Hugh Smith’s letter from Islay
Nail the toothache
IN BYGONE days those suffering from toothache on an island which had no resident dentist had good reason to curse ‘ the hell of all diseases’, as our national bard described it.
In extreme circumstances a local doctor might be prevailed upon to extract the offending molar.
This was usually done without the benefit of an anaesthetic, resulting sometimes in the cure being almost worse than the disease.
Other sufferers would attempt to find ease through the application of home remedies, most of which proved quite ineffectual. Cloves featured high as a form of relief, as did liberal applications of strong spirits.
The latter may have done little for the root cause of the trouble but it certainly gave the sufferer a more benign attitude to life in general and his suffering in particular.
Toothache sufferers in the Rhinns of Islay had their own answer to the problem in the shape of the toothache stone which can be found in a field on outskirts of Port Charlotte.
They made their way there, armed with a sturdy hammer and a supply of nails which they drove into crevices in the rock in the firm conviction that this would ease their ailment.
It is highly unlikely that this supposed cure was in any way efficacious but the sheer effort involved in hammering the nails into the stone must have taken their minds off the painful odontalgia.
Today the island enjoys excellent dental services and many years have passed since the magic powers of the tooth stone was called upon.
The amount of rusty nails still mouldering in its crevices, however, is evidence that there was a time when it was held in esteem by those sufferers from the disease that ‘mocked their groans’.
Hospital bed push
PARTICIPANTS in the charity bed push from Port Ellen to Bowmore fully flexed their muscles and pulled out all the stops to complete the course in good time in fairly amicable weather conditions.
Their efforts greatly impressed the generous Ilich, who dug deep into their pockets and, as a result, those with pushing ways raised well in excess of £ 5,000 and are still counting.
This money will assist in the purchase of a new cardiac monitor for the local hospital and will enhance the care provided.
Close on 30 healthcare staff from the three island practices took part in the charity event, which involved a 10- mile journey. Medics advised that an immediate return bed push to Port Ellen was not advisable.
ORGANISERS promise there will be something to please all tastes at the Bowmore sports day, which takes place at the local playing fields on Saturday (July 9).
The sports queen and princess will lead the parade from the village square and the on-field activities begin at 1pm.
These will include field, track and heavy events, while trade stands and sideshows will also be points of interest. One of the main attractions will be the visiting ‘ We’re a Knockout’ which is guaranteed to appeal to and cater for all ages.
On sports night those with energy to spare can make their way to the village hall where Trail West will put them through their dancing paces.
ALL WERE saddened to learn of the death of Bowmore resident and Mòd enthusiast Cath Crawford on June 21.
She was 86 years of age and died in Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley, where she had undergone surgery.
She and her late husband Tom, a former headmaster of the then Bowmore Junior Secondary School, were heavily involved in the world of choral music and Gaelic singing, interests that Cath continued to pursue after Tom’s death in 1978.
A tribute to Cath will appear in the next Islay Letter.
Hugh Smith, 4 Flora Street, Bowmore, Islay PA43 7JX. Tel: 01496 810 658.
The toothache stone, which residents are have no need for these days.