Building a Picture of Charm Types, Practices, and Extent

in Early Nineteenth-Century Ireland

  • 172 charms (minimum), c. 1738-1858

  • Thematic Groups:
    • 150 (87.2%) = Medical

    • 16 (9.3%)  = Non-medical (against overlooking, general ill luck, increase food, spark love) 

    • 6 (3.4%) = Unknown (insufficiently catalogued)
Function Number Percent
Toothache 24 16.0%
Eye/mote 12 8.0%
Staunch blood 11 7.3%
Shakes/ague/fever 9 6.0%
Worms 8 5.3%
Farcy 7 4.6%
Childbirth/pregnancy 6 4.0%
Sprain 5 3.3%
Pains/Back pain 4 2.6%
Other 64 42.6%

Medical Thematic Group








Language of Charms

Single Language

Multiple Language

Irish + English

Latin + E/I

Charm Type Examples

Crux Christi

NLI MS G 95, 55

An uar do cnuic ar slanohor an + .i. cruis er n* rov she c*un a ceasa do chrih she o bon go bahus do dear na gudeeg de an chri no Eag ruas do vee er adurt she narr vah na er Eine do umperoch timphal er na focil vanahe sho beech mar shin a thierna +


NLI MS G 140, 563

And when Jesus saw the Cross he trembled [sic] & shook & the Jews said to him what ailest thou hast thou an Ague and he said, nay but whosoever keepeth this in his mind or about him shall never be troubled with ague or fever. So Lord Jesus help thy servant Matthew Troy [the scribe] Amen.

Charm Type Examples

Super Petram

NLI MS G 101, 12

St. Peter sitting on a marble stone before the gate of Jerusalem being troubled with a pain in the tooth Jesus asked Peter what was his ailment Peter answered & said I am troubled with a toothe ake Jesus said arise Peter & be hailed in the name of the Father & of the Son & of the Holy Ghost amen.


BL MS Egerton 155, 17

Shoith Peadar ar cloch amhradh, & tháinnic Íosa asa a chinn do rádh, go dé sin ort a Pheadar, Íosa ar Peadair ta m’fhíachail ta tinn. ire [sic] Pheadar ar Íosa, & bí slánn, na roibh ann óthra & a déada a naon ceann go bráich.

Charm Type Examples

Ortha an Dúradáin [Mote Charm]


BL MS Egerton 155, 17

Othra chuir Muire le súil Cholum Cille, air bhroth, air bhrínnin, air cholg, air choinnlíon, air sgúaba láir, ar smár líon, air duradan, no nídh air bith eille, iaruim ar rúgh na ndíuil cebe ta inn do thsúil go ceasaidh sé inn mo bhéul.

Key Characters in Historiola:


  • Mary
  • St. Columcille
  • St. Peter
  • St. Patrick


By Nicholas Wolf


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