Some cures really are worse than the illness. The Irish Schools Folklore Collection 1937 has yielded a few!.

In France, they eat them! In Germany they race them! In Bikini Bottom they keep them as pets, but here in Galway,..... well, we cure warts with them!

Yes, imagine having a wet, green, slimey snail suckered onto the wart on your hand or foot. Apparently it works a treat, or so John Lynksey from Barnaderg, Co. Galway wrote in 1937/38.

  1.  A snail rubbed on the wart every morning and evening until a wart begins to go is said to cure warts.
  2.  Sap of the dandelion squeezed on the wart is said to cure it.
  3. Rubbing the wart on stubbes is said to cure it.
  4. Rubbing water on a stone (and then ) on a wart (the stone must be found accidentally).
  5. If a person who has a wart steals a piece of bacon and hides it under a stone. While the bacon is decaying the wart is decaying also.

John’s ‘cures’ forms part of the Schools’ Folklore Collection, a large and important corpus of material, whose compilation occurred between 1937 and 1938.  This far-sighted scheme, run by theIrish Folklore Commission, saw over 100,000 schoolchildren collecting local folklore from their parents, grandparents and older members of the community.

I can just see the pharmacist's face when you ask for a couple of snails, a side of bacon, a couple of random rocks and a bearded man, to fix the verruca on your left foot! 'Aaah, do I need a prescription for this?'. You may well ask. 

The Irish School's Folklore Collection which dates from 1937, yielded a whole bunch of rather surprising cures! This far-sighted scheme, run by the Irish Folklore Commission, saw over 100,000 schoolchildren collecting local folklore from their parents, grandparents and older members of the community. the collection has been digitised recently and forms an invaluable part of the Irish National Archive.

These cures for healing Warts came from a few schools in Galway. I grew up in Loughrea, in east Galway and our cure for warts was to go to Lough Atorick lake near Woodford after a storm and rub the foam that blew off the wave-tops on your warts. Some of my friends told me of their father bringing a toad down from Ballinakill bog and him rubbing the slimey frog's skin onto their warts! There was also a Holy Well up the hill at Dalystown, the waters of which were supposed to cure warts! And no, before you even ask, I never had the courage to drink from that well. We also rubbed an old Victorian-era silver sixpence that my grand-father kept in his waist-coat onto warts with a little spittle, and hey, I don't know how, but they seemed to wither and go away! 

So, here's the question. Did your parents or grandparents pass down a cure to you? Perhaps for headaches, or hives, or dandruff? Did they swear to an asthma cure, had a panacea for toothache, or did your granny brew a special poultice for boils?

Our ancestors did not have access to either doctors or pharmacies and yet they survived and thrived; You are living proof of that. Some of their stuff worked! So, c'mon, tell us of the 'horrible' and 'unlikepy' cures your family have kept secret! You never know, there could be a recipe for the next 'Viagra' in your granny's old diary!

Brian Nolan, Folklorist, Story-teller and Owner of 'Walking Tours of Galway' 


Cures for warts, related by John Lynskey of Barnaderg, County Galway to Mary Lynskey. The Schools’ Collection, Volume 0026, Page 0105 as referenced on a post by Irish Archeology.

Tags: Ballinakill, Galway, Holy, Loughrea, Woodford, asthma, cure, cures, dalystown, dandruff, More…folklore, frogs, grandparents, headaches, history, waist-coat, warts, well

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