A churchyard in Boho has seen a sharp rise in visitors after scientists discovered a new strain of bacteria that could help in the fight against drug-resistant bacteria.

However, the increase may be having a negative impact on the area.

A folk remedy involving the ‘miracle soil’ has been around for many years but since the discovery in the soil of a new strain of streptomyces, a micro-organism used to produce antibiotics, there has been a significant increase in visitors to Sacred Heart Church to collect some of the soil.

Such has been the exposure locals are becoming worried that things may be “getting a bit out of hand”.

It has been reported that one person went to the churchyard with a pillow case to fill it up to put on the grave of a dead relative. Another has asked if they had to eat the soil.

While speaking to this paper about the research, Dr. Gerry Quinn, who is behind the project voiced a warning about respecting the area.

“The most important part is that this place is an active graveyard and should be respected as the final resting place of many peoples loved ones.

“It is very important to return the soil. There are several reasons for this, not least is that too much soil removed from the graveyard will create a bad relationship with local people. The soil also contains traces of radon, which is not so bad in the short term but in the long run in an enclosed environment, especially plastic, it could cause health problems.”

One concerned Boho resident said the numbers coming to the churchyard are getting a bit much.

“It is getting out of hand because there is a mixed message that has been sent out. The two stories shouldn’t really be linked at all. One story is about an ancient cure from a priest that died in 1815. People would come, not that frequently to his grave. Not many had heard about it apart from local people.

“At the same time a scientist has discovered antibiotic properties in the soil. Since it has been on the news the place has been besieged. The two stories have been married together and people have went mad over it. People are showing up for faith cures and you are supposed to bring a small bit, the size of fingernail away, bring it back on fourth day and carry out the instructions but people are just carrying it away in sack loads.”

The new strain was found to inhibit multi-resistant bacteria identified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a major threat to human health.

“We found that under lab conditions this Streptomyces could inhibit four groups of multi-resistant bacteria including carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii (top on the World Health Organisations critical priority list), vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium, and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus ( MRSA) both listed as high priority pathogens,” explained Dr. Quinn. “What we don’t know is how the soil might be used in the correct manner to produce these antibiotics. We don’t know if there any parts of the modern cure missing that are also necessary.”

Dr. Quinn is no stranger to Boho, having lived and worked in the area as well as having family there. He counts his mother as one of the inspirations behind the research. He also spoke to many other people including relatives and the local Parish Priests at Sacred Heart.

The next step in the research is to identify the antibiotics produced by the Streptomyces. They may also look at the other bacteria found there and determine if they all work better in conjunction with each other and under what conditions would they work best. But for now the preservation and respect of the churchyard is what matters for the people of Boho.