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Desperate times, desperate measures. / 5 October 2014

Desperate times, desperate measures.

Desperate times, desperate measures.

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I made this image on a trip to Saint Dympna's well not far from where I live in Count Cavan. The well is said to have cure 'nervous afflictions and mental illness' so my husband drove me there to take the waters on one particularly bad day in August past.

The shrine is in a beautiful glade that looks like a deserted Hobbit village. Along side the well is a shrine to Saint Dympna, patron saint of nervous afflictions, and the ruins of a ancient church. We had to get permission to visit from the farmer who's family have been the keepers of the well going back generations.

He functions in much the same way as a discrete receptionist at a mental health clinic and I wondered what a desperate trail of melancholic pilgrims he must have witnessed going for the cure over the years. We spent so long at the well documenting the ritual I imagine he thought us both very bad cases indeed.

The well itself is just a hollowed out stone that sits in the middle of a river with a foot bridge for access. I knelt down in the river and gave myself a good long dousing of the waters. While I really enjoyed the ritual involved in taking this cure and was most definitely refreshed by dunking my head repeatedly in the freezing cold water I am sorry to report I am not cured of my 'nervous  affliction' as yet. I live in hope which, as you can imagine, requires some extreme magical thinking for an ardent atheist. 

There is another St Dympna's well with the cure of 'the mental illness' in nearby County Monaghan after which the local psychiatric hospital Saint Davnets was named. I am feeling the need for another pilgrimage coming on and wonder if the well in Monaghan has a better melancholic pilgrim recovery rate than the Cavan one. Either way desperate times calls for desperate measures, even for atheists. 

Comments

Jane McCormick

/
8 October 2014

Apologies...Another great fail better moment in my last comment....I meant to say Bobby Baker...not Bobby Brown, which I think is a brand of make up. I expect he/she/they do not need to keep a diary about their nervous affliction because, as we know, if we could just get the right shade of lipstick/eye shadow/foundation we could banish misery forever.

Jane mccormick

/
8 October 2014

Thanks for that Wendy...maybe I should make it all into a poem!

Glad you enjoyed this post Colin and are sympathetic to the atheist seeking cures dilemma. Even in 21st century Ireland no matter what condition you have someone at some stage will recommend a 'cure'. My daughter Jessie, a born and bred aethiest, has a lower back injury and her granny kindly sent her a ribbon to tie around her waist that was supposed to be the cure of 'the bad back'. When that didn't work she sent a shoe lace and when that didn't work she paid to have prayers said for her by healing nuns. We await the outome of this latest intervention with baited breath. Do you get this kind of thing in the U.K?

I have seen some of Bobbie Browns work and really connected with it. Will check out the 2 links you posted. Many thanks for that.

Wendy Young

/
7 October 2014

The third para could be a poem!

Colin Hambrook

/
6 October 2014

There's an earlier review on Dao of Bobby Baker's book of diary drawings (which won the MIND Book of the Year in 2010) also worth looking at http://www.disabilityartsonline.org.uk/bobby-baker

Colin Hambrook

/
6 October 2014

With more than a little sympathy as a devout practising atheist myself - and one who had a strict fundamentalist upbringing - so not averse to outbreaks of divine intervention, this had me laughing out loud Jane. I love the artwork too. It occurred to me you're developing quite an artwork diary through your Dao blogs and I wondered if you knew Bobby Baker's Diary Drawings? I couldn't recommend the book more highly and I've a feeling you might find it really useful in thinking how you might progress the work you're doing. Have a look at John O'Donoghue's review at http://www.disabilityartsonline.org.uk/Diary-Drawings-Bobby-Baker

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