The healer in the tower: Biddy Early and discourses of healing in the work of W. B. Yeats and Lady Augusta Gregory
Walker-Dunseith, Holly May
Taylor & Francis
The folk healer Biddy Early (1798–1874) is perhaps now best remembered in association with a mythical curse on the Clare hurling side. This article explores her healing practices and the significance of her life and legend to William Butler Yeats and Lady Augusta Gregory. Writings by both these key revivalists, and their collaborative play The Pot of Broth (1904), testify to the continuing and ambivalent presence of Early’s memory in the decades after her death. Gregory and Yeats spread the fame of Early as part of their revivalist project, and the latter rebuilt the tower he christened Thoor Ballylee with, among other things, the “old mill boards” where she had once, according to local lore, gathered her ingredients. This article looks at the place of Early in Yeats’s and Gregory’s imaginations, and seeks to reposition this non-elite woman as one of the culture-givers of the Revival period.
Traditional medicine , Thoor Ballylee , Healing , Biddy Early , W. B. Yeats , Lady Gregory
Walker-Dunseith, H. M. (2022) ‘The healer in the tower: Biddy Early and discourses of healing in the work of W. B. Yeats and Lady Augusta Gregory’, Irish Studies Review, (17 pp). doi: 10.1080/09670882.2022.2095962.
© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The Version of Record of this manuscript has been published and is freely available in Irish Studies Review, 12 July 2022. To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/09670882.2022.2095962