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History of Irish Medicine and Popular Cures by William Wilde

William Wilde

William Wilde

UCD Library Special Collections holds the original manuscript copy of the History of Irish Medicine and Popular Cures by William Wilde..
Identity Statement

Reference code IE/SC/UCD additional Irish ms

History of Irish Medicine and Popular Cures by William Wilde.


Level of Description

6305 pp.


William Wilde (1815-1876).

Biographical History

  • William Wilde (1815-1876) was born in County Roscommon.
  • He was interested in the folk traditions and cures of the west of Ireland from an early age.
  • Wilde began his apprenticeship as a surgeon in Dublin in 1832 and formed friendships with important medical men such as Robert Graves and William Stokes.
  • He later studied at the Royal London Ophthalmic Hospital and then the Allgemeines Krankenhaus in Vienna.
  • In 1851 he married the poet Jane Francesca Elgee, also known as Speranza, and they lived at Number 1 Merrion Square, Dublin.
  • They had two children, the journalist William Wilde and the celebrated writer Oscar Wilde.
  • In 1844 Wilde established St Mark’s Hospital and Dispensary for Diseases of the Eye and Ear which became a centre for teaching and research.
  • He contributed several articles on eye and ear surgery in the Dublin Journal of Medical Science.
  • History of Irish Medicine and Popular Cures remained unpublished on his death.
  • As well as the house in Dublin, Wilde also owned a house on the shores of Lough Corrib, County Galway, where he spent most of the latter part of his life. 

Source of Acquisition
 Bequeathed to UCD by Dublin Physician Michael Cox.

Scope and Content
  • This is a single manuscript copy of the History of Irish Medicine and Popular Cures.
  • Some of the information from the manuscript was used in Irish Popular Superstitions which was published by Lady Wilde in 1852.
  • Lady Wilde also published Ancient Cures, Charms and Usages of Ireland in 1888, most probably drawing again on information contained in this manuscript.
  • The manuscript contains a table of contents which is a list of diseases and ailments including fractures, deafness, burns and scalds, headache, and epilepsy.
  • In addition to these commonplace medical problems it also has a section on curses and charms to procure diseases and another on witchcraft.
  • The manuscript has 305 pages although many are left blank, presumably to be added to later.
  • The table of contents mentions sections on the moon, milk and butter charms, and crystal charm stones, but these are not included in the manuscript which may indicate that part of the manuscript is missing.
Access and Use

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Finding Aid
Descriptive list.

Allied Materials

Publication Note

  • Irish Popular Superstitions by W. R. Wilde. Editor, Seamus O'Duilearga. Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 1979. (Facsim. of: 1st ed. Dublin: s.n., 1852).
  • Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms & Superstitions of Ireland : With Sketches of the Irish Past by Lady Wilde. London : Ward and Downey, 1888. 
More Information

Find Information on William Wilde in the (opens in a new window)Dictionary of Irish Biography.

Related Collections

UCD Special Collections

James Joyce Library, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.
T: +353 1 716 7149 | E: special.collections@ucd.ie