Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Bitters and Bitter Ale

I’ve been curious for a while now as to what sorts of bitters preparations might have been used in the Gaelic Materia Medica.   All the major healing traditions, Greek Medicine, Classical Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda ascribed certain physiological actions to tastes and used bitter herbs to promote digestion.  They were likely first eaten  after a meal like fennel and parsley in medieval feasts.   But by the time history takes note of them, they were primarily being used as ingredients in apertifs and digestifs.  I found it hard to believe that this practice didn’t carry over into Gaelic medicine, knowing that the earliest medical texts in Ireland were such Greek texts as the Aphorisms of Hippocrates translated into Irish in 1403 by scholars attending the Munster medical university.(Wilkinson, 2008)

Nocino Brewing
I had almost given up on the idea when I found a journal article on the Italian liqueur nocino.   The authors of the journal cite literature from an Italian monastery which also confirms the use of the preparation “as a tonic and digestive aid” and attributes the origins of their recipe for the drink to the Druids who traditionally collected “green unripe walnuts” (Juglans nigra) at the end of their summer solstice rituals.  (C. Alamprese, 2005)  In fact it is still traditional in Italy to gather the walnuts for this preparation on St. John the Baptist’s day which is the Catholic holy day that seems to have replaced earlier solstice rituals.

 I also verified that there was in fact a Gaelic name for Juglans nigra and found it referred to as Craobh ghall-chnὸ. (Cameron, 1900, p. 18) 
The following is the recipe for nocino as translated from a pdf published by the Ordine del Nocino Modenese, the monastery which claims to have originated the drink in Italy.   I am absolutely sure the recipe has been modified.   If this were the original recipe and it is indeed as old as the monastery claims,  sugar would not have been an ingredient due to the fact that honey was the only sweetener known in Ireland and Scotland until the late 16th Century.   


1 liter of alcohol 95 °

700-900 grams of sugar

1 kg of walnuts (33-35 nuts about depending on the size but always in number odd)

The nuts must be strictly locally sourced and free from any treatment. They also need to be , as tradition indicates , collected at the turn of the feast of St. John the Baptist .The right consistency of the nut should be assessed and pierce it with a pin and / or verified visually by splitting in half with a knife.

Optional: Cloves and cinnamon in small quantities and dosed in such a way that the aroma prevalent in liquor is always that of the walnut and the overall bouquet you create a harmonious result. 


The nuts, once harvested, they must be cut into 4 pieces and placed in a glass container (no rubber seals) together with the sugar. After being kept in the sun for 1-2 days and stir

Periodically, the nuts are ready to be added alcohol and any flavorings. The product thus obtained must be positioned in an area partially exposed to the sun, occasionally opened and shuffled, and not filtered before 60 days. It is advisable to bottling in glass containers dark and / or refine the product in small wooden barrels… can choose either chestnut oak that provided that the barrel has been properly treated before use. The preservation of the walnut must be carried out in a cool place and for a minimum period of 12 months if you want to fully appreciate all the characteristics of this liquor. 

In searching around for this Gaelic term I came across another form of Irish bitter coirm or cuirm in Old Irish which we refer to as “ale” in English.   The brewing of ale is such an ancient skill that Tacticus mentioned curmi as a drink brewed by the Celts using barley.   The Crith-Gablach, an Irish law book compiled c 700 CE, also lists among the duties of a king that “he is not a lawful flaith (lord) who does not distribute ale every Sunday.”  Ale was the drink of choice for all Irish Gaels according to the Táin Bó Cúailnge and in the Senchus Mór which detailed laws governing brewing. (Curry, 1873, p. 28) This is understood to be because they lived in climates where grapes wouldn’t make it and turned to using grain crops for brewing instead. (Rees, 1819)  

In his Social History of Ireland, Joyce explained that the knowledge of brewing was widely known and he described a typical “drinking-vessel, usually made from a bullock's horn, hollowed out and often highly ornamented with metal-work and gems.” (Joyce, 1906, p. 315)  An example would be the

If there is any doubt as to the importance of ale to Irish society the following parable written in approximately 650 C.E by a Kildare monk should illustrate it, well.

“On another extraordinary occasion, this venerable Brigid was asked by some lepers for beer, but had none. She noticed water that had been prepared for baths. She blessed it, in the goodness of her abiding faith, and transformed it into the best beer, which she drew copiously for the thirsty. It was indeed He Who turned water into wine in Cana of Galilee Who turned water into beer here, through this most blessed woman’s faith.”

While one might not think of ale as a medicinal, herbal historians suggest that  bitter herbs were used in brewing due to the fact that the use of bitter herbs in malt liquors was meant to “diminish the noxious effects of such potations’  and to “render them, when taken in moderation, promoters of digestion.” (Paris, 1825, p. 146)  


C. Alamprese a, . C. (2005). Characterization and antioxidant activity of nocino liqueur. Food Chemistry, 495-502.

Cameron, J. (1900). The Gaelic Names of Plants (Scottish, Irish and Manx) . Glasgow: John Mackay Office Blythswood Drive.
Curry, E. O. (1873). On the Manners and Customs of the Ancient Irish Volume II. Dublin : W.B Kelly .
hAedha, C. U. (650 CE). The Life of St Brigid the Virgin,. Kildare.

Joyce, P. (1906). A Smaller Social History of Ancient Ireland. Dublin: Longmans, Green and Co.

Paris, J. A. (1825). Pharmacologia, al, The history of medicinal substances 6th Ed Volume 1 . Dublin: Hodges and McArthur .

Rees, A. (1819). The Cyclopedia, or Universal Dictionary of Arts, Science and Literature Volume I. London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme and Brown.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

What butter or whiskey does not cure cannot be cured.

One of my projects back in college was to research some traditional methods of preparation and perhaps compare and contrast them to my more modern preparations. To be honest, I didn't find that things are all that entirely different.  We still make infusions. We still use poultices and ointments and have strange bottles of unidentifiable potions lying about. Some of us are still drying herbs on the rafters in our attic. It seems the folk methods of herbal preparation have been passed down the age fairly accurately. Even the use of mold as medicine is not an entirely new concept.  Scottish healers would allow mold to grow on the surface of milk to be used as poultices on ulcerations. (Beith, 2004, p. 179) Some ingredients have gone out of fashion. I’ve yet to meet a modern-day herbalist who is using earth from a mole hill to cure rheumatism, but I am sure I might come across something similar, someday.  The one thing that I wasn't certain about was the period use of alcohol as a medicinal.  

When I came across was this old Gaelic proverb: “An rud nach leigheasann im ná uisce beatha níl aon leigheas air” which translates to “What butter or whiskey does not cure cannot be cured.”   This simple proverb may well sum up Gaelic healing philosophy.
In fact, the statement still holds true today. Irish American immigrants brought with them the folk medicine practices of “drinking hot whiskey with cloves and honey for coughs or colds and rubbing Vicks on the chest.” (Rapple, 2009) 

Legend has it that traveling Irish monks learned of distillation in the East and brought it back to Ireland as early as 1000 CE which is a plausible time frame.
It was used exclusively by monastery apothecaries for medicinal purpose well into the Middle Ages and probably a product of the distillation of barley beer. (McKeown, 2012) There are no Gaelic documents referring to early methods of distillation.  The first written documentation was reportedly written in the 12th century by an Anglo Saxon visitor upon his return home.   1512, German Hieronymus Brunschwig's "Liber de arte distillandi” also  mentions these monks briefly when detailing distillation methods and the medicinal uses of alcohol.(Brunschwig, 1512)

Source British Museum: Medieval Medicine
Uisce Beatha meaning “water of life” was the Irish Gaelic translation the aforementioned monks assigned to the Latin aqua vitae. (American Heritage Dictionary, n.d.) It is pronounced roughly "ish-ke-ba'ha" The Scottish Gaelic is uisge beatha. It was reported to be “considered to be almost a panacea, given for a variety of ailments but believed to be specific for smallpox.” (Mitchell, n.d.) There has been some argument amongst historians if the peasantry would have had access to distillation equipment. I believe the answer to this lie in the long history of Irish hospitals established to care for the poor.

According to the mythological cycles, “Queen Macha Mong Ruadh (who died 377 BC) established the first hospital in Ireland called Broin Bherg (the House of Sorrow) at Emain Macha” (Wilkinson, 2008)  Subsequently Brehon law codes, such as the Senchus Mór, governed these forus tuaithe (territorial house) which were to provide to all classes “sick maintenance, including curative treatment, attendance allowance, and nourishing food.” (Ellis, 1995, p. 215) By the Middle Ages, many of these hospitals were associated with monasteries. (Wilkinson, 2008) The fact that these establishments existed leads me to believe that the peasantry would have had access to uisce beatha as a medicinal preparation.

Source British Museum: Medieval Medicine
Now I shall turn my attention to the second panacea mentioned, butter. The Celtic obsession with dairy products would make me laugh, if it didn’t rule my life. In fact, dairy products have been such a ubiquitous part of the Celtic diet that it may have influenced our genetics. A recent geographical study published in the journal Nature, illustrated the British Isles as one of the few places in the worlds where over 90% of the adult population exhibit lactase persistence. (Curry, 2013, p. 21) That is their bodies produce the enzyme necessary to digest lactose.
It makes sense then that many sources on traditional Celtic herbalism document the use of butter in making ointments. Beith mentions many such preparations including two ointment the first ” St. John’s wort, germander speedwell and golden rod cut small and mixed in butter and grease” (Beith, 2004, p. 220) and the second in which “golden rod was mixed with all-heal and fresh butter” both of which were used to mend broken bones. (Beith, 2004, p. 221)

Folklore is full of reference to the use of ointments by healers.References can be found in the earliest myths. In the Tain bo Cuailgne a group of liaigh were said to accompany each army, each wearing a bag known as lés which carried the ointments that they would apply to injured soldiers at the end of the battle. (Ellis, 1995, p. 214) An old folk remedy for the plague involves invoking a charm three times and then “take butter, breathe on it quite close, and give to chafe himself therewith.” (Wilde, 1887, p. 85)
One of my favorite things about studying historical herbalism is that I am usually able to take a  widely used practice and find some science to validate it.   After all even leeches have their place.  In this case it is the fact that lipids enhance transdermal absorption of medicinal herbs.

Now granted today's science has found chemical agents which work better than oils but they are generally petroleum products which I prefer not to use.One can’t help but wonder what sort of trial-and-error process led the ancient folk healers to begin making their preparations with oils? Questions like these will likely never have an answer come to light, but I have a better understanding of why the original proverb became popular.

Beith, M. (2004). Healing Threads: Traditional Healing of the Highlands and the Islands. Edinburgh: Berlinn Limited.
Brunschwig, H. (1512). Liber de Arte Didstallandi. Retrieved from Turning the Pages Online: National Library of Medicine: http://archive.nlm.nih.gov/proj/ttp/flash/brunschwig/brunschwig.html
Curry, A. (2013). The Milk Generation. Nature, 20-22.
Ellis, P. B. (1995). The Druids. Grand Rapids, Michigan: W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
McKeown, M. (2012, May 25). History of Irish Whiskey. Retrieved from History of Ireland: http://hubpages.com/hub/History-Irish-Whiskey
Mitchell, R. (n.d.). Celtic Medicine in Scotland. Retrieved from Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh: http://www.rcpe.ac.uk/library-archives/celtic-medicine-scotland
Rapple, B. (2009, December). Irish americans. Retrieved from Countries and their Cultures: http://www.everyculture.com/multi/Ha-La/Irish-Americans.html
Ratna Mehta, P. (2004, September). Topical and Transdermal Drug Delivery: What a Pharmacist Needs to Know. Retrieved from Archived Articles of INET Continuing Education: http://www.inetce.com/articles/pdf/221-146-04-054-H01.pdf
whiskey. (n.d.) The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. (2003). Retrieved November 24 2013 from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/whiskey
Wilde, L. F. (1887). Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms, and Superstitions of Ireland Volume II. Boston: Tinker and Co. Retrieved from Sacred Texts: http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/ali/ali152.htm
Wilkinson, S. (2008, November). Early Medical Education in Ireland. Retrieved from Irish Migration Studies in Latin America: http://www.irlandeses.org/0811wilkinson2.htm

Monday, September 9, 2013

A Brief Overview of the Social Landscape of Pre-Christian Ireland

Iron Age Roundhouse Phil Champion, via Wikimedia Commons
It seems to me that the creation of a a persona  in any ancient culture must be grounded in an understanding of the social landscape in which the persona worked and lived. Gaining this understanding about Gaelic cultures can be challenging. Reconstructing the beliefs of a culture in which the learned elite didn’t believe in writing down their knowledge requires research and the willingness to hypothesize in an educated manner, just a bit. In Ireland, especially, this is compounded by the fact that the acidity of the soil and the practice of cremation burials, left very little in the way of organic archeological relics. (Harbison, p. 18)

It is important to acknowledge that accessing historical documents only provides part of the story. One must keep in mind that they are reading the history as relayed by the group that was literate at the time the stories were put down in writing, most of whom lived in monastic communities. (Bitel, p. 14) Most of the written documentation we have of Gaelic society was written by either Romans or Christian monks--neither group holds a particularly flattering outlook on pagans, or women. The history is fraught with confusion. 

Pagan Religious Beliefs

The Gaels believed strongly that human beings cohabitate the Earth with many beings. There is no denying that there was a strong belief in Celtic countries in a mythological pantheon similar to other Bronze age pantheons. The Irish mythological cycle was told in the Lebor Gabála Érenn (Book of the Taking of Ireland). This book penned in the 11th century in a monastic community details the arrival of subsequent groups of godlike beings to the shores of Ireland. (MacKilliop, 1998, p. 366) 
The most well-known of these groups is the  Tuatha Dé Danann who descended on Ireland “from a dark cloud on a mountain in the west” (MacKilliop, 1998, p. 261) to conquer the Fir Bolg.
According to mythology, when defeated by the incoming Milesians, a treaty split the whole of Ireland in which Tuatha Dé Danann were allotted the islands out to the sea shrouded in the féth fiada, the bottoms of lakes, and the fairy rath, which we know now to be ancient ancestral burial grounds where ceremonies were likely held by indigenous people.(Monaghan, 2004, p. 457)

The name given to one of these islands is Tir-na-nog (The Land of Youth). It is sometimes described as an island in the ocean to the west ruled by Manannan Mac Lir who was a son of the sea and a member of the Tuatha. Here one could find “neither death nor pain, nor scandal, nought save immortal and unfading youth, and endless joy and feasting.” (Evans-Wentz, 1911, p. 334)

This was a typical Bronze Age pantheon. Like the Greek and Roman gods, these beings were portrayed as flesh-and-blood creatures with supernatural powers, but interestingly they were more frequently claimed by many familial clans, as ancestors.  This may speak to the importance of ancestor worship to the indigenous culture.  In the Book of Leinster  the poem of Eochaid records that  Tuatha Dé Danann, were" hosts" of siabra- an Old Irish word meaning "spirits".  This has led to a spirited academic discussion as to the distinctions between the Sidhe and ancestral spirits.  From the viewpoint of this anthropologist, it seems likely that this is simply another example of a patriarchal Bronze Age culture assimilating the ancestor worship aspects of an indigenous belief system.

Healers of the Tuatha Dé Danann 

Diancecht and his children: Miach, Airmid and Octruil, and were regarded as the members of the  Tuatha Dé Danann who presided over healing. They are given credit for turning the tide in one battle due to their ability to make “a bath of healing, with every sort of healing plant or herb in it.” (Gregory, 1905, p. 6) Airmed is supposed to have gained her knowledge of the use of the herbs by observing as they grew from the joints and sinews of her brother Miach’s body. (Gregory, 1905, p. 13)  Brighid was the name given to three daughter of the Dagda, one which was the goddess of medicine and medical doctors. (Joyce, 1906, p. 109) Referred to as Bride in Scotland, she figures strongly in Gaelic healing charms.  Áine was another goddess said to preside over healing. In the first mythological cycle it is said that “those that did cures by herbs said she had power over the whole body.” (Gregory, 1905, p. 86) This has led to her being considered the protector of the ‘spark of life which has been contrasted with the vital force that functions in many traditional healing paradigms"(Matthews, 1994, p. 283), but it must be acknowledged that this is poetic conjecture and not a proven point.   Medical doctors (liagh) also appear in the early mythological cycles.  In the Tain bo Cuailgne a group of healers were said to accompany each army, each wearing a bag known as les which carried the ointments that they would apply to injured soldiers at the end of the battle.

The era  during which Christianity finally subverted the older pagan faiths in Gaelic countries is highly debatable.  Historical documents penned by the monastic literati would have you think that whole of Ireland was converted by St. Padraig in the fifth century and that paganism was wiped out by the seventh century. Scholars question this type of propaganda due to many historical discrepancies.
For example, a description of an 11th Century king’s inaugural ceremony involved ritual sacrifice of a white mare as was the heathen tradition. (Raftery, p. 81)  Christian literature was still denigrating “lucht pisreóg” (enchanters) and fios sigheog (knowledge of fairies) well into the late seventeenth century. (Correll, p. 2) Documentation of the Scottish witchcraft trials bear witness to this fact, as well. (Hall, p. 20) Obviously the fairy faith had a stronghold in Gaelic society for much longer than the hagiographers would have one think.

The variant of Gaelic spoken in Ireland is Q-Gaelic (Geodelic). In a manner similar to the English language, Goedelic language has progressed through the following stages: Old Irish, Middle Irish and Modern Irish (Gaeilge). Middle Irish spread to Manx and Scotland and took on native characteristics in each of those locales which is explains why Scottish Gaelic is referred to modernly as Gàidhlig. (Laing, p. 142) Words also took on new meaning over the years according to customs. For example, the word for marriage in Old Irish was banais, the root words of which were ban (woman) and feis (a sleeping with). In Middle Irish was the word feis was used to refer to a feast which Bitel feels implies some sort of celebration in conjunction with marriages. (Bitel, p. 43)

Old Irish predated the P-Gaelic languages spoken in Britain (Brythonic), and is one of the older archaic languages along with Hittite and Sanskrit. There are many philogistic theories which attempt to explain the similarities between Ancient Irish, Vedic Sanskrit and Hittite which extend beyond the scope of this work, many attributed to sharing common Indo-European ancestor. (Ellis, 1996) The significance of that theory to this my anthropological research is that this possibility may explain similarities in practice between Āyurvedic practitioners and Celtic healers.

Kin Groups

The family unit known as the fine consisted of five generations of a family and this kin group would settle in close proximity with one another sharing a tenuous joint ownership of the family land, known as the fintiu. Ireland was broken into many different areas known as tuaths (too-eh). Each tuath had a minor king. When this king died, any male member of his geilfine, which is the kin group consisting of all of the descendants of a common great-grandfather, was eligible to be appointed to replace him. This allowed for a bit more social mobility than other models of royal succession but it also accounts for bitter blood feuds in this history of Ireland and Scotland.

Class Structure

One of the identifying components of ancient Gaelic societies is some sort of 3-tiered class structure which generally ascribed to the following organizational structure. (Nicholson, 2003) The first class was the noble class. These were the warriors whose duty it was to protect the society; kings were always of this class. The second class were the Aois-dàna (Scottish Gaelic), or Áes Dána (Old Irish). This was the learned elite. They kept the oral (and later written) histories and led religious ceremonies and were the more skilled artisans. This role was first served by Druids, and then later by monks and priests. (Laing, p. 190)

The final class were the producers, those farmers and laborers who produced consumable goods. Although technically free, they were generally involved in some sort of clientage contract with a superior which might have involved among other things, the fostering of the children of noble class. Fosterage was commonplace in Ireland. Children were routinely sent to other homes to be raised by a secondary family around the age of seven. Until that time they were the responsibility of the birth mother to raise and both parents were responsible for paying for their children to be fostered.

Men and women had specific gender related tasks, regardless of class. Even wealthy women had the task of managing the female laborers and textile production tasks, such as weaving and sewing. Commoners were more likely to engage in hard physical labor such as working with their family’s dairy herd or caring for pigs. (Bitel, p. 125) There was in Gaelic societies a virtually classless group of slaves and landless laborers who were not attached to a kin group.


Irish families appeared to settle in smaller kin groups consisting of a grandfather and all his descendants. Towards the end of the Iron Age, these family group had started to build ringforts. This practice persisted until the medieval period. (Raftery, p. 38) A ringfort was a small circular homestead anywhere from 20-50 meters in diameter surrounded by a bank and ditch enclosure or small stone walls. The typical home was a roundhouse, built within the confines of the larger circular structure. Women typically spent much of their time closely tied to these settlements while men were more mobile having to leave the settlement in times of war.

Marriage  and Women's Social Status

A woman’s socials status was determined first by that of her father’s and subsequently by her husband’s status. (Nicholson, 2003) Marriages came to be called lanamnasa cumtusa comperta which translated to “unions of partnership for the purpose of reproduction.” (Bitel, p. 39) A woman retained her own property when she entered marriage, which she was entitled to continue to manage in conjunction with her husband. Comthinchor was the term used to refer to the “common capital of the marriage “ (Bitel, p. 113)

In noble families, marriages were more likely to be Lánamnas comthingchuir. In these unions both brought equal amounts of property, household goods, livestock, and other wealth to the marriage to be managed in a way that produced more domestic wealth. Commoners were more likely to form Lánamnas mná for fertinchur. These were unions in which the woman contributed household goods while the men procured land to farm on.

Polygamy was acceptable in this society and in fact many men had a primary wife, a secondary wife and those who could afford it had concubines. Commoners were less likely to have more than one wife.  All of these relationships could result in legitimate heirs who were accepted into the father’s kin group. The most socially valuable type of marriage, on the part of any woman was that of the first wife, the cetmuinter, which was a position that allowed the woman to wield the most economic power. The many laws governing the placement of babies born of illicit unions shows that despite the many freedoms allowed men in producing an heir, problems still arose.

The role of the typical woman was to reproduce, tend to the dairy herds and produce fabric and clothing. The wealth some women procured was through these pursuits. (Bitel, p. 127) At other times women were granted a postmortem inheritance called a coibche. There was a law providing for a women to pass on “orb cruib ocus slíasta” on to her daughter. Bitel believes that this phrase which translates roughly to ‘land of hand and thigh’ is likely to have referred to land a woman acquired through some labor of her own or land that she was given as part of a coibche. (Bitel, p. 114)  Women did not routinely retain ownership of the land, however, it normally passed back to her kin group of birth at death, but this was also true of the land owned by  men.

Regardless of the various wild assertions of the rights of women in Irish societies, scholars disagree on the level of power women were able to attain.  Scholars complain “for every law circumscribing women, there was another that allowed them considerable liberty.” (Bitel, p. 10) At least some scholars explain this by establishing existence of a more egalitarian Neolithic society with perhaps a more “matrifocal ideology” which was acculturated by an incoming Celtic speaking Indo-European settlers with a more patriarchal authority pattern. (Crualaoich, 2003, p. 25). The example he uses to demonstrate this concept is that of the kingship of the land being based on a hierogamous relationship with the sovereignty queen or goddess of the land. Inauguration ceremonies often involved some sort of symbolic ritual marriage to the goddess which he proposed assimilated the beliefs of both cultures. (Crualaoich, 2003, p. 39)

Females of a certain class were undoubtedly schooled as there are references to female scholars in many ancient texts. (Ellis, p. 115)   Women were only allowed to access many of their rights through the males of the society. Women were not allowed in certain courts. A male, either a woman’s husband or another male in her kin group, had to be willing to advocate for her in the court system (Nicholson, 2003). Women could also lose their social who status and be sent back to their kin group if they did not produce heirs.

Still it seems that Gaelic women had more rights than women of other cultures. a particular law tract called the Bretha Crólige which refers to females practicing notably in many professions including; bansáer (artisans or wrights) judges, physicians and poets. (Binchy, 1938) Women were allowed to initiate divorce proceedings in cases of violence, adultery, slander and sexual failings. (Ellis, 1995, p. 124) As mentioned earlier, the profits that a woman made during a marriage seemed to be hers to keep. (Binchy, 1938).   There were many customs which implied women had a choice in who they married.  One offered an unmarried woman who had been raped the option of hanging, decapitating, or marrying her attacker. (Ellis, 1995, p. 109)


Obviously this is but a brief  look at the social structures within which ancient Gaels moved and lived. The goal of this research was to gain better understanding of their societal structure and to try to arrive at a middle of the road interpretation of what is, at times, wildly conflicting information. It is my conclusion that more research needs to come to light, to be able to accomplish the later task with any certainty.


Binchy, D. A. (1938). Bretha Crólige. Ériu, 12, 1–77.
Binchy, D. A. (1938). Sick-maintenance in Irish law. Ériu, 12, 78–134.
Bitel, L. M. (1996). Land of Women: Tales of Sex and Gender from Early Ireland. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Correll, T. (2005). Believers, Sceptics and Charlatans: Evidential Rhetoric, the Fairies and Fairy Healers in Irish Oral Narrative and Belief. Folklore, 1-18.

Ellis, P. B. (1995). Celtic Women. London: Constable and Company Ltd.
 --(1996). Early Irish Astrology: An Historical Argument. Realta. Retrieved September 12, 2013, from http://cura.free.fr/xv/11ellis1.html

Gregory, L. (1905). Gods and Fighting Men: The Story of the Tuatha de Danaan . London: John Murray.

Hall, A. (2005). Getting Shot of Elves: Healing, Witchcraft, and Fairies in the Scottish Witchcraft Trials. Folklore, 19-36.
Lloyd Laing, J. L. (1990). Celtic Britain and Ireland. New York: St. Martin's Press.
Crualaoich, G. Ó. (2003). The Book of the Caillaeach: Stories of the Wise Woman Healer. Dublin: Cork University Press.
Nicholson, F. (2003)." Power, Class and Gender: Ancient Celtic Society." Retrieved September , 2013, from Land, Sea, Sky: http://homepage.eircom.net/~shae/chapter6.htm
 Mackenzie., W. (1895). Gaelic incantations, charms, and blessings of the Hebrides : with translations, and parallel illustrations from Irish, Manx, Norse, and other superstitions. Inverness: Nrothing Counties Newspaper and Pringing and Pub. Co. .
MacKilliop, J. (1998). Dictionary of Celtic Mythology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Monaghan, P. (2004). The Encyclopedia of Celtic Mythology and Folklore. New York : FOF Library of Religion and Mythology.
Raftery, B. (1994). Pagan Celtic Ireland. London : Thames and Hudson.