The Doctor-Stone of Oughterard
By Paul Gibbons
It is said that there are certain stones which exist that posess curative or healing properties and these stones can be used by people to cure diseases and inflictions or heal various wounds and injuries. A famous one of these stones was said to have existed somewhere in Oughterard. From a description gathered by George Henry Kinahan it would seem to most likely have been in the form of a celt of basalt (as in picture) or perhaps some type of dark serpentine, as it was said to have a soapy feel. The stone was considered unlucky to keep inside a house and those who used it often hid it away till required by some one else, who, in turn, concealed it till someone else was in need of its curative benefits. This often made stones of his nature an asset to an entire community, as long as its users were willing to share its location that is. In fact, so famous was the ‘doctor-stone’ of Oughterard that it was in great demand in that part of Galway as well as the neighbouring portion of Mayo. Its use most likely declined by the mid 1800s and, hence, in more modern times its very existence came into question.
It was said that there was another ‘doctor-stone’ belonging to a family near Aughrim, County Wicklow, the eldest member of which was said to be able to effect cures by its means. Although the head of the family c. 1889 repudiated all knowledge of such a stone and said the cures were effected by “head knowledge”, an old lady in the area insisted that she had seen his father use the ‘doctor-stone’.