The Origin of Medicine in Ireland – Part 1

As the Blog about Britain team heads off to Tennessee for two weeks in March, I thought we’d examine how myths can have common themes across people groups – the origin of medicine in Ireland and America.

The battle was won. Corpses littered the emerald green plains and stained them with blood. The golden yellow sun gently warmed the world…but sent the horrible stench of rotting meat drifting upwards to where three figures stood on the hilltop.

A family surveyed the scene. Slightly forward stood the older man, although he wasn’t old, by no means. Brown hair just beginning to be streaked with grey streamed back from his powerful brow and hawk-like nose, showing that mighty strength still lay in his form, both of physique and emotion. Dian Cecht, the chief physician of the Tuatha de Dannan.

Behind him stood his children, a young man and woman with their father’s mass of thick brown hair, but gentleness in their faces, rather than passion.

The young woman, Airmid, wrapped her mantle tighter about her as she shivered. Never before had the Tuath De known such violence. For the world was still young, and kindness was what you would generally meet with amongst her people. But it seemed that with power came corruption of the mind.

“Well, children,” her father’s voice interrupted her musings. “Let us set to work.”

Airmid and Miach, her brother, silently followed their father down the hill, where they fanned out and slowly made their way over the battlefield, healing a third of the wounded each. From her position Airmid could see the progress of both her father and Miach, and she sighed when Miach finished first. Her father would not be happy later.

For she had watched with alertness her father and Miach’s skyrocketing fame as doctors. How they were called to treat the rich and famous, even summoned abroad to treat foreign kings. And she saw how her father grew more silent and volatile, lashing out upon the slightest provocation towards his son. But it had all come to a head with Nuada, their own High King.

In an earlier, smaller battle, Nuada had lost a hand. Dian Cecht, along with a master silversmith, had made him a replacement hand of silver, which worked just as good as any real hand. But then Miach had happened along later, and with a genuine desire to improve things in his eyes, told Nuada to lay his hand on his chest. Three days later the silver hand was covered with skin, and it looked normal.

When Dian Cecht found out what Miach had done, he said nothing, but the harsh lines around his mouth grew deeper and wild fury blazed in his eyes. Airmid drew her brother aside later that day and warned him. Miach agreed to keep his head down.

But now the family regrouped. Tensely, Airmid’s eyes flickered from one man to another. In her father’s eyes was that same fury as before.

“Well, go home, Airmid!”

Airmid jumped. “Father?”

“I said, go home, girl, or I will make you!”