'sweating-house' (allus, 'sweat'). They are still well known in the northern parts of Ireland—small houses, entirely of stone, from five to seven feet long inside, with a low little door through which one must creep: always placed remote from habitations: and near by is commonly a pool or tank of water four or five feet deep.
The scientists said they were able to determine that brain surgery had been carried out on some of the people and they also discovered evidence of TB and cancer. They also said they may have found evidence of cystic fibrosis in the Irish population of some 1,000 years ago.
The findings were made during the e
One fascinating discovery was that of the remains of a young female. Dating back to AD800, her skull showed evidence of brain surgery. growth after the hole was cut into it."
This knowledge about cobwebs can be traced back to a medical manuscript that was transcribed from Latin into Irish by an Irish Liaig, T.Ó Cuinn in 1415.
This manuscript is a compilation in Irish of various Latin works that were in general use by medical people in the middle- ages.
The principal source of the knowledge there is the Circa Instans and this has been dated to shortly after 1070 (Murphy, 1991). The Tadhg Ó Cuinn manuscript has this to say about cobwebs
Tele rania: i.e. the spider’s web; cold and dry; it has the retentive virtue; it stops the bleeding of wounds, and it heals as we have said.’
Cobwebs were among one of Galen’s (129 -200 AD) favourite wound dressings and they were also used in wound care in ancient Egypt (Roberts and Walters, 1997).
mix it with buttermilk and oatmeal as a boiled poultice. serves well against poisoning and pain.
Succisa pratensis (caisearban bec; devil’s bit)scabby head, rash, alopecia, haemorrhoids (plus mustard, garlic and wine), external piles, tenesmus, cold rheum in old people, boils known as anthrax, deafness (poultice), pain in the sides and kidneys, dry cough, ripening boils and finally, as a ‘drawer’ of poison.
The T. O’Cuinn manuscript of 1415 tells us that the flower of the fox glove (Digitalis) can be used for tightness of the chest but that it should be boiled in wine.
magical cures for migraine
He went to Louvain where he stayed for three years and from there to Padua where he received the degree of Doctor. He returned to Flanders and was appointed chirurgeon doctor to the army of Albert and Isabella, joint sovereigns of the Low Countries. He became chief of the medical faculty in the Royal Hospital of Malines and he worked there until 1620. In that year he returned to Ireland and settled in Dublin. He achieved fame as a Doctor and was surgeon in chief of the Leinster forces under Preston. By 1646 he had transferred his services to Owen Roe O’Neill and was found among the slain between Letterkenny and Schearsaullis (Maloney, 1919). This career is very different to that of his forebears in Ballyshiel who would have had a separate seat assigned to them at the royal banqueting table as well as having equal rank with the Aireach Ard (landowner). This would have entitled him to 20 retainers, 10 of whom paid him tribute. The Liaig enjoyed high legal status – being one of the Gaelic learned orders- in society, and were supported by the hereditary tenure of lands that were granted to them by the Chieftains in exchange for medical services.
This was to ensure that they
“…might be preserved from being disturbed by the cares and anxieties of life, and enabled to devote himself to the study and work of his profession”
Other émigré who fared better were Niall O Clacán (died1655) from Donegal who trained in medicine in the old Gaelic tradition. He became Professor of Medicine at Toulouse and Bologna. He was also physician to Louis XIII of France and published a 13 volume medical work called Cursus Medicus. The University of Bologna, where he taught, holds several Irish manuscripts (Berresford Ellis, 1999). King Jan Sobieski was king of Poland and patronised Dr. Bernard Connor in the 1690s. Connor trained as a physician in Co. Kerry and died 1698. William O’Meara became physician to Napoleon (Sheehan, A. Personal communication, 2009).
. Previously, they enjoyed the same privileges as workers in precious metals and smiths but in the maelstrom of 17th politics they would have lost everything. This would have included the luibh gort or local herb garden. The Gaelic laws required that the luibh gort supply the medicine for the local people.
The loss of land, the loss of legal status and protection, the gradual loss of reading and writing meant the complex remedies contained in such family tomes were lost.
The obligations of the apprentice lasted for a lifetime as the same law continues:
"To help him against poverty, and to support him in old age [if necessary], these are due from the pupil to the tutor."
“Thorns were extracted in the following way – a bottle was filled with boiling water and then emptied- and so the bottle was filled with warm air – the neck of the bottle was then held over the thorn and pressed down on it. As the air within the bottle cooled and contracted the thorn was drawn out by suction (John O’Leary).”
The Ebers Papyrus (1550 B.C) from ancient Egypt states that wet cupping removes foreign matter from the body.
|Munster||Ó Callanáin (Callanan),|
|Ó hÍceadha (Hickey)|
|Ó Leighin (Lane),|
|Ó Nialláin (Nealon),|
|Ó Troighthigh (Troy);|
|Leinster||Mac Caisín (Cashin),|
|Ó Bolgaidhe (Bolger),|
|Ó Conchubhair (O'Connor),|
|Ó Cuileamhain (Culhoun, Cullen);|
|Connaught||Mac an Leagha (Mac Kinley)|
|Mac Beatha (Mac Veigh),|
|Ó Ceandubháin (Canavan),|
|Ó Cearnaigh (Kearney),|
|Ó Fearghusa (Fergus),|
|Ó (or Mac) Maoil Tuile (Tully, or Flood),|
|Ulster||Mac (or Ó) Duinnshléibhe (Donleavy)|
|Ó Caiside (Cassidy),|
Ó Siadhail (Shields)
Gabriel McSharry Nutritionist and Medical Herbalist