Nolan, Finbarr (1952– )
Contemporary Irish healer who is the seventh son of a seventh
son, and was thus, according to folk tradition, destined to
begin healing by touch. He was born October 2, 1952, at Loch
Gowna, county Cavan, Republic of Ireland. His mother stated
‘‘I knew . . . God would give him the power to heal.’’ There were
requests for healing when Nolan was only three months old,
but his mother insisted that healing wait until the boy was at
least two years old. At that time, a man brought his five-year-old
child, who was suffering from ringworm. Nolan’s mother circled
the spots with holy water, making the sign of the cross in
the middle, then placed the two-year-old Nolan’s hand on each
spot in turn, while she prayed for healing and asked her son to
repeat the prayers after her. She claims that the ringworm was
cured after two visits.
However, Nolan did not immediately undertake regular
healing, although at the age of nine he touched the paralyzed
hand of a local hotel proprietor and the hand became normal
in three days’ time. The father of this man was confined to a
wheelchair with severe arthritis, but the day after Nolan
touched him he was able to use his hands, and a month later
he had recovered sufficiently to resume his job as a butcher.
At the age of sixteen, while still attending school, Nolan was
asked to go to Donegal to cure an aunt. She notified the local
newspaper, with the result that the young Nolan arrived to find
a crowd of three hundred people and a television film crew. For
several weeks afterward, some five thousand people a day came
to his home for healing, and he touched them in groups of 14
or 15 at a time in the kitchen of the house. After that Nolan decided
to leave school and devote himself full time to healing.
His reputation as a healer spread rapidly, and visitors came
from around the world for treatment. Since county Cavan is located
near the border of Northern Ireland, the political unrest
and disorders began to discourage visitors, so Nolan moved
with his parents and brothers to a house in the suburbs of Dublin.
Here the large number of visitors seeking healing soon
made it difficult for the family to live a normal life in an average-sized
house, so Nolan hired halls and hotel rooms for regular
In the early period, Nolan had been influenced by his mother’s
religious outlook and used holy water, making the sign of
the cross when touching each patient, but eventually he discarded
such specifically Catholic tradition. As he said ‘‘It deterred
a lot of Protestants and I have nearly as many Protestant
patients at my clinic as I do Catholic.’’ Moreover he came to believe
that his healing power had nothing to do with religion,
and rejected the term ‘‘faith healer.’’ He stated ‘‘People should
understand my healing has nothing to do with faith; I believe
my power is a gift . . . I’ve proved that faith is not needed by
curing animals and babies.’’ Indeed, he became well known for
treating injured race horses, and one horse he treated won nine
races afterward.
His healing power appears to be in his right hand, and he
therefore places it on each part of a patient’s body that is afflicted.
He lays his hand on the patient for several seconds and does
not himself feel anything unusual happening, although patients
often state that they feel a sensation of heat. His healing
technique was monitored at a Belfast hospital, and it was found
that during healing sessions there were changes in his respiration,
pulse rate, and the electrical potential of his skin.
Like other seventh son healers, he has found that three visits
are usually necessary. Patients sometimes feel worse after the
first healing session, usually a sign that some changes have
commenced. Healing is usually consolidated at the second and
third visits.
Most patients pay a small voluntary contribution for healing,
but some wealthier individuals have been very generous.
An elderly lady in New York suffering from rheumatoid arthritis
paid for Nolan’s 6,000-mile journey and gave him an additional
check for several thousand dollars. Nolan has also flown
to Washington to treat a young Vietnamese war soldier. Nolan
has held clinics in London as well as the United States and is
credited with some remarkable cures.
An interesting experiment with Nolan was carried out by
Robert E. Willner, diplomate of the Board of Family Practice,
in his office in Florida. Willner selected ten patients on the
basis of severity of their disease and failure to respond to multiple
attempts at medical therapy. Nolan was introduced to them
as ‘‘Dr. Finn, a medical student from the medical school in
Dublin, Ireland.’’ His function was ostensibly to confirm Willner’s
observations and provide an independent evaluation of
each patient’s disease process. The ten patients were involved
with the experiment for three visits a week over a period of two
weeks. Under these conditions, Nolan’s touching appeared
part of normal medical examination, so suggestion or placebo
effect was eliminated, as no therapy was indicated.
Willner reported as follows
‘‘Four of the ten patients were completely unaffected by the
examinations; five patients showed definite response of a posiNoetics
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed.
tive nature and the improvement was thought to be of significant
nature, in some cases 60% to 100% improvement. Two of
these cases were extremely difficult and showed dramatic
results. . . . It is also extremely important to note that all of
these patients have been under the care of extremely fine specialists
in the fields to which their diseases were related. Except
for the increased attention that the patients were getting, I am
not aware of any other positive influencing factor on the progress
of the disease in any of them. One would expect that a patient
in this setting would continue with their symptomatology
in the hope that they would be chosen for the continuation of
the experiment because their symptoms persisted. . . . The patients
were not charged for their visits. Therefore, monetary incentive
was absent.’’
Nolan is an amiable and, apart from his healing activity, eminently
normal individual, with none of the mystique of many
professionals in the paranormal. He does not think about anything
in particular during the laying on of hands and exudes
a friendly matter-of-fact atmosphere. His relaxations include
Gaelic football, golf, and water skiing. His may be contacted at
11 Foxfield Rd., Raheny, Dublin 5, Republic of Ireland. (See
also Danny Gallagher; King’s Evil)

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