Butcher. Healer.

I was way-finding to Jack’s cottage for the first time, meandering and backtracking through the Irish landscape where road signs are scarce and directions are often based on landmarks familiar only to locals. Turn left just beyond Clancy’s new barn. Finally on what I determined was the right road, I passed McCarthy’s pub. A bit unusual given its substantial size and rural location, but more unusual given the early  afternoon hour and the car park filled with trucks and livestock trailers. Curious. When I mentioned this to Jack he said, “Oh, it must be Wednesday. Your man there is a healer and Wednesday afternoons he does cows and horses and sheep.” I was intrigued but further exploration would have to wait for my next visit.

This past summer when I shared my intention to stop by the pub and meet the owner Jack looked at me like I was daft until I explained my reasons and then he chuckled. “McCarthy’s not the healer he just owns the place, convenient for local farmers and a car healer butcherpark big enough for all lorries and trailers. No, the man who does the healing owns a shop in the village just there on the main street. He’s a butcher.”

It turns out your man O’Donoghue does healings for people on Wednesday mornings in his kitchen. Then after a lunch break he goes out to McCarthy’s for the livestock. After dinner he goes to the local dog track and heals dogs. And, like Biddy Early, he takes no money for any of it. Now more intrigued than ever, I had to meet this man.

The next morning I stopped by his shop before heading north to Sligo. But he wasn’t there. Turns out the Galway team had, for the first time in many years, won the match the day before and O’Donoghue was taking the day to recover from a night of celebration. The butcher who was there was very friendly, gave me permission to photograph the shop and told me O’Donoghue was a great talker if I could come back another day. It didn’t seem right to walk away empty handed but here I was a vegetarian in a butcher shop. I hadn’t a clue. So on recommendation I purchased a generous supply of garlic sausage which I promptly drove to Sligo and handed over to a very surprised Elizabeth and Brendan.

My schedule didn’t allow a return visit. Perhaps this summer….