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old wives tales

Snails, donkeys, and clay from a priest's grave: 10 old Irish cures for everything that ails you

*rubs potato on wart*

BEFORE YOU COULD throw all your symptoms into Google and diagnose yourself, Irish people turned to folklore and old wives’ tales like these to remedy all sorts of ailments.

1. To cure a wart, rub a freshly cut potato on it then bury it in the garden

7394971802_7b0d445a36_b Flickr Flickr

The burial is the important bit.

2. You could also rub a snail on it

But make sure to then pin it to a wall/tie it to a bush to die. By the time the snail has withered away, the wart should be gone.

3. A child suffering from whooping cough can be cured by passing them three times under a donkey


This was a commonly held belief back in the day. A report investigating it was even published in the American Academy of Pediatrics journal in 1978.

4. People who married someone with the same surname as their own could also take care of it

The woman would make a loaf of bread and give it to the person suffering from whooping cough. When they eat it, they will be cured.

5. Ferrets were believed to have healing powers

1024px-Ferret_2008 Wikimedia Wikimedia

Specifically, food left behind by a ferret. Eat the ‘ferret’s leavings’, and your ailment will be cured.

6. Goose fat could do everything

Rub it on swellings, sprains, sore throats, rashes – on humans and animals.

7. Cobwebs staunch bleeding

1012px-Early_morning_cobwebs_(2859589264) Wikimedia Wikimedia

Another old Irish remedy involved covering a cut with cobwebs to stop the bleeding. Another excuse for you not to dust. Gotta keep them around, just in case!

8. Blowing on the mouth to cure thrush

Hylocichla_mustelina_(cropped) Wikimedia This is a thrush bird. Nicer than a picture of actual thrush. Wikimedia

A person who was born after their father’s death could cure oral thrush (known back then as ‘dirty mouth’) by blowing over the affected mouth three times.

9. Frogs can cure toothache

There are conflicting reports on whether the frog needs to be alive or dead for this cure to work – this account says you can rub the live frog on the aching tooth, while this one encourages you to kill the frog.

The key to it seems to be happening across the frog ‘casually’. Don’t go looking for the frog. Let him come to you.

10. And clay from a priest’s grave would too

432981631_849ce2dd01_b Flickr / infomatique Flickr / infomatique / infomatique

Folklore website has a few accounts of people rubbing clay from a priest’s grave on their gums to ease a toothache. We would recommend you go to a dentist.

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