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Healers in Irish Culture, A Guest Post from Leigh Ann Edwards, The Author of The Irish Witch Series

Hey guys! Please, say hello to Leigh Ann Edwards who graciously agreed to share her fascinating research into healer's place in Irish culture and tell us what got her interested in this topic in the first place. Thank you and welcome, Leigh Ann!

My first novels take place in sixteenth century Ireland.

I knew I wanted my stories to be set in historical Ireland for although I have lived in Canada all my life, I am of predominantly Irish ancestry and have always had a strong interest and a deep connection to anything Irish. In traveling to Ireland I was greatly inspired by actually standing within the historic ruins, and ancient churches and castles. It was in touring the Great Hall in Bunratty Castle in County Clare that I envisioned and created many scenes that take place in The Irish Witch Series.

Bunratty Castle  

In part I chose this time period because this was the Tudor era in England, and a wealth of factual information was available as much has been written and documented about Henry VIII. Although there were differences between England and Ireland there were also many similarities as there had already been some definite English dominance and influence within Ireland. Healers were always very highly esteemed throughout Ireland and given much freedom with their healing practices.

 The Irish kings and later, the Irish Chieftains, each employed a healer. Almost all healers were men. On rare occasions a woman was allowed to practice healing.

Herbs were widely used to create many remedies for healing, but the healer needed to be experienced and aware of the many side-effects caused by each herb.

For example, in dealing with deep battle wounds, herbs that were greatly beneficial to pain relief often dangerously increased bleeding, or caused the patient’s heartbeat to rapidly change. Both conditions often killed the patient.
 If the patient was a noble, then at times the healer would be executed because they weren’t able to save the injured person.


The ancient Celts who employed Druids as healers and seers had a much more holistic attitude toward healing. They seemed more advanced in their beliefs that diet, exercise and cleanliness were important to maintaining good health. When Christianity was brought to Ireland many of these practices were linked to paganism. Therefore the approach to healing changed drastically with the rise of Christian beliefs.

In my first novel, I I mentioned the completely true, but disturbing fact that bathing or even washing any area of the body other than the hands and face was once considered immoral or sinful.

However, Alainn, the heroine in my books, is not only a healer, she also possesses supernatural abilities that allow her to sense what practices will be beneficial to herself and others.

This enables her to recognize the important connection of cleanliness and personal hygiene to remaining healthy, and therefore she strongly encourages people to wash and bathe frequently. She also can sense by way of her magical powers, what potions or combination of herbs will cure or improve her patients.

 Even though Alainn was considered to be an asset to the clan and a valued healer, she was a commoner by birth and therefore she would never be allowed to marry or be involved in a recognized relationship with a   man of noble birth. The love between her and Killian, the chieftain’s nephew was strictly forbidden and actually quite dangerous.

Alainn could be accused of purposely bewitching Killian, and if he chose her, a commoner, rather than a noble match decided by the chieftain, it could be considered treasonous. They would quite likely both be sentenced to death.

In writing historical novels documented historic events must be accurate, but having a heroine that can heal by way of magic, and is capable of many unusual magical feats, allows more literary freedom and changes the storyline considerably.

Thank you, Leigh Ann!

In 16th Century Ireland. Young and beautiful Alainn McCreary, healer in training to the powerful O’Brien Clan, is on the cusp of discovering she possesses vast and unusual supernatural powers, which she hopes will help her unlock the secrets of her past and break the curse on the O’Brien Clan.

Alainn is counseled to hide her magical abilities, but how can she when dark forces rise up to threaten not only the O’Brien Clan, but Alainn and the life of the Chieftain’s beloved, but forbidden nephew, Killian O’Brien, a man Alainn has loved as long as she can remember?

Book Two of the Irish Witch Series continues the quest to end the curse of the Glade Witch. Forced to contend with the possibility of an arranged marriage, Alainn (pronounced awlinn) McCreary, healer, witch, and commoner, struggles alone to control her ever-growing magical powers and the yearning she feels for a man beyond her station. Killian O’Brien, virile, noble, betrothed to a dark-eyed Scottish beauty, challenges the social fabric of 16th century Ireland and anyone who would dare dishonor the woman who has captured his heart. Can Alainn lift the curse that dooms any future happiness before time runs out? Will Chieftain O’Brien keep their secret from Killian or use it to control her? The Witch’s Daughter weaves romance, adventure, and the supernatural into a tale of lust and longing that whispers darkly, “What wouldn’t you do for love?”

Since she was a child, Leigh Ann Edwards has always had a vivid imagination and lots of stories to tell. An enthusiastic traveler and author for over twenty years, her adventures in Massachusetts, Ireland, and the UK inspired The Farrier’s Daughter and its sequel novels in the Irish Witch series. Edwards adores animals, history, genealogy, and magical places—and Ireland is filled with many magical places. She lives with her husband and two cats in the lovely city of Edmonton, Alberta.
Find Leigh Ann:

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