Brought back by popular demand

A SPRITELY septuagenarian was bowled over when her friends stepped up to the mat to demand her return to the rinks after she found herself dropped from the team.

Rebecca Hamilton, from Maymore in St Johnston, who is also in huge demand for her cure for singles, has been playing bowls for Donegal Zone for 35 years, found herself dropped like a jack and as result missed playing for one week - the first time that has happened since she took up the game in the mid-1970s. However, she was in for an early birthday surprise - her team mates insisted on her return.

“I started to bowl in 1976 and I have been bowling ever since. We used to play under Jack Semple, then it was Tom Patton, from Bridgend, so I played for him too. In fact, I was one of the pickers for a good few years, and helped with picking teams for the Zone. I did that for a long time with Jack, Tom, Eileen Fletcher from Buncrana and Larmour Glen from Newtowncunningham,” she said.

“I just really enjoy it, it is a great pass time,” she said of bowls.

Undoubtedly it is her strong and lasting friendships that she has made over the years that saw a clamour from the club when one week in the recent past, Rebecca was not selected for the team.

“I was back on the last team because my team objected, so they had me back on the team the next time. I would not have gone back but the three people I play rinks with begged me to return. I thought it was very nice to have had their support like that,” she said.

It was a church minister, Rev William Hanna, who started the club, and Rebecca has fond memories of the early days learning the game and later introducing her husband to the game and playing alongside him.

Talking to Rebecca it is hard to believe that on Sunday she celebrated her 72nd birthday, and she puts her spritely good health down to looking after her grandchildren: “They keep me going and keep me busy,” she laughs.

Such is her skill with a bowling ball that Rebecca was a member of the first Donegal team to win the All-Ireland pairs, in 1994/95, and she and her playing partners also made it through to the All-Ireland rinks competition in 1997/98. She describes these as the highlights of her bowling career.

You’d think that Rebecca would be happy to see evening fall to relax playing a rink or two with friends, but her talents also stretch to helping people with shingles and cold sores. How she came by the prayer-based cure is a story in itself, and involves a chance meeting while on holiday.

“I got it when we were on holidays in Austria. Tom, some years ago used to take people up to Eskra who did not know here the lady was who had the cure, and Tom took people to her until she died. People used to go to Strawduffy as well but that was on the border with Co Louth, and every time Tom went back the person was either dead or ill and they did not give the cure to anybody.

“So, we went on a trip to Austria and we met this man and woman and she fell and broke her elbow, so she was in a cast from her shoulder to her wrist, and I started to help her and we sat together for meals,” she said, continuing: “She said her husband jack had the cure for shingles and for ringworm, and I said for him not to drop off and not leave the cure behind. Well, he came down the next morning and he came down the next morning and said he said he was thinking of giving the cure for shingles away and would I take it. So I said yes.”

The prayers were passed on, together with the method of how to implement it and that, as they say, was that. However demand was such that people were soon coming from far and near, and Rebecca was travelling out to see people, but some were so far away that Rebecca found herself performing the cure through telephone contact.

Demand is so high that every day without fail Rebecca gets between four and five requests for prayers each and every day, and all prayers are faithfully said before she retires at night.