Seventh Son on call - curatics gifts and lores, the healing hands of an ancient package
By: Cormac MacConnell | Published Wednesday, June 12, 2013, 2:09 PM | Updated Wednesday, June 12, 2013, 2:09 PM
Somewhere out there, maybe most likely in Boston, New York or Chicago, the traditional Irish American heartlands, there quietly still dwells the last of your Seventh Sons, those mighty ancient healers and possessors of curative gifts and lores the modern world knows little about.
If you are acquainted with such a special man then treasure the friendship because it is rare and priceless.
You might be even doubly fortunate in knowing a Seventh Son who is himself the child of a Seventh Son. That is special indeed nowadays.
Once in the parishes of home, where contraception of any kind was forbidden, such sons of large families were common enough. Now they are as scarce as hens' teeth.
I saw figures yesterday which stated that the modern Irish family size, for social and economic reasons of course, is now two and a half children! That's a strange statistic for sure because in all my travels I've never met a half-ling yet. But ye know what I mean anyway.
You may have to subtly dig a little before you discover you actually know a Seventh Son. These noble men do not boast of their gift, especially when resident abroad. They can even be defensive about the size of the family of which they are a part because large clans are not fashionable any more.
He is likely to simply conceal his status with remarks like, "I was the youngest of a whole clatter of brothers and sisters,” or, "There were a lot of us to be supported off 30 acres and a bog.”
And the truth is that was fundamentally the reason he had to emigrate to the New World in the first place, leaving his special status behind him.
But if you are a close enough friend, and especially if you have any health problems, the Seventh Son will inevitably come to your aid and it will not cost you a cent. That is the beautiful reality attached to these ancient folk healers.
He may today be a high-flying executive in your economy, he may be a millionaire, he may be your postman or policeman or bartender or lawyer or a member of any other trade or profession.
But he is always a Seventh Son and, if you study his bearing and character more closely, long before he reveals his identity, you will realize there was always something special about him, something more gentle, maybe, or caring or more compassionate than is the modern norm.
We see it here at home, quite often, in the personalities of those men cruelly called Spoiled Priests in Ireland in the past because they left their priestly studies (often to marry) before being ordained.
In my experience they were always courageous and special men in their lay lives. Just like the Seventh Sons we hardly ever hear of any more.
When called upon the range of their healing gifts they are amazing. They are especially effective, I think, in dealing with respiratory problems or skin ailments.
Some of them used be able to cure even severe acne or dermatologies of various severities simply by touching the affected areas and silently saying a few brief prayers.
It is possible, maybe even probable, that their similar cure for what was often rurally called "a knot in the gut" (severe internal pain) in the 1940s and 1950s represented a triumph over certain forms of cancer. They could and did deal with eye and ear ailments, with the rheumatism and arthritis common among hardworking farmers and manual workers, and some of them dispensed herbal drinks and ointments too.
I know of one case where a single bottle of a green liquid dramatically solved the fertility problems of a couple who'd been childless for almost a decade. After the bottle they almost produced a Seventh Son themselves.
Beyond a doubt, a powerful element of the healing equation involving Seventh Sons in rural Ireland was the powerful, simple, faith and hope of the patients who came to them for relief. Some of these patients, 40 years ago, would have sought their aid before going anywhere near a regular doctor.
Back then, I fear, maybe on cost grounds, the doctor was frequently summoned far too late. It was a reality in hard times.
And the Seventh Son's healing gifts were always available free. It was part of the ancient package.
It was said that they would lose their gift if any money changed hands and the old timers of the species would be mortally offended to be offered a financial fee.
Several of the latter-day Seventh Sons did commercially practice for a time as faith healers, but that did not last long.
For their gifted predecessors who would not accept cash, there was always a back door for patients' gratitude. It might take the form, for example, of a load of turf delivered before the next winter. Or perhaps a big fat goose before Christmas.
Something like that. A token of thanks.
I don't know of any Seventh Sons currently available to the people of Ireland when illness strikes. I'm sure there are still one or two out there, but I am not aware of them at time of writing.
I doubt if there are any of them deploying their gifts in Irish America, but I'm probably wrong in that.
If there are any of them left they would be found most likely in County Tipperary which was always famed for its Seventh Sons.
These noble men do not advertise or boast. Their fame spreads by grateful word of mouth. That is how it has always been.
If you even hear a whisper then file it away securely.
For what it is worth that whisper back here was almost always, "He has the cure..." If perchance there is a Seventh Son reading this then I send you, sir or sirs, my total respect and awe.