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NY PUBLIC LIBRARY THE BRANCH LIBRAR ES
MANX FAIRY TALES
DAVID NUTT, 57-59 LONG ACRE
, * . t
! <-c. e e c e
THERE is at least one spot in the world
where Fairies are still believed in, and
where, if you look in the right places, they
may still be found, and that is the little
island from which these stories come Elian
Vannin, the Isle of Mann. But I have used
a word which shotdd-not be mentioned here
they are never called Fairies by the Manx,
but Themselvss > or the Little People, or the
Little Fellows, or the Little Ones, or some-
times even the LiT Boys. These Little
People are not the tiny creatures with wings
who flutter about in many English Fairy
tales, but they are small persons from two
to three feet in height, otherwise very like
mortals. They wear red caps and green
jackets and are very fond of hunting
indeed they are most often seen on
horseback followed by packs of little hounds
of all the colours of the rainbow. They are
rather inclined to be mischievous and
spiteful, and that is why they are called by
such good names, in case they should be
Besides these red-capped Little Fellows
there are other more alarming folk. There
is the Fynoderee, who is large, ugly, hairy
and enormously strong, but not so bad as he
looks, for often he helps on the farm during
the night by thrashing corn. He does not
like to be seen, K> if a tanner wants work
done by him, he must cake care to keep out
of the Fynoderee's way. Then, far uglier
than Fynoderee, are the Bugganes, who are
horrible and cruel creatures. They can
appear in any shape they please as ogres
with huge heads and great fiery eyes, or
without any heads at all; as small dogs
who grow larger and larger as you wa
them until they are larger than elepha
when perhaps they turn into the shap
men or disappear into nothing ; as ho:
monsters or anything they choose. 1
Buggane has his own particular dwelling-
place a dark sea-cave, a lonely hill, or
a ruined Keeill, or Church. There are
many others too, but these are the chief.
Most of the stories are traditional and
have been handed down by word of mouth
from father to son. I owe hearty thanks
to those from whose lips I have heard them
Messrs. J. R. Moore, William Cashen, Joe
Moore, Ned Quayle and others. Of the
four stories which have not been told to
me personally Teeval, Kitterland, The
Wizard's Palace, and Smereree the three
first have been printed in various folk-lore
books, and the Manx of the last appeared
in ' Yn Lioar Manninagh ' some years ago.
Lastly I must thank my friend Miss Alice
Williams for her kind he]p and valuable
assistance in many ways.
PEEL, ISLE OF MANN,
THEMSELVES . i
THE BUGGANE OF GLEN MEAY WATERFALL . 8
How THE MANX CAT LOST HER TAIL . . 4
THE MAKING OF MANN ...... 16
THE COMING OF SAINT PATRICK . . 20
How THE HERRING BECAME KING OF THE SEA . 24
THE SILVER CUP 27
THE CHILD WITHOUT A NAME . . . .34
THE FAIRY DOCTOR 38
JOE MOORE'S STORY OF FINN MACCOOILLEY
AND THE BUGGANE . . . " ... .42
THE FYNODEREE 47
THE FYNODEREE OF GORDON .... 48
THE LHONDOO AND THE USHAG-REAISHT . . 54
BILLY BEG, TOM BEG, AND THE FAIRIES . 56
THE LAZY WIFE ...... 62
THE MERMAID OF GOB-NY-OOYL . 71
THE LOST WIFE OF BALLALEECE ... 75
KEBEG . 83
THE FAIRY CHILD OF CLOSE-NY-LHEIY . . 85
THE LITTLE FOOTPRINTS 93
THE TALL MAN OF BALLACURRY ... 97
NED QUAYLE'S STORY OF THE FAIRY PIG . 100
TEEVAL, PRINCESS OF THE OCEAN . . . no
THE WIZARD'S PALACE 116
THE ENCHANTED ISLE 121
STORIES ABOUT BIRDS ..... 123
THE MODDEY Doo OR THE BLACK DOG OF
PEEL CASTLE 129
LITTLE RED BIRD 133
TEHI TEGI 134
JOHN-Y-CHIARN'S JOURNEY .... 138
A BAD WISH 143
THE WITCH OF SLIEU WHALLIAN . . . 144
THE OLD CHRISTMAS 149
THE BUGGANE OF ST. TRINIAN'S . . . 153
KING MAGNUS BAREFOOT .... 161
MANANNAN MAC-Y-LEIRR . . . 169, 171
THE CORMORANT AND THE BAT . . . 174
CAILLAGH-NY-FAASHAGH, OR THE PROPHET
THE CITY UNDER SEA 182
AN ANCIENT CHARM AGAINST THE FAIRIES . 186
MANX FAIRY TALES
THERE was a man once in the Isle of Mann
who met one of the Little Fellows, and
the Little Fellow told him that if he would
go to London Bridge and dig, he would find
a fortune. So he went, and when he got
there he began to dig, and another man
came to him and said :
1 What are you doing ? '
' One of Themselves told me to come
to London Bridge and I would get a
fortune/ says he. And the other man
' I dreamed that I was back in the
lil' islan' an' I was at a house with a
thorn-tree at the chimley of it, and
2 MANX FAIRY TALES
if I would dig there I would find a
fortune. But I wouldn' go, for it was
Then he told him so plainly about the
house that the first man knew it was his
own, so he went back to the Island. When
he got home he dug under the little thorn-
tree by the chimney and he found an iron
box. He opened the box and it was full
of gold, and there was a letter in it, but he
could not read the letter because it was in
a foreign language. So he put it in the
smithy window and challenged any scholar
who went by to read it. None of them
could, but at last one big boy said it was
Latin and it meant :
' Dig again and you '11 find another/
So the man dug again under the thorn-
tree, and what did he find but another
iron box full of gold !
And from that day till the day of
his death, that man used to open the
front door before going to bed, and
call out : ( My blessing with the Little
Fellows ! '
Here is a true story that was told me
by a man named James Moore when I was
sitting with him by the fire one evening.
He said :
' I 'm not much of a believer in most
of the stories some ones is telling, but after
all a body can't help believing a thing
they happen to see for themselves.
* I remember one winter's night we
were living in a house at the time that was
pulled down for the building of the Big
Wheel. It was a thatched house with
two rooms, and a wall about six foot high
dividing them, and from that it was open
to the scrahs, or turfs, that were laid
across the rafters. My Mother was sitting
at the fire busy spinning, and my Father
was sitting in the big chair at the end of
the table taking a chapter for us out of
the Manx Bible. My brother was busy
winding a spool and I was working with
4 MANX FAIRY TALES
a bunch of ling, trying to make two or
' " There 's a terrible glisther on to-
night," my Mother said, looking at the
fire. " An' the rain comin' peltin' down
the chimley ! '
' " Yes/' said my Father, shutting the
Bible ; " an' we better get to bed middlin'
soon and let the Ln" Ones in to a bit of
' So we all got ready and went to
* Some time in the night my brother
wakened me with a :
' " Sh ish ! Listen boy, an' look
at the big light tha 's in the kitchen ! "
Then he rubbed his eyes a bit and
1 " What 's mother doin' now at
all ? "
' " Listen ! " I said. " An' you '11 hear
mother in bed, it 's not her at all ; it must
be the Little Ones that 's agate of the
wheel ! 3
' And both of us got frightened, and
down with our heads under the clothes and
fell asleep. In the morning when we
got up we told them what we had seen,
' " Aw, like enough, like enough/ my
Father said, looking at the wheel. " It
seems your mother forgot to take the
band off last night, a thing people should
be careful about, for it 's givin' Themselves
power over the wheel, an' though their
meanin's well enough, the spinnin' they 're
doin' is nothin' to brag about. The weaver
is always shoutin' about their work an'
the bad joinin' they 're makin' in the
' " I remember it as well as yesterday-
the big light that was at them, and the
whirring that was going on. And let any-
body say what they like, that 's a thing
I 've seen and heard for myself."
One evening a young man who was
serving his time as a weaver was walking
home late from Douglas to Glen Meay. He
6 MANX FAIRY TALES
had often been boasting that he had never
seen any of the Little People. Well, this
night he was coming along the St. John's
Road, and when he got near to the river
a big, big bull stood across the road before
him. He took his stick and gave it one
big knock. It went into the river and he
never saw it any more.
After that, when he got to the Parson's
Bridge, he met a little thing just like a
spinning wheel and there was a little, little
body sitting where the spool is. Well, he
lifted his stick again and struck the little
body that was sitting on the spool a hard
knock with his stick. The little body
said to him :
: Ny jean shen arragh ! J which means,
' Don't do that again ! '
He walked on then till he got to Glen
Meay and told what he had seen in a house
there. Then another man said he had seen
the little old woman sitting on the top of
the spool of the spinning wheel and coming
down Raby Hill at dark. So it took
her a long time, for the first man met her
at six and the second at eleven, and there
isn't two miles between the two places.
So they were saying, when the cycles
came in, that the Little People had been
before them ! And this is a true story.
THE BUGGANE OF GLEN MEAY
THERE was once a woman living near Glen
Meay, and she was the wife of a decent,
quiet, striving man of the place. There
was no one but herself and the man, and
they had a nice little cottage and owned a
bit of a croft on which they grazed a cow
and a few sheep and grew enough potatoes
to do them the winter out ; and the man
had a yawl and went to the fishing when
things were slack on land. But for all that
they were not comfortable, for work as
hard as the man might at his farming and
his fishing, he was kept as poor as Lazarus
by a lazy wife.
For the woman was fonder of lying a-bed
in the morning than sitting at her milking
stool ; indeed the neighbours had it to say
THE BUGGANE OF GLEN MEAY 9
that she wore out more blankets than shoes.
Many a day her man would be going out
early as hungry as a hawk, without a bite
or a sup in him. One morning when he
came in from work for his breakfast there
was no fire his wife was never up. Well,
my poor man had nothing for it but to get
his own breakfast ready and go back to his
work. When he came in for dinner it
happened as it had happened for breakfast.
' Bad luck to her laziness/ he thought ;
' this is coul comfort for a poor man, but
I '11 play a trick on her for it.'
And with that he fetched a bart of straw
and bunged the two windows of his house.
Then he went back to his work.
The sun had not vet set when he came
home in the evening. His wife was lying
in bed waiting for day.
' Aw, woman/ he shouted, ' make haste
an' get up to see the sun rise in the wesV
Up jumped the wife and ran to the door
just as the sun was going down, and the
sight terrified her. The whole sky looked
like fire, and she thought that the end of
io MANX FAIRY TALES
the world had come. But next morning it
all happened as it had happened before,
and himself said to her :
' Kirry, it 's the Buggane, sure enough,
that '11 be having thee one of these days if
thou don't mend thy ways ! '
' What Buggane ? ' said she.
' Ax me no questions/ said he, ' an' I '11
tell thee no lies. But it 's the big, black,
hairy fellow that lies under the Spooyt Vooar
that I 'm meaninV
' Aw, houl yer tongue, man ; thou don't
frecken me wi' thy Bugganes,' shouted the
In the evening the man left the house to
go out to the fishing. As soon as he had
gone the woman took a notion in her head
to bake, as she had only the heel o' the loaf
left for breakfast. Now, Themselves can't
stand lazy ways, and baking after sunset is
the one thing they won't abide. She who
does so will meet their revenge something-
is sure to be taken by them, but seldom
worse than some of the live stock. Well,
the woman set to work to bake some barley
THE BUGGANE OF GLEN MEAY n
bread and flour cake. First, she went out to
get gorse to put under the griddle, slipping
the bolt on the door as she came in, that
none of the neighbours would catch her and
cry shame on her for baking after sunset.
She got some meal out of the barrel and put
it on the round table, and put salt and water
on it, and then she kneaded the meal and
clapped a cake out as thin as sixpence with
her hands. But she was only a middling
poor baker, one of the sort that has to use
a knife to make the cake of a right round.
She had turned the cake twice, and taken it
off, and brushed the griddle with a white
goose wing ready for the next cake which
she was busy cutting round with her knife.
Just at that moment there was heard the
sound of something heavy lumbering up to
the door. After a few seconds SOME-
THING fumbled at the sneg of the door,
then SOMETHING knocked high up on the
door, and a voice like the thick, gruff voice
of a giant was heard saying, ' Open, open
for me.' She made no answer. Again
there was a loud knock and a big hoarse
12 MANX FAIRY TALES
voice was heard which cried : ' Woman of
the house, open for me.' Then the door
burst open and behold ye, what should she
see but a great, big ugly beast of a Buggane
rushing in mad with rage. Without as
much as a ' By your leave/ he made one
grab at her, and clutched hold of her by her
apron and swung her on his shoulder, and
away with him. Before she knew where
she was he rushed her across the fields and
down the hill, till he brought her to the top
of the Spooyt Vooar, the big waterfall of
Glen Meay. As the Buggane tore down the
hill, the woman felt the ground tremble
under his feet, and the noise of the waterfall
rilled her ears. And, there in front of her,
she saw the stream turn to white spray as
it came leaping down the rocks. As the
Buggane swung her in the air to throw her
into the deep pool, she thought that her
last hour had come. Then all at once she
remembered the knife that she held in her
hand ! Quick as thought she cut the string
of her apron and down she tumbled to the
ground, rolling over and over down the hill.
THE BUGGANE OF GLEN MEAY 13
And before he knew where he was the
Buggane, with the speed he had on him,
pitched forward head first down the rush-
ing Spooyt Vooar. As he went head over
heels and down to the bottom of the pool
with a souse you 'd have heard half a
mile away, she heard him give a roar out of
Rumbyl, rumbyl, sambyl,
I thought I had a lazy Dirt,
And I have but the edge of her skirt.
And that was the last that was seen of
that fellow !
HOW THE MANX CAT LOST HER TAIL
WHEN Noah was calling the animals into
the Ark, there was one cat who was out
mousing and took no notice when he was
calling to her. She was a good mouser, but
this time she had trouble to find a mouse
and she took a notion that she wouldn't go
into the Ark without one.
So at last, when Noah had all the animals
safe inside, and he saw the rain beginning
to fall, and no sign of her coming in, he
' W T ho '"s out is out, and who 's in is in !
And with that he was just closing the
door when the cat came running up, half
drowned that 's why cats hate the water-
and just squeezed in, in time. But Noah
had slammed the door as she ran in and it
cut off her tail, so she got in without it,
HOW THE MANX CAT LOST HER TAIL 15
and that is why Manx cats have no tails
to this day. That cat said :
Bee bo bend it,
My tail's ended,
And I '11 go to Mann
And get copper nails,
And mend it.
THE MAKING OF MANN
THOUSANDS of years ago, at the time of the
Battles of the Giants in Ireland, Finn Mac
Cooil was fighting with a great, red-haired
Scotch giant who had come over to challenge
him. He beat him and chased him east-
wards towards the sea. But the Scotch
giant was a faster runner and began to get
ahead of him, so Finn, who was afraid that
he would jump into the sea and escape,
stooped down and clutched a great handful
of the soil of Ireland to throw at him. He
cast it, but he missed his enemy, and the
great lump of earth fell into the midst of
the Irish Sea. It is the Isle of Mann, and
the great hole which Finn made, where he
tore it up, is Lough Neagh.
There were men, too, in Ireland in those
days as well as giants, and to some of them
THE MAKING OF MANN 17
it seemed to happen in a different way.
Men do not always understand the doings
of giants, because men live, it may be said,
in the footprints of the giants. It seems
that at this time the Irish tribes were
gathered in two great forces getting ready
to meet the plunderers who had left
Scotland and were at work on their own
coast. Their blood got too hot and they
went into each other in downright earnest,
to show how they would do with the rascals
when they came. To their confusion, for
they lost hold over themselves, they got
into boggy ground and were in great danger.
The leaders, seeing that it was going to
mean a big loss of life, got all their men
together on a big patch of dry ground that
happened to be in the bog-land, when all
of a sudden a darkness came overhead and
the ground began to shake and tremble
with the weight of the people and the stir
there was at them, and then it disappeared,
people and all. Some said that it took
plunge and sank into the bog with the people
on it. Others said that it was lifted up,
18 MANX FAIRY TALES
and the people on it dropped off into the
swamp. No doubt the darkness that was
caused by the hand of Finn made it hard to
see just how it happened. However that
may be, a while after this they said the sea
was surging dreadful, and the men in the
boats had to hold to the sides, or it 's out
they 'd have been thrown. And behold ye,
a few days after this there was land seen in
the middle of the sea, where no man ever
saw the like before.
You may know that this story is true
because the Irish have always looked on the
Isle of Mann as a parcel of their own land.
They say that when Saint Patrick put the
blessing of God on the soil of Ireland and
all creatures that might live upon it, the
power of that blessing was felt at the
same time in the Island.
Saint Patrick was a mighty man,
He was a Saint so clever,
He gave the snakes and toads a twisht !
And banished them for ever.
And there is proof of the truth of the saying
to this day, for while such nasty things do
THE MAKING OF MANN 19
live in England they cannot breathe freely
on the blessed soil.
The island was much larger then than
it is now, but the magician who for a time
ruled over it, as a revenge on one of his
enemies, raised a furious wind in the air and
in the bosom of the earth. This wind tore
several pieces off the land and cast them
into the sea. Thev floated about and
were changed into the dangerous rocks
which are now so much feared by ships.
The smaller pieces became the shifting
sands which wave round the coast, and
are sometimes seen and sometimes dis-
appear. Later the island was known as
Elian Sheaynt, the Isle of Peace, or the
Holy Island. It was a place where there
was always sunshine, and the singing of
birds, the scent of sweet flowers, and apple-
trees blossoming the whole year round.
There was always enough there to eat
and drink, and the horses of that place
were fine and the women beautiful.
THE COMING OF SAINT PATRICK
IT was the time that Saint Patrick was
coming on horseback to Mann, over the
sea from Ireland. When he drew near to
the land, Manannan Mac y Leirr, that
great wizard that was ruler of Mann, put
a charm out of him that made the air round
the island thick with mist, so that neither
sun nor sky nor sea nor land could be seen.
Patrick rode into the thick of the mist, but
try as he would he could find no way out
of it, and behind him there was a great
sea-beast waiting to swallow him up. He
didn't know in his seven senses where he
was east, or west and was for turning
back, when there came to his ears the cry
of a curlew, calling :
' Come you, come you, come you ! !
Then he said to himself :
' The curlew will be down feeding among
the rocks ; she will be calling to her young.'
THE COMING OF SAINT PATRICK 21
After that he heard the bleat of a goat :
' Beware, beware, beware ! J
And he said to himself :
* Where the goat bleats for the fall of
her kid there will be a steep bit of a hill/
Last of all he heard the crow of a cock :
* Come to us come, come ! !
Then said Patrick :
' I believe on me sowl I 'm back of
Peel Hill. 1
And with that he took one leap on to
the little island and put his horse up the
sheer rock. Soon he stood, sure enough,
at the top of Peel Hill. As he stood there
he cried out :
' Me blessing on the curlew. No man
afther this is to find her nest ! '
' Me blessing on the goat, an* no man
is to see her bring forth her young ! '
r Me blessing on the cock, an* he shall
crow at dawn ever afther at this same hour ! '
He cursed the sea beast and turned
him into a solid rock and there he lies now
with his great fin on his back.
Where the horse's hoofs struck the
top of the hill there sprang a well of pure
22 MANX FAIRY TALES
water, of which man and horse drank, and
it is called the Holy Well of Saint Patrick
to this day. If you go down to the ledges
of the rock, which were made by the horse's
hoofs as he clambered up, you may see
the footprints still.
When Patrick looked about him the
mist was lifting, and he saw a great host of
warriors round Manannan's Faery Mound,
with the first rays of the rising sun shin-
ing on their spears. But the saint knew that
they were phantoms raised by Manannan's
magic power and he bade them to be gone.
And, behold, they and their master, in
the shape of three-legged men, whirled
round and round like wheels before the
swift wind, which could not overtake them,
till they came to Spanish Head. There
they whirled over the houghs so quickly
and lightly that the gulls on the ledges
below were not disturbed, then on over
the rough, grey Irish Sea till they came to
the enchanted island, fifteen miles south-
west of the Calf. Once there Manannan
dropped the isle to the bottom of the sea,
and he and his company were seen no more.
THE COMING OF SAINT PATRICK 23
Saint Patrick on his snow-white horse
stood still on Peel Hill and blessed the
island where he had touched land, and
blessed it has been to this day. Then he
leapt on to the little islet that he saw below
him. Ever since it has been called Saint
Patrick's Isle, and from the rocks on its
northern side he watched the fierce storm
which Manannan's going had made. Just
then a brave ship, with foresail and main-
sail gone, was driving straight for the
terrible rocks. Saint Patrick raised his
mailed hand and the tempest was calmed.
The good ship righted herself again, and
those on board were saved. They looked
up with awe and thankfulness at the rider
in his shining armour on the snow-white
steed, standing bright against the blackness
of the rocks. And ever since that day the
fisherman, as he sails past the Horse Rock,
has offed with his cap and put up this bit
of a prayer to good Saint Patrick :
Saint Patrick who blessed our Island, bless us and
Going out well, coming in better,
With living and dead in the boat.
HOW THE HERRING BECAME
KING OF THE SEA
THE old fishermen of the island have it to
say that years and years ago the fish met
to choose themselves a king, for they had
no deemster to tell them what was right.
Likely enough their meeting-place was off
the Shoulder, south of the Calf. They all
came looking their best there was Captain
Jiarg, the Red Gurnet, in his fine crimson
coat ; Grey Horse, the Shark, big and cruel ;
the Bollan in his brightest colours ; Dirty
Peggy, the Cuttle-fish, putting her nicest
face on herself ; Athag, the Haddock, try-
ing to rub out the black spots the devil
burnt on him when he took hold of him
with his finger and thumb, and all the rest.
Each one thought he might be chosen.
The Fish had a strong notion to make
HOW THE HERRING BECAME KING 25
Brae Gorm, the Mackerel, king. He knew
that, and he went and put beautiful lines
and stripes on himself pink and green
and gold, and all the colours of the sea
and sky. Then he was thinking diamonds
of himself. But when he came he looked
that grand that they didn't know him.
So they said that he was artificial and
would have nothing to do with him.
In the end it \vas Skeddan, the Herring,
the Lil Silver Fella, who was made King of
When it was all over, up came the Fluke,
too late to give his vote, and they all
called out :
You 've missed the tide, my beauty ! '
It seems that he had been so busy
tallivating himself up, touching himself up
red in places, that he forgot how time went.
When he found that the herring had been
chosen, he twisted up his mouth on one
side, and says he :
' An' what am I goin' to be then ? '
Take that/ says Scarrag the Skate, and
he ups with his tail and gives the Fluke
26 MANX FAIRY TALES
a slap on his mouth that knocked his mouth
crooked on him. And so it has been ever
And, maybe, it 's because the Herring is
King of the Sea that he has so much honour
among men. Even the deemsters, when
they take their oath, say : ' I will execute
justice as indifferently as the herring's back-
bone doth lie in the midst of the fish.'
And the Manx people will not burn
the herring's bones in the fire, in case
the herring should feel it. It is to be re-
membered, too, that the best herring in
the world are caught in this place off
the Shoulder, where the fish held their big
meeting, and that is because it is not very
far from Manannan's enchanted island.
THE SILVER CUP
THERE was once a man living in the south of
the island whose name was Colcheragh. He
was a farmer, and he had poultry on his
street, sheep on the mountain, and cattle in
the meadow land alongside the river.
His cows were the best cows in the
parish. Nowhere could you see such a
fine head of cattle as he had ; they were
the pride of his heart, and they served him
well with milk and butter.
But after a time he began to think that
something was amiss with the cows. He
went to the cow-house the first thing every
morning, and one morning he noticed the
cows looking so tired they could hardly
stand. When it came to milking time they
found not a drop of milk. The girls, who
went out to milk the cows, came back with
empty cans, saying :
28 MANX FAIRY TALES
' The milk has gone up into the cows'
horns ! '
Colcheragh began to think that some one
had put an evil eye on his cows, so he swept
up some of the dust from the cross four-roads
close by, in a shovel, and sprinkled it on
their backs. But the cows got no better.
Then he wondered if some one was coming
at night to steal the milk. He made up his
mind to sit in the cow-house all night to see
if he could catch the thief.
So one night after everyone had gone
to bed he crept out of the house and hid
himself under some straw in a corner of
the cow-house. Hour after hour of the dark
lonesome night crept on, and he heard
nothing but the cows' breathing and their
rustle in the straw. He was very cold and
stiff, and he had just made up his mind to
go into the house, when a glimmering light
showed under the door ; and then he heard
Things laughing and talking queer talk-
he knew that they were not right people.
The cow-house door opened and in came
a whole lot of Little Men, dressed in green
THE SILVER CUP 29
coats and leather caps. Keeking through
the straw, he saw their horns hung by
their sides, their whips in their hands, and
scores of little dogs of every colour green,
blue, yellow, scarlet, and every colour
yon can think of at their heels. The
cows were lying down. The Little Fellows
loosed the yokes from the cows' necks,
hopped on their backs, a dozen, maybe,
on each cow, and cracked their little whips.
The cows jumped to their feet and Them-
selves galloped off !
Colcheragh ran to the stable, got on a
horse, and made chase after his cows.
The night was dark, but he could hear the
whizz of the little whips through the air, the
click of the cows' hoofs on stones, and the
little dogs going :
' Yep, yep, yep ! '
He heard, too, the laughing of Them-
selves. Then one of them would be singing-
out to the dogs, calling them up by name,
giving a call out of him :
' Ho la, ho la, la ! '
Colcheragh followed thesesounds, keeping
3 o MANX FAIRY TALES
close at their heels. On and on they
went, helter-skelter over hedges and over
ditches till they got to the Fairy Hill, and
Colcheragh was still following them, though
on any other night he would not have gone
within a mile of the great green mound.
When the Little Fellows came to the hill they
sounded a tan-tara-ra-tan on their horns.
The hill opened, bright light streamed
out, and sounds of music and great
merriment. Themselves passed through,
and Colcheragh slid off his horse and
slipped unnoticed in after them. The hill
closed behind them and he found himself
in a fine room, lit up till it was brighter
than the summer noonday. The whole
place was crowded with Little People,
young and old, men and women, all decked
out for a bail, that grand he had never
looked on the like. Among them w r ere
some faces that he thought he had seen
before, but he took no notice of them,
nor they of him. In one part there was
dancing to the music of Horn Mooar
that was the name of the fiddler and when
THE SILVER CUP 31
he played all men must follow him whether
they would or no. The dancing was like
the dancing of flowers in the wind, such
dancing as he had never seen before.
In another part his cows were being
killed and roasted, and after the dance there
was a great feast, with scores of tables set
out with silver and gold and everything
of the best to eat and drink. There was
roast and boiled, and sollaghan and cowree,
and puddings and pies, and jough and wine
a feast fit for the Governor himself.
When they were taking their seats one of
them, whose face he thought he knew,
whispered to him : ' Don't thee taste
nothin' here or thou will be like me, and
never go back to thy ones no more.'
Colcheragh made up his mind to take
this advice. When the feast was coming
to an end there was a shout for the Jough-
y-dorrys, the Stirrup Cup. Some one ran
to fetch the cup. The one among the Little
People, who seemed to be their king, filled
it with red wine, drank himself, and passed
it on to the rest. It was going round
32 MANX FAIRY TALES
from one to another until it came to
Colcheragh, who saw, when he had it in
his hands, that it was of fine carved silver,
and more beautiful than anything ever
seen outside that place. He said to himself :
' The little durts have stolen and killed
and eaten my cattle this cup, if it were
mine, would pay me for all.' So standing
up and grasping the silver cup tightly in his
hand, he held it up and said :
1 Shoh Slaynt ! ' which is the Manx toast.
Then he dashed the cupful of wine over
Themselves and the lights. In an instant
the place was in black darkness, save for
a stime of grey dawn light which came
through the chink of the half-closed door.
Colcheragh made for it, cup in hand,
slammed the door behind him, and ran
for his life.
After a moment of uproar Themselves
missed the cup and Colcheragh, and with
yells of rage they poured out of the hill
after him, in full chase. The farmer, who
had a good start, ran as he had never run
before. He knew he would get small mercy
THE SILVER CUP 33
at their hands if he was caught ; he went
splashing through the wet mire and keeping
off the stepping stones ; he knew they
could not take him in the water. He looked
over his shoulder and caught a glimpse of
the whole Mob Beg behind him, close at his
heels, waving their naked arms in the light
of the torch each one held up. On they
came, shrieking and howling in Manx :
Put thy foot on the stone,
And do not put it in the wet !
But he ran in the water till he came to the
churchyard, and they could not touch him
there. When he went into the cowhouse
the next morning the cows had all come
home and they got rest after that.
He put the cup in the Church at
Rushen, and they are saying it was there
for many years ; then it was sent to Lon-
don. It is said that after this the farmer
would not go out of his house of an evening-
THE CHILD WITHOUT A NAME
IT was many and many a year ago that the
heiress of Eary Cushlin Farm had a little
child. Eary Cushlin is a terribly lonely
place ; it stands high up on the Eanin
Mooar, the big precipice, close by the steep
brow of Cronk-yn-Irree-Laa. You might
live there for months without seeing the
face of clay, and no person knew of the
birth of the child. It was not welcome
when it came, and as soon as it was born,
it died. Then the mother carried it, at
dead of night, along the narrow path
over the rocks, past where the waters of
Gob-yn-Ushtey leap into the bay, past
Ooig-ny-Goayr, the Cave of the Goat, to
Lag-ny-Keilley. She buried it in the
ruins of the lonely little Keeill that has
been there on the hill-side for fourteen
THE CHILD WITHOUT A NAME 35
hundred years and more. There she left
A short while after some yawls were
going to the haddock fishing from Dalby.
There was the ' Lucky Granny ' from the
Lagg, the Muck Beg, or Little Pig, from
Cubbon Aalish's, Boid - y - Conney from
deary's, Glen Rushen, and others, ten in
all. Then it began to be said that some-
thing strange was going on over at Lag-ny-
Keilley. The men would be fishing close in
to land under the black shadow of Cronk-
yn-Irree-Laa, the Hill of the Rising Day.
When little evening came, the yawls would
be drifting south with the flood tide, north
with the ebb, passing and repassing the
strand of Lag-ny-Keilley. Then they would
see a beautiful light and hear a lamentation
and crying, as if from a little lost child. In
the end the light would run up the steep
brow to the old Keeill, and go out. The
men got so frightened that at last they
would not go on the bay after dark, but
would make from the fishing-ground as soon
as the sun was getting low.
36 MANX FAIRY TALES
Things became so black for the women
and children at home that one old, old
man, Illiam Quirk, who had not gone to
sea for many years, said he would go with
one of the yawls to see for himself. They
used to say of him : ' Oul Illiam has
the power at him in the prayer, and
he is a middlin' despard fella ; he will
dar' most anything.' It was so at this
time his yawl was the last of them
coming in ; the rest were frightened. It
was a right fine, beautiful moonlight night
when he was coming down from the mark,
and when he was near to Gob-yn-Ushtey
he heard crying and crying. He lay on
his oars and listened, and he heard a
little child wailing over and over again :
' She Ihiannoo beg dyn ennym mee ! '
That is, ' I am a little child without a name ! '
' Pull nearer to the Ian'/ said Illiam
when he heard it. They pulled close in, and
he plainly saw a little child on the strand
bearing a lighted candle in his hand.
' God bless me, bogh, we mus' give
thee a name ! ' said Illiam. And he took
THE CHILD WITHOUT A NAME 37
off his hat, and stood up in the boat, and
threw a handful of water towards the
child, crying out : ' If thou are a boy, I
chrizzen thee in the name of the Father,
Son, and Holy Ghost, Juan ! If thou are
a girl I chrizzen thee in the name of the
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Joanney ! '
In an instant the crying stopped, and
was never heard again, and the light went
out and was seen no more.
THE FAIRY DOCTOR
THE shoemakers and tailors and chance
spinners used to go round on people's
houses, making things and spinning rolls
of wool for the people.
One time the tailor went to Chaise
Ballawhane. Long enough they were wait-
ing for him, and, as luck happened, he
caught Chaise at home.
Now Chaise had power over the fishes
of the sea and the birds of the air as well
as over the beasts of the field. Himself and
the Little Ones got on well together too,
but somehow or other he was never able
to get the power over them. People said
he was never able to learn their language
right. Anyhow, be that as it may, he was
often enough with them.
After the tailor had had a crack with
THE FAIRY DOCTOR 39-
the women he turned round to Ballawhane,
who was sitting in the big chair, his elbow
on the table and his hand holding his
forehead, the other hand in his trouser's
pocket to the elbow, and he not minding
anybody nor anything.
' I batter take yer measure, Mr. Teare,
while yer in, for there 's no knowin' how
long that '11 be/ the tailor said.
' Aw, boy, boy/ answered Chaise, look-
ing out through the window people were
not bothering with blinds then and then
turning to the clock, he said : ' There 's no
time goin' to-night : I want to go from
home apiece, an* it 's time I was gettin
ready/ Nobody said a word for a minute
or two. He was exactly like a body with
his mind far away. Again, all of a sudden,
he looked at the tailor. Then he said :
' Ahm goin' to a big supper to-night.
Thou '11 get nothin' done here, maybe thou
would like to go ? It 's apiece to go, but
thou '11 be right enough with me. But
there 's one promise I '11 be wantin' from
thee no matter, no matter what thou '11
MANX FAIRY TALES
see, nor what thou '11 hear, nor who '11
spake to thee, thou mustn't spake back
or it '11 be all over with thee.'
The tailor was so taken up with the
chance of seeing the Little People for him-
self that he promised faithfully, no matter
what took place, never to speak a word,
and he knew he would be right enough
Ballawhane then took his hat from
the latt, and when he was going out .he
' I '11 be back for thee just now ; side
thee things a bit while thou 're waitinV
In a while there was a noise of horses
coming up the street it was awful. Then
they stopped on the street and in came
Ballawhane saying :
' We couldn' get another hoss for thee,
boy, do what we would, but thou '11 have
to get a hoss of some sort.'
And going down to the parlour he got
hold of something, and went out, never
saying a word. Coming back to the door
after a bit, he said :
THE FAIRY DOCTOR 41
' Come on, boy. I '11 hold her head
till thou get on/
Out goes the tailor, and up, with one
whip, on her back, and they go like the
very hommers, on and on, over hedges
and ditches, till they came to a big brow
by a river. It seems they knew the w r ay,
night as it was, for they all took it one
after another like fun. It was a big jump,
though, and when the tailor felt himself
flying through the air, his heart jumped
to his mouth.
' Oh Lord, what a jump ! ' he said.
The next minute he fell flop in a bog,
with the lapboard between his legs, all
alone in the dark. Next morning he got
up all slaaed with slush, looking like a
thing that had been dragged through a
gutter, and as quiet as a mouse the shy
he was, every bit of steam took out of him.
Awhile after some of the women were
asking him, how did he like it last night, and
would he go again ? But all they could get
out of him was :
' Aw, naver no more, naver no more ! '
JOE MOORE'S STORY OF FINN MAC-
COOILLEY AND THE BUGGANE
THIS Finn MacCooilley was an Irish giant,
and the Buggane was a Manx giant. But,
anyway at all, this Finn came across from
the Mountains of Mourne to see what was
the Isle of Mann like, for he was seeing land.
He liked the island uncommon well, so
he stopped in it, living out Cregneish way.
The Buggane was hearing great talk about
the giant Finn MacCooilley that was in
the Sound, so he came down from the top
of Barrule to put a sight on him. Finn
knew that he was coming to have a fight
with him, to see who was best man, and
Finn did not want to fight. ' Lave him
to me,' says the wife ; ' an' I '11 put the
augh-augh on him ! '
Before long they caught sight of the
JOE MOORE'S STORY 43
Buggane, and he was a walking terror. He
was coming from Barrule to them, in a
' Slip in the criddle, Finn/ says she.
1 It 's me that '11 spake to him.'
Up comes the Buggane to the door,
' Where 's Himself ? ' says he.
' This man is gone from home this bit,'
says she. ' What is it you are wantin'
with him ? !
' Aw, there is no hurry on me. I '11
put my fut inside and wait till he comes
back,' says he.
' Plaze yourself,' says she, ' an' you '11
plaze me ; but I must get on with my
' Who have you got in the criddle ? '
' That 's our baby,' says she.
' An' in the name of the Unknown
Powers, what sort of a man is he Himself
if his baby is that big ? '
' He 's very big an' powerful,' says she.
1 An' the child is favourin' the father.'
44 MANX FAIRY TALES
She was baking barley bread, and when
the baking was done at her, she took the
griddle and put it between two cakes of
bread, and gave it to the Buggane to eat,
with a quart of buttermilk. He went to
try and eat, and he couldn'.
' Aw, man-alive ! But this is the hard
bread,' says he. ' What sort have you given
me at all, at all ? '
' That 's the sort I 'm giving Finn/
' An* will Finn's teeth go through this ? ]
' Aw, yes, Finn thought nothing at all
of 'at in' that that 's the sort of bread
he was wantin',' says Thrinn.
Finn got up out of the cradle, and began
to roar for a piece. She fetched him a
clout on the lug.
' Stop your noisin',' says she. ' An'
stand straight and don't be puttin' the
drone on yer back like that.' And givin*
him a buttercake, she says :
* Ate, ate, lash into ye, an' let 's have
' You '11 have the chile's teeth broke in
JOE MOORE'S STORY 45
his head, woman. He can naver ate bread
as hard as that ! ' says the Buggane.
' Aw, he can do that with life/ says she.
But that done the Buggane ; he sleeched
out and claned away again. He thought
if Finn was that strong and the baby that
big, he had best catch home again.
But it was not long until the Buggane
and Finn did meet, and then they had the
battle ! One day Finn met the Buggane
over at Kirk Christ Rushen, and they went
at each other early in the day till the sunset.
Finn had one fut in the Big Sound, an' so
he made the Channel between the Calf
and Kitteriand, and the other in the Little
Sound, an' so he made the narrow Channel
between Kitteriand and the islan'. The
Buggane was standin' at Port lern that 's
what made the fine big openin' at Port
lern. The rocks were all broken to pieces
with their feet. But, anyway, the Buggane
came off victorious and slashed Finn awful,
so he had to run to Ireland. Finn could
walk on the sea, but the Buggane couldn' ;
and when Finn got off and he couldn 1 get
46 MANX FAIRY TALES
more revenge on him, he tore out a tooth
and hove it whizzing through the air after
Finn. It hit him on the back of the head,
and then it fell into the sea and became
what we are now calling the Chickens'
Rock. Finn turned round with a roar and
a mighty curse :
1 My seven swearings of a curse on it ! :
says he. ' Let it lie there for a vexation
to the sons of men while water runs and
grass grows ! '
And a vexation and a curse has it been
to seamen from that day to this.
The Fynoderee went to the meadow
To lift the dew at grey cock crow,
The maiden hair and the cow herb
He was stamping them both his feet under ;
He was stretching himself on the meadow,
He threw the grass on the left hand ;
Last year he caused us to wonder,
This year he 's doing far better.
He was stretching himself on the meadow,
The herbs in bloom he was cutting,
The bog bean herb in the curragh,
As he went on his way it was shaking,
Everything with his scythe he was cutting,
To sods was skinning the meadows,
And if a leaf were left standing,
With his heels he was stamping it under.
THE FYNODEREE OF GORDON
THERE was one time a Fynoderee living
in Gordon. Those persons who saw him
said that he was big and shaggy, with
fiery eyes, and stronger than any man.
One night he met the blacksmith who was
going home from his shop and held out his
hand to him to shake hands. The black-
smith gave him hold of the iron sock of the
plough which he had with him, and he
squeezed it as if it had been a piece of
clay, saying : ' There 's some strong Manx-
men in the world yet ! '
The Fynoderee did all his work at night
and went into hidlans in the daytime. One
night, when he was out on his travels he
came to Mullin Sayle, out in Glen Garragh.
He saw a light in the mill, so he put his
head through the open top-half of the door
THE FYNODEREE OF GORDON 49
to see what was going on inside, and there
was Quaye Mooar's wife sifting corn. When
she caught sight of the great big head she
was frightened terrible. She had presence
of mind, however, to hand him the sieve
and say : ' If thou go to the river and bring
water in it, I'll make a cake for thee;
and the more water thou carry back, that 's
the bigger thy cake will be.'
So the Fynoderee took the sieve, and
ran down to the river ; but the water
poured from it and he could fetch none
for the cake, and he threw the sieve away
in a rage, and cried :
' Dollan, dollan, dash ! Sieve, sieve, dash !
Ny smoo ta mee cur ayn, The more I put in,
Ny smoo ta goll ass.' The more there J s going
The woman got away while he was
trying to fill the sieve, and when he came
back to the mill he found it in darkness.
The Fynoderee was working very hard
for the Radcliffes, who owned Gordon then.
Every night he was grinding their corn for
50 MANX FAIRY TALES
them, and often he would take a hand at
the flails. If they put a stack into the
barn in the evening and loosed every sheaf
of it, they would find it thrashed in the
morning, but he would not touch one
sheaf of it unless it were loosed. In the
summer time he was getting in their hay
and cutting their corn.
Many a time the people of the farm
were passing the time of day with him.
One cold frosty day, big Gordon was
docking turnips and he blew on his fingers
to warm them.
What are thou blowing on thee fingers
for ? : said the Fynoderee.
' To put them in heat/ said the Farmer.
At supper that night the Farmer's
porridge was hot and he blew on it.
' What are thou doing that for ? ' said the
Fynoderee. ' Isn't it hot enough for thee ? '
' It J s too hot, it is ; I 'm blowing on it to
cool it/ said the Farmer.
' I don't like thee at all, boy/ said the
Fynoderee, ' for thou can blow hot and blow
cold with one breath.'
THE FYNODEREE OF GORDON 51
The Fynoderee was wearing no clothes,
but it is saidjthat he never felt the cold.
Big Gordon, however, had pity on him that
he had none, and one frosty winter he went
and got clothes made for him breeches,
jacket, waistcoat and cap great big ones
they w T ere too. And he went and gave
them to him in the barn one night. The
Fynoderee looked on them and took them
up, and says he :
Coat for the back is sickness for the back !
Vest for the middle is bad for the middle !
Breeches for the breech is a curse for the breech !
Cap for the head is injurious for the head !
If thou own big Gordon farm, boy
If thine this little glen east, and thine this little
Not thine the merry Glen of Rushen yet, boy !
So he flung the clothes away and walked
his ways to Glen Rushen, out to Juan
Mooar deary's. He was working for him
then, cutting the meadow hay for him,
cutting turf for him, and seeing after the
It happened one winter's night that
there was a great snow-storm. Juan
52 MANX FAIRY TALES
Mooar got up to see after the sheep, but
the Fynoderee came to the window.
' Lie, lie an' take a sleep, Juan/ says
he ; ' I Ve got all the sheep in the fold, but
there was one loaghtan (brown native
sheep) yearling there that give me more
trouble till all the res'. My seven curses
on the little loaghtan ! I was twice round
Barrule Mooar afther her, but I caught
her for all/
When Juan went out in the morning
all the sheep were safe in the cogee house
and a big hare in with them, with two short
lankets on him, that was the brown
After a time the Fynoderee went up to
the top of Barrule Mountain to live, up to
the very peak. Himself and the wife
went to make a potful of porridge one day,
and they fell out.
She ran and left him. He threw a big
white rock after her and it struck her on
the heel the mark of the blood is still
on the stone at Cleigh Fainey. While
she stooped to put a rag on her heel
THE FYNODEREE OF GORDON 53
he threw a lot of small rocks at her, that
made her give a spring to the Lagg, two
miles away. Then he threw a big rock
with the pot-stick in it it 's in the Lagg
river to-day. At that she gave two leaps
over the sea to the Mountains of Mourne
in Ireland ; and for all that I know she 's
living there still.
THE LHONDOO AND THE
ONE time Lhondoo, the Blackbird, was
living in the mountains and Ushag-reaisht,
the Bird of the Waste, as Manx ones call
the Golden Plover, was living in the low-
lands, and neither of them was able to leave
his own haunts. One day, however, the two
birds met on the borders between mountain
and plain, and they made it up between
them that they would change places for a
while. The Bird of ihe Waste should stay
in the mountains till the Lhondoo should
The Lhondoo found himself better off in
his new home than in the old one, and he did
not go back. So the poor Bird of the Waste
LHONDOO AND THE USHAG-REAISHT 55
was left in the mountains and any day you
may hear him cry in a mournful voice :
' Lhondoo, vel oo cheet, vel oo cheet ?
S'foddey my reayllagh oo ! '
Black Thrush, are you coming, are you coming ?
The time is long and you are not here !
But the Lhondoo answers :
' Cha jig dy braa, cha jig dy braa ! '
Will never come, will never come !
Then the poor Ushag-reaisht wails :
' T'eh feer feayr, t'eh feer feayr ! '
It 's very cold, it 's very cold.
Then the Blackbird goes his ways.
BILLY BEG, TOM BEG, AND
NOT far from Dalby, Billy Beg and Tom
Beg, two humpback cobblers, lived together
on a lonely croft. Billy Beg was sharper
and cleverer than Tom Beg, who was always
at his command. One day Billy Beg gave
Tom a staff, and quoth he :
' Tom Beg, go to the mountain and fetch
home the white sheep/
Tom Beg took the staff and went to the
mountain, but he could not find the white
sheep. At last, when he was far from home
and dusk was coming on, he began to think
that he had best go back. The night was
fine, and stars and a small crescent moon
were in the sky. No sound was to be heard
but the curlew's sharp whistle. Tom was
hastening home, and had almost reached
BILLY BEG, TOM BEG, AND FAIRIES 57
Glen Rushen, when a grey mist gathered
and he lost his way. But it was not long
before the mist cleared, and Tom Beg found
himself in a green glen such as he had never
seen before, though he thought he knew
every glen within five miles of him, for he was
born and reared in the neighbourhood. He
was marvelling and wondering where he
could be, when he heard a far-away sound
drawing nearer to him.
'Aw/ said he to himself, 'there's more
than myself afoot on the mountains to-
night ; I '11 have company/
The sound grew louder. First, it was
like the humming of bees, then like the
rushing of Glen Meay waterfall, and last it
was like the marching and the murmur of
a crowd. It was the fairy host. Of a
sudden the glen was full of fine horses and of
Little People riding on them, with the lights
on their red caps, shining like the stars
above, and making the night as bright as
day. There was the blowing of horns, the
waving of flags, the playing of music, and
the barking of many little dogs. Tom Beg
58 MANX FAIRY TALES
thought that he had never seen anything so
splendid as all he saw there. In the midst
of the drilling and dancing and singing one
of them spied Tom, and then Tom saw
coming towards him the grandest Little
Man he had ever set eyes upon, dressed in
gold and silver, and silk shining like a
1 It is a bad time you have chosen to
come this way/ said the Little Man, who
was the king.
' Yes ; but it is not here that I 'm wishing
to be though/ said Tom.
Then said the king : ' Are you one of
us to-night, Tom ? '
' I am surely/ said Tom.
' Then/ said the king, ' it will be your
duty to take the password. You must
stand at the foot of the glen, and as each
regiment goes by, you must take the pass-
word : it is Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday,
Thursday, Friday, Saturday.'
' I '11 do that with a heart and a half/
At daybreak the fiddlers took up their
BILLY BEG, TOM BEG, AND FAIRIES 59
fiddles, the Fairy army set itself in order,
the fiddlers played before them out of the
glen, and sweet that music was. Each
regiment gave the password to Tom as it
went by Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday,
Thursday, Friday, Saturday ; and last of
all came the king, and he, too, gave it-
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday,
Friday, Saturday. Then he called in Manx
to one of his men :
* Take the hump from this fellow's
back/ and before the words were out of his
mouth the hump was whisked off Tom
Beg's back and thrown into the hedge.
How proud now was Tom, who so found
himself the straightest man in the Isle of
Mann ! He went down the mountain and
came home early in the morning with light
heart and eager step. Billy Beg wondered
greatly when he saw Tom Beg so straight
and strong, and when Tom Beg had rested
and refreshed himself he told his story :
how he had met the Fairies who came every
night to Glen Rushen to drill.
The next night Billy Beg set off along
60 MANX FAIRY TALES
the mountain road and came at last to
the green glen. About midnight he heard
the trampling of horses, the lashing of
whips, the barking of dogs, and a great
hullabaloo, and, behold, the Fairies and
their king, their dogs and their horses,
all at drill in the glen as Tom Beg had
When they saw the humpback they all
stopped, and one came forward and very
crossly asked his business.
' I am one of Yourselves for the night,
and should be glad to do you some service/
said Billy Beg.
So he was set to take the password-
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday,
Friday, Saturday. And at daybreak the
King said : ' It 's time for us to be off/
and up came regiment after regiment giving
Billy Beg the password- -Monday, Tuesday,
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday.
Last of all came the king with his men,
and gave the password also Monday,
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Frida}^
Saturday, ' AND SUNDAY/ says Billy Beg,
BILLY BEG, TOM BEG, AND FAIRIES 61
thinking himself clever. Then there was a
' Get the hump that was taken off
that fellow's back last night and put it on
this man's back,' said the King, with
flashing eyes, pointing to the hump that
lay under the hedge.
Before the words were well out of his
mouth the hump was clapt on to Billy
' Now/ said the King, ' be off, and
if ever I find you here again, I will clap
another hump on to your front ! '
And on that they all marched away
with one great shout, and left poor Billy Beg
standing where they had found him, with a
hump growing on each shoulder. And he
came home next day dragging one foot
after another, with a wizened face and as
cross as two sticks, with his two humps on
his back, and if they are not off they are
THE LAZY WIFE
WELL, there was a woman once, and she was
scandalous lazy. She was that lazy she
would do nothing but sit in the corner of
the chiollagh warming herself, or going on
the houses for newses the day long. And
one day her man gives her some wool to
spin for him ; he was terrible badly off for
clothes to wear, for she was letting them
get all ragged on him. He had told her
to mend them until he was tired, but all
he could get out of her was ' Traa dy liooar.'
Time enough !
One day he comes to her, and says :
' Thou liggcy my kraa, here is some
wool for thee to spin, and if it is not done
a month from this day, I'll throw thee
out on the side of the road. Thou and
thy Traa dy liooar have left me nearly bare.'
THE LAZY WIFE 63
Well, she was too lazy to spin, but she
would be pretending to be working hard
when the husband was in the house. She
used to put the wheel out on the floor
every night before the husband came in
from work, to let on to him that she had
The husband was asking her was the
thread getting near spun, for he said he was
seeing the wheel so often on the floor that
he wanted to know if she had enough to
take to the weaver. When it came to
the last week but one, she had only one
ball spun, and that one was knotted arid as
coarse as gorse. When her husband says to
' I 'm seeing the wheel middling often
on the floor when I come home at night ;
maybe there 's enough thread spun at thee
now for me to take to the weaver next
week ? :
1 1 don't know, at all,' says the wife.
f Maybe there is ; let us count the
Then the play began ! Up she went on
64 MANX FAIRY TALES
the lout, and flung the ball through the hole,
down to him.
* Keep count thyself, and fling the balls
back again to me/ says she to the man.
And as fast as he flung the ball up to her,
so fast she flung it down to him again.
When he had counted the ball, maybe, two
score times, she says to him :
' That 's all that 's in.'
' Aw, 'deed, you 've spun well, woman,
for all,' says he ; ' there 's plenty done at
thee for the weaver.'
Aw, then she was in a great fix, and
didn't know in her senses what to do to save
herself. She knew she would sup sorrow
if she was found out, but she could think
At last she bethought herself of the
Giant that lived in a lonesome place
up the mountain, for she had heard tell
he was good to work, and the woman, she
says to herself :
' I 've a mind to go my ways to him/
She took the road early next morning,
she and her rolls of wool, and she walked
THE LAZY WIFE 65
up hills, down gills, till at last she came to
the Giant's house.
' What are thou wanting here ? ' says
' I 'm wanting thee to help me/ says
she ; and she up and told him about the
ball of thread and everything.
* I '11 spin the wool for thee,' says the
Giant, ' if thou '11 tell me my name when
thou come for the balls a week from this
day. Are thou satisfied ? :
' Why shouldn't I be satisfied ? ' says
the woman ; for she thought to herself
it would be a middling queer thing if she
couldn't find out his name within a week.
Well, the woman she tried every way to
find out the Giant's name, but, go where
she might, no one had ever heard tell of it.
The time was getting over fast, and she
was no nearer to the Giant's name. At
last it came to the last day but one.
Now, as it happened, the husband was
coming home from the mountain that day
in the little evening, and as he neared the
Giant's house, he saw it all in a blaze of
66 MANX FAIRY TALES
light, and there was a great whirling and
whistling coming to his ears, and along
with it came singing, and laughing, and
shouting. So he drew near the window,
and then he sees the big Giant inside sitting
at a wheel, spinning like the wind, and his
hands flying with the thread to and fro,
to and fro, like the lightning, and he
shouting to the whistling wheel : ' Spin,
wheel, spin faster ; and sing, wheel, sing
louder ! J
And he sings, as the wheel whirls faster
and faster :
' Snieu, queeyl, snieu ; 'rane, queeyl, 'rane ;
Dy chooilley clea er y thie, snieu er my skyn.
Lheeish yn ollan, Ihiams y snaie,
S'beg fys fee yn ven litcheragh
Dy re Mollyndroat my ennym ! '
Spin, wheel, spin ; sing, wheel, sing ;
Every beam on the house, spin overhead.
Herself's is the wool, mine is the thread,
How little she knows, the lazy wife,
That my name is Mollyndroat !
When the husband got home that even-
ing he was late, and his wife said to him :
' Where have you been so late ? Did
thou hear anything new ? '
THE LAZY WIFE 67
Then he said :
' Thou are middling good to spin thyself,
ven thie ; but I 'm thinking there 's one in
that 's better than thee, for all. Never in
all my born days did I see such spinning,
a thread as fine as a cobweb, and hear such
singing as there was going on in the Giant's
' What was he singing ? ' says the wife.
And he sang the song to her :
Snieu, queeyl, snieu ; 'rane, queeyl, 'rane ;
Dy chooilley clea er y thie, snieu er my skyn.
Lheeish yn ollan, Ihiams y snaie,
S'beg fys fee yn ven litcheragh
Dy re Mollyndroat my ennym !
Well, well, the joy the woman took
when she heard the song !
' Aw, what sweet music ! Sing it again,
my good man/ says she.
And he sang it to her again, till she
knew it by heart.
Early next morning, she went as
fast as her feet could carry her to the
Giant's house. The road was long,
and a bit lonesome under the trees,
68 MANX FAIRY TALES
and to keep up her heart she sang to
1 Snieu, queeyl, snieu ; snieu, queeyl, snieu ;
Dy chooilley vangan er y villey, snieu er my skyn.
S'lesh hene yn ollan, as lesh my hene y snaie,
Son shenn Mollyndroat cha vow eh dy braa.'
Spin, wheel, spin ; spin, wheel, spin ;
Every branch on the tree, spin overhead.
The wool is Himselfs, the thread is my own,
For old Mollyndroat will never get it.
When she got to the house, she found
the door open before her, and in she went.
'I ' ve come again for the thread/ says she.
' Aisy, aisy, good woman/ says the
Giant. ' If thou don't tell me my name thou
won't get the thread that was the bargain.'
And says he : ' Now, what 's my name ? J
' Is it Mollyrea ? ' says she to let on
that she didn't know it.
' No, it is not/ says he.
' Are you one of the Mollyruiy ones ? '
' I 'm not one of that clan/ says he.
'' Are they calling you Mollyvridey ? '
* They are not/ says he.
THE LAZY WIFE 69
' I '11 warrant your name is Molly-
chreest ? ' says she.
' You are wrong, though/ says he.
' Are you going by the name of Molly-
voirrey ? ' says she.
' 'Deed I am not,' says he.
' Maybe your name is Mollyvartin ?
' And, maybe, it 's not at all,' says he.
' They 're saying/ says she, ' that there
was only seven families living on the islan'
at one time, and their names all began with
" Molly " ; and so,' says she, ' if you are not
a Mollycharaine, you are none of the rael,
oul' Manx ones, at all.'
1 1 am not a Mollvcharaine/ says he.
*/ * *
' Now, be careful, woman ; next guess is
At that she pretended to be frightened,
and says she, slowly, pointing her finger
at him :
' S'lesh hene yn ollan, as lesh my hene y snaie,
Son shenn Moll-YN-DROAT cha vow eh dy braa.'
The wool is Himself s, and the thread is my own,
For old Moll-YN-DROAT will never get it.
70 MANX FAIRY TALES
Well the Giant, he was done, and he was
in a red rage, and he cries :
' Bad luck to you ! You never would
have found out my name unless you 're a
mummig yn aishnee.'
1 Bad luck to yourself, my boy/ says
she, ' for trying to steal a dacent woman's
' Go to the Devil, yourself and your
fortune-telling,' shouts he, jumping up and
flinging the balls at her.
And away home with her, and her balls
of thread. And if she didn't spin her own
wool for ever after, that 's nothing to do
with you and me.
THE MERMAID OF GOB NY OOYL
ONCE on a time there lived at the bottom
end of Cornah gill a family of the name
of Sayle, and the Mermaid who had her
haunt up Bulgham way was a friend to
them. They were always in luck's way
and never seemed to be short of anything.
Sure enough they were full of thrift, and to
fill in odds of spare time they made lobster
pots from the osier that grew around in
plenty, and they always found a ready
market. They kept a cow and a few sheep,
just to give work to the women in the
long winter nights, but their living was
mostly got by the sea.
It was well known that Sayle had a
strong liking for apples, and that he would
often bring some with him out in the boat,
but when he got well up in years he would
72 MANX FAIRY TALES
be leaving a lot of the boat-work for the
boys, and then the luck began to get less,
and many a time one of them had to take
a gun to keep something in the pot. Then
the bigger ones took to the herrings. One,
Evan, however, had to stay about to keep
things going, and it happened that one day,
after he had the creels set, just at Bulgham,
that he pulled the boat in and went up the
brow after eggs. On coming back to the
boat he heard some one calling to him,
and, looking round, he saw a fine-looking
woman sitting on the edge of a rock.
' And how 's your father ? ' said she.
' It's seldom he 's coming this way now.'
Young Sayle was a bit frightened at
first, but seeing a pleasant look on her face,
he took courage and told her how things
were at home. Then, saying she hoped to
see him again, she slipped into the water
On getting home he told what had taken
place, and the father, his face lighting up,
.' There will be luck on the house yet/
THE MERMAID OF GOB NY OOYL 73
And he said :
' Take some apples with you the next
time you go up that way, an' we 'II see.'
The very next time the young chap
went, he took some apples with him, and
when he got to the place where he had seen
the beautiful woman, he went, as usual, on
the hunt among the rocks. Then he heard
sweet singing, and when he turned round
what should he see but the Mermaid leaning
over the boat and smiling pleasantly.
She took an apple and began to eat and
The luck o' the sea be with you, but don't forget-
Of bringing some sweet Ian' eggs for the children of
From that time he was nearly living on
the water until, at last, he was taken to
task for being idle. Then he made up his
mind to go sailing in foreign parts. The
Mermaid was in great distress, so to please
her, he went and planted an apple tree on
the brow above her haunt, telling her
that when he would be far away this tree
74 MANX FAIRY TALES
would grow land-eggs which, when they
would be sweet and ready for eating, would
come of themselves to the water for her.
And, sure enough, the luck of the family
remained, though the boy was gone.
She seemed to bear up well for a long
time and would often be seen sitting on the
rocks in the evening, singing sad songs, and
casting longing glances up to the apple
tree above. She kept very shy of everyone
coming her way, and at last, finding the
apples slow in coming, made up her mind
to go in search of young Sayle, hoping the
apples would be ready for taking when
they would come back.
But neither of them ever came back,
though for man}^ a long year the apple
tree bore fruit and marked the little creek
where the Mermaid used to live.
THE LOST WIFE OF BALLA-
ONE time the Farmer of Ballaleece married
a beautiful young wife and they were
thinking the world of one another. But
before long she disappeared. Some per-
sons said that she was dead and others
that she was taken by the Little People.
Ballaleece mourned for her with a heavy
heart and looked for her from Point of Ayr
to the Calf ; but in the end, not finding her,
he married another wife. This one was not
beautiful, but there was some money at
Soon after the marriage his first wife
appeared to Ballaleece one night, and said
to him :
' My man, my man, I was taken away
by the Little People, and I live with them
76 MANX FAIRY TALES
near to you. I can be set free if you will
but do what I tell you/
' Tell me quick/ said Ballaleece.
' We '11 be riding through Ballaleece
barn at midnight on Friday/ said she.
' We '11 be going in on one door and out
on another. I '11 be riding behind one of
the men on horseback. You '11 sweep the
barn clean, and mind there is not one straw
left on the floor. Catch hold of my bridle
rein, hold it fast, and I shall be free/
When the night came Ballaleece took
a besom and swept the barn floor so clean
that not one speck was left on it. Then he
waited in the dark.
At midnight the barn doors opened wide,
sweet music was heard, and in through the
open door came a fine company of Little
People, in green jackets and red caps,
riding fine horses. On the last horse,
sitting behind a Little Fellow, Ballaleece
saw his first wife as pretty as a picture, and
as young as when she left him. He seized
hold of her bridle rein, but he was shaken
from side to side like a leaf on a tree, and
THE LOST WIFE OF BALLALEECE 77
he was not able to hold her. As she went
out through the door she stretched out her
right hand and pointed to a bushel in the
corner of the barn, and called out in a sad
There 's been a straw put under the
bushel for that reason you couldn't hold
me, and you Ve done with me for ever ! 3
The second wife had heard what had
passed and had hidden the straw, and
turned the bushel upside down so that it
would not be seen.
The young wife was never heard of any
THE speckled hen and the little chicken
were scratching under an apple tree in the
garden, and an apple fell off the tree and it
hit the little chicken on the head. And
says he to the speckled hen :
1 Let us go to Rome, for the world has
' Who said that to you, little chicken ? :
said the speckled hen.
' It fell on my head, Smereree ! '
Then the speckled hen and the little
chicken went their ways until they met the
' Where are you going, speckled hen ? '
said the cock.
' Going to Rome, for the world has
fallen/ said the speckled hen.
' Who said that to you, speckled hen ? '
' The little chicken said it to me.'
' Who said that to you, little chicken ? '
' It fell on my head, Smereree ! :
So they went their ways together until
they met a gander.
' Where are you going, cock ? ' said the
' Going to Rome, for the world has
' Who said that to you, cock ? ' said
' The speckled hen said it to me.'
1 Who said that to you, speckled hen ? '
' The little chicken said it to me.'
1 Who said that to you, little chicken ? '
1 It fell on my head, Smereree ! 3
So they went all together until they met
' Where are you going, gander ? : said
' Going to Rome, for the world has
' Who said that to you, gander ? :
' The cock said it to me/
' Who said that to you, cock ? '
8o MANX FAIRY TALES
' The speckled hen said it to me.'
* Who said that to you, speckled
' The little chicken said it to me/
' Who said that to you, little chicken ? '
' It fell on my head, Smereree ! !
So they went all together until they met
' Where are you going, bull ? ' said the
' Going to Rome, for the world has
fallen/ said the bull.
' Who said that to you, bull ? ' said the
1 The gander said it to me/
' Who said that to you, gander ? '
' The cock said it to me/
' Who said that to you, cock ? ;
' The speckled hen said it to me/
' Wlio said that to you, speckled hen ? ]
' The little chicken said it to me/
' Who said that to you, little chicken ? J
' It fell on rny head, Smereree ! '
So they all went together until they met
Where are you going, goat ? 3 said the
' Going to Rome, for the world has
Who said that to you, goat ? 3
' The bull said it to me/
' Who said that to you, bull ? ]
The gander said it to me.'
1 Who said that to you, gander ? '
' The cock said it to me/
' Who said that to you, cock ? '
' The speckled hen said it to me/
' Who said that to you, speckled
' The little chicken said it to me/
' Who said that to you, lit tie chicken ? '
' It fell on my head, Smereree ! J
So they all went travelling together
until they came to the house of the giant ;
they went in the house and the giant was
from home. So the horse went under the big
table, and the bull went under the dresser,
and the goat went on the stairs, and all the
rest in the corners.
When the giant came home, they all
82 MANX FAIRY TALES
went at him at once, and there was heavy
war between them.
' Calk ! Calk ! If I come dowai to you/
said the cock.
He came down at last and picked the
giant's eyes out, and they killed him, and
they all lived in his house together.
And if they are not dead, they are living
THERE is a deep dub, or pool, on Ballacoan
stream, which the children of Laxey call
Nikkesen's. It is the home of Nyker, the
Water Goblin. It has no bottom ; and
brambles and ferns are growing round it,
and fir trees and hazels are hiding it from
sight. No child, no grown-up person even,
will go near it after dark.
A great many years ago a beautiful girl
living at Ballaquine was sent to look for
the calves, which had gone astray. She had
got as far as Nikkesen's, when she took a
notion that she heard the calves over the
river in Johnny Baldoon's nuts. At once
she began to call to them :
1 Kebeg ! Kebeg ! Kebeg ! '
so loud that you could hear her at Chib-
ber Pherick, Patrick's Well. The people
'84 MANX FAIRY TALES
could hear her calling quite plainly, but,
behold, a great mist came and rolled down
the valley, and shut it from sight. The
people on one side of the valley could hear
her voice yet calling through the mist :
'Kebeg! Kebeg ! Kebeg ! '
Then came a little sweet voice through
the mist and the trees in answer :
' Kebeg 's here ! Kebeg J s here ! :
And she cried :
' I 'm comin' ! 1 5 m comin' ! ;
And that was all.
The Fairies who live in Nikkesen's had
pulled her in, and carried her to their own.
She was never heard of again.
THE FAIRY CHILD OF CLOSE
ONE time there was a woman named
Colloo, in Close ny Lheiy, near Glen Meay,
and she had a child that had fallen sick in
a strange way. Nothing seemed wrong
with him, yet crosser and crosser he grew,
nying nyanging night and day. The woman
was in great distress. Charms had failed,
and she didn't know rightly what to do.
It seems that when about a fortnight
old, the child, as fine a child for his age as
you would see in a day's walk, was left
asleep while the mother went to the well for
v/ater. Now Herself forgot to put the tongs
on the cradle, and when she came back the
child was crying pitifully, and there was no
quieting for him. And from that very hour
the flesh seemed to melt off his bones till he
' 86 MANX FAIRY TALES
became as ugly and as wizened a child as
you would see between the Point of Ayr
and the Calf. He was that way, his
w r hining howl filling the house, for four years,
lying in his cradle without a motion on him
to put his feet under him. Not a day's
rest nor a night's sleep had the woman
these four years with him. She was fairly
scourged until there came a fine day in
the spring, while Horn Beg Bridson, the
tailor, was in the house sewing. Horn is
dead now, but there 's many alive that
remember him yet. He was wise tre-
mendous, for he was going from house to
house sewing, and gathering wisdom as he
Well, before that day the tailor was
seeing lots of wickedness in the child.
When the woman would be out feeding the
cows and pigs, he would be hoisting his head
up out of the cradle and making faces at
the tailor, winking and slicking, and shak-
ing his head, and saying ' What a lad I
am ! J
That day the woman wanted to go to
FAIRY CHILD OF CLOSE NY LHEIY 87
the shop to sell some eggs that she had, and
says she to the tailor : ' Horn, man, keep your
eye on the chile that the bogh won't fall out
of the criddle an' hurt himself, while I slip
down to the shop/
When she was gone the tailor began to
whistle, low and slow, to himself, as he
stitched, the tune of a little hymn.
f Drop that, Horn Beg,' said a little
The tailor, scandalised, looked round to
see if it was the child that had spoken, and
Whush, whush, now; lie quate,' said
the tailor, rocking the cradle with his foot,
and as he rocked he whistled the hymn tune
' Drop that, Horn Beg, I tell ye, an' give
us something light an' handy/ said the little
fella back to him, middling sharp.
' Aw, anything at all to plaze thee/
said the tailor, whistling a jig.
' Horn,' said my lad, ' can thou dance
anything to that ? ''
' I can,' said the tailor. ' Can thou ? J
MANX FAIRY TALES
' I can that/ said my lad. ' Would
thou like to see me dance ? :
' I would/ said the tailor.
' Take that oul' fiddle down, then, Horn,
man/ he said; 'an' put "The tune of the
Big Wheel " on it.'
' Aw, I '11 do that for thee, an' wel-
come/ said the tailor.
The fiddle quits its hook on the wall,
and the tailor tunes up.
' Horn/ said the little fella, ' before
thou begin to play, clear the kitchen for
me cheers an' stools, everything away
-make a place for me to step out to the
' Aw, I '11 do that for thee, too/ said the
tailor. He cleared the kitchen floor, and
then he struck up ' Tune y wheeyl vooar.'
In a crack the little fella bounced from
his cradle on to the floor with a ' Chu ! '
and began flying round the kitchen.
' Go it, Horn face your partnerheel
an' toe does it. Well done, Horn more
power to your elba, man.'
Horn plays faster and faster, till my lad
FAIRY CHILD OF CLOSE NY LHEIY 89
was jumping as high as the table. With
a ' Chu ! ' up goes his foot on top of the
dresser, and ' Chu ! 3 then on top of the
chimney piece, and ' Chu ! ' bang against the
partition; then he was half flying, half
footing it round the kitchen, turning and
going that quick that it put a reel in Horn's
head to be looking at him. Then he was
whirling everything round for a clear space,
even Horn himself, who by degrees gets up
on the table in the corner, and plays wilder
and faster, as the whirling jig grows madder
' M 'Yee ! ' said the tailor, throwing
down the fiddle. ' I mus' run, thou 're not
the chile that was in the criddle ! Are
thou ? '
' Houl 1 man ! thou 're right enough/
said the little fella. ' Strike up for me
make has'e, make has'e, man keep joggin'
' Whush ! ' said the tailor, ' here 's Her-
The dance suddenly ceased. The child
gave a hop, skip, and jump into the cradle.
go MANX FAIRY TALES
' Go on with thy sewing, Horn ; don't say
a word/ said the little fella, covering him-
self up in the clothes till nothing was left
of him to be seen except his eyes, which
keeked out like a ferret's.
When Herself came in the house, the
tailor, all of a tremble, was sitting cross-
legged on the round table and his spec's
on his nose and letting on that he was
busy sewing ; the child in the cradle was
grinning and crying as usual.
'What in all the earthly worl' -!
But it's the quare stitching, altogether,
there 's been goin' on here, an' me out.
An' how thou can see the needle in that
dark corner, Horn Bridson, let alone sew,
it bates me,' said she, siding the place.
' Well, well then, well, well on the boghee
millish. What is it at all, at all, that 's
doin' on the veen ? Did he think Mammy
had gone an' left him then, the chree ?
Mammy is goin' to feed him, though.'
The tailor had been thinking mighty
with himself what he ought to do, so he
FAIRY CHILD OF CLOSE NY LHEIY 91
1 Look here, woman, give him nothing
at all, but go out an' get a creelful of good
turf an' a whisp of feern.'
She brought the turf, and throws a
bundle of fern on it.
The tailor gave a leap off the table
down to the floor, and it wasn't long till he
had the fine fire.
Thou '11 have the house put on fire for
me, Horn/ said Herself.
' No fear, but I '11 fire some of them,'
said the tailor. The child, with his :two
eyes going out of his head watching to see
what the tailor was going to do, was slowly
turning his whining howl into a kind of
call to his own sort to come and fetch him,
' I '11 send thee home,' said the tailor,
drawing near the cradle, and he stretches
out his two hands to take the child and put
him on the big, red turf fire.
Before he was able to lay a hand on him,
the little fella leaped out of the cradle and
took for the door.
' The back of me han' an' the sole of
92 MANX FAIRY TALES
me fut to you ! 3 said he, ' if I would only
a-had another night I could have showed
thee a trick or two more than that yet.'
Then the door flew open with a bang, as
though some one had thrown it open, and he
took off with himself like a shot. A hulla-
baloo of laughing and making fun was
heard outside, and the noise of many
running little feet. Out of the door of the
house goes Herself, and Horn after her;
they see no one, but they caught sight of
a flock of low-lying clouds shaped like gulls
chasing each other away up Glen Rushen,
and then came to their ears, as if afar off
from the clouds, sharp whistles and wicked
little laughs as if making mock of them.
Then as they were turning round to come
back, she suddenly sees right before her, her
own sweet, rosy, smiling child, with thumb
in mouth, lying on a mossy bank. And she
took all the joy in the world of the child
that he was back again safe and sound.
THE LITTLE FOOTPRINTS
CLOSE to the Niarbyl, the great tail of rock
that stretches into the sea at Dalby, is a
little house on the strand. It is sheltered
behind by the high rock which rises above
its thatched roof. Before it lies Bay
Mooar, the great bay, held by a chain of
mountains purple with ling. Standing be-
fore its door and looking to the west,
you may see the sun set behind the distant
Mourne Mountains. At dawn you may
see him rise over Cronk-yn-Irree-Laa, the
Hill of the Rising Day. Here lived Juan,
He knew, as well as any person, that
the Little People were all around. When
he was a boy he had many a time looked
out of the door on moonlight nights to try
if he could put sight on them dancing
94 MANX FAIRY TALES
on the lonely shore. He had not seen them
-they make themselves invisible when
they know that mortal eyes are on them.
But he had seen the tiny riding lights of
their herring fleet in the bay, and had
helped his father to draw in the nets
full of good fish, which were sure to be
caught the night after. Many a time he
had wakened from his sleep in the dark, and,
in the pauses of the wind and the lull of the
great breakers, he had heard the sound of
hammering. He knew it was the Little
People hammering at their herring barrels
in Ooig-ny-Seyir, the Coopers' Cave, under
the hills, and that as the chips flew out on
to the waves they became ships.
He had heard the story of the fisherman,
a friend of his father's, who was fishing one
night at Lag-ny-Keilley, when a dense grey
mist rolled in. He thought he had best
make for home while the footpath above
the rocks was visible. When he was getting
his things together he heard what sounded
like a lot of children coming out of school.
He lifted his head, and, behold, there was a
THE LITTLE FOOTPRINTS 9 5
fleet of fairy boats each side of the rock,
their riding lights shining like little stars on
a frosty night. The crews seemed busy pre-
paring to come on shore, and he heard one
little fellow shout :
' Hraaghyn boght as earish broigh, sked-
dan dy liooar ec yn mooinjer seihll shoh,
cha nel veg ain ! '
Poor times and dirty weather, herring
enough at the people of this world, nothing
at us !
' Then/ said the fisherman, ' they
dropped off and went agate o' the flitters/
When Juan was a big boy he himself
saw a thing which he never forgot. One
day he left a boat over at the farther side
of Bay Mooar, and at night he had to go over
to fetch it. It was a moonlight night and
the bay was as smooth as glass as he rowed
across. There was no sound but the lapping
of the little waves on the shore, and now
and again the cry of a gannet. Juan
found his boat on the strand where he had
left her and was setting to work to launch
her, when he thought he saw a glimmering
g6 MANX FAIRY TALES
light, which was not the light of the moon,
in one of the caves near him. He stood
where he was, and listened, and he heard
the sound of faint music. Then he went
as silently as he was able to the cave, and
looked in. No light was there but the
dim light of the moon. The shadows in die
corners of the cave were as black as pitch.
Juan was trembling all over, and at first
he was blinking his eyes and could see
nothing. But after some minutes he saw
a great stone in the midst of the cave and
the floor of fine white sand. And on the
sand around that stone there were little
footprints marks of tiny clogs they were,
no bigger than his thumb !
THE TALL MAN OF BALLACURRY
TOM CRAINE was going home at midnight
from Bradda mine to his home at Colby.
The road was lonely and he met no person,
but the full moon was shining and it was
as light as day. As he began to pass under
the trees that grow round the house at
Ballacurry, a little dog appeared suddenly
from the black shadow at the roadside and
followed at his heels. He whistled to it, but
as he turned his head to look at it, it ran
on in front of him, and for a minute he did
not see it. When he came in sight of it
again, he was terrified to see that it had
grown larger as big as a goat and it
grew bigger and bigger till it was the size
of a donkey ! It galloped before him and
disappeared round the bend of the road
where the gate of Ballacurry is. When
98 MANX FAIRY TALES
Tom came to the gate he saw a very tall,
thin man leaning on it, with his arms folded
on the top of it. The beast was not there.
As Tom reached the gate the tall thin man
turned and walked up the long path that
leads to the house. When he got to the
door he turned again and walked back
down the path towards Tom. By the
bright moonlight Tom saw the lace ruffle
round his neck, the satin of his knee
breeches, the silk of his stockings, and the
shining buckles on his shoes the dress of
bygone days. His face was white and
dreadful. As Tom looked he was all at
once taken with terror, and ran off as hard
as he could go down the road to Colby.
He had not gone far when he met two
of his friends, Ben Mylechreest and Bill
Teare. He told them what he had seen,
and they made fun of him and would not
believe that he had seen any such thing.
They said they would go back with him
to the gate, so they all three turned back.
When they got to the gate they saw the big
man, as tall as two men, walking up the
THE TALL MAN OF BALLACURRY 99
path with his back towards them. As
before, when he reached the door, he turned
WHAT they saw they never told any
They took to their heels, all three; and
ran till they could run no longer. They
were trembling from head to foot and the
sweat pouring from them. They were too
terrified to go home, so they turned in with
Tom and they slept, all three, in one bed.
NED QUAYLE'S STORY OF THE
WHEN I was a little boy, we lived over by
Sloe. One day, when I was six years
old, my mother and my grandmother went
up the mountain to make hay and I was
left by myself. It was getting rather late,
and they had not come back, so I was
frightened, and started off up the mountain
to try and find them. I had not gone
far when I saw running before me a little
snow-white pig. At first I thought it was
some neighbour's pig and I tried to catch
it, but it ran from me and I ran after it.
As it went I saw that it was not like an
ordinary pig its tail was feathery and
spread out like a fan, and it had long
lapping ears that swept the ling. Now
and again it turned its head and looked
NED QUAYLE'S STORY 101
at me, and its eyes were burning like fire.
We went higher and higher up the mountain,
and all of a sudden I found myself at the
edge of a steep brow and was all but over.
I turned just in time, and ran as hard as
I could go down the mountain and the
pig after me. When I looked back over
my shoulder, I saw that it was jumping
over the big stones and rocks on the
mountain side as if they had been butts of
ling. I thought it would catch me; it
was close behind me when I ran in at our
garden gate, but I was just in time, and
I slammed the door upon it.
I told my mother and my grandmother
what had happened, and my grandmother
said it was a Fairy Pig. I was not like
myself that night ; I could not eat any
supper, and I went soon to my bed ; I
could not sleep, but lay tossing about ; and
was burning hot. After a time my mother
opened the door to see if I was asleep, and
when she looked at me, HER EYES WERE LIKE
THE PIG'S EYES. I felt a sharp pain go
through my right leg like a stab. After
102 MANX FAIRY TALES
that the pain never left me ; it was so bad
that I could not bear to be touched, and
I could eat nothing. I grew worse and
worse, and after some days my father said
he would take me to a Charmer at Castle-
town. They lifted me in the sheet, four
men taking the four corners, and carried
me to a cart. Never will I forget the
shaking and jolting I had in that cart.
When we got to Castletown I was more dead
The Charmer lived in Arbory Street and
they took me to his house. When he saw
me he said that they must all go away and
leave me alone with him, so my father and
my mother went to wait for me at The
George. The Charmer carried me to a
room upstairs and sent his wife away, and
laid me on the floor and locked the door.
Then he took down a big book and placed
it on the floor beside me. He opened it at
the picture of a little plant I can see the
plant to this day and he pointed with
his left hand to the picture, and with his
right hand he made the sign of the cross
NED QUAYLE'S STORY 103
on my leg, where the stab went through
me, and said :
' Ta mee skeaylley yn guin shoh ayns
ennym yn Ayr, as y Vac, as y Spyrryd Noo,
Ned Quayle. My she guin, ayns ennym
y Chiarn, ta mee skealley eh ass yn eill, ass
ny fehyn, as ass ny craueyn/ which means
in English I spread this fairy shot in the
name of the Father, and of the Son, and
of the Holy Ghost, Ned Quayle. If it is a
fairy shot, in the name of the Lord, I spread
it out of the flesh, out of the sinews, and
out of the bones. That minute the pain left
me. I felt very hungry, and the Charmer's
wife set me at a table and gave me dinner.
The Charmer went to fetch my father and
my mother, and when they came in I was
eating like two.
The Charmer told my mother I must
not go on the mountain alone between the
lights again. The pain never came back.
I have been sound from that day to this,
but I have the mark on my leg where the
stab went through as clear as glass to the
SCENE : A VILLAGE
Blackbird sings to Innkeeper's pretty
Kione jiarg, kione jiarg,
Apyrn doo, Apyrn doo,
Vel oo cheet ? Vel oo cheet ?
Skee fieau, skee fieau,
Red head, red head,
Black apron, black apron,
Are you coming ? Are you coming ?
Tired waiting, tired waiting,
IT was more than eight hundred years ago,
in the days of Olaf Goddardson, that Baron
Kitter, the Norwegian, lived in Mann. He
had his castle on the top of Barrule, and he
spent all his time in hunting the bisons
and elks that were on the island then, until
he had killed them all. Then the people
began to be afraid that he would chase their
cattle and the purrs of the mountains, and
leave them no beasts at all, so they went to
the wisest witches of the island, to see
what they could do.
One day Baron Kitter had gone over
to the Calf to hunt the red deer there,
leaving his cook, Eaoch of the Loud Voice,
in the castle to cook his dinner. Eaoch
set the pot on the fire and then fell asleep
over his work. While he was sleeping the
io6 MANX FAIRY TALES
witch-wife Ada put a spell on the pot, and
the fat boiled over into the fire. Soon the
house was in flames. Eaoch woke and
shouted for help at the top of his voice,
and his cries were so loud that thev reached
the ears of Kitter and his fellow-huntsmen,
ten miles away on the Calf.
When Kitter heard the cries and saw
the flames on the top of Barrule, he made
for the beach as hard as he could, and put
out in a small currach for the island, with
most of his friends. When they were in
the strong current about half way across
the channel, the boat struck on a rock and
they were all drowned, and the rock has
ever since been called Kitterland. The
rest of Kitter 's friends, who had stayed on
the Calf and so saved their lives, believed
that Eaoch, the cook, had made a plot with
the witches of the island to do away with
all the Norwegians in Mann, so they brought
him before King Olaf to be judged, and he
was condemned to death. But according
to the custom of Norway, he was allowed
to choose how he would die.
Then he said :
1 1 wish my head to be laid across one
of your Majesty's legs, and there cut off
by your Majesty's sword Macabuin, which
was made by Loan Maclibuin, the Dark
Smith of Drontheim ! '
It was known to every person there
that the king's sword could cut the hardest
granite, only by touching it with its
edge, and they all begged Olaf not to do
as crafty Eaoch asked. But the king
would not break his word and gave orders
that all should be done as the cook had
But the witch Ada was there and she
told them to take toads' skins, twigs of
the cuirn tree, and adders' eggs, nine times
nine of each, and put them between the
king's leg and the cook's head. They did
this, and then the great sword Macabuin,
made by Loan Maclibuin, was lifted with the
greatest care by one of the king's faithful
servants and laid gently on the cook's neck,
but before it could be stopped Eaoch's
head was cut from his body and the adders'
io8 MANX FAIRY TALES
eggs and the cuirn twigs were also cut
through only the toads' skins saved the
When the Dark Smith heard how the
power of the great sword Macabuin had
been stayed by witchcraft, he was very
angry, and called for his Hammer-man,
Hiallus-nan-urd, who had lost one leg
when he was helping to make the sword.
He sent him off at once to Peel Castle to
challenge King Olaf, or any of his men, to
a walking race from Peel to Drontheim.
King Olaf himself took up the challenge,
and off they set. Over mountains and
through gills they walked, as fast as they
could go, and the one-legged man as fast
as the king. When they had crossed the
island they each put out to sea in a sailing
boat, and each came in sight of Drontheim
at the same moment. When they drew
near to the smithy, the Hammer-man,
who was ahead, called out to Loan to open
the door, and Olaf called to him to shut it,
and then, pushing past Hiallus, got into the
To show that he was not at all weary
after his walk Olaf took up the great hammer
of the forge and struck the anvil such a
mighty blow that he split it through, and
the block beneath it, too. When Emergaid,
the daughter of Loan, saw the strength and
power of Olaf, she loved him; and while
her father was putting back the block and
anvil, she whispered to the king :
' My Father is doing that, so that he
may finish the sword he is making. It has
been foretold that the first blood it shall
shed shall be royal blood, and he has sworn
that that blood shall be yours/
' But is not your father the seventh
son of Old Windy Cap, King of Norway ? '
' He is/ said Emergaid.
' Then the prophecy shall be fulfilled/
said Olaf, and he thrust the sword into the
heart of Loan, and afterwards slew with
it the Hammer-man also.
He made Emergaid his queen and they
ruled together, and from them came a long
line of Kings of Mann.
TEEVAL, PRINCESS OF THE OCEAN
IN the old days Culain, the smith of the
gods, was living in the Isle of Mann. It
was the time when Conchubar was at the
court of the King of Ulster, and had nothing
but the sword in his hand. He was a fine
handsome young man, and he had made
up his mind to make himself a king. So
he went one day to the Druid of Clogher
to ask him what he had best do.
' Go thy way/ said the Druid, ' to
the Isle of Mann. There thou wilt find
the great smith Culain. Get him to make
thee a sword and a spear and a shield, and
with these thou shalt win the kingdom of
Conchubar went away, and hired a boat
and put out to sea. He landed in Mann
and made straight for Culain' s smithy. It
TEEVAL, PRINCESS OF THE OCEAN in
was night when he got there, and the red
glow of the furnace shone out into the dark.
He could hear from inside the smithy the
roar of the bellows and the clanging of the
hammer on the anvil. When he came
near, a great dog, as large as a calf, began
to bay and to growl like thunder, and
brought his master out.
' Who art thou, young man ? ' said
' Oh Culain ! ' cried Conchubar, ' it is
from the Druid of Clogher that I come, and
he bade me ask thee to make me a sword
and a spear and a shield, for only with
weapons of thy making can I win the
Kingdom of Ulster/
Culain' s face grew black at first, but
after he had gazed for a while at Conchubar,
he saw that he had the look about him of
one who would go far, and he said :
' It shall be done for thee, but thou
must wait, for the work is long.'
So Culain began to make the weapons,
and Conchubar waited in the island.
Early one brave morning in May when
H2 MANX FAIRY TALES
the sun had just risen over Cronk-yn-
Irree-Laa, he was walking on the strand,
wondering to himself how much longer
Culain would be making his weapons and
thinking it was full time for him to return.
The tide was going out, and the sun was
shining on the wet sand. Suddenly he saw-
something flashing at the edge of the waves
a few paces from him. He ran up to it and,
behold, it was the most beautiful woman he
had ever put sight on, fast asleep. Her
hair was golden, like the gorse in bloom ;
her skin whiter than the foam of the sea,
her lips red as the coral, and her cheeks rosy
like the little clouds that were flying before
the face of the rising sun. The fringe of her
dress of many coloured seaweeds rose and
fell with the ebb and flow of the waves.
Pearls gleamed on her neck and arms.
Conchubar stood and looked on her. He
knew that she was a Mermaid and that as
soon as she awoke she would slip back into
the ocean and be lost to him. So he bound
her fast with his girdle.
Then she awoke and opened her eyes,
TEEVAL, PRINCESS OF THE OCEAN 113
which were blue as the sea, and when she
saw that she was bound, she cried out with
terror, ' Loose me, man, loose me ! J
Conchubar did not answer, so she said
again, ' Loose me, I beg thee ! ' in a voice as
sw r eet as the music of Horn Mooar, the
By this time Conchubar was feeling
that he would give all he had to keep her.
He answered, trembling, Woman, my
heart, who art thou ? :
' I am Teeval, Princess of the Ocean/
said she. ' Set me free, I pray thee/
' But if I set thee free/ said Conchubar,
' thou wilt leave me/
' I cannot stay with thee, Conchubar/
she cried ; ' set me free, and I will give thee
a precious gift/
' I will loose thee/ answered Conchubar.
' It is not for the gift, but because I cannot
He unfastened the girdle from her and
she said, ' My gift to thee is this : Go now
to Culain w r ho is making thy shield, and
tell him that Teeval, Princess of the Ocean,
ii4 MANX FAIRY TALES
bids him to put her figure on the shield and
round it to grave her name. Then thou
shalt wear it always in battle, and when
thou shalt look on my face and call my
name, thy enemies' strength shall go from
them and shall come into thee and thy
men.' When she had said this, she waved
her white arm to Conchubar and plunged
into the waves. He looked sadly for a long
time at the spot where she had disappeared,
and then walked slowly to the forge of
Culain, and gave him the message.
Culain finished the mighty shield as the
Princess had said, and forged also for
Conchubar a golden-hilted magic sword,
and a spear set with precious stones. Then
Conchubar, in his crimson mantle and white
gold-embroidered tunic, and armed with his
great shield and his mighty weapons, went
back to Ireland.
All that the Princess of the Ocean had
said came true. When he went into battle
he looked at the beautiful face in his shield
and cried ' Help, Teeval.'
Then he felt strength come into him
TEEVAL, PRINCESS OF THE OCEAN 115
like the strength of a giant, and he cut his
enemies down like grass. Before long he
was famous all over Ireland for his great
deeds, and in the end he became King of
Ulster. Then he invited Culain to come and
live in his kingdom, and gave him the plain
of Murthemny to dwell in.
But he never again saw the lovely Mer-
THE WIZARD'S PALACE
LONG hundreds of years ago there was a
fine palace on a mountain sloping up from
the sea. It was like a palace in a dream,
built of shining marble of all colours and
having great doors covered with gold.
In it there lived the mighty Wizard who
had made it for himself by his spells. But
his hatred of other people was as great as
his power, and he would not allow any
person to come near him except his own
servants, and they were evil spirits. If
any man dared to go to see the palace, to
ask for work or to beg for charity, he
would never be heard of again. His friends
might search for him, but they would never
find him. Soon people began to whisper
that some of the blocks of granite near the
palace were like the men who had gone up
THE WIZARD'S PALACE 117
the mountain and never came back. They
began to believe that the Wizard had caught
them and frozen them into grey stone. At
length the Wizard became the terror of the
whole island, so that no person would pass
within several miles of his palace. The
people of that side of the island fled from
their homes, and the place was lonely and
So things went on for three years, until
one day a poor man going on the houses
happened to travel on that side of the
island, not knowing anything of this Wizard.
His road took him over the mountain,
where the Wizard lived, and as he came
near it, he was astonished to see the place
so silent and desolate. He had been
looking forward to the usual food and
shelter, with the friendly welcome, but he
found the houses empty ruins and the
kindly country people gone. And where
was the straw and hay which made such a
snug bed in the barn ? Weeds and stones
were lying thick in the fields. Night came
on him, and he walked and walked ; but
u8 MANX FAIRY TALES
never a bit of shelter could he find, and he
did not know where to go to get a bed.
' It 's a middlin' dark night/ he thought ;
' but it 's better to go on than back a road
a body is used on is no throuble to them,
let it be night or not.' He was travelling
on the old road over the mountain, go-
ing ahead singing ' Colcheragh Raby ' for
company to himself, and after a long while
he saw a light in the distance. The light
got brighter and brighter until he came
to a grand palace with every window
lit up. The singing was all knocked out
' In the name of Fortune where am I at
all ? This is a dreadful big house/ he said
to himself ; ' where did it come from, for all ?
Nobody never seen the like of it on this bare
breas' before else where am I at all, at
He was hard set to get to the door with
the blocks of stone lying about like frozen
' I 'd swear/ he said to himself as he
stumbled over one, ' that this was lil' Neddy
THE WIZARD'S PALACE 119
Horn, the dwarf man tha 's missin', only
it J s stone/
When he came to the big door it was
locked. Through one of the windows he
saw a table, and supper ready on it, but
he saw no person. He was very tired and
hungry, but he was afraid to knock at the
door of such a fine place.
' Aw, that place is too gran' for the likes
of me ! ' said he.
He sat down on one of the marble seats
outside, saying :
' I '11 stretch meself here till mornin',
it 's a middlin' sort of a night/
That day meat and bread had been
given to him at the last town he had passed
through. He was hungry and he thought
he would eat, so he opened his wallet and
took out a piece of bread and meat, then he
put his hand into his pocket and drew out
a pinch of salt in a screw of paper. As he
opened the paper some grains of salt fell
out, on to the ground. No sooner had this
happened than up from the ground beneath
came the sound of most terrible groans,
120 MANX FAIRY TALES
high winds blew from every airt out of the
heavens, lightnings flashed in the air,
dreadful thunder crashed overhead, and the
ground heaved beneath his feet ; and he
knew that there was plenty of company
round him, though no man was to be seen.
In less than a moment the grand palace
burst into a hundred thousand bits, and
vanished into the air. He found himself
on a wide, lonely mountain, and in the grey
light of dawn no trace of the palace was
to be seen.
He went down on his knees and put up
a prayer of thanksgiving for his escape, and
then ran on to the next village, where he
told the people all that he had seen, and
glad they were to hear of the disappear-
ance of the Wizard.
THE ENCHANTED ISLE
OUT under the Irish Sea, fifteen or sixteen
miles south-west of the Calf, there is an
enchanted isle. Long, long ago it was on
the surface of the water that was in the
days when Manannan ruled in Mann but
when Saint Patrick drove Manannan and his
men from the island in the form of three-
legged creatures, they came upon this isle.
Manannan dropped it to the bottom of the
sea, and they were seen no more.
Now it is the home of Manannan Mac y
Leirr, Son of the Sea, and he rules it as he
used to rule Mann. But once in seven years,
when Old May Day is on a Sunday, the
isle may be seen. It rises up from the sea
just before sunrise, like a beautiful vision,
and Manannan looks once more at Elian
Vannin. The hills of the enchanted isle
122 MANX FAIRY TALES
are green, white foam rings it round, and if
you are near enough you may see the tossing
arms and golden hair of the Mermaids by
the water's edge washing their glittering
jewels, and hear the singing of birds, and
smell the fragrant scent of flowers. But as
the first rays of the sun rest upon its highest
hills, it sinks into the deep, deep sea.
STORIES ABOUT BIRDS
I. THE RAVENS
Two Ravens met once, arid one asked the
other in Bird language :
' Is there nothing new at you ? 3
' The white Horse is dead/ said he.
' Is he fat ? Is he fat ? ' said the other.
' Delicious, delicious/ said he.
Then he repented that he had told him
that, and called out :
1 Bare bones, bare bones ! '
II. BLACKBIRD'S MORNING SONG
OLD Robin Quirk one fine morning was
sitting sunning himself before his cottage
door, when the Blackbird, living in the
Tramman Tree in his garden, flew down,
settled near Robin, and began to talk to him
in Manx :
124 MANX FAIRY TALES
' Irree, Robin, as gow smook/ ' Rise,
Robin, and take a smoke.'
' Cha nel thombaga aym/ ' I have no
tobacco/ said Robin.
' Kionn eh, kionn eh/ ' Buy it, buy
it/ cried Blackbird.
' Cha nel ping aym/ ' I have not a
penny/ poor Robin said.
' Gow er dayl, gow er dayl/ ' Credit it,
credit it/ was Blackbird's bad advice,
' Cha der ad dayl dou, boy/ ' They
won't give me credit, boy.'
' Quit eh, eisht, quit eh/ ' Quit it, then,
quit it/ whistled Blackbird, flying home
and closing the discussion.
' The imperence of sin is in them Black-
birds ! ' Robin said.
III. How THE WREN BECAME KING
OF THE BIRDS
A LONG, long time ago, before you and I were
born, the birds of the air gathered at
Tynwald from all airts of the wind. The
meeting was to settle once and for all the
STORIES ABOUT BIRDS 125
squabbling and fighting among them as to
which of them was the cleverest, and it was
agreed that the cleverest bird should be
king. The sky was black with them, big and
little, and soon all had gathered together.
Everywhere groups of birds sat-a-row,
cooishing, scolding, or sleeping. Some
were in fine, black Sunday coats like old
Parson Gull, some clad only in work-a-day
brown like Poor Brownie, the Hedge
Sparrow ; but most wore leggings of red or
yellow, while the Chough had a new pair of
bright red ones. Yellow Tommy, the dandy,
was preening himself, swinging on the top
of a gorse bush. Old Greyback, the Crow,
perched on a rock above him, silent but
observant, was eating flitters ; and over all,
the blue arch of the sky, in which hung
motionless a broad-winged eagle.
The Corncrake officially announced,
' Raip, raip' (ready, ready). Then each
one got up in his turn to tell of all the great
things he could do. The Falcon boasted
that he and his mate were worth the
kingdom of Mann with all its rights ;
126 MANX FAIRY TALES
Lhondoo, the Thrush, sang her best to them
it was a pleasure to listen to her, and for
a moment she thought that she would be
elected ; Flame of the Wood, the Goldfinch,
spread her bright plumage ; Fork of the
Wind, the Swallow, told of her swiftness
and travels to warm countries in the
south ; the Curlew, of her riches ' Let the
curlew be poor or fat, she carries a groat
upon her back/ said she, showing the mark
of 4 which she bears. When the Cuckoo
got up, the Meadow Pipit darted out from
a group and danced round, calling out his
name to draw attention to himself, the
little fool, and saying, ' Let every bird hatch
her own eggs/ so poor Cuckoo wasn't heard.
There was a loud-voiced dispute between
the Magpie and the Jackdaw as to which
was the best thief. At last little Jinny
Wren got up to have her say, after all the
grand ones had done. ' Ha, ha, ha/ laughed
the Snipe, and all the birds chuckled ; but
Jinny Wren got the better of them for all
that. Says she :
Small though I am and slender my leg,
Twelve chicks I can bring out of the egg.
STORIES ABOUT BIRDS 127
And the birds agreed that Jinny was as
clever again as the best of them. But the
eagle didn't like it that a little bit of a bird
like Jinny Wren should be over him. So he
considered for a minute, and says he,
middling vexed : ' Birds, it 's only right that
the best bird on the wing should be king ;
let 's try a heat to see which of us can go the
highest/ Hullad, the Owl, looked thought-
ful, and said : ' I never saw anything yet
worth flying for/ But the birds said:
1 'Deed, it wouldn't be a bad idea at all.'
No sooner said than done. Jinny Diver, the
Cormorant, gave the whistle to fly, and in-
stantly off they started. Speeding on great
strong wings, the eagle led the way, the
little ones following, Pompee-ny-Hoarn, Fat
bird of the barley, straggling far in the rear.
But the Seven Sleepers, the Bat, the Stone-
chat, Cooag the Cuckoo, and the others,
didn't stir the sleep had fallen on them.
The Eagle flew up and up and away, away
to the sun, till he couldn't lift a feather
an inch higher. Then he peered down into
the blue to the birds far, far below, and he
let a scream out of him :
128 MANX FAIRY TALES
' Ta mish Ree ny Ein, Ree ny Ein/
' I am King of the Birds, King of the
But little Jinny Wren was one too many
for him there again. She had taken tight
hold of him by a feather under his great,
broad wing and hidden herself. And as he
cried ' Ta mish Ree ny Ein/ she flew on top
of his head and called out, ' Cha nel, cha
nel, ta mish er-y-skyn/
' Not so, not so, I 'm above him, I 'm
Down dropped the Eagle, and down
dropped the Wren, breathless, but King of
And that's why the boys go round on
St. Stephen's Day to this day, singing :
The Wren, the Wren, the King of all Birds,
We 've caught St. Stephen's Day in the gorse,
Though he 's small his family is many ;
We pray you, good woman, give us a drop to drink.
THE MODDEY DOO OR THE BLACK
DOG OF PEEL CASTLE
IN the days when Charles II was king
in England and Charles, Earl of Derby,
king in Mann, Peel Castle was always
garrisoned by soldiers. The guard-room
was just inside the great entrance gate
of the castle and a passage used to lead
from it, through one of the old churches,
to the Captain of the Guard's room.
At the end of the day one of the sol-
diers locked the castle gates and carried
the keys through the dark passage
to the captain. They would take it in
About this time one and another began
to notice, sometimes in one room, some-
times in another, a big Black Dog with
MANX FAIRY TALES
rough curly hair. He did not belong to
any person there, and nobody knew any-
thing about him. But every night when
the candles were lighted in the guard-
room and the fire was burning bright, he
would come from the dark passage and
lay himself down by the hearth. He
made no sound, but lay there till the break
of day, and then he would get up and
disappear into the passage. The soldiers
were terrified of him at first, but after a
time they were used to the sight of him
and lost some of their fear, though they
still looked on him as something more
than mortal. While he was in the room
the men were quiet and sober, and no
bad words were spoken. When the hour
came to carry the keys to the captain,
two of them would always go together
no man would face the dark passage
One night, however, one foolish fellow
had drunk more than was good for him,
and he began to brag and boast that he
was not afraid of the dog. It was not his
THE BLACK DOG OF PEEL CASTLE 131
turn to take the keys, but to show how
brave he was he said that he would take
them alone. He dared the dog to follow
' Let him come/ he shouted, laugh-
ing ; ' I '11 see whether he be dog or
devil ! '
His friends were terrified and tried to
hold him back, but he snatched up the
keys and went out into the passage.
The Black Dog slowly got up from
before the lire and followed him.
There was a dead silence in the guard-
room no sound was heard but the dash-
ing of the waves on the steep rocks of
the Castle Islet.
After a few minutes, there came from
the dark passage the most awful and
unearthly screams and howls, but not a
soldier dared to move to see what was
going on. They looked at each other in
horror. Presently they heard steps, and
the rash fellow came back into the room.
His face was ghastly pale and twisted with
fear. He spoke not a word, then or after-
132 MANX FAIRY TALES
wards. In three days he was dead and
nobody ever knew what had happened to
him that fearful night.
The Black Dog has never been seen
LITTLE RED BIRD
Little red bird of the black turf ground,
Where did you sleep last night ?
I slept last night on the top of the briar,
And oh ! what a wretched sleep !
Little red bird of the black turf ground,
Where did you sleep last night ?
I slept last night on the top of the bush,
And oh ! what a wretched sleep !
Little red bird of the black turf ground,
Where did you sleep last night ?
I slept last night on the ridge of the roof,
And oh ! what a wretched sleep !
Little red bird of the black turf ground,
Where did you sleep last night ?
I slept last night between two leaves
As a babe 'twixt two blankets quite at ease,
And oh ! what a peaceful sleep !
An old Manx Lullaby.
LONG hundreds of years ago there was a
witch in the island who made herself the
finest and cleverest-looking young woman
in it. Her like for beauty was never before
seen in this mortal world. When she went
out walking or riding the very birds of
the air would forget to sing for looking
at her, and her sweet voice would tempt
them off the trees to listen to her. Even
the animals would stand still till she went
by, for her beauty cast a spell on them. And
as for the men, the poor creatures, they
flocked from all sides of the island to woo
her, and when they had once looked on
her face they never wanted to leave her.
They forgot everything else in the world
all sorrow and care, home and country,
till at last everything in the island came
TEHI TEGI 135
to a standstill because the men followed
wherever this young witch chose to lead
them. Their haggards were empty, for
they neither ploughed nor sowed, and their
houses tholthans, for they neither built
nor mended. They cut no turf and pulled
no ling for fires. Their fields were covered
with stones, so that the cattle died for want
of pasture, and their gardens were full
of weeds. There was a strange stillness
throughout the island no children's voices
were to be heard anywhere. The witch
only laughed to see what her beauty had
done, and she kept all the men near her
by making each think that himself might
be the chosen one. If one asked her to
marry him she would answer, ' An' maybe
I will,' and then she would say the same
to the next. So they spent their days in
pleasuring themselves. When she had
made slaves of the men of the island in
this way, she said one day :
' Saddle me my horse, for I Ve a mind
So they brought her milk-white horse
136 MANX FAIRY TALES
shod with shoes of gold, with bit of gold
and bridle set with jewels, with saddle of
mother-of-pearl and saddle-cloth of blue.
Tehi Tegi mounted, and the waves of her
golden hair flowed down over her dress
of shining white.
' I 'm going/ said she, ' to the country
for the day, and you can follow me on foot
if vou like/
She rode and took her way under shady
trees and through grassy lanes, where blue-
bells and primroses grew as thick as the
grass, and the hedges were yellow with gorse.
She went on by fields, covered with stones,
which were once fine corn land ; and on
she went at the head of them by lonely
little tholthans whose roofs had sunk in
on the hearth, and then by spots where
houses once had been, now marked by
jenny nettles and an old tramman tree.
Her way mounted upwards among hills
shining in the May sunlight, and through
gills where little streams ran down between
banks covered with fern and briar and
many a flower, to the blue sea.
TEHI TEGI 137
At last they found themselves at the
side of a bright swift river, and she put
a spell on it and made it seem shallow
and as smooth and clear as glass, so that
the little stones at the bottom were barely
covered. Then, when they were all be-
ginning to wade through it, she took off
the spell and the water rushed over their
heads and swallowed up the six hundred
poor lovers. With that she made a bat of
herself and rose up in the air and flew out
of sight. Her milk-white horse turned
into a perkin, plunged to the bottom of
the stream, and swam away out to sea
and was never more seen.
From that time the wise men of the
island made their women go on foot and
follow their husbands wherever they should
lead, so that no such accident should
happen again. If by chance a woman
went first, anyone who saw her cried out
1 Tehi Tegi ! Tehi Tegi ! '
JOHN-Y-CHIARN took the biggest journey in
his life without meaning to do it at all.
One night he was going towards Balla-
quirk, taking his time and thinking of his
younger days, when all of a sudden he
heard a great murmur of people coming
up behind him, and, before he had time to
look round him, he felt himself getting
jostled and a voice asked him middling
sharp, too :
' What business have you here in our
way at this hour of the night ? '
' I am sorry to give anyone trouble/
said John ; ' I '11 get over the hedge out
of the road.'
Then the leader came and touched him
with the little stick he was carrying, and
said to the others :
JOHN-Y-CHIARN'S JOURNEY 139
' We '11 take him with us ; he '11 be
useful enough among the rest/
At that there was a big titter and John
felt himself all altered like, and a thing
like a load came on to his back. Then
they all went on together, Themselves
talking and laughing away. As soon as
they came near the Ballaragh Chapel
though, all was as silent as the grave.
The houses were dark and the only thing
they saw stirring was Quilleash's dog,
and as soon as he smelt Themselves he
took to his heels with his tail between his
It was a fine easy night with just a
touch of soft fog on, and a little air com-
ing down from the mountain as we got
to Dreem-y-Cuschaage. There the leader
sounded his big ram's horn, and as they
went galloping down to the Dhoon, out
came some more of the Lil Fellas from
the gill and joined them, and more talking
and laughing went on. He blew another
blast at Ballellin, for there they could see
the fog rolling down from Creg-ny-Molt.
140 MANX FAIRY TALES
Again he blew at Ballagorry and they
slacked down a bit, and you would have
thought the whole glen would have
wakened up with the echoes. Down at
the bridge they could see the lights going
about like will-o'-the-wisps. Then the
leader shouted :
' Get into your lines there, my boys/
and the Maughold Lil Fellas put them-
selves in rows on the walls of the bridge,
just under the big cherry trees, holding
their coloured Ian thorns on the points
of their sticks to give light round that
dirty turn ; then when all had passed,
they joined in and followed behind. Away
they all went, down Slieu Lewaige, fit
to break their necks. They slackened off
a bit as they got to Folieu and then took
their time as far as Ballure's Bridge, where
there was a big lanthorn hanging up in a
tree over the old mill. As soon as they
saw this, two of Themselves blew horns and
then a host of riders came out of the mill,
blowing horns too. They turned up the
gill and all of a sudden the whole crowd,
JOHN-Y-CHTARN'S JOURNEY 141
with John among them, were right in the
middle of a big camp of the Lil People.
There were lights hanging all about in the
trees, and fires blazing under the cowree
pots, and musicians playing fine music.
Oh, the taking joy there was ! Some
were going round, giving horn-spoons for
the cowree and bin jean, and then handing
round the oatbread and cheese, and the
tramman wine. Then the little fiddlers
and fluters and reed-fellows and the drum-
mers got upon the top of a big rock,
and the Lil Fellas began to dance, till
John's head took the reel watching them.
It was a grand sight to see the nice little
girls in their red petticoats, and white
stockings and shoes with silver buckles on,
and little bells all tinkling in their hair ;
and the Lil Men in their white knee
breeches, loghtan stockings and spotted
carranes. In the middle of it all, up came
the Lil Captain and-
' John,' says he. ' What do you think
of this sight, boy ? :
' It's mortal grand,' says John. ' Far
142 MANX FAIRY TALES
before any of the carnivals I Ve seen before ;
an' how long will it last ? '
' Maybe a fortnight/ said he, laughing
heartily. ' And maybe more, so you would
* w ' *,'
better go back to your own people.'
' How '11 I get back at all, at all, an'
in the dark, too ? ' says John.
Tchut, man/ he said, tipping John
on the head with his little stick again.
John didn't remember any more till he
wakened at the break of day close to his
own house, and little the worse for his long
A BAD WISH
May the chimney-hook and the pot-hooks
Against thee rise in cruel war ;
The ladle, the dishes, and the pot-stick,
For the dread attack prepare.
May the pot-stick and the round tables,
Cresset, noggin, and hardware store,
All help to tear, and flay, and skin thee
When fell'd beneath them on the floor.
What if the spotted water-bull,
And the Glashtan would thee take, for all
And the Fynoderee of the glen, waddling,
To make of thee a bolster against the wall
The Fairy of the Glen and the Buggane,
Finn MacCool and all his company ;
May they gather together about thy bed,
And in a straw-rope creel run off with thee.
From an old Manx Ballad.
THE WITCH OF SLIEU WHALLIAN
IT was Midsummer Day, and the Peel
Herring Fleet, with sails half set, was
ready for sea. The men had their barley
sown, and their potatoes down, and now
their boats were rigged and nets stowed on
board and they were ready for the harvest
of the sea. It was a fine day, the sky was
clear and the wind was in the right airt,
being from the north. But, as they say,
' If custom will not get custom, custom
will weep/ A basinful of water was brought
from the Holy Well and given to the Wise
Woman that sold fair winds, as she stood
on the harbour-side with the women and
children to watch the boats off. They
told her to look and tell of the luck of the
Herring Fleet. She bent over the water
and, as she looked, her face grew pale with
THE WITCH OF SLIEU WHALLIAN 145
fear, and she gasped : ' Hurroose, hurroose !
An* do ye know what I 'm seeing ? '
' Let us hear/ said they.
I 'm seeing the wild waves lashed to foam away by
great Bradda Head,
I 'm seeing the surge round the Chicken's Rock an'
the breaker's lip is red ;
I 'm seeing where corpses toss in the Sound, with nets
an' gear an' spars,
An' never a one of the Fishing Fleet is riding under
There was a dead hush, and the men
gathered close together, muttering, till
Gorry, the Admiral of the Fishing Fleet,
stepped forward, caught the basin out of
her hands and flung it out to sea, growling :
1 Sure as I 'm alive, sure as I 'm alive,
woman, I 've more than half a mind to
heave you in after it. If I had my way,
the like of you an' your crew would be
run into the sea. Boys, are we goin' to
lose a shot for that bleb? Come on, let's
go an' chonce it with the help of God.'
' Aye, no herring, no wedding. Let 's
go an' chonce it/ said young Cashen.
So hoisting sails they left the port and
146 MANX FAIRY TALES
when the land was fairly opened out, so that
they could see the Calf, they headed for the
south and stood out for the Shoulder.
Soon a fine breeze put them in the fishing-
ground, and every man was looking out
for signs of herring perkins, gannets, fish
playing on the surface, oily water, and such
like. When the sun was set and the
evening was too dark to see the Admiral's
Flag, the skipper of each lugger held his
arm out at full length, and when he could
no longer see the black in his thumb-nail he
ordered the men to shoot their nets. And
as they lay to their trains it all fell out as
the witch had said. Soon the sea put on
another face, the wind from westward blew
a sudden gale and swelled up the waves
with foam. The boats were driven hither
and thither, and the anchors dragged quickly
behind them. Then the men hoisted sail
before the wind and struggled to get back
to land, and the lightning was all the light
they had. It was so black dark that they
could see no hill, and above the uproar
of the sea they could hear the surges
THE WITCH OF SLIEU WHALLIAN 147
pounding on the rocky coast. The waves
were rising like mountains, breaking over
the boats and harrying them from stem to
stern. They were dashed to pieces on the
rocks of vhe Calf, and only two men escaped
with their lives.
But there was one boat that had got
safe back to port before the storm, and that
was the boat of the Seven Boys. She
was a Dalby boat and belonged to seven
young men who were all unmarried. They
were always good to the Dooinney Marrey,
the Merman, and when they were hauling
their nets they would throw him a dishful
of herring, and in return they had always
good luck with their fishing. This night,
after the Fleet had shot their nets some-
time, the night being still fine and calm,
the Seven Boys heard the voice of the
Merman hailing them and saying :
' It is calm and fine now ; there will be
storm enough soon ! ;
When the Skipper heard this he said :
' Every herring must hang by its own
gills/ and he and his crew at once put their
148 MANX FAIRY TALES
nets on board and gained the harbour.
And it was given for law ever after that
no crew w r as to be made up of single men
only ; there was to be at least one married
man on board and no man was bound by his
hiring to fish in this same south sea, which
was called ' The Sea of Blood ' from that
As for the witch, they said she had
raised the storm by her spells and they
took her to the top of the great mountain
Slieu Whallian, put her into a spiked
barrel and rolled her from the top to the
bottom, where the barrel sank into the
bog. For many and many a long year
there was a bare track down the steep
mountain-side, where grass would never
grow, nor ling, nor gorse. They called it
' The Witch's Way/ and they say that her
screams are heard in the air every year
on the day she was put to death.
THE OLD CHRISTMAS
IN the days of our grandmothers, Old
Christmas Day, the fifth of January, was
believed to be the true Christmas. On
Black Thomas's Eve, which was the first
day of the Christmas holidays, the spinning
wheels all had to be put away, the making
of nets ceased, and no work of any kind
must be done until after Twelfth. Day.
But there was once an old woman
named Peggy Shimmin, at Ballacooil, and
she was bent on finishing some spinning
that she had begun, so on Old Christmas
Eve she said to herself :
' The New Christmas is pas' an' surely
it's no wrong to do a bit o' spinning to-night/
though she doubted in her heart if she were
not sinning. So when Himself and the
rest were in bed, she called her 3'oung
servant-girl, lil Margad, and said :
150 MANX FAIRY TALES
' Margad, me an' you will finish the
spinning to-night/ Margad was frightened,
terrible, but she got out her wheel and sat
beside her mistress. The two began to
spin, and they were spinning and spinning
till near midnight, and behold ye, just
before midnight old Peggy saw the flax
she was drawing from the distaff grow 7
blacker and blacker till it was as black
as tar. But Margad' s flax did not change
colour because she had only done what
her mistress bade her. Peggy dropped
the flax quick, put away her wheel, and
crept in fear to bed. She knew now
which was the true Christmas Day and
never more did she spin on Old Christmas
Margad was left alone in the kitchen
when her mistress had gone to bed, and at
first she was trembling with fright ; but
she was a middling brave girl, and she
took a notion, as there was no person to
stop her, to see if all the things were true
that she had heard about Old Christmas
THE OLD CHRISTMAS 151
' They 're saying/ she thought, ' that
the bees are coming out, an' the three-
year-old bullocks going down on their
knees, an' the myrrh coming up in bloom.'
Then she says to herself :
' I 'm thinking I '11 go out an' watch
the myrrh.' So she put a cloak round
her and crept out at the door into the cold
frosty moonlit night, and midnight had just
struck as she put her foot outside. She
stooped to look on the spot where the myrrh
root was buried, and as she was looking,
the earth began to stir and to crack, and
soon two little green shoots pushed up to
the air. She bent closer to see what
would happen, and to her great wonder
the leaves and stalks grew big and strong
before her eyes, and then the buds began to
show, and in a few minutes the lovely white
flowers were in bloom and the garden was
sweet with their fragrance. Margad could
do nothing but stare at them at first, but
at last she dared to gather one small piece of
the blossom, and she kept it for luck all
her life. Then she went to the cowhouse
152 MANX FAIRY TALES
and peeped through the door. She heard a
groaning sound and there were the young
bullocks on their knees, moaning, and
the sweat was dropping from them.
Margad knelt down, too, and put up a bit of
a prayer to the Holy Child that was born
in a stall. But the wonders were not over
yet, for as she went silently back to the
house she noticed that the bees were singing
and flying round the hive they were
inside again, when she shut the door of the
house behind her.
Always after that, when the neighbours
would ask her if she believed in the wonders
of the Old Christmas Eve, she would say :
' I know it 's true, for I Ve seen it
THE BUGGANE OF ST. TRINIAN'S
A LONG time ago there came some monks
to the broad, rough meadow which is
between dark Greeba Mountain and the
high road, and they chose a nice place and
set up a church to St. Trinian on it. But
they reckoned without the power of the
Buggane, who had his haunt in the moun-
tain. The Buggane was mighty angry, and
he said to himself :
' I '11 have no peace night or day with
their jingling bells if I let them finish
the building.' And, as he had nothing
else to do, he took it into his head to
amuse himself by tossing off the roof.
So when the roof of the church was
first put on, there was heard that very
night a dreadful sound in it, and when the
154 MANX FAIRY TALES
people of Greeba got up early next morning
they found their church roofless, and
planks and broken beams all around the
place. After a time, and with great effort,
the roof was put on again. But when it
was on, a great storm arose in the night
and it was blown down from the walls,
exactly as had happened before. This
fall put fear in the people, for they were
sure now that it was the evil, destructive
Buggane himself that was doing the mis-
chief. But, though they were terrified,
they resolved to make one more attempt ;
and the third roof was nearly finished.
Now there was a brave little tailor living
about a mile from Greeba, and because
he had not too much worldly gear, he made
a wager that when the new roof was on,
he would not only spend the first night
in the church, but also make a pair of
breeches there. The wager was taken up
eagerly, as they hoped that if the roof was
one night up, it would be left on.
So Timothy that was the name of the
little tailor went to the church on the
THE BUGGANE OF ST. TRINIAN'S 155
very first evening after the new roof had
been put on. He started just when the
shadow was beginning to get grey by the
hedges. He took with him cloth, needle
and thread, thimble and scissors. He
entered the church boldly, lit a couple of
big candles, and looked all over the building
to see that everything was right. Then
he locked the door so that there was no
way to get in. He cut out the cloth,
and, seating himself cross-legged in the
chancel, he put on his thimble and set to
work at the breeches. He paid no heed
to the darkness of the lonely church at
dead of night, but with long thread and
needle he bent low over his work, his
fingers, moving backwards and forwards
rapidly, casting strange, beckoning shadows
on the walls. The breeches had got to be
finished, or he would lose his wager, so
he stitched away as fast as he could,
thinking about the good money the people
would have to give him.
The wind was beginning to rise, and
trees scutched their arms against the
156 MANX FAIRY TALES
windows. The tailor looked cautiously up
and down and round about. Nothing
strange came in sight and he took courage.
Then he threaded his needle and began his
work again. He gave another sharp glance
around, but saw nothing at all except
the glimmer of the place near the candles,
and empty, deep darkness away beyond
them. So his courage rose high, and he
said to himself :
' It 's all foolishness that 's at the
people about the Buggane, for, after all,
the like isn't in/
But at that very minute the ground
heaved under him and rumbling sounds
came up from below. The sounds grew
louder underneath, and Timothy glanced
quickly up. All of a sudden a great big
head broke a hole through the pavement
just before him, and came slowly rising
up through the hole. It was covered with
a mane of coarse, black hair ; it had eyes
like torches, and glittering sharp tusks.
And when the head had risen above the
pavement, the fiery eyes glared fiercely
THE BUGGANE OF ST. TRINIAN'S 157
at Tim ; the big, ugly, red mouth opened
wide, and a dreadful voice said :
Thou rascal, what business hast thou
here ? '
Tim paid no heed, but worked harder
still, for he knew he had no time to lose.
' Dost thou see this big head of mine ? '
yelled the Buggane.
' I see, I see ! ' replied Tim, mockingly.
Up came a big broad pair of shoulders,
then a thick arm shot out and a great
fist shook in the Tailor's face.
' Dost thou see my long arms ? ' roared
' I see, I see ! answered Tim, boldly,
and he stopped his tailoring to snuff one
of the guttering candles, and he threw the
burning snuff in the scowling face before
him. Then he went on with his tailoring.
The Buggane kept rising and rising
up through the hole until the horrible
form, black as ebony, and covered with
wrinkles like the leather of a blacksmith's
bellows, had risen quite out of the ground.
' Dost thou see this big body of mine ? '
158 MANX FAIRY TALES
roared the Buggane, angry that Tim showed
no fear of him.
' I see, I see ! ' replied the Tailor, at
the same time stitching with all his might
at the breeches.
1 Dost thou see my sharp claws ? '
roared the Buggane in a more angry
voice than before.
' I see, I see ! :> answered again the little
Tailor, without raising his eyes, and con-
tinuing to pull out with all his might.
' Dost thou see my cloven foot ? '
thundered the Buggane, drawing up one
big foot and planking it down on the
pavement with a thud that made the
' I see, I see ! ' replied the little Tailor,
as before, stitching hard at the breeches
and taking long stitches.
Lifting up his other foot, the Buggane, in
a furious rage, yelled :
' Dost thou see my rough arms, my
bony ringers, my hard fists, my ? '
Before he could utter another syllable,
or pull the other foot out of the ground,
THE BUGGANE OF ST. TRINIAN'S 159
the little Tailor quickly jumped up, and
made two stitches together. The breeches
were at last finished, then with one spring
he made a leap through the nearest window.
But scarcely was he outside the walls
when down fell the new roof with a terrible
crash, that made Tim jump a great deal
more nimblv 7 than he ever did before.
Hearing the Buggane's fiendish guifaws
of laughter behind him, he took to his
heels and sped hot-foot along the Douglas
road, the breeches under his arms and the
furious Buggane in full chase. The Tailor
made for Marown Church, only a little
distance away, and knew he would be safe
if he could only reach the churchyard.
He ran faster still, he reached the wall,
he leaped over it like a hunted hare, and
fell weary and spent upon the grass, under
the shadow of the church, where the
Buggane had not power to follow.
So furious was the monster at this that
he seized his own head with his two hands,
tore it off his body and sent it flying over
the wall after the Tailor. It burst at his
160 MANX FAIRY TALES
feet with a terrific explosion, and with
that the Buggane vanished, and was never
seen or heard of afterwards. Wonderful
to relate, the Tailor was not hurt, and he
won the wager, for no person grumbled
at the few long stitches put into the
And as for St. Trinian's Church, there
is no name on it from that day till this
but Keeill Vrisht Broken Church for
its roof was never replaced. There it
stands in the green meadow under the
shadow of rocky Greeba Mountain, and
there its grey roofless ruki^ are to be
KING MAGNUS BAREFOOT
MAGNUS, great nephew of Olaf the Saint,
was King of Norway in the days when the
Norwegian Kings were Lords over Mann,
and he was called by the name of Barefoot
because he wore kilts. He was the bravest
and most beautiful young king of his time
-tall and strong and brilliant as a meteor.
He wore a helmet on his head and carried
a red shield with a golden lion upon it ;
he had in his belt a sword of exceeding
sharpness with an ivory hilt inlaid with
gold, and a keen javelin in his hand. Over
his coat of mail was a tunic of ruby-red
embroidered with a golden lion. He was
a fine and valiant figure. It was he who
brought King Olaf's Cup of Peace to our
island, and this is the way it happened.
Magnus was sitting at supper one day
162 MANX FAIRY TALES
with his chief men, and their talk ran on
the beautiful shrine of Olaf the Saint, which
was the wonder of its age. They spake to
one another of how it was said that Olaf s
body would never be destroyed by death,
but would remain as in life and would heal
those who prayed at the shrine of any
sickness. Magnus laughed the story to
scorn and said boldly :
1 Seeing is believing ; let the shrine be
opened that we may see for ourselves if
the story be true/
Then the bishop and clergy were
horrified, and begged the king : ' Oh king,
let not the thing be done, it will surely
bring evil on thee/
But Magnus commanded :
' Let the shrine be opened at once. I
fear no man alive or dead/
So his will was done and when the
jewelled shrine was opened, all saw the
body of holy Olaf lying incorrupt and fair
as if alive. Magnus touched it with his
hands, but was suddenly seized with a
great fear. He went away in haste, but
KING MAGNUS BAREFOOT 163
took with him the lovely crystal cup that
lay beside the Saint.
The next night in his sleep he had a
vision of King Olaf, majestic and stern,
who said to him :
' Choose, I tell you, one of two things,
either to lose your kingdom and life within
thirty days, or to leave Norway and never
see it again/
Magnus awoke and called his chiefs
and great men to tell them of his vision.
' Oh king/ they cried in fear. ' Leave
Norway with all speed, and keep thy life
So Magnus, who was the last of our
great Sea Kings, got together a fleet of
1 60 long ships, each with twenty or thirty
rowers' benches, and with bows carved in
the shape of dragons. He loved the sea,
and, like a true Viking, he used to say :
f I will never sleep under a sooty rafter
nor drink in the chimney corner/
Away he sailed to the Orkneys; he
conquered them and all the Western Islands,
and came to Mann. He put in at Saint
164 MANX FAIRY TALES
Patrick's Isle and went to see the site of
the Battle of Santwat near Peel, which
had been fought three days before between
the Manx of north and south. The beauty
of our island pleased his eyes and he chose
it for his dwelling-place. He made the men
of Galloway cut timber and bring it over to
make three forts for him. In one of them,
near Douglas, he placed the Cup of Peace,
which he knew would be well guarded by
the Lhiannan Shee, the Peace Fairy who
never left it.
Then he sailed to Anglesey and made
himself lord over it, but he soon came back
to the Isle of Mann, for it pleased him best.
On his return he sent his dirty shoes over
to Morrough, King of Ireland, with this
' Magnus Barefoot, King of Norway and
the Isles, bids thee carry his dirty shoes
on thy shoulders through thy house on
Christmas Day in thy royal state, and own
that thou hast thy kingdom and power from
the Lord of Norway and the Isles. And
this thou must do in sight of his envoys/
KING MAGNUS BAREFOOT 165
When the Irish heard this they were furi-
ously angry and indignant, but wise King
Morrough said :
' I will not only carry the shoes, but
eat them, rather than that Magnus should
ruin a single province in Ireland/
Then he carried the shoes on Christmas
Day as Magnus bade, treated the messengers
with honour and sent them back to Mann
with many fine gifts for their king, with
whom he made a treaty of peace. But
the envoys told their master of the richness
of the Irish lands and the pleasantness of
the air, and Magnus kept it in his mind.
After this the King of Scotland sent
a message to him, saying :
' Cease to make war against me and I
will yield thee those of the Western Isles
that thou canst from the mainland go
round in a vessel with a paddle-rudder.'
Magnus made peace on those terms and
so the Norse Kings gained the Southern
Isles, among which they counted the penin-
sula of Cantyre because Magnus, sitting
at the helm, caused his great warship to
166 MANX FAIRY TALES
be dragged across the neck of land which
joins it to the mainland. His vikings
shouted with triumph as they pulled the
ship along, with their young king in his red
and gold laughing at the stern.
But all this time, in his heart, Magnus
could think of nothing but the conquest of
Ireland. He sailed to the coast of Down,
where he began to invade and pillage. It
was on Saint Bartholomew's Day, 1103, that
his last battle was fought. The Irish had
promised to bring him cattle for his troops
the day before, but as they had not come
he landed his men and marched them to the
top of a little hill on the plain of Coba.
From this place he could see all the country
round, and presently there appeared a
great cloud of dust in the distance. Some
of his men said that it was an army ap-
proaching, others that it was the herd of
cattle. The last were right, and when
the cattle had been handed over, Magnus
and his men returned towards his ships.
It was now the noon of a calm and sunny
day. When^. they reached the marshes,
KING MAGNUS BAREFOOT 167
suddenly a band of Irish rushed out from
their ambush in a wood close by, and
attacked them fiercely.
Magnus ordered his chief, Eyvinder, to
sound the trumpet and summon his men
around the royal standard. He ordered
them to close ranks with overlapping
shields, until they got to the dry ground
where they would be safe. They made
their way as far as an old fort, but the
Irish pressed them and slew many of them.
Then the king called to a chief named
' Do you, with your cohort, cross the
rampart and occupy the hill opposite with
your archers till we join you/
Thorgrim and his men did as they were
told and crossed over, but when they were
across they put their shields on their backs
and fled to the ships. When Magnus saw
them he shouted :
' Is it thus you run, you coward ? I
was a fool to send you instead of Sigurd,
who would not thus desert me/
Magnus fought like a lion, but soon he
168 MANX FAIRY TALES
was pierced through the thigh by a spear.
He pulled it out and snapped it beneath
his feet, crying :
* Thus we, young warriors, break these
twigs. Fight on bravely, my men, and fear
no danger for me/
His men prayed him to try to spare
himself, but he said :
' Better for a people to have a brave
king than an old king ! '
And so saying, foremost in the battle,
he met his death.
MANANNAN MAC Y LEIRR
Manannan Beg was son of Leirr,
He was the first that e'er had Mann;
But as it seemeth unto me,
He himself was but a heathen.
Twas not with his sword he kept her,
Nor with his arrows, nor his bow ;
But when he would see ships sailing,
He hid her right round with a fog.
He 'd set a man upon a brow,
You 'd think there were a hundred there;
And thus did wild Manannan guard
That island with all its booty.
The rent each paid out of the land
Was a bundle of green rushes ;
And that was on them for a tax
Throughout the country each John's Eve.
170 MANX FAIRY TALES
Some went up with the rushes to
The great mountain up at Barrule ;
Others would leave the grass below,
With Manannan above Keamool.
In this way, then, they lived, I think
Myself their tribute very small,
Without care or anxiety,
Or labour to cause weariness.
MANANNAN MAC Y LEIRR
MANANNAN MAC Y LEIRR, the Son of the
Sea, was the first Ruler of Mann. He was
a great Wizard, and he was so powerful
that afterwards he was looked on as a god.
He had a great stone fort on Peel Island, and
he could make one man, standing on its
battlements, seem to be a hundred. When
he saw his enemies' ships sailing, he would
cover the island round with a silver mist
so that it could not be seen ; and if, in spite
of the mist, his enemies came near, he
would throw chips into the water and change
them into ships. He was out walking one
day on Barrule, when he saw the warships of
the Northmen were in the bay of Peel. And
with that he made himself into the shape of
three legs and rolled like a wheel down from
the mountain top as fast as the wind. It
172 MANX FAIRY TALES
was about low tide in the harbour, and there
ran a stream of sparkling water out to sea.
Now the banks of the stream were marshy,
and by the river-side grew a quantity of
sedge with broad, green leaves. So Man-
annan made little boats of the sedge, a
good number of them, and sailed his boats
in the stream. And when the little fleet
floated out of the harbour, he caused them
to look like great ships of war, well manned
with fighting men. Then terror seized
on the Northmen when they saw the Manx
fleet, and they cut their cables, hoisted
sails, and cleared away as fast as they
could, and Manannan and his island were
left in peace. Thus did he keep Mann, and
not with his sword, or his bow and arrows.
In his fort he had a great banqueting-
hall, where handsome boys made sweet
music, and others played games and did
great feats of strength. He had a horse
called Enbarr of the Flowing Mane, who
could travel like the wind over sea as well
as land, swift hounds that could catch any
wild beast, and a sword called The Answerer,
MANANNAN MAC Y LEIRR 173
whose wound was always fatal, besides
his Magic Branch and his wonderful boat,
He governed Mann well for long, long
years. Manx people had the best of good
treatment from him, and all the rent he
wanted was that each one was to bring a
bundle of green rushes to him on the
Mountain of South Barrule on Midsummer
Eve. The island was a happy place, full
of sunshine and all pleasant things, and no
person there was old or tired or sad.
Manx men have never forgotten Man-
annan, and this thousand years our fisher-
men have prayed to him the following
prayer, as they have put out to sea. Even
up to the days of our fathers it has been
Manannan Beg Mac y Leirr
Little Manannan Son of the Sea,
Who blessed our island,
Bless us and our boat, going out well.
Coming in better, with living and dead in our boat.
THE CORMORANT AND THE BAT
THERE was a time in the olden days when
the cormorant and the bat took counsel
together to do something for the poor, as
they had compassion on them, and they
went into the glens gathering wool to make
clothing for them. When they had a quan-
tity gathered they took a boat and put out
to sea. It happened as they were sailing
that a storm came on, and the waves were
breaking over the vessel, insomuch that the
poor bat had to leap from place to place to
escape the water, and in the darkness he was
cast out of the boat clinging to an oar. At
daybreak he was near the shore and flew
unto dry land. A seagull, standing near by,
' Och, lil bat vogh, what 's there doin
on thee that thou are all of a thriddle
THE CORMORANT AND THE BAT 175
of thrimblin like this ? ; When he heard
the bat's story, he said :
' As sure as can be, if he will happen
.on thee, he will take thy life.' They had
given each other a promise that one would
not leave the other until they had com-
pleted their task.
The bat was so frightened that he hid
himself in an old ruin until the darkness
came on ; and from that time until now
he will only venture out under covering of
The cormorant held on to the boat until
she filled with water and sank to the bottom
of the sea. At last he flew to a rock, and
there sat for hours together, day after day,
looking out for the bat. At other times he
would go for a season into the glens ; and
in this way they continue from that storm
to the present time the one hides himself,
and the other seeks him.
CAILLAGH-NY-FAASHAGH, OR THE
IN the old days when there were wizards
and witches in the Isle of Mann, the greatest
Wizard of all was Caillagh-ny-Faashagh.
He did not live above ground, but in a
quarry, in a hole under the rock on the
lonely mountain side, and that is why the
people called him the Prophet Wizard of the
Wilderness. At dark he would roam over
the mountains, and people walking there,
when night was drawing on, would hear
him crying ' Hoa, hoa, hoa ! ' like the
bellow of a goat, in a voice so terrible
and strong that the earth, and all who
heard it, trembled with fear. He could
change himself into any shape he liked ;
sometimes he would be a goat with big,
fiery eyes ; at other times a tall, tall man.
Once, when he was a goat, he followed a
man that was walking along the mountain
road, and that time he had eyes in him
as big as two dishes. The man was carry-
ing a lantern, and as he shifted it from one
hand to the other the goat followed it from
side to side. The man was terrified and
began to run. As soon as he left the moun-
tain road the beast roared after him :
' Hoa, hoa, hoa ! '
Another time, in the shape of a tall, tall
man, as tall as two men, he followed a
woman who struck across the mountain at
Garey mooar, and he had great, big, burning
eyes, as big as two plates, in his head. The
woman ran with all her might, for life or
death, and he ran roaring after her : ' Hoa,
hoa, hoa ! ' But when she turned down
from the mountain he came no further.
He was a great soothsayer, but he would
not foretell what was to happen unless
some person asked him. It seems that he
must have lived for hundreds of years, for
he foretold a battle that was fought in
1098. This was the Battle of Santwat,
MANX FAIRY TALES
' Sand Ford/ between the north and south
Manx. He said :
The river Neb shall run red from Glen Crew to the
And gulls shall sip their full of the blood of
It all came true. The north men sailed
into Peel and ran their flat-bottomed boats
up to Glenfaba Ford, where the south men
met them to keep them from landing. They
fought up the stream to Glen Crew where
there was a great slaughter, and the bodies
of the slain dammed the stream and turned
the little glen into a pool. The waters of
the Neb were reddened by Manx blood
when they ran into Peel Bay. The south
side women had followed the men and were
watching the battle from a little distance, but
when they saw that the north people were
winning they rushed down, and into the
heart of the fight, with bratfuls of stones
and with hacks, and won the day for the
south. And a law was made that hence-
forth the widows in the south of the island
should get half of their husband's estate ;
but the north side women, who stayed at
home, were to get only one- third.
The Prophet Wizard foretold, too, the
finding of Foxdale lead mines. A man
came to him and asked :
' How will I get rich, O Caillagh-ny-
Faashagh ? '
And the Wizard answered :
There's a butt in Ballafesson worth the whole of
But the riches of the Isle of Mann lie hid behind
He also gave this prophecy to old Juan
the weaver, who asked him for one :
At the foot of Barrule there will be a market
Mullin-y-Cleigh with blood for twenty-four hours
will turn roun'.
Now the village of Foxdale stands at the
foot of Barrule, and it is said that in the old
times a great battle between the Manx and
the Irish was fought by the stream above
Mullin-y-Cleigh, the Mill-by-the-Hedge.
To a Peel man he foretold :
' There will be a battle between the
Irish and the Manx at Creg Malin.' And
i8o MANX FAIRY TALES
the old fishermen say that that battle
took place two hundred years ago. Itjwas
a Sunday when the Irishmen came in the
bay, and they found no place to beach
their boats, so they turned the Manx boats
adrift, and thought they had the place for
themselves. But they soon found their
masters. The Manx men came after their
boats, and there was the battle red blood
running like water! And the battle was
not over that day, but they fought round
into Douglas, and finished at last in Derby
Haven, so the old fishermen say.
Then there was an old maid that had a
cressad (a melting pot) , and she went from
house to house making lead spoons. She
was a bit queer ; she would not smoke a
mould on a sunny day, nor a misty day, nor
a wet day, nor a windy day ; she must have
a day to fit herself. She met the Caillagh
when he was in the shape of a goat, and she
asked him to foretell when would be the
end of the world. He said that before
the last :
' The Mountains of Mann will be cut
over with roads, and iron horses will gallop
over them, and there will be an inn on the
top of Snaefell/
That has all come true ; trains rush
over the island and, for sure, there is the
inn on the top of our highest mountain.
He said, too :
' Mann and Scotland will come so close
that two women, one standing in Mann
and another in Scotland, will be able to
wring a blanket between them/ But that
has not come true yet, though the sandy
Point of Ayre is stretching further and
further towards the Mull of Galloway.
And another of his prophecies has not
come to pass yet :
' The Chief Rulers of Mann will be
compelled to flee.'
But it will all be before the end.
THE CITY UNDER SEA
Now where Langness runs its long nose
into the sea, and on a place now always
covered by the waves, there was once a
fine city with many towers and gilded
domes. Great ships went sailing from its
port to all parts of the world, and round
it were well-grassed lands with cattle and
sheep. Even now sailors sometimes see
it through the clear, deep waters, and hear
dimly the bleating of sheep, the barking
of dogs, and the muffled chiming of bells-
f Nane, jees, three, kiare, queig.' But no
man can walk its streets.
For once upon a time, in the days when
there were giants in the Isle of Mann,
Finn Mac Cool had his home near this city.
He lived at the Sound to keep his eye on
Erinn, and to watch the sea. But he was
THE CITY UNDER SEA 183
very seldom in Mann, and wherever he
was he was always doing some mischief,
so that his enemies were many. One day
he was in such a hurry to reach his home
that he jumped from Erinn and landed
in the island on the rocks above the Sound.
He came down with such force that he
left his footmarks in the hard stone, and
the place has been called ever since, Slieu
ynnyd ny Cassyn, or the Mountain of the
place of the Feet. His first act when he
reached home was to get in a red rage with
the people of the city close by ; his next
act was to turn them all into blocks of
granite. In his passion he struck the
ground so hard with his club that he made
a great dent in it the waves rushed into
the deep hollow and the roaring sea drowned
the din of the city. Its towers and domes
were covered by the green water ; its
streets and market-place, its harbour and
its crowded quays, disappeared from sight.
And there it lies to this day.
But there is a strange story told of a
man that went down to it more than two
184 MANX FAIRY TALES
hundred years ago. A ship was searching
for sunken treasure in those parts and this
man was let down to the bottom of the
sea in a kind of ancient diving bell. He was
to pull the rope when he wished to be let
down further. He pulled and pulled till
the men on the ship knew that he was as
deep down in the sea as the moon is high
up in the sky ; then there was no more
rope and they had to draw him up again.
When he was on deck he told them that
if he could have gone further he would
have made the most wonderful discoveries.
They begged him to tell them what he had
seen, and when he had drunk a cup of wine
he told his story.
First he had passed through the waters
in which the fishes live ; then he came
into the clear and peaceful region where
storms never come, and saw the bottom of
the World-under-Sea shining with coral
and bright pebbles. When the diving-
bell rested on the ground he looked through
its little windows and saw great streets
decorated with pillars of crystal glittering
THE CITY UNDER SEA 185
like diamonds, and beautiful buildings
made of mother-of-pearl, with shells of every
colour set in it. He longed to go into one
of these fine houses, but he could not leave
his diving bell, or he would have been
drowned. He managed to move it close
to the entrance of a great hall, with a
floor of pearls and rubies and all sorts of
precious stones, and with a table and chair
of amber. The walls were of jasper, and
strings of lovely jewels were hanging on
them. The man wished to carry some
away with him, but he could not reach
them the rope was at an end. As he
rose up again towards the air he met many
handsome Mermen and beautiful Mermaids,
but they were afraid of him, and swam
away as fast as they could.
That was the end of the man's story.
After that he grew so sad with longing to
go back to the World-under-Sea and stay
there for ever, that he cared for nothing on
earth, and soon died of grief.
AN ANCIENT CHARM AGAINST
Peace of God and peace of man,
Peace of God on Columb-Killey,
On each window and each door,
On every hole admitting moonlight,
On the four corners of the house,
On the place of my rest,
And peace of God on myself.
SPOTTISWOODE AND CO. LTD., COLCHESTER
LONDON AND ETON