Nan O’Toole: A Folk Medicine Practitioner from Galway

A photo from 1913 showing Nan (Anne) O’Toole of the Claddagh, Galway city. Born in in 1877, Nan sold fish in Eglinton Street and was also known to have cures for many ailments. For infants suffering with bowel problems Nan prescribed holy water mixed with burnt turf dust, which was then fed to the child. Babies born prematurely were hung in a fishing net over a basin of hot warm water, as this was said to replicate the womb, providing the greatest comfort to the child. She was also renowned for her cure for eye infections, which involved Nan licking the eye.

(Information via the Galway City Museum, photo: The Albert Kahn Collection )

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