A dowser, from an 18th-century French book about
- Dowsing is a type of divination employed in
attempts to locate water.
- Image and text source: Wikipedia.
The Bishop and The Dowser
Where poverty bites, deep
losses can be grievous. For us in Carlow in the
forties, strays and losses were grievous indeed. As
often as not the first resort was 'send him to Wilson',
and Wilson at the Old Gasworks in Montgomery Street
would pass the rod over a large sheet of the town to
spot the location - as of then - of the missing money,
straying ducks, or whatever.
Wilson's reputation was
widespread - he was even invoked later, they told us,
in Vatican archaeology where, despite having defective
architects plans, he pinpointed the spot where human
bones were located as a result, in the search for St.
Peter's tomb or remains.
But one real basis of respect
for him was the IQ or personality test he evolved. This
apparently involved asking a guest to think of someone
they knew, after which Wilson would let the rod
describe it's clockwise or anti-clockwise circuits at
whatever speed it chose. From these motions Wilson
would then make a fair stab or a very close reading of
the character etc. of the subject being thought of. A
good party game grew up round the level at which this
discovery of Wilson's was accepted, that, and a
residual doubt because of the acuity of so many of his
observations on the 'unknown' subject of dowsing.
His old friend, Dr. Thomas
Keogh, then Roman Catholic Bishop of Kildare and
Leighlin, who lived in Braganza, (Carlow
a couple of hundred
yards up stream along the Barrow track from Montgomery
Street, decided to test this new skill.
He asked Wilson to display
this power and pattern. As usual, Wilson asked him to
think of someone he knew. On this occasion, however,
the rod went decidedly anti-clockwise. Wilson, thinking
the Bishop had selected - as most do - a close friend
or relative, became quite upset and reluctant to make
his comments known. Dr. Keogh continued to press him,
however, until eventually and rather belatedly, Wilson
realized that far from being distressed, as he himself
was, the bishop was quietly enjoying the dowser's
Wilson in turn then pressed
the bishop to tell him who the subject was, saying that
depending on the identity he would or would not make
his observations known. Both broke into laughter when
the bishop frankly admitted he had been thinking of a
very ill patient in the nearby hospital. This
condition, of course, was what the anti-clockwise
circuit of the rod had already indicated to the dowser.
Source: By Padraigh
O'Snodaigh the then President of Conradh na Gaeilge,
who wrote this story for 'The Irish Diviner' newsletter