Historian Thomas Waters explores the weird world of Irish maledictions and curses. He shows that Irish folklore went well beyond fairies, banshees, apparitions and holy wells.
Cursing was a righteous supernatural attack, which used clever wordplay and special rituals to smite evildoers. With roots in ancient times, this type of cursing remained extremely widespread during the modern era, as Ireland’s people fought over food, land, religion and politics. Although it’s declined recently, even today some people still throw angry maledictions.
In this talk, Dr. Waters introduces the history and principles of cursing, and explains why the Irish were so good at it. If you think ordinary swearing is handy for letting off steam, you’ve seen nothing yet.
May you wither up by the fire of hell soon and sudden, may the flesh rot off your bones and fall away putrid before your eyes, and may the consolation of eternal flames come to be your consolation in your last illness, and the hearthstone of hell be your pillow for ever. – from a letter sent to a Limerick landlord, in 1886.
A Nottingham Irish Studies Group event
Tickets: £3.00 including refreshments. Let us know you are coming on firstname.lastname@example.org
Thomas Waters lives locally, in Beeston. He’s a lecturer in history at Imperial College London and author of Cursed Britain: A History of Evil Magic in Modern Times, which is due to be published in August by Yale University Press.
St Brigid’s cursing stone, Co. Cavan