Cormac MacConnell: Get thee to a seventh son of a seventh son

Where are the seventh sons of seventh sons faith healers, when we need them more than ever?

We are plunging into another winter of total discontent.

Our national health service is in such a crisis that hospitals are begging us to go to our GPs, rather than to the hospitals where patients who cannot get beds are lined up and down the corridors on trolleys.

Staff levels in the hospitals have been cut to the limit.

Doctors are on the brink of taking strike action over pay levels. They are advising us to head to our pharmacists for minor ailments, rather than cram into their waiting rooms.

Incredibly, a situation is looming where even our babies may not be able to get the vaccinations they urgently need against killer diseases such as meningitis.

And the crises worsens every day.

Sadly, again, the harsh truth. We have a government tottering from crisis to crisis on every front.

Brexit poses huge problems, and the rise of Donald Trump across the Atlantic could easily lead to our world ending very dramatically and quickly.

Meanwhile, though, on the human front, our health service crisis is the most pressing issue of all and, because I possess the commonsense of the bogman I am, I clearly see the solution to that problem.

I offer it here to the Government free gratis out of the goodness of my heart.

We urgently need to provide the nation with a new generation of seventh sons of seventh sons.

That is the total answer.

Seventh sons of that ilk kept the country healthy at minimum cost to the State up until about three decades ago.

Because of their god-given healing gift, and the belief of the communities in which they dwelt, the mighty seventh sons of Ireland kept the hospitals nearly empty every winter, and had doctors worrying themselves sick because their waiting rooms were nearly empty.

The truth again, for sure.

When I was growing up in rural Ireland, and for the most of my life throughout the nation afterwards, it was a great comfort and support for the public that there was a seventh sons of a seventh sons residing in about every second parish, and readily available to cure every ailment under the sun, from the ringworm which affected many farmers then, to infinitely more serious conditions, life-threatening (then often called ‘a knot in the gut’, but travelling under a different title nowadays , which we sadly know).

Better still, in hard times, those healers never accepted payment for their work, certainly not in the early years, and if grateful patients in rural areas responded with loads of turf or timber or suchlike, that was totally fitting.

Back then, you only called in the doctor, really, for huge emergencies, and you only went to the hospital to have your appendix or tonsils removed. Right?

And those hospitals were so short of patients to keep the staff busy that they were delighted to meet and greet you, and there was never any question of shoving you up on a trolley in a cold corridor.

It has been the fault of successive governments that the special faith healers have virtually disappeared today.

Our leaders deemed it unfashionable and uneconomic for small farmers and countrymen generally to have the kind of large families which created seventh sons.

Such mothers and fathers were even stigmatised more than slightly by the State. That is the truth too.

We were encouraged in every way to have small families, on economic and social grounds. The tactic sadly worked only too well.

There are a few seventh sons among us today who actually conceal the reality they were part of such large families.

Meanwhile, the health service lurches from crisis to crisis.

Sometime back in the 1970s, in Galway City, I observed the then best known seventh son in Ireland, Finbar Nolan, holding a clinic in a city hotel.

Hundreds of clients queued up for his healing touch that day. I observed that they entered the room with worried and sober faces, but emerged, just a little later, smiling and relieved and happy.

I did not see any money changing hands that day either. I checked this week, and learned that at the very height of his popularity, patients paid Finbar Nolan just €7! That would hardly buy you an aspirin nowadays.

Our government could urgently react to the current crisis by doubling and even trebling the family allowance for fathers and mothers who bring seven sons into the land.

And assisting them in the rearing process at every stage.

It is also a folkloric and real fact that a seventh son has his healing gift from birth. Folk began arriving at Finbar Nolan’s home in Cavan, for example, when he was only two years old.

The pure truth, yet again.

Our new young Health Minister Simon Harris looks to me like the kind of sharp operator that just might take this good advice aboard and act upon it with alacrity. I can only hope that he does so, soonest.


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