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1 December 2007 Ochtrinil's Legacy: Irish Women's Knowledge of Medicinal Plants
Jessica M. Dolan
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This study addresses one aspect of traditional environmental knowledge in Ireland: remembered and currently practiced folk medicine in the Gaeltacht region of County Kerry. Two aims were to research women's knowledge of medicinal plants there and to understand reasons for continuation or discontinuation of transmission of knowledge of those remedies. Forty-five Irish women collectively described a multi-faceted folk medical tradition. Knowledge of plants used as medicine varied in quantity and depth amongst the people who were interviewed. Forty-seven plant species were described as ingredients of “old-time cures.” In the context of this study, knowledge of medicinal plants is linked to environmental and botanical knowledge because the majority of plant ingredients were described as obtained from the wild or from a local garden. Informants viewed their knowledge of medicinal plants as cultural or practical, rather than vital to their survival. This is due to a local improvement in the quality and accessibility of modern scientific medical treatment, also referred to as biomedicine. Change in the economy has influenced the content of participants' knowledge of plant remedies; that knowledge has shifted from traditional medicine sourced from the environment to over-the-counter and plant-based remedies purchased at a store. When the ability to recognize and select plants for medicine from the outdoors becomes nonessential, the corresponding environmental knowledge is endangered.

Jessica M. Dolan "Ochtrinil's Legacy: Irish Women's Knowledge of Medicinal Plants," Harvard Papers in Botany 12(2), 369-386, (1 December 2007).[369:OLIWKO]2.0.CO;2
Published: 1 December 2007
traditional environmental knowledge
transmission of knowledge
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