[From Folklore of the Isle of Man, A.W.Moore, 1891]
HE belief in Fairies or Elves was formerly very prevalent in the Isle of Man, and cannot be said to have altogether died out even at the present day. The Manx conception of a Fairy seems to be very much the same as that in other Celtic lands, with, perhaps, a tinge of the somewhat more sombre Scandinavian superstition. They are supposed to be like human beings in form and feature, though very much smaller and more delicately constructed. At a distance they seem to be handsome, but on closer inspection they are often found to be decrepit and withered. They are usually represented - as being clad in blue or green, with red peaked caps. They live in green hill sides, more especially affecting the ancient tumuli. Any one straying near these on a fine summer's evening would probably hear delightful music; but he must take care, especially if he is a musician, not to linger lest he should be entrapped. Sometimes, too, they may be seen playing like children, or dancing, the rings seen on the grass being caused by this; at. other times feasting. They hunt, being for the most part very furious riders. They are partly human and partly spiritual in their nature, and are visible to men only when they choose. Some of them are benevolent, curing men of diseases and delivering them from misfortune. Others are malevolent, stealing children, even abducting grown people, and bringing misfortune. The flint arrow heads which are occasionally picked up, are the weapons with which the Fairies avenge themselves upon human beings who had wronged them. Their impact is not felt, and does not break the skin, but a blue mark is found on the body of the victim after death.
The good Fairies are, fortunately, more powerful than the bad, and will enable those who are considerate in their behaviour to them to prevail over the latter. It is, therefore, very desirable to keep on good terms with them, and to propitiate them by taking care not to wound their feelings; with this view, they are called "the little people," or "the good people," the word Fairy being never mentioned, as they are supposed not to like it. Indeed, the Manx word Ferrish is merely a recent corruption of the English word, there being no such word in the Manx language 150 years ago. It was an old custom to keep a fire burning in the house during the night, so that the Fairies might come in and enjoy it. If any one was rash enough not to do this, or to abuse them in any way, he would be sure to suffer for it. It was also customary to leave some bread out for the Fairies, and to fill the water crocks with clean water for them before going to bed. This water was never used for any other purpose, but was thrown out in the morning. The Manx women, formerly, would not spin on Saturday evenings, as this was deemed displeasing to the Mooinjer- Veggey (Fairies), and at every baking and churning a small bit of dough and butter was stuck on the wall for their consumption. Besides keeping on good terms with the benevolent Fairies, there are various other methods of defeating the machinations of the malevolent ones. Among these are the incantations and herbs got from men and women who had acquired the reputation of being Fairy Doctors, or Charmers, though their nostrums were usually applied to the cure of cattle. One of the most renowned of these practitioners, Teare of Ballawbane, told Train, in 1833, that the malevolence of the Fairies had caused the seed potatoes to become tainted in the ground, and, in order to convince him that this was the case, he said that all the potatoes which he had taken under his protection had vegetated vigorously.
But there are methods for protecting human beings and animals against Fairies, which are so well known that there is no need to apply to a Charmer before applying them. Thus, salt is very efficacious, and so is iron, as will be seen from stories which follow. It was necessary to take great care of children, especially before baptism, as one of the commonest actions of the malevolent Fairies is to steal children. If a child were taken away, a decrepit and emaciated Fairy would be found in its place, and the prettier the child, the greater the risk of this. One way of preventing this catastrophe was to lay an iron poker, or other iron implement, on the child when left alone, another was to tie a red thread round the child's neck, and when taking her child to be christened, a woman would take a piece of bread and cheese with her, which she gave to the first person she met for the same purpose. Another protective measure, both for human beings and animals, is to have the cuirn, or mountain ash, in the form of a cross, made without a knife, put over the threshold of their dwellings. Flowers growing in a hedge, especially if yellow, are also useful in this respect, and ploughmen were wont to throw chamber lee over their ploughs to protect them. On Midsummer Eve, when tteir power is at its height, flowers and herbs are the only barriers to their incursions, and these are regularly spread at the doors of the houses to protect the inmates. They are also supposed to be always abroad during the harvest moon; and many stories are related of their excursions through the Island, and particularty of their merry-makings in Glentrammon. The interior of Fairy Hill, in Rushen, is supposed to be the palace of the Fairy King, and many a tale was told of the midnight revels of the fairy court of Mona.
Waldron,* to whom we owe most of our stories about Fairies, after referring to the ignorance of the Manx people as being the cause of their excessive superstition, writes :" I know not, idolizers as they are of the clergy, whether they would even be refractory to them, were they to preach against the existence of fairies, or even against their being commonly seen They confidently assert that the first inhabitants of their Island were fairies, so do they maintain that these little people have still their residence among them. They call them the good people, and say they live in wilds and forests, and on mountains, and shun great cities because of the wickedness acted therein; all the houses are blessed where they visit, for they fly vice. A person would be thought impudently profane who should suffer his family to go to bed without having first set a tub, or pail full of clean water, for these guests to bathe themselves in, which the natives aver they constantly do, as soon as ever the eyes of the family are closed, wherever they vouchsafe to come. If anything happens to be mislaid, and found again, in some place where it was not expected, they presently tell you a fairy took it and returned it; if you chance to get a fall and hurt yourself, a fairy laid something in your way to throw you down) as a punishment for some sin you have committed." * See Preface
Cumming, writing in 1849, says, "It is not often now-a-days that we can meet with persons not ashamed to own their belief in the existence of the good people, and still more seldom is it that we can extract affirmative testimony of eye-witnesses to their tiny pranks upon the green sward. It would be a mistake, however, to suppose that the minds of the Manx peasantry are uninfluenced by a superstitious feeling of reverence for the Fairy Elves, and for places which tradition has rendered sacred to their revels. The superstition has with them its use, it causes them to keep good hours; and in some parts of the Island it would be difficult to prevail on a native to stir out after dark. Yea, it is said, that on dark, dismal and stormy nights, up in the mountain parts of parishes, the tender-hearted peasants retire earlier to rest, in order to allow to the weather-beaten Fairies the unmolested and unwatched enjoyment of the smouldering embers of their turf fire."
Campbell, in writing of the Fairies in the Highlands and the Western Isles, says "Men do believe in fairies, though they will not readily confess the fact. And, although I do not myself believe that fairies are, in spite of the strong evidence offered, I believe there once was a small race of people in these islands, who are remembered as fairies. . . . They are always represented as living in green mounds. They pop up their heads when disturbed by people treading upon their houses. They steal children. They seem to live on familiar terms with the people about them, who treat them well, and to punish them when they ill-treat them." He then proceeds. to compare these fairy structures with the abodes of the modern Laplanders, ·and to state, with a considerable show of probability, that many of the stories about Fairies have originated from tradition about these curious little people.
Further on in his book, after giving a number of Gaelic fairy tales, he continues "The Manks fairy creed is again the same. Similar beings are supposed to exist, and are known by the name of Ferish, which a Mankman assured me was a genuine Manks word.* If so, fairy may be old Celtic, and derived from the same root as Fen, instead of being derived from it. The fairies in the Isle of Man are believed to be spirits. They are not supposed to throw arrows as they are said still to do in the Highlands. None of the old peasants seemed to take the least interest in "elf shots," the flint arrows, which generally lead to a story when shown elsewhere. One old man said,. "the ferish have no body, no bones," and scorned the arrow heads. It is stated in Train's History that there are no flint.-arrow heads in the Isle of, Man; but as there are numerous barrons, flint weapons may yet be discovered when some one looks for them.+ Still these Manks fairies are much the same as their neighbours on the main land. They go into mills at night and grind stolen corn; they steal milk from the cattle; they live in green mounds; in short, they are like little mortals invested with supernatural power."
* Here we think Campbell's informant was mistaken (see p.34)
+Train was certainly wrong, as numerous flint arrow-heads have been discovered both before and after his time. Campbell's informant was also in error, as these flint weapons are certainly supposed by the Manks to have been used by the Fairies.
It will be seen from the first two stories that follow that the Fairies are supposed to have been the earliest inhabitants of the Island. In addition to the Fairies proper, there are familiar or household Spirits, who are implacable in their resentment, but unchanging in their friendship. There are two of these in the Isle of Man, viz., the Lhiannan-Shee, or "spirit friend," a guardian spirit, identical with the Irish Liannannshee and the Dooiney-oie, or "night man," who seems peculiar to the Island, though he bears a faint resemblance to the Irish Banshee.
"Quocunque Jeceris Stabit. "Motto.
The natives say that many centuries before the Christian era the Island was inhabited by Fairies, and that nfl business was carried on in a supernatural manner. They affirm that a blue mist contindally hung over the land, and prevented mariners, who passed in ships that way, from even suspecting that there was an Island so near at hand, till a few fishermen, by stress of weather, were stranded on the shore. As they were preparing to kindle a fire on the beach, they were astounded by a fearful noise issuing from the dark cloud which concealed the Island from their view. When the first spark of fire fell into their tinder box, the fog began to move up the side of the mountain, closely followed by a revolving object, closely resembling three legs of men joined together at the upper part of the thighs, and spread out so as to resemble the spokes of a wheel. Hence the Arms of the Island. Train.
"Mona, once hid from those who search the main Where thousand elfin shapes abide. "COLLINS.
Some hundred years before the coming of our Saviour, the Isle of Man was inhabited by a certain species called Fairies, and everything was carried on in a supernatural manner; a blue mist hanging continually over the land, prevented the ships that passed by from having any suspicion there was an island. This mist, contrary to nature, was preserved by keeping a perpetual fire, which happening once to be extinguished, the shore discovered itself to some fishermen, who were there in a boat on their vocation, and by them notice was given to the people of some country, who sent ships in order to make a further discovery. On their landing, they had a fierce encounter with the little people, and having got the better over them possessed themselves of Castle Rushen, and by degrees, as they received reinforcements, of the whole Island. These new conquerors maintained their ground some time, but were at length beaten out by a race of giants, who were not extirpated, as I said before, till the reign of Prince Arthur, by Meilin, the famous British enchanter. They pretend, also, that this Island afterward became an Asylum to all the distressed princes and great men in Europe, and that those uncommon fortifications made about Peel Castle were added for their better security.
A young sailor, coming off a long voyage, though it was late at night, chose to land rather than lie another night in the vessel; being permitted to do so, he was set on shore at Douglas. It happened to be a fine, moonlight night, and very dry, being a small frost; he, therefore, forbore going into any house to refresh himself; but made the best of his way to the house of a sister he had at Kirk Malew. As he was going over a pretty high mountain, he heard the noise of horses, the halloo of a huntsman, and the finest horn in the world. He was a little surprised that anybody pursued those kind of sports in the night; but he had not time for much reflection before they all passed by him, so near that he was able to count what number there was of them, which, he said, was thirteen, and that they were all dressed in green, and gallantly mounted. He was so well pleased with the sight that he would gladly have followed, could he have kept pace with them. He crossed the footway, however, that he might see them again, which he did more than once, and lost not the sound of the horn for some miles. At length, being arrived at his sister's, he tells her the story, who presently clapped her hands for joy, that he was come home safe. "For," said she, "those you saw were fairies; and 'tis well they did not take you away with them."- Waldron.
Manx Fairies seem to have been especially fond of tbe chase. If a horse were found in his stall wet with perspiration, for which no particular reason could be given, it would be said that he must have been ridden by them. Of this superstition, the following story is an instance
Once upon a time an old Vicar of Braddan was very much troubled by having his horse taken out of the field during the night, and finding him in the morning sweating all over, and as much exhausted as if he had been furiously ridden many miles. In spite of all enquiries, he could never learn who had done this. But one morning, just at day-break, as he was returning home from the bedside of one of his sick parishioners, to whom he had been administering the Sacrament, he observed, just as he was passing his field, a little man in a green jacket, and carrying a riding whip in his hand, in the act of turning his horse loose into the field. On this little individual turning round, he saw the Vicar standing by the gate, on which he immediately vanished, and the saddle, which he had placed at the side of the fence was turned into stone in the shape of a saddle. It has remained there ever since, and so the road which passes this point is called "The Saddle-road" to this day. It is almost needless to state that the old Vicar's horse was never molested again.Oral.
A Manxman, who had the reputation of the utmost integrity, being desirous of disposing of a horse he had at that time no great occasion for, and riding him to market for that purpose, was accosted, in passing over the mountains, by a little man in a plain dress, who asked him if he would sell his horse. "'Tis the design I am going on," replied the person who told the story. On which the other desired to know the price. "Eight pounds," said he. "No," resumed the purchaser, "I will give no more than seven; which, if you will take, here is your money." The owner thinking he had bid pretty fair, agreed with him, and the money being told out, the one dismounted and the other got on the back of the horse, which he had no sooner done than both beast and rider sunk into the earth immediately, leaving the person who had made the bargain in the utmost terror and consternation. As soon as he had a little recovered himself, he went directly to the parson of the parish, and related what had passed, desiring he would give his opinion whether he ought to make use of the money he had received or not. To which he replied that, as he had made a fair bargain, and in no way circumvented, nor endeavoured to circumvent, the buyer, he saw no reason to believe, in case it was an evil spirit, it could have any power over him. On this assurance, he went home well satisfied, and nothing afterwards happened to give him any disquiet concerning this affair. Waldron.
Such a soft floating witchery of sound, As twilight elfins make, when they at eve Voyage on gentle gales from fairyland.Coleridge.
An English gentleman, the particular friend of our author, to whom' he told the story, was about passing over Douglas Bridge ~before jt was broken down, but the tide being high he was 'obliged totake the river, having an excellent horse under him and' one Qccustorned to swim. As he was in the middle of it he heard, or imagined he heard, the finest symphony, he would not say in the world, for nothing human ever came up to it. The horse was no less sensible of the harmony than himself, and kept in an immoveable posture all the time it lasted; which, he said could not, be less than three-quarters of an hour, according to the most exact calculation he could make when he arrived at the end of his little journey and found how long he had been coming. He, who before laughed at all the stories told of fairies, now became a convert, and believed as much as ever a Manxman of them all. Waldron.
What cursed foot wanders this way to-night,
To cross my obsequies.
A little beyond the "Devil's Den," is a small lake, in the midst of which is a huge stone, on which formerly stood a cross; round this lake the fairies are said to celebrate the obsequies of any good person. I have heard many people, and those of a considerable s1mar~ of understanding, protest that, in passing that way, they have been saluted with the sound of such music as could proceed from no earthly instruments. Waldron.
Then let them all encircle him about,
And, fairy' like, to pinch the unclean knight,
And ask him why that hour of fairy revel-
In their so sacred paths he dares to tread
In shape profane.Shakespeare.
A fiddler, having agreed with a person, who was a stranger, for so much money, to play to some company he should bring him to, all the twelve days of Christmas, and received earnest for it, saw his new master vanish into the earth the moment he had made the bargain. Nothing could be more terrified than was the poor fiddler; he found he had entered himself into the Devil's service, and looked upon himself as already damned; but having recourse to a clergyman, he received some hope.
He ordered him, however, as he had taken earnest, to go when he should be called; but that whatever tunes should be called for, to play none but Psalms. On the day appointed, the same person appeared, with whom he went, though with what inward reluctance 'tis easy to guess; but, punctually obeying the minister's directions, the company to whom he played were so angry that they all vanished at once, leaving him at the top of a high hill, and so bruised and hurt, though he was not sensible when, or from what hand he received the blows, that he got not home without the utmost difficulty.-- Waldron.
There are many stories of fairy music, of even later date than this. The most definite of these is to the effect that the music of the famous song called T/ie BoZian Bane, or "The White Herb," a plant known to the Fairy Doctors, and of great healing virtues, was taken from a tune sung by the Fairies one evening on the mountains, which was heard by a belated, wanderer, some fifty years ago.Oral.
It is well known that all Fairies and their like have a great objection to noise, especially to the ringing of church bells. This is illustrated by the following story :
About seventy years ago, a man, very early one spring morning, heard a low murmuring, wailing noise. On going to the door to see what occasioned it, he beheld "multitudes of the good people passing over the stepping stones in the river, and wending their way up the side of the hill, until they were lost in the mist that then enveloped the top of Bearey Meuntain. They were dressed chiefly in Loaghtyn, with little pointed red caps, and most of them were employed in bearing upon their shoulders various articles of domestic use, such as kettles, pots, pans, the spinning wheel, and such like, evidently seeking fresh and more quiet quarters, having been disturbed, as was supposed, by the noise of a fulling mill lately erected in their neighbourhood." W. Harrison.
I have heard many Manxmen protest they have been carried insensibly great distances from home, and without knowing how they came there, found themselves on the top of a mountain. One man had been led by invisible musicians for several miles together, and not being able to resist the harmony, followed, till it conducted him into a large common, where were a great number of little people sitting round a table, and eating and drinking in a very jovial manner. Among them were some faces whom he thought he had formerly seen, but forbore taking any notice, or they of him, till the little people offered him drink; one of them, whose features seemed not unknown to him, plucked him by the coat, and forbade him, whatever he did, to taste anything he saw before him; "for if you do," added he, "you will be as I am, and return no more to your family." The poor man was much aifrighted, but resolved to obey the injunc tion. Accordingly a large silver cup filled with some sort of liquor, being put into his hand, he found an opportunity to throw what it contained on the ground. Soon after, the music ceasing, all the company disappeared, leaving the cup in his hand; and he returned home, though much wearied and fatigued. He went the next day and communicated to the minister of the parish all that had happened, and asked his advice how he should dispose of the cup; to which the parson replied, he could not do better than to devote it to the service of the Church; and this very cup, they tell me, is that which is now used for the consecrated wine in Kirk Malew.- Waldron.
A similar tale is told of the "Altar Cup in Aagerup," a village in Zeland :One Christirias Eve a farmer's servant in the village borrowed his master's horse and rode down to see the "troll meeting," and while he was wondering to see how well and gaily the little dwarfs danced, up came a troll to him and invited him to dismount and take a share in their merriment. Another troll held his horse, while he went down and danced with them all night long. As it was drawing near day he mounted his horse to return home, when a maiden, who held a gold cup in her hand, invited him to drink the stirrup cup. He took it. but having some suspicion, while he made as if he was raising the cup to his mouth, threw the contents over his shoulder. He then clapped spurs into his horse's sides and rode away with the cup in his hands as fast as the horse cotild gallop. The trolls set off in full pursuit, and gained on him every minute. In his distress he prayed to God, and he made a vow that, if he should be delivered, he would bestow the cup on the Church. As he rode along by the wall of the church yard he hastily flung the cup over it, that it at least might be secure; and pushing on at full speed, and just as they were on the point of catching hold of the horse, he sprang in through the farmer's gate and closed the wicket after him. Thus was he saved, and the cup was presented to the Church.
Chancellor Gervase, of Tilbury, writing in the thirteenth century, makes mention of a knight who on being presented with a large horn by the "ancient people," rode off with it, instead of returning. For this he is said to have been con demned to death. A cup with some mysterious drink is common in Celtic traditions. There was the Cup of Fionn which healed diseases, and the Saint Graal, of medi2eval romance. In more recent times there was the well-known cup called "The Luck of Eden Hall," and the "Ballafletcher Drinking Glass." (See pp. 49, so.)
See fairies, who
Into their beds did foist your babes,
And theirs exchanged to be.
Albion's England, 1612.
The story of infants being exchanged in their cradles is here in such credit that mothers are in continual terror at the thought of it. I was prevailed upon to go and see a child, who, they told me, was of these changelings, and indeed must own I was not a little surprised, as well as shocked, at the sight nothing under heaven could have a more beautiful face; but, though between five and six years old, and seemingly healthy, he was so far from being able to walk, or stand, that be could not so much as move any one joint his limbs were vastly long for his age, but smaller than infant's of six months; his complexion was perfectly delicate, and he had the finest hair in the world; he never spoke or cried, eat scarce anything, and very seldom seen to smile, but if anyone called him a Fairy Elf he would frown, and fix his eyes so earnestly on those who said it, as if he would look them through. His mother, at least his supposed mother, being very poor, frequently went out a charing, and left him a whole day together; the neighbours, out of curiosity, have often looked down at the window to see how he behaved when alone, which, whenever they did, they were sure to find him laughing, and in the utmost delight. This made them judge that he was not without company more pleasing to him than any mortals could be, and what made this conjecture seem the more reasonable was that if he were left ever so dirty, the woman, at her return, saw him with a clean face, his hair combed with the utmost exactness and nicety. Waldron.
From fairies, and the tempters of the night,
Guard me, beseech you.Shakespeare.
An account of this nature I had from a woman, to whose offspring the fairies seemed to have a particular fancy. The fourth or fifth night after she was delivered of her first child, the family were alarmed by a most terrible cry of fire, on which everybody ran out of the house to see whence it proceeded, not excepting the nurse, who, being as much frighted as the others, made one of the number. The poor woman lay trembling in ~her bed alone, unable to help herself, and her back being turned to the infant, saw not that it was taken away by an invisible hand. Those who had left her having enquired about the neighbourhood, and finding there was no cause for the outcry~ they had heard, laughed at each other for the mistake; but as they were going to re-enter the house, the poor babe lay on the threshold, and by its cries preserved itself from being trod upon. This exceedingly amazed all that saw it, and the mother being still in bed, they could ascribe no reason for finding it theme, but having been removed by fairies, who by their sudden return, had been prevented from carrying it any further.
About a year after the same woman was brought to bed of a second child which had not been born many nights before, a great; noise was heard in the house where they kept their cattle. Everybody that was stirring ran' to see what was tIme matter, believing that the cows had' got loose; the nurse was as ready 'as the, rest, but finding all safe, and the barn-door close, immediately returned, but not so suddenly but that the new born babe .~vas taken out of the bed, as the former had been, and dropped on their coming in the middle of the entry. This was enough to prove the fairies had made a second attempt; and the parents sending for a minister, joined with him in thanksgiving to God who had twice delivered their children from being taken from them.
But in the time of her third lying-in everybody seemed to have forgot what had happened in the first and second, and on a noise in the cattle house ran out to know what had occasioned it. The nurse was the only person, excepting the woman in the straw, who stayed in the house, nor was she detained through care or 'want of curiosity but by the bonds of sleep, having drunk a little too plentifully the preceding day. The mother, who was broad awake, saw her child lifted out of the bed and carried out of the chamber, though she could not see any person touch it, on which she cried out as loud as she could, "Nurse, nurse my child my child is taken away"; but the old woman was too fast to be awakened by the noise she made, and the infant was irretrievably gone. When her husband and those who had accompanied him returned they found her wringing her hands and uttering the most piteous lamentations for the loss of her child, on which, said the husband, looking into the bed, "The woman is mad, do no.t you see the child lies by you?" On which she turned and saw indeed something like a child, but far different from her own who was a very beautiful, fat, well-featured babe, whereas, what was now in the room of it was a poor, lean, withered, deformed creature. It lay quite naked, but the clothes belonging to the child that was exchanged for it lay wrapt up all together on the bed.
This creature lived with them near the space of nine years, in all which time it eat nothing except a few herbs, nor was ever seen to void any other excrement thaim water. It neither spoke nor could stand or go, but seemed enervate in every joint, like the changeling I mentioned before, and in all its actions showed itself to be of the same nature. Waldron.
The wife of a fisherman had to go into the harvest to help with the reaping, as there were very few hands, in consequence of so many being away at the fishing. She took her young~ child with her, which up to that time had not been christened, because of the absence of her husband, and placed it between two sheaves on the headland, taking the precaution to place an open pair of scissors across it, for fear the fairies should take the boght mhush (poor, sweet thing), and leave one of their own banthings in its place. She was engaged at the other end of the field, when, hearing great wailings, and thinking that something, had happened to the child, she hastened to the spot where she had placed it; but found that it was not there. Being half distracted with the fear of losing her infant, she ran towards the entrance of the field, from whence she saw two little people engaged in dragging the child between them. She at once rushed after them, seized the child, and carried it home. It was supposed that the scissors had slipped off, and thus left the. child unprotected. W. Harrison.
The following story is very similar :A woman during harvest was in a field helping her husband to stook the corn, when she heard her child crying. She had previously placed it behind one of the stooks, and when she arrived at the spot it was missing, and another child in its place, it having been exchanged by the Fairies. Soon afterwards, hearing this child cry, she began to run to it; but her husband knowing it was not the voice of their own child, held the woman back, and would not let her go till the cry had ceased. She then went back and found her own child. The Fairies having heard their child in' distress, and seeing it uncared for, had taken it away, and left the woman her own.-Jenkinson.
Nor, were the misdeeds of Fairies confined to children, as will be seen from the next two stories: Many years ago, the Fairies stole away the fair wife of the owner of Ballaleece. After some time, the man took to himself a second partner, and then the first paid him a visit in company with a troop of sister Fairies, riding on small horses. She arranged with her husband that they should come again at a stated time, when she would be on the second horse, and he was, therefore, to seize hold of the bridle and detain her; but it was stipulated that he should not succeed in doing so, unless he swept the barn floor so clear, that there was not left a single bit of straw. He made everything ready for the meeting, but in the meantime told the seci'et to his second wife, and she, through jealousy, and in order to circum vent her rival, placed a single straw secretly under a bushel on the barn floor. The result was, that when the Fairies came, the farmer seized hold of the second horse by the bridle, as pre arranged, but could not detain it, and away went all the troop. Jenkinson.
Not so many years ago a farmer's son, in the parish of Andreas, was taken away by the Fairies, and was lost for four years. One day, as his two brothers were passing by a thorn bush not far from their house, they heard a crack that startled them, so that they ran back home. Not long afterwards their mother heard a footstep near the house, upon whicim she remarked that if John (the lost boy) had been at home, she would have said that it was his footstep. At the expiration of the four years, the boy returned, and told them his advenbures. He asked his brothers if they remembered the crack from the bush, and, on receiving a reply in the affirmative, he explained that it was one of the Fairies, with whom he had been galloping about all the time, who was shooting an arrow at them, and that he had lifted up a plate to intercept the arrow; hence the crack that they had heard. As to the footstep his mother had heard, he said that was his, and he told them that he was near them all the time, but could not get to them; in fact he saw all they were doing, and, as an instance of this, he mentioned the day on which they had taken corn to Ramsey. He could give no account of how he had been let loose by the Fairies, merely remarking that he seemed as if he had been unconscious, and then waked up in this world, and at once came to his people.
The wife which is of Fairie,
Of suche a childe delivered is.Gower.
A woman told me that, being great with child, and expecting every moment the good hour, as she lay awake one night in bed, she saw seven or eight little women come into her chamber, one of whom had an infant in her arms; they were followed by a man of the same size with themselves, but in the habit of a minister. One of them went to the pail, and finding no water in it, cried out to the others, "What must they do to christen the child?" On which they replied it should be done in beer. With that the seeming parson took the child in his arms, and performed the ceremony of baptism, dipping his hand into a great tub of strong beer, which the woman had brewed the day before, Lo he ready for her lying-in. She told me that they baptised the infant by the name of Joan, which made her know she was pregnant of a girl, as it proved a few days after, when she was delivered. She added, also, that it was common for the fairies to make a mock christening when any person was near her time, and that according to what child (male or female) they brought, such should the woman bring into the world. Waldron.
A gentleman, my near neighbour, who affirmed with the most solemn asseverations that, being entirely averse to the belief in fairies, or that any such beings were permitted to wander for the purposes related of them, had been at last convinced by the appearance of several little figures, playing and leaping over some stones in a field, whom, a few yards distance, he imagined were school boys, and intended, when he came near enough, to reprimand, for being absent from their exercises at that time of the day, it being then, he said, between three and four of the clock. But when he approached, as near he could guess, within twenty paces, t~mey all immediately disappeared, though he had never taken his eye off them from the first moment he beheld them; nor was there any place where they could so suddenly retreat, it being an open field, without hedge or bush, and, as is said before, broad day. Waldron.
As an instance that fairies will not suffer any abuse without resorting to some mode of punishment, the following occurred some six years ago, and was notorious. A man of Laxey, some what intoxicated, met a party of them, and began forthwith to abuse and curse them as the devil's imps; they wreaked their vengeance on him by piercing his skin with a shower of gravel. My guide, perhaps recollecting that the fairies were within hearing, took their part, and expressed his assurance that they would not have molested him had he not provoked them by his insults. The catastrophe did not terminate here. The offender sickened that night, his favourite horse died next morning, his cows died also, and in six weeks he himself was a corpse ! Lord Teignmouths Sketches, 1836.
A girl about ten years old, daughter of a woman who lived about two miles from Ballasalla, being sent over the fields to the town for a' pennyworth of tobacco for her father, was, on the top of a mountain, surrounded by a great number of little men, who would not suffer her to pass any farther. Some of them said she should go with them, and accordingly laid hold of her; but one seeming more pitiful, desired they would let her alone; which they refusing, there ensued a quarrel, and the person who took her part, fought bravely in her defence. This so incensed the others, that to be revenged on her for being the cause, two or three of them seized her, and whipped her heartily; after which it seems, they had no further power over her, and she ran home directly, telling what had befallen her, and showing her back on which were the prints of several small hands. Several of the townspeople went with her to the mountain, and, she conducting them to the spot, the little antagonists were gone, but had left behind them proofs, that what the little girl had informed them was true; for there was a great deal of blood to be seen on the stones. Waldron.
The following item of news was communicated to the Mona's Herald newspaper, by a correspondent, in 1847 :" We are sorry to state that the same disgraceful conduct has again been manifested in breaking the windows of the house of Mr Quayle, Maughold. Several panes have again been broken, and all efforts to trace the depredators have been abortive. Every precaution has been taken the door has been thrown open, but when the neighbours rushed after those who did it, all was as still as if nothing had been there. A number of the most active and stout-hearted young men in the parish assisted in the search; three fierce dogs were brought from neighbouring farms, but they shrunk affrighted, and refused to follow the instinct of their nature. No means were resorted to, but it remains as great a mystery as ever, and nothing will convince the people but that it is the mischievous tricks of the fairies or ghosts! They say that Mr Quayle ploughed lately a small plot of ground that was never ploughed before, and that he turned over some bones in an old grave-yard, which was the sole cause!"
A man, with some fresh fish, was once followed home by a lot of Fairy Dogs. When he arrived at his own door he picked up a stone and threw it among them, whereupon they disappeared, but not without his being struck or stung. He was consequently ill for six months afterwards. My informant told me that this man would have been left alone if he had put a pinch of salt in the fish, as the Fairies could not stand salt or baptism, and baptised children were safe from being changed by them. He also told me that when he was engaged in the fishing and had a fish given him to take home, they would never let him start, if it was in the evening, ' without putting a pinch of salt in the mouth of the fish to prevent the Fairies setting on him. Rhys.
Another story about Fairy Dogs was related by an old man in 1874, who said that when a lad, he and a companion were travelling one fine moonlight night in the East Baldwin Valley, and hearing something in a gill (small glen) they stopped, and on looking about saw little creatures, like small dogs with red caps, running away.
The estate of Ballafletcher, on which stands the Parish Church of Braddan, now called Kirby, was long in the possession of a family named Fletcher. Colonel Wilks, the late proprietor of this estate, had in his possession an antique crystal goblet, resembling those old-fashioned wine glasses still to be met with in the store of the curious housewife. This goblet was presented to him by an old lady, a connection of the family of Fletcher, the former proprietor of the estate. It is larger than a common bell-shaped tumbler, and is ornamented with carved sprigs and white lines. It is supposed to have been dedicated to the Lhiannan-Shee, or "peaceful spirit" of Ballafletcher, by the former owners of the estate, and to have been held in great esteem, being only used once a year, at Christmas, when the Lord of the Manor drank a bumper from it to the Lhiannan-Shee of his hearth and domain. To break this fragile memorial would have been deemed a great misfortune to the family, and displeasing to the spirit of peace. Colonel Wilks, honouring and respecting the fancies of the olden times, caused it to be encased in a strong oaken box, mounted with silver; and, in all probability, the old lady donor was glad at having got it safe out of her hands. Train.
William Harrison, in his notes to Waldron, written about twenty years later than Train's history, gives the following account of this cup, which he calls "The Ballafletcher Drinking Glass.': "This drinking cup, now in the possession of Major Bacon, of Seafield House, upwards of two hundred years ago adorned the beaufet of ballafletcher House. It was purchased at the sale of the effects of the last of the Fletchers, in 1778, by Robert Caesar, who gave it to his niece for safe keeping, in consequence of an ancient tradition 'that whosoever had the misfortune to break the glass would surely be haunted by the Lhiannan-Shee of Ballafletcher. The cup is a crystal cyathus engraved with floral scrolls, having between the designs, on two sides, upright columen of five pillars. . . . The following is the legend : In ancient times there stood in the parish of Braddan a mansion called Kirkby. It was so named because it was the place of entertainment for the Bishops of Sodor, in their progresses to and from the Isle. Of this building nothing remains except its site, near an ancient encampment, and the picturesque churchyard of Braddan with its numerous runes and runic crosses. More than two centuries ago, when Kirkby merged into the Fletcher family, its ancient name was changed, and the place took the designation of the new owner. To the first of this family was given the cup, with the injunction "that as long as he preserved it peace and plenty would follow; but woe to him who broke it, as he would surely be haunted by the Lhiannan-S/iee." The glass stood in a recess, and was never taken from its place or used except on Christmas and Easter days. It was then filled with wine and quaffed off at a breath by the head of the house only, as a libation to the spirit for her protection. The cup belonged, it is said, to Magnus, the Norwegian King of Man, who took it from the shrine of St. Olave when he violated the saint's oratory."
There was a man who lived not long ago near Port Erin who had a Lkiannan-S/iee. "He was like other people, but he had a fairy sweetheart; but he noticed her, and they do not like being noticed, the fairies, and so he lost his mind. Well, he was quite quiet like other people, but at night he slept in the barn, and they used to hear him talking to his sweetheart, and scolding her sometimes; but if anyone made a noise he would be quiet at once." Now, the truth of this story is clear enough. The man went mad, but this madness took the form of the popular belief, and that again attributed his madness to the airy mistress. I am convinced that this was believed to be a a case of genuine fairy intercourse, and it shows that the fairy creed still survives in the Isle of Man .Campbell.
The Dooiney-oie, or night-man of the Manx peasantry, is reverenced as the tutelar demon of certain families, as it appeared only to give monitions of future events to particular persons. His voice was sometimes very dismal, when heard at night on the mountains, something like H o-w-l-a-a, or H-o-w-a-a. When his lamentation in winter was heard on the coast, being a sure prediction of an approaching tempest, it was so awful that even the brute creation trembled at the sound.Train.
Of late years there has been a disposition to confound the characteristics of the Dooiney-oie with those of the Phynnodderee and Glashtin, as he is supposed to do work, such as threshing corn, for those with whom he is connected.