Yn Lior Aeglagh Vannin
(The Journal of the Young Manx)

[This was the only issue]

AEGLAGH VANNIN. 1931-32.

Patrons: G. F. Clucas, Esq., C.B.E., S.H.K. and Mrs Clucas.
President: Miss Mona Douglas.
Vice-President: Mr A. J. Davidson, A.R.I.B.A.
Secretary: Miss E. Maude Quayle.
Treasurer: Mr J. H. Nicholson.
Auditor: Mr S. C. Collister.
Editor of Journal: Mr J. A. Cain, B.A.

Committee:

Language ................................Miss Douglas.
Children's ............................... Miss A. I. Caine
Natural History ........................Mr R. Howarth.
History.....................................(Open).
Music and Fork-Dancing ........ Mr L. Stowell.
Folk-lore .. ............................. (Open).
Dramatic .................................Mrs H. Carr.
Preservation of Countryside .... Mr A. J. Davidson.
Cookery ................................ Mrs H. Carr.

OBJECTS.

1-To promote the study of the 'Manx language, and to foster in the youth of the Island a love and knowledge of their Country, and a realisation of their kinship with other Celtic Nations.

2-To encourage the creation of a. modern Manx Music, Art, Literature, and Drama.

EDITORIAL.

This little volume is offered by AEGLAGH VANNIN to the Manx public as a testimony that the spirit of generous patriotism which is our heritage from T. E. Brown, A. W. Moore, and a host of other great Manxmen, is not yet dead, and in the hope that it may inspire others to love their Island home as do we of AEGLAGH VANNIN.

The contributions to this volume are varied in type and in subject matter. They illustrate the many avenues of enquiry which are open to thoughtful minds in the Isle of Man. We have been mindful of our ancient saying,-"Ta Ynsagh Coamrey stoamey yn Dooinney Berchagh as t'eh Berchys yn dooinney boght"-"Learning is the stately clothing of the rich man and the riches of the poor man" ; and if to our readers these contributions shall seem adequately expressive of the spirit of Manx youth, we shall be satisfied.

J. A. C.

Yn Lioar Aeglagh Vannnin

CONTENTS.

Page.

Editorial ......................................................................... 1
Secretary's Report, 1931-32 .......................................... 3
Manx Nationalism and Aeglagh Vannin (Mona Douglas) ..5
Christianity and the Celts, (J. Arthur Cain)........................6
Bird Life in the Isle of Man (Ralph Howarth).....................7
A Group of Four Poems (E. Maude Quayle) ................... 9
Old Manx Dwellings (J. R. Bruce, M.Sc.) ...................... 10
Manx Service at Peel (A. I. Caine) ................................ 12
The Beauty of the Countryside (A. J. Davidson) ..............13
Fairy Beliefs in the Isle of Man (Deemster Farrant) ......... 14
Reports of Other meetings ...... ...................................... 16
Illustrations-Manx Scenes (W. T, Quayle).

SECRETARY'S REPORT,

General Meeting of Aeglagh Vannin, April 30th, 1932.

Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen, In the words of the hymn, I feel like saying, "Where shall my wondering soul begin ?" so much has happened since that day in August, 1931, VVhen Aeglagh Vannin was first launched in faith upon an unexpecting world.

No longer quite unknown, for our members, at home and abroad, number ninety-three, and twelve meetings have been held during the year. I shall attempt to review briefly the activities of the Society during that period, section by section.

In connection with the Language section, a Manx language class has met weekly, under the able leadership of Mr H. Percy Kelly. To Mr. Kelly, we owe a debt of gratitude. The pity is that having had such a teacher, we did not value him more, for the class, though interested, was small, and represented only a minor portion of the Society. We must not forget, I think, that one of our foremost aims is "to promote the study of the Manx language." One vital factor in our continuance as a nation has been the retention of our language for "in the preservation of our language lies the greatest safeguard of our nationality." What value have our traditions, our customs, our laws save an archaeological one, if we do not retain the language in which they were fashioned, the individual weapon forged by a people to express their reactions to life ? Neither a polished nor a philosophical tongue, of limited vocabulary, yet possessing a cadence and beauty that should find an echo in our own hearts, a spiritual and cultural possession we should do well to cherish.

It has not been possible to accomplish much in the Children's Section as yet; but it is a field waiting to be extended in the future. when the parent society has become more firmly established. The importance of this section cannot be over-emphasised - in it lies the hope of the future. To interest the young in "the limited horizon of our stage,'' to awake that love of country. that pride of race so characteristic of the Celt, is our only safeguard against the overwhelming tide of Anglicisetion - our one hope of national immortality.

The session opened with a successful Inaugural Meeting at the Boys' High School, kindly lent by Mr. Sykes and the Education Authority for that purpose, at which our patrons, the Speaker and Mrs. Clucas, were present.

The Natural History Section has been represented on the syllabus by an interesting lantern lecture on "Manx Birds," given by Mr. Ralph Howarth, and illustrated by some beautiful slides of Mr. Rogers ; Mr. Howarth hopes further to extend the work begun, by summer rambles and excursions.

The Attorney-Genera! presided with distinction as judge History in the Trial of Illiam Dhone, one of the most original evenings of the session, designed to further the historical knowledge of those present, and in which Messrs. J. A. Cain, R. K.. Eason and Mark Braide played the principal parts It is probable that in the near future, the performance will be repeated at the Girls' High School.

The Douglas Amateur Orchestral Society and Miss Rydings contributed an excellent programme of Celtic music, assisted by Mr, Allan Quirk as soloist.

In connection with the Folklore Section, a particularly learned. And scholarly paper was given by His Honour the Deemster Farrant, on "Fairies," whose knowledge of fairy lore and myth is very considerable.

The Dramatic Section, though labouring under considerable difficulties, contributed to the success of two evenings. At the concluding meeting of the halfsession, T, E, Brown's dramatic sequence, "In the Coach," was presented, with the assistance of Mr. Lewis Clague, and the entertaining "Manx Broth," in which the chief ingredients were a place-names competition, a Manx general knowledge test, and a mime (show), was of their concoction and serving.

The Preservation of the Countryside was represented by two interesting lectures. "Old Dwellings of the Isle of Man," the lecturer being Mr. J. R. Bruce, M.Sc., And"The Desecration of the Countryside,', by Mr. A. J. Davidson, A.R.I.B.A., both of whom illustrated their lectures by means of some excellent slides.

Two other evenings which added greatly to the variety and success of the session. were a debate, opened by Mr. J. A, Cain, BA, at which the Attorney-General presided, and a delightful paper given by Miss A. I. Caine, "Manx Scenes from the works of Catherine I. Dodd."

Nor were the folk-dancing (led by Miss Caine) and cookery sections overlooked, for the interest in both these sections has been of an active and practical nature in which all partook.

At the beginning of the session, our Editor, Mr, J. A. Cain, came to an agreement with the Editors of the "Mona's Herald," whereby they very kindly set aside a column. fortnightly for the use of the Society. Eight contributions have already appeared. And it is hoped to republish these in booklet form.

A Rallying Song for Aeglagh Vannin was written by Miss Mona Douglas, to the carval, "Drogh Vraane," arranged by Mr. J. E. Quayle, Mus. Bac., And this has been sung at each meeting of the Society,

In January, 1932, a letter setting forth the aims and scope of Aeglagh Vannin - with information pertaining thereto was despatched to the Carnegie United Kingdom Trust, appealing for financial assistance. The appeal fell on deaf ears, however, and beyond two communications from their secretary, the Society was no better off.

During the year propaganda work has been carried out in different parts of the Island. Papers on Aeglagh Vannin, its aims and ideals. Were given by members at Crosby and. Union Mills. An invitation from the Marown Church League had to be postponed until next session.

An evening at Ramsey was arranged by Mr, Leighton Stowell, and a number of members attended,

I am going to close by reading a letter I have received from the Secretary of the Isle of Man Natural History and Antiquarian Society - a gracious letter of congratulation and encouragement from a society of over 5o years' standing to an unfledged society still to show its mettle. It is as follows:

Isle of Man Natural History and Antiquarian Society.

Miss E. M. Quayle 21st April, 1932. ,

Hon. Secretary, Aeglagh Vannin, 9, Queen's Terrace, Douglas,

Dear Madam,-At the annual general meeting of this society held on the 31st March, the first since the inauguration of Aeglagh Vannin, I was instructed to congratulate your Society on the success it has already achieved.
This Society feels that Aeglagh Vannin is doing a work never before attempted in the Island, and predicts for it an increasingly important place among the Societies of this Island.
I am further instructed to inform you that this Society would be glad to welcome members of Aeglagh Vannin, at any of its summer excursions or winter meetings.
Yours faithfully,
A. J. DAVIDSON, Hon. Secretary.

Aeglagh Vannin has emerged from the trials and vicissitudes of her first year, a little wiser, perhaps, but no sadder; for the prevailing atmosphere at all the meetings has been one of gay friendliness. And if we pursue our great ends in this spirit we shall not altogether fail.

St Trinian's Church
St Trinian's Church

Manx Nationalism and Aeglagh Vannin.

By MONA DOUGLAS.

This is an age of change. All over the world strange forces are at work in humanity, urging it to discontent with the old order of things and to a chaotic forward impulse which finds its expression in many different movements, social, political, religious and cultural.

One of the most significant of these is the Youth Movement which is to be found in one form or another in most countries. Naturally, this movement is always idealistic, for youth is the time when the pursuit of ideals makes the strongest appeal to the human spirit. And it is characteristic of our age, when Youth is taking the reins of life into its own hands more and more. Inevitably the form of the ideal behind the movement varies. It may be socialistic or religious. But often it is frankly cultural and national, and from this basis reaches out to a broad and natural international pacifism. For it is true that the international outlook can only develop adequately from the national one. It is a matter of spiritual growth: First we get the individual into our mental focus, then the family, then the nation, and at last the world-brotherhood of humanity. And as each new stage is reached the previous ones are not lost but intensified, for the greater must always contain the less.

Where Youth has taken an idealistic nationalism for its lodestar, we may be sure that the course will be held truly and well, and the unchartered seas of the future explored in the right spirit of happy adventure. One sometimes is told that nationalism is out of date and will have to be scrapped in the new age into which the world is passing. But surely it is not nationalism which must go, only the more materialistic of the ideas which have become entangled up with it. Nationalism itself is a passion of the soul. Nationalism is a force which can be used for either good or evil; and Youth, which is generally on the side of the Angels, is more than likely to use it in the right way, making love, not hate, its central idea-the love and thought and work of a people for their own land. And not only for the visible land and folk, though these indeed need faithful service; but even more for the invisible National Being, the image of the Nation in the hearts of its children, the overshadowing, composite spirit of the race.

NATIONALISM AS THE IDEAL.

It is with this attitude that Aeglagh Vannin, the Youth Movement of our own tiny nation, has chosen nationalism for its main ideal. The movement is cultural, not political, because we believe that nationalism is higher than polities, though it marr conceivably have to concern itself time and again with political affairs.

But at present politics are not for us of the Aeglagh. We want to learn, and to help others to learn, the neglected language and traditions of our country. We leant to preserve the beauty of the land. We want to create a new national art and music and literature and drama, built on tradition and racial foundations. And above all, we want so to inspire with these ideals the children who are growing up around us that they may be ready presently to carry on the work further than we ourselves can 'hope to do.

High aims ! So high that only Youth could face them undismayed. But we think it is better even to fail of a high aim that to reach~ich a low one. And we do not mean to fail; we cannot fail entirely, because the effort is made first of all within ourselves, and we, each and all of us, are the nation. We I.ook back, and in the misty past of mytholo~v and tradition we commune with the ancient soul of our race and so achieve that mystic sense of personal nationality from which all true national thinking springs. We look around at the immediate needs and problems of our own people, and vow to these our sympathy and service. We look forward into the future that holds our visions, that is wild with hope and shadowy with unknown beauty and sweet with uncaptured music, and we see there Tir nan Oge, the Land of Youth that lies before all who prove themselves worthy to enter it.

VOLUNTEERS WANTED.

Aeglagh Vannin, the vehicle of the new Young Manx Nationalism, calls for volunteers for active service; a service not of war but of peace and love, wherein every comer may find his or her particular job of happy work. The spirit behind the movement has been making its silent appeal for long past. Which of us, walking the streets of Douglas or travelling over the mountains or watching the tossing sea, has not felt at some time that behind this dear visible land of ours, shining through it, there is strange, intangible, living power, part of our very selves, to which we owe service and allegiance. Some of us have already answered that demand, and Aeglagh Vannin is one result of that answer. But there are others who have not heard or will not hear, and for these I would give the need of our nation a voice as insistent as the beating of the sea on our shores.

Volunteers! The new nationalism tails you. Look back on the splendour of our racial past-your own past, remember! Look around on the problems and needs of our national life to-day; look forward into the golden vista of the future, alive with dreams-and then step out under the banner of Aeglagh Vannin to do your bit for your country's sake and your own to make those dreams realities. So shall Ellan Vannin go forward, steadfastly and full of national consciousness, to possess her Tir nan Oge.

Monk's Bridge, Ballasalla
Monk's Bridge, Ballasalla

CHRISTIANITY AND THE CELTS.

By S. ARTHUR CAIN.

In a few days' time we shall be honouring the anniversary of the day whereon there was born in the stable of an inn in a far-distant country, the babe who was to become the greatest Man the world has ever known; the Christ who was more than a man. Born in humble surroundings, by trade a carpenter, by race a Semite, He was destined to preach to the world a new religion, a new philosophy of life, a new doctrine of the brotherhood of men, which would outlive the dispersal of His own race, the collapse of the world in which it was first preached; which would live and grow for a period of two thousand years, so that we of the twentieth century, of a race and of a civilisation which He knew not, still celebrate that humble birth at Bethlehem as one of the landmarks, if not the supreme landmark, in the history of the civilisation of the world,

"The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few; pray yo therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He would send forth labourers into his harvest.

"Go your ways; behold I send you forth as lambs among wolves."

The labourers in the Christian vineyard have been of many a different origin and many a different race. The fiery St. Peter, the scholar St. Paul, the noble St. Augustine, the gentle St. Francis of Assisi, the heroic David Livingstone-these are but a few of the many who have been labourers in the vineyard of Christian civilisation. Let us, however, this year, recall the part played by our own Celtic ancestors in the great work. Theirs was a contribution which is too often overlooked.

When the waves of barbarian paganism swept over Europe on the downfall of the Roman Ernpire in the fifth century, it seemed as if the civilisation of the Empire and the Chrstian religion must be for ever lost. The Teutonic invaders, however, stopped at the Irish Sea. Ireland alone, of all Europe, preserved her culture unharmed. To, the Celts of Ireland was given the task of saving Christanity for Western Europe, For six hundred years the Irish missionaries poured forth over Europe, Christianising and civilising the barbarian kingdoms of the Teutons, going forth as lambs among the wolves, till their work produced the spiritual revival of the peoples of Europe to which we owe the rich heritage of the Middle Ages.

Two of the outstanding figures were Columcille, better known as Colurnba, and Columbanus. It is meet that every Gael. and every Gall-Gael of to-day should remember and be proud of these men.

The genius of Columcille stands forth as a flash of brilliant lightning against the darkness of the night which enveloped the British Isles in the sixth century. Already the founder of thirty-seven monastries in Ireland, in 563 he crossed the sea to the lonely island of Iona, where he founded a monastery of Irish monks. From his lonely home on Iona, Columcille preached to the races around him the idea of a peaceful federation of peoples in a bond of Christian piety. The heathen Picts were converted by him, the Irish on both sides of the sea, and the Britons of Strathclyde all acknowledged his authority. For thirty years he ruled as Abbot in Iona, He died the acknowledged spiritual leader of the Celtic world. For a hundred years after his death monks from Iona and elsewhere poured forth over Great Britain, converting the barbarian peoples of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms into civilised and Christian human beings. The great figures of the period were Patrick, Finnian, Brendan and Ciaran, all of whom were closely associated with the Isle of Man. It is one of the tragedies of history that the Anglo-Saxon thirst for dominion and power rendered that race incapable of rising to the spiritual heights necessary to appreciate Columcille's idea of a peaceful federat:on of Christian peoples. The AngloSaxons, to whom the friendly Gaels had come as missionaries and as teachers, preaching the doctrine of peace, could see the Celts only as fit objects for further conquest by the sword. The Englishman of to-day, when he boasts of the ideal of a federation of free peoples as an idea which he imagines Angle-Saxondom has given to the world, should recall with humility the saintly Columcille on the lonely shores of Iona, and the barbarian Saxons who broke the spiritual bond of Columcille's creation which bound the peoples of the British Isles together.

Columbanus was the greatest of the many Irish missionaries whom Ireland sent forth to journey and to labour, in hardship and in suffering, on the continent of Europe, in the cause of Christianity and of civilisation. For nearly forty years he was an apostle of Christianity in the kingdom of Burgundy and the surrounding States. Of him is told the story that when he visited Pope Gregory the Great, and when the Pope praised God in his heart for having given so great a power to so small a. man, Columbanus, perceiving the secret thought, hotly retorted: "Brother, he who depreciates the work depreciates the Author."

It seems ever to be the peculiar spiritual mission of the Celts to give a clarion call to the world when darkness and materialism seem likely to engulf it. It was a Celt from Wales who led the world in its struggle against the materialist imperialism, the socalled "kultur" of Prussia in the dark years between 1914 and 1918; it is a Celt from Scotland who to-day has called upon the peoples of these islands to set an example to the world by setting their faces against the economic materialism which threatens to produce the moral stagnation of the entire world. Sacrifice and co-operation are the keynotes of his gospel.

The doctrine of the brotherhood of all men is the foundation of the Christian religion. Only upon such a corner-stone can the regeneration of the world be built. Is it not appropriate that at Christmas, the season of peace and goodwill, Manxmen should recall their Celtic forbears-Columcille, and Columbanus, Patrick, Finnian, Brendan and Ciaran, and the hosts of other Ir'sli inissionaries who for six centuries went forth in the cause of Christianity and of civilisation, with neither scrip nor satchel, with no certain resting place where at night they might lay the soles of their burning feet, with a singlemindedness of purpose to seek peace and ensue it?

Christmastide, 1931.

Ballaugh Old Church
Ballaugh Old Church

BIRD LIFE IN THE ISLE OF MAN.

By RALFH HOWARTH.

The birds in the Isle of Man may be conveniently classified into the following six classes: Birds of prey, passerine or perching birds, scratchers or game birds, waders, swimmers, and divers.

The duty of birds of prey is to see that certain other creatures do not become too numerous, and they may be looked upon as Nature's police. Owls are on duty; by night and hawks and falcons by day. These two kinds of birds fit in very beautifully for the work they have to do. Hawks, which hunt by day, are responsible for rabbits, rats, mice and birds; they have small telescopic eyes, which enable them to scrutinise keenly a range of vision. Owls are responsible for rats, mice and other small creatures with nocturnal habits. The owl, which has very large ears, is guided mainly by sound, but to enable it to see when it gets near enough to its prey, its eyes also are large, thus allowing it to make the best use of a small amount of light. The eyes-different from those of other birds -are both in front of the head and look in the same direction, resulting in the advantages of combined action and stereoscopic vision. The hawk has hard strong wing feathers, adapted for quick flight; whereas the owl has very soft feathers to enable it to fly without making the slightest noise and get close to its prey before the latter is aware of its presence. The birds of prey are represented in the Isle of Man by the peregrine falcon, sparrowhawk, kestrel, and merlin and the long-eared owl.

PERCHING BIRDS. Perching birds, as the name implies, have feet particularly fitted for perching and these birds, for the most part, live amongst trees and bushes. Here also we find birds of different habits, with their general structure suited to their modes of life. Those with slender bills, like the stonechat, wheatear, swallow, pipits, martins, wagtails, and warblers, feed upon insects, and in this way are very useful friends. Those with stouter bills, like the chaffinch, greenfinch and yellow hammer, feed on seeds. It must not be imagined that they are enemies on this account, as some of them feed entirely on the seeds of weeds, and so do a great amount of good. These birds keep in check insects and weeds, and those which do eat some corn destroy a great number of noxious weeds during breeding season. Birds which frequent woods and glens have some green in their plumage to correspond with the foliage on the trees, such as the willow warbler, chiffchaff, greenfinch and chaffinch. Those which live on fallow ground, such as larks and meadow pipits, have brown as a predominating colour. Among the passerine birds are to be found the most expert architects, and so wonderful are the nests of such birds as the chaffinch and golden-crested wrens that they incite the admiration of all who see them. All true insect-eating birds are migratory, and during the winter when insects in this country are scarce, they are obliged to go to warmer climes where the required food is more plentiful.

GAME BIRDS.

Game birds are essentially ground birds which, like fowls, scratch to find food, for which purpose they are provided with short flat claws. This type of bird is represented in the Isle of Man by the red grouse and partridge, both of which are well-known to sportsmen. In the nest, which is merely a small depression on the ground, a large number of eggs are laid. A few years ago, a partridge's nest with 20 eggs was found near Peel. The tiny young birds of these species are able to run about immediately they are hatched.

WADERS.

The chief characteristic of birds classified as waders are their long legs, neck and beak. There are numerous birds of this class in the Isle of Man, of which the curlew, oyster catcher and redshank are well-known examples. These birds seek their food in or about water, their long legs allowing them to walk about in the water, and their long necks enabling them to reach any foodstuff they may see at the bottom. The eggs are exceptionally large as compared with the size of the bird; the clutch is four in number, the eggs distinctly pear-shaped, and always arranged with the pointed ends meeting in the centre of the nest.

SWIMMERS.

The swimmers are readily distinguished by their webbed feet, but in some -such as lthe water-hen and the cootthe webs do not unite but form a series of lobes on the side of each toe. In others, such as the cormorant and shag, all four toes are united with full webs. In swimming birds, we find, in many cases, great differences between winter and summer plumage, as well as difference between the young and the mature bird, the latter being very noticeable in the herring gull, which does not attain its mature plumage until it is four or five years old.

DIVERS.

Divers are most interesting. The general shape of the body and short stiff wings used in diving and swimming under the water, as well as for flying, are all modifications adapted to the habits of these birds. Our local examples in this class of birds are the razor-bill, puffin, and common and black guillemot. These birds make no nest and lay only one egg, except in the case of the black guillemot, which lays two. The razorbill and common guillemot each lays its egg on a bare ledge of rock; in some cases many dozens of guillemot eggs are to be seen close together on a ledge directly above the sea. The puffin is a peculiar looking bird of parrot-like appearance. The usual nesting-place is a rabbit burrow, from which the bird may have driven its rightful owner. The single egg is laid as a rule at the extreme end of the burrow, which may be three or four feet from the entrance. An attempt to see a puffin's egg in its natural position is always an exciting experience. It always means a certain amount of digging, and sometimes the infuriated bird remains in its nesting hole and is usually ready to make a vicious attack on an intruding hand, which in itself is a startling experience and particularly so if the nesting hole is at the slippery edge of a cliff 200 feet or more above the sea.

A GROUP OF FOUR POEMS

By E. MAUDE QUAYLE.

DOUGLAS HEAD.
March 1930

REMOTE I stood
And gathered to my breast Infinite loveliness.
Texture of sea and sky,
The lone wind's keening cry,
A gull's swift downward flight,
The soft dark wing of night
Shadowing the west.
Loneliness
Enfolded me
And crept into my heart,
Until I too seemed part
Of that vast restless sea,
Of that far
Evening star;
Of all the life that round me stirred
In tree and flower and bird.
And for one second's flight
I glimpsed the Infinite.

S P R I N G .

WE know not what unbroken beauty sleeps
Upon the waters of Eternity;
Nor what dark terror lurks within those deeps,
Nor what of joy or ruth or pity
Awaits the untried soul. Nothing we know.
Yet when Spring calls from far windless spaces
Sweeping with still, slow
Steps the ruffled floor of heav'n, her paces
Quick'ning till with a gesture swift and splendid
She gathers weary earth unto her breast
Waking to beauty all the life deep hid
Within the womb of death; upon the crest
Of that new life I stand and think "No keener bliss
No lovelier re-birth can surely be than this.

PORTRAIT.

BROODING she sat, her heavy hair veiling
Her sombre eyes, small white hands like petals
Spilled upon the blueness of her dress.
'The weary curve of neck and breast drooped towards
The flame, as if aware of Youth's swift passing.
So centuries gone by, in alien towers,
Watching pale Beauty's last sad flight
Might peerless Helen have idly dreamed and yearned
For other hearths, for other loves
And all the sweet securities of life.

LHEN SHORE, NIGHTFALL.

SANG the wind through the grey-green grasses
Eerily.
Shrieked the sea-mews wheeling through desolate spaces
Drearily.
Sobbed the sea hungry with infinite longing
Wearily.
Darkness falling,
Voices calling
Over the sea.

Old Pier, Douglas
Old Pier, Douglas

OLD MANX DWELLINGS.

by J. R. BRUCE, M.Sc.

The rapidity of urban development at the present time, and the widespread ramifications of the new road systems of the country, threaten to destroy much of the seclusion and beauty of rural Britain. That beauty has many aspects-wide vistas of coast ;and upland, mountain and lake-but prominent among its component parts are the cottages and farmsteads which have been for so long the traditional homes of the British people, and which have played so deep a part in their life and thought as to become an inalienable heritage. To preserve for posterity a fair and representative share of these heirlooms from the past would scent to be a reasonable claim upon an enlightened community, but so widespread is the destruction of old building,s In the name of so-called progress, that numerous societies, largely unified in the Council for the Preservation of Rural England, have been formed to educate public opinion towards a saner attitude, and to take such steps as may be necessary to safeguard the more beautiful of threatened structures. LTp to the present, the Council has not extended its operations to the Isle of Man, but here, no less than in England, our landowners and public authorities are sometimes forgetful of the aesthetic aspect of their well-intentioned and otherwise excellent schemes.

It is hoped that a brief description of the cottages and farmhouses of the Isle of Man may not only prepare the ground, so to speak, for a wider appeal by the C.P,R.E. at some future date, but may also serve to draw attention to a characteristic, yet unpretentious feature of the Island's :andscape, and to a beautiful, because very natural, expression of the Manx mentality.

In every country the houses of the people exhibit more or less clearly the various stages of social history and developm rt. The social history of the Isle of Man is no less varied or interesting than that of the other parts of Britain but for various reasons, chief among which is its central and therefore strategic position, the Island has suffered from a succession of social and political disturbances and disabilities, so that the impress of whole centuries has been expunged and whole classes of dwellings are unrepresented. The long Scandinavian occupation, for instance, must have left the impress upon the plan and arrangement of the farmsteads in the 10th to 13th centuries, but we cannot recall any example to-day in which that most characteristic type is even dimly reflected. The years of the Scottish Rule, and the Derby Lordship, again, appear from our scanty records to have been a time of social depression, reflected in housing conditions of the poorest character.

RESULTS OF SMUGGLING.

It is not until the beginning of the 18th century that any improvement at all is recorded, and then, remarkably enough, it is associated with the increase of contraband traffic which took place at that time, and with the rise of a merchant class who built for themselves dwellings and warehouses, many of which survive to the present day, in the ports of Douglas and Peel.

In the country, however, the `renaissance' was delayed until a century later, when, from 1830-1860, a period of improved agricuture and good herring-fisheries, gave the impetus to the building of those cottage and farmhouses which constitute the bulk of the "old dwellings" which we may now briefly review.

The old form of Manx thatched cottage is perhaps tine simplest expression of what, can properly be called a "house." It represents, of course, a considerable advance upon the circular hut-dwellings and pitdwellings of the early historic period, but in its small size, single apartment, open hearth, smoke hole in the roof, and small entrance and window-openings, it is clearly of primitive type. The materials of construction are those nearest to hand. Where stone. was scarce, the walls were built of turves, but this material soon collapses when the protection of the roof is gone, and very few examples survive. There are a few in the northern parishes, and some ruinous remains on the upland farm of Pairk ny Earkan. The stone-built cottage is a more substantial affair, and some hundreds remain in occupation to-day. The thatched cottage, although usually built of the intractable slate-rubble of the Manx hills, and to a rigid plan, is not infrequently modified by simple artifices into a charming and attractive dwelling. The walls are plastered and colour-washed, the door brightly painted, and the thatch pegs developed into a simple element of design. A little cobbled area in front, a fuschia hedge, and perhaps a tramman-tree at the gable complete a picture which may vie in rustic charm with the rural dwellings of England.

DIGNITY OF THE COTTAGE.

The cottage is essentially the home of the Labourer and when thrift or good fortune brings wider opportunity, a more spacious dwelling is desired, and secured. This - the two-storied house, three windows long, which may justifiably claim to be the 'typical' Manx house. Farms, villages, and towns alike form the setting for this simple yet dignified type of dwelling. With no claim to intrinsic beauty this type of house achieves, by sheer restraint and artless modesty, a charm of character so sadly lacking in the newer villas, with which in these latter days, it so often finds itself in close contact. A corbelled slab, or sometimes a porch, shelters the door, and in this and other ways, the two-storied house has been modified to suit local circumstances.

From time to time, the necessity arises for increased accommodation. Not infrequently the farmer decides to build a new house altogether, and the old one is utilised as a barn or cow-house. Sometimes additions are made to the old house. It is notoriously difficult to add anything to an existing building without spoiling its proportions, but is surprising in how many Instances a portion has been added, as a. lean-to at the gable or along the rear of the house, without in the least detracting from the general appearance. In one or two cases, as at Glendown, in Kirk Christ, Rushen, a second house has been built attached to the first by one side, with a roof-valley along the middle-an unsatisfactory arrangment, curiously recalling the double-aisled churches of Denbighshire. There is yet a third type of house, equally Manx in style, but of this we have space for no more than mention. It is the three storied house, five windows long, which usually forms the residence of the prosperous farmer or landowner. Typical examples of this class are to be seen all over the Island-Ronaldsway, Balladoole and Ballachurry are good exampes in the South.

The three main types we have described do not by any means exhaust the range of Manx domestic architecture, nor must it be forgotten that many of the fine town houses of Douglas and Castletown, and even some country mansions, are the work of English architects, and for that reason outside the purview of this brief survey.

To summarise, we may say that the old Manx house of whatever type, is in a special sense, a product of the local genius. It is severe in style, rugged in treatment and material, admirably adapted to a bold and windswept countryside. It has no pretension, save a modest claim to comfort and utility; nevertheless, as the simple expression of a simple ideal, it achieves a. dignity and indeed a beauty which we must cherish as a joy for ever.

MANX SERVICE AT PEEL.

AN IMPRESSION. (By MISS. A. I. CAINE).

"In the days of our grandfathers Old Christmas Day, January 5th, was reckoned the true 'Christmas"-so says Miss Morrison's story of Old Christmas.

It was in keeping with the Old Manx tradition that the O''-el Verrey at Peel should be held three weeks after December 25th for besides the eleven or twelve days difference between the old style calendar and the new, the phase of the moon had also to be considered. To be able to go home by the light of the moon is certainly more pleasant than to walk the roads in black darkness. I wonder if the old Greek idea of the full moon being a lucky time for worship had any influence in determining the date of the Oiel Verrey. Be that as it may, one could not help feeling that this service was to be no ordinary one. Unfortunately, the weather was not kind-a drizzle had become heavy rain by the time we arrived at Peel Market Place. It was striking eight as we entered the old church.

A STRANGE SCENE.

A strange scene-a sea of faces and a sensation of moist heat; the shabby interior of the old church, with its lamps and old fashioned coke stove. We were squeezed into a seat among the choir. Opposite me are rows of venerable looking old men. I almost imagine I am in Brittany assisting at the invocation of St. Anne's blessing upon the fishing boats that will, at dawn, leave for the icy waters of the north. But it is an English clergyman rather than a Breton cur who has entered and the service begins.

The hymns are given out verse by verse in Manx. The congregation joins in heartily. The "veterans" take turn at reading the prayers and reading the lessons. How obviously reverent and sincere it all is. How stirringly resonant are the words of Scripture from the lips of the old men to whom the Manx is really the mother tongue! But praise is ordained also from babes and sucklings, so the childish treble of children's voices is now heard lisping out the Lord's Prayer. A young woman declaims th fifty-fifth chapter of Isaiah in 'tones that give joy to the ear.

A catch comes to my throaty--three generations using our ancient speech.-Surely it is a sign!

I follow the prayers and hymns only because of my familiarity with the Liturgy. The few Manx words I know are as white stones on a mountain track. They are discouragingly few, but even so, I experience a surge of passionate kinship with countless generations -gone before. The sermon is read from an ancient, tattered, dog-eared book. I cannot follow it. My mind harks back to the days when "there was no open vision" those davs before the translation into Manx of the Scriptures, when the Engtish Bible was as unintelligible to Manx worshippers as the Latin had been to preReformation England.

I recall the amazing courage and labour of men like Bishops Phillips and Wilson, together with many humble parish priests, who made known to their flock the Word of God in the vernacular. Truly they were the Wycliffe and Cranmers of our Island.

Involuntarily I quote "Let us now praise famous men . . . . Leaders of the people by their counsels, and by their knowledge of learning meet for the people, wise and eloquent in their instructions."

We rise and sing in English an oldrashioned hymn to an old-fashioned tune. The Vicar pronounces_ the Benediction in Manx. The crowds stream out.

"A wonderful service!" From all sides come reminiscences, but the rain is so merciless that "Oie Vie" cuts many of them short.

THE BEAUTY OF THE COUNTRYSIDE.

BY A. J. DAVIDSON, A.R.I.B.A.

Familiarity has so dimmed our eyes to the beauty of the countryside that we tend to regard it as a vague imperishable background to life; a possession whose preservation is assured in the natural order of things. The natural development of the countryside for many centuries has produced results of such phenomenal success, aesthetically, that to-day we grow sentimental over the half-timber and oak beams of a past generation. Strengthening us in our security- are comfortable theories of the "invisible hand" creating order out of individual chaos.

It is, therefore, possibly an impertinence to suggest that the peculiar circumstances of this age demand the intervention of artificial aid. Nevertheless, certain economic and social conditions now exist, sufficiently powerful to threaten disaster to the common beauty of the land.

Until comparatively recent years building operations, the chief contribution of civilisation to the face of the land, were almost exclusively carried out with the material nearest at hand. Thus, in the Isle of Man, the walls of a house would be built of stone quarried near the site, and the roof would be made with local. slate. It was natural, that however modest the attempt the result could not be alien to its surroundings, for the integral parts of tho building were in fact a part of the soil which formed its setting. Of late, so rapid has been the development of transport and manufacture that conditions are reversed. It is now more economical and expeditious to carry building material for great distances from its place of origin, generally without regard as to whether the stone or brick has any geological relationship to or can be assimilated aesthetically by the district to which it is transported. So in the Isle of Man the spectacle may be seen of houses roofed with red tiles, whose home is the South of England, where they harmonise well with the land, but which in a slate district such as this strike a strangely offensive note.

The vast decentralisation of towns and the rural development of the last few years is a further consequence of increased transport facilities. This movement is accentuated by the extension. of public services such as water and drainage to country areas. Thus where an efficient motor bus serv=ce exists it is convenient for a business man to live in a country district, far from his work, and there enjoy the amenities of town life, with the added advantage of the low rating of the country. Accordingly he and his friends plant bui galows or small houses along motor route,,, and by helping to transform our country roads into monotonous built-up streelts, unconsciously destroy the visual amenities of the district.

Here is an opportunity for sane rural planning, to provide, before it is too late, for the grouping of buildings, so that they cluster in repose as did the naturally developed village. Where road improvements were contemplated it might be possible, as in England, to acquire the irregular strips of land on each side, broken into by the new line of road. These could be planted with trees and shrubs, the existing trees and hedges preserved; winding paths through this spinnet' could lead to a background of houses just glimpsed from the roads-de. Instead of the customary dangerous footpath bordering the road, rambling paths could be formed on the inside of the hedge in the pleasant surroundings of the trees.

In the days of the horse drawn vehicle roads and lanes meandered quietly with many twists and turns around hills, along the side of the valleys, and thus following natural lines were part of the countryside. In contrast, the essentials of modern motor roads are directness, width, and visibility, with all corners geometrically rounded off. So where previously tracks ran leisurely between leafy hedges, now they cut harshly across the land, with little regard for the contours of its hills and valleys. Particularly is this seen in the new arterial roads of England. Furthermore this new form of road construction causes the disappearance of the sod hedge and its replacement by a thin, characterless, concrete wall, which its builders, in shame, haste to cover with a cloak of ivy leaves. Ancient trees are destroyed, monstrous petrol filling stations, disorderly placards and galvanised iron devastate the land. In this instance an enlightened public authority might well regulate erections permitted along our highways, and insist on a standard at least parallel to that required in more practical directions.

One would consider it a primary duty of the Government forcibly to protect the natural rights of its people, and its future czens against attacks by those who would dissipate the accumulated wealth of the countryside. Lamentable is the insensitiveness of our leaders. There is grave danger that this orgy of destruction may prove disastrous before we awake to discover that in our generation has been squandered the heritage of the countryside.

" FAlRY BELIEFS IN THE ISLE OF MAN."

ANCIENT THEORY EXPLAINED.

DEEMSTER FARRANT AND ORIGINS OF FOLKLORE.

In a lecture on "Fairy Beliefs in the Isle of Man," given to the members of Aeglagh t Vannin, in the Scouts' Hall, last week, His Honour Deemster Farrant, after referring to the setting alight of the gorse on the hillside on February 12th last, identified this with the cult of St. Brigit, whose association with fire was so well known. He pointed out that in addition to the Nunnery, several parish churches and Kiels were dedicated'to this popular Irish Saint, whose memory was obviously associated with that of the Goddess Brigit, familiar in the Celtic Pantheon.

He next traced the various races which traditionally were said to have succeeded one another in the colonisation of these Islands from the Ibernian to the Brythouic Celt. The Ibernians, who had been identified with similar races, he continued, in the Mediterranean, North Africa, and the Basques, were a short, swarthy, dark-eyed, dark-hared, long-skulled people, still in the Stone Age, to whom were attributed the long barrows in which they buried their dead. They were succeeded by the people who buried their dead in round barrows, who used instruments of bronze, and were tall, fair-haired, round-headed, and blue eyed. These were probably knowrx as Godelic Celts, and were probably the ancestors of the highlander, and of a Large part of the population of Ireland and the Isle of Man.

To these succeeded the Brythonic Celts, who used weapons of iron, who were the ancestors of the Briton, and who brought with them the Druids, whose influence was great all over the Celtic world, but had not apparently captured the religious worship of the Irish, for the gods of Goidelic Celts, called Tuaha-de-Danann, certainly conitinued to be worshipped by the common people, especially in the South-West and West.

The tradition went on to relate how, in accordance with the ancient prophesy, the Gods were defeated by mortals-viz., the Bythronic Celts. with the aid of their Druids - and retired underground, into the barrows and hillocks, each being the door to underground delights, such as a neverfailing supply of ale. Among the greatest and most popular of these Gods was Mnnanan-y-Ler, who had a principal residence of his own called Falga, the Island of Elysium, which was the Isle of Man.

FAIRY MOUNDS.

The lecturer pointed out that in this Island there, were various mounds, some of which were definitely known as fairy mounds unlike those in Ireland, they were not in any way identified with particular Gods.

Round these mounds, however, had gathered the same traditions of a race of beings half mortal, half immortal; of diminutive stature, who sang, played, danced, rode furiously, stole children, and even men and women for a time. The curious fungoid growth which led to the formation of what wrere known as fairy rings in the grass, were as common in the Island as elsewhere, and were identified wah this fairy race. Arrow heads had been found, and were known here, as elsewhere, as fairy bolts, that killed without making a wound, leaving only a bhue mark on the body, and iron was as hateful to these little people as in all other countries.

COMMON ORIGIN OF FAIRY TALES.

The lecturer pointed out that fairy tales bore many traces of common origin, and were known in countries as far apart as Ireland, Finland, Germany, Mesopotamia., and differed little from those related by the Japanese, tlxe Eskimo, the Afghan and the Zulu. The Zulu, he reminded his hearers, must often have come into contact with a formerly existing race of bushmen-small, ugly, who slept in hidden dark holes and crannies, ate snakes, and killed with poisoned flint-headed arrows, before the Boers killed them off.

Attention was called to the fact that in addition to the fairies, properly so called, the belief extended to a very different order of beings, both mischievous and malicious in the Isle of Man, called Phynnodderees, Boganes, and the like, and to animal forms such as Water Bulls, Moddey,Dhoos, not to speak, added the lecturer, amid laughter, of the latest and most unusual, an animal with the face of a pig, the tale of a stoat, and the voice of a man.

DEIFIED HEROES.

His Honour then turned to the theory known as Euthemerism, caled after the Greek, who, long before the birth of Christ, contended that the classical characters of Greek mythology were really deified heroes, and that the myths connected with them were phases of real history.

Passing over the intervening centuries, and the extraordinary supernatural stories that had grown up iu the minds of the people round the names of certain Christian heroes and saints, it appeared, he said, that Dr, Cririe, about 1803, followed by Sir Walter Scott and others, put forward the theory that traditonal beliefs in fairies, eves, fauns, and other like creatures, were really based upon dim recollection of an actually existing race of men and women, who possibly formed the aboriginal inhabitants of these islands, and who were no higher in the scale of civilization than the Bushmen, whose habits had been observed within the last hundred years. The most learned Celtic scholar of his time, Sir Jolxn Rhys, who, at one time, was well known in the Island, came to the conclusion, after much investigation among the peasantry of Wales and other Celtic countries, that this theory was the most probable. His view was that the characteristics which emerged from the collection of folklore stories seemed to be the result of our ancestors, projecting on an imaginary world, a primitive civilization, through which tradition represented their own race as having passed, or more probably a civilization in which they saw, or thought they saw, another race actually living.

UNDERGROUND DWELLINGS.

In 1893 McRitchie pulslahed an interesting book in which he gave an illustration of the beehive or underground dwellings to be found in Orkney, Shetland, and the Hebrides, and he professed himself a convert to the theory which was also the result of the investigations of Mr Campbell in Islay, who asserted his belief in a race of small people in that island, who used stone alone, lived in conical mounds, like the Lapps; stole children, and some species of cattle, horses and great auks, which frequented marshy ground, and were remembered as water cattle, water bulls, or boobries.

MORE ROMANTIC THEORY.

The lecturer called attention to the fact that ths theory had later become unfashionable among scholars, who were agreed to take a more romantic view, by identifying fairies partly with the imaginary Pantheon Gods, and more particularly with the Matres-the Goddess of Fertility -mentioned in many inscriptions all over Celtic Europe, except in East and North-west Gaul.

One of the reasons given by these gentlemen for disbelief in a previously existing race of diminutive stature, was that no bones of pigmy size had been found in any mound commonly associated with fairies, but the lecturer pointed out how it appeared to be no part of the original belief that the fairies were actually pygmies. On the contrary, St. Patrick and his companions, when they first showed themselves to the people of Ireland, were asked whether they were not fairies, showing that originally the fairies, though they might have been small compared with the Celts, were not necessarily of pigmy stature.

The lecturer then dealt fully with the Rev Robert Kirk's book "The Secret Commonwealth,' written in the latter part of the 17th century, which, he said, was still regarded as the best authority on traditional beliefs as to fairy races. He gave numerous quotations from the work, illustrating his beliefs as to the habits, customs, and tribal organisations and so forth.

ORIGIN OF FOLKLORE,

In conclusion, His honour summed up the arguments for and aganst the Euhemeris` theory. The lore relating to fairies, fauns elves, boganes, and water bulls, were to be found in the early history of the human race. He believed that far back in earthly time, long before there were means of written commnnication, the tales told round camp fires and in assemblies, at feasts and ceremonies, and particularly the stories told by women to their offspring, were the dim lurking memories of a time when a succession of races, each rising higher in the scale of civilization, made their way from east to west through dismal forests and terrible swamps, inhabited by prehistoric animals, and each driving before it the preceding tribes, who finally died or amalgamated with them. During the long process of the establishment of the invaders, the conquered races lurked in holes and caves in inaccessible places, taking toll of the conquerors' cattle, women and children; fighting with poisoned sionc darts and with the cunning of the weal;; imposing on the superstitious and ignorant invaders, half imaginary taboos and beliefe, which had survived into our own times, in the minds and imaginations of a people already obessed with a mass of half remembered customs sand rituals connected with the nature worship which the larimal necessities of life had ground into them, until they lad become a part of their very being.

REPORTS OF OTHER MEETINGS.

RE-ENACTING HISTORIC SCENE.

The fortnightly meeting of Aeglagh Vannin was held at Scouts' Hall, Demesne Road, Douglas, on Saturday, March 19th. The proceedings took the form of a historical trial, "The Trial of Ilkam Dhone." The Attorney-General presided as "Judge History." Mr Braide, acting as Coroner, fenced the Court in the Manx language, after which a jury of twelve, known as the "Jury of Posterity," was chosen by lot from amongst the audience. They were Messrs S. C. Callister, W. Holmes, A. Geoghegan, H. Hampton, W. Kennedy, E. Shimmin, Mrs H. P. Kelly, and the Misses E. M. Quayle, W. A. Shimmin, P. and D. Latham, and O. Adams. When the jury had taken their seats and had been sworn in by the Judge. Mr J. Arthur Cain, as "Advocate for the House of Stanley," addressed the jury to the effect that William Christian was a traitor. Mr R. Kinley Eason, as "Advocate for the People of Mann," addressed the jury to the effect that Christian was a patriot. Mr Cain replied, after which "His Honour Judge History," in an extremely interesting and instructive address, summed up. The jury then retired. Refreshments were served to them separately in the jury room, and to the others present in Court. After having been absent some time the jury returned and gave their verdict, by nine votes to three, that William Christian was a patriot and not a traitor. Mr J. A. Cain, on behalf of the members of the Society, thanked the Attorney-General for his kindness in presiding. The Attorney-General suitably replied.

The dramatic section of this Society provided a very enjoyable Manx programme at the fortnightly meeting of the Society Cu Saturday evening in the Scouts' Ball. Demesne Road.

The President, Miss Mona Douglas, presided over the first part of the programme. which cons:stel of two short sketches from T. E. Brown, arranged by Mrs II. J. (':irr and Mr W. Lewis Clague. The scene depicted was the interior of the coach. driven by "Mister Crowe" (Mr John, Nicholson), and tlu first sketchh was "Conjergal Rights," and the second "The Pazons," in which Mr Lewis Clague took the principal parts and gave an excellent portrayal of these two character studies. The "passengers"in the coach were Miss A. I. Caine. Mrs H. J. Carr, the Misses K. Kneale, P.and D. Latham, and Mr Kennedy, while "Parson Gale" was represented by Mr A. J. Davidson.

M'ss Doris Fargher sang very deligh'fully a group of Manx songs, "Grain ma Chree," " Wheti Childher Plays," "She Sang to her S1>-net," and "Good Night ;Song." She was accompanied on the piano by Miss Muriel Fargher. Two Celtic folk-songs (unaccompanied) were, sung by Miiss Mona Douglas, one being' "A Charm," and the other "The Witelt's Song." A group of carol singers, composed of members of "Aeglagh Vannin" and conducted by. Miss A. I. Caine, sang old Manx "carvels" by the light of a lantern.-seasonable refreshments, which inctuded mince pies, were served in the interval.

A very enjoyable evening concluded with folk dancing, in which most of the company joined heartily under the direction of Miss I. Caine.-Valuable assistance in various ways was rendered by Rover Scouts during the evening.-It is gratifying to observe that the attendance at these very interesting and pleasant evenings is steadily increasing, and must be encouraging to those who are trying byth's means to foster a lasting regard and affection for things Manx in the hearts of the young Manx people.

INTERESTING DEBATE.

In spate of the depressing weather conditions there was a good attendance of members at the fortnightly meeting of Aeglagh Vannin, in the Scouts' Hall, Demesne Road, on Saturday evening, Nov. 14th, when a debate took place on the subject "Is it Possible for a Dependent Celtic State to Retain its national Characteristics?" Mr R. B. Moore, H.M. Attorney-General, presided.-The debate was opened by Mr J. A. Cain, B.A., and Miss Mona Douglas replied.-The following took part in the l:setussion that ensued: Misses M. Lindiet', R. Cain, A. I. Caine, E. M. Quayle, M. Douglas, Mrs Carr, Messrs J. E. Collister (London), A. J. Davidson, and W. A. Clague.-Mr Cain replied, and the Attorney-General gave an able summing up. A vote of thanks to the Attorney-General was proposed by Mr A. J, Davidson and heartily supported by all present. Refreshments followed, and the evening concluded with folk-dancing under the direction of Miss A. I. Caine, with Miss Gwenda Dearden at the piano.


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