[from Manx Notes & Queries, 1904]



I am much pleased and interested with the column devoted to Notes and Queries on Manx subjects. I differ, however, with the recent contribution numbered 15 I have found in my experience that Bahee in Welsh is a pet term, or expression of endearment, for a child; and I knew an instance in the North of the Isle of Man where the same word was equivalent to the English name Phoebe. Peggy and Puy, I understand to be Manx for Margaret, or Maggie.

Douglas. J. H. L.



In the fourth volume of the Historical Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, 1852, a very interesting account is given by Joseph Mayer, the antiquarian, of King William the Third’s royal progress to Ireland to suppress the rebellion. According to it, he left London on the 4th June, 1690, slept at Peel Hall, near Tarvin, on the 9th. The next day we find him at Chester, from thence, the same afternoon he travelled to Gayton Hall, near Parkgate, and the next morning he proceeded to Leasowe, and the troops striking their tents, were put in motion and embarked on hoard the Royal Fleet (on a point since called the King’s Gap lying in the Lake, and sailed out with the tide at noon-day. Edward Tariton, master of the James, of Liverpool, piloted the King’s vessel from Hoylake to Carrickfergus. By a computation of the state of the tide on the 10th June, 1690, old style, it was high water at Hoylake and Liverpool at nine o’clock, a.m. The King’s ship, on board of which William III. was, grounded on a bank near the Point of Ayre, off the Isle of Man, at about four o’clock the next morning. This being the low water of a spring tide, his vessel did not get off for more than an hour afterwards ; and the bank has ever since been called King’s William’s Bank. The origination of the naming of this dangerous sandbank will no doubt prove of great interest to Manxmen.

Manchester. C. ROEDER.



The foxglove in Irish plant lore is intimately connected with the fairies under the appellation of Lusmore ; the shefro wears the corolla of its flower on his head. The Welsh call it—

menyg ellyllon—elf s glove.
bysedd ellyllon—fairy fingers.
bysedd y cwn -dog’s fingers.

In Gaelic we have : -

meuran sith—fairy thimble.
meuran na daoine marbha—dead men’s thimble.

And in Irish :—

meregan na mna sioh thimble of the fairywomen.

In Manx we meet various more or less corrupted forms:—
slieggan slieau (Kelly).
sleggan slieau Quayle and Ralfe).
slegon slieau (Laxey, Rydings).
slachan slieau (Cregneish).
slingan slieau (W. F. Peacock, 1863) from Colby).
slian slieau Spaldick
slang y slieau ,,

And A. W. Moore derives it from— sleggan slieau, Manx = mountain cleaver.

In the Norwegian and Danish language it is called :—

raev bjaelde—the fox tinkle-bell;

so named with reference to a favourite instrument of earlier times, a ring of bells hung on an arched support—tintinnabulum—which this plant with its hanging bell-shaped flowers so exactly represents. We also find a popular German plant name for the Digitalis purpurea

Wald schelle, Wald glocklein , the little tinkle-bell of the wood;

and Threlkeld in his Sinopsis stirpiurm Hibernicarum, Dublin 1727, cites—

Shihan sleivhe= mountain or wood bell. and
Shihan na m’na sioh=fairy women’s bell;

from the root seinn = music, chant, melody, with reference to the jingle or tinkle the little bell produces. We also have the phrase seinn an clag, gilong an clag=to ring the bell. We find thus that the Manx name has nothing to do, according to analogy and comparative folk-names, with sleggan=a cleaver. but is in all probability derived from Gaelic —clag or glag=bell ; claggan or glaggan=little bell, and German glocke = bell, and the Manx slieggan and sleggan is but a corrupted form of claggan, as c is often in Manx interchanged for s.

So far the Manx peasantry seems to be short of any fairy lore relating to the Foxglove. In Britten and Holland’s Dictionary of English Plant-Names the following quotation occurs

" The Kirk Session of St. Cuthbert (1636) examined Heleine Profeit, whether she had given her child ane drink of fox-tree (foxglove) leaves or not."

This seems to be connected with another bit of folklore of the County of Donegal, given in the Cornhill Magazine, vol. 35, 1877:—

"Get foxy leaves (foxglove) said the old woman. an’ boil them and bathe the wean three times in the water, and then weigh him in the scales. If he’s your aim child he’ll live, but if he is what I think he is — a changeling — he’ll die."— Has the Island anything similar ?

The Island also appears to be destitute in the use of the foxglove for folk-medicine at least I have not come across any medical recipes. Its application for paralysis, headache, abscesses, epitheliac cancer, swelling, etc., was already known in Wales in the middle of the 13th century. and prescriptions of the use of the foxglove are given by the Physicians of Myddvoi (Caermarthensbire). The Irish peasantry, according to Threlkeld (1727), used it as remedy for epilepsy and the running ulcers of the King’s evil.

I hope my note on the Manx claggan slieau, for such I consider the only correct form—the little mountain bell—also called by the Welsh in the13th century ffion ffridd—the forest crimson — two beautiful and poetical descriptions—may induce any Manxmen who happen to remember any fairy lore about the foxglove, to record it permanently in your valuable columns.

Manchester. C. ROEDER. 



I was told a little incident in Ramsey lately about Christian Lewaigue and Craine the Glaick, which I think ought to be recorded Christian was in the vanguard of’teetotalism while Craine was a big farmer and powerful preacher. They both went up and down throu the Island advocating doctrines of reform, preaching against the pride that had come over the people, their habit of drinking jough, and so forth Craine, on his way to Maughold to preach, called for " Lewaigue," and encountered a big dog chained on the street. The two reformers proceeded to the chapel together, and in the course of the sermon Craine called " Lewaigue " to account on the ground that he kept the big dog to frighten the poor and beggars from going near the door !





I have collected a number of old Man names given by the fishermen to their boa ts which are both interestinir and instructive. hope others may add to the list. The names come from the south-east of the Island :—

Collagh vuck — boar.
Muck vooar and veg—big and little pig.
Laalr ghoal—blind mare.
Cabbyl shuttle—shuttle horse.
Thollag faiyr—titmouse [in my copy written pigmy shrew]
Guiy minnagh—nippy goose.
Shellan tarroogh—busy bee.
Shellan mill—honey bee.
Kishan shellau— beehive.
Colmane— dove.
Beisht y kione dhoo—the beast of black head
Glashtin mooar and beg—big and little Glashtin.
Ben.rein ferrish—fairy queen.
Buggane y Smelt—the buggane of the Smelt.
Bill my fairishyn—fairy Bill.
Kione mooar— big head.
Jenny stoamey—bonny Jane.
Ben aeg stoamey—bonny lass.
Kitty Balda— Kitty of Balda.
Kerry thion mooar—big-backed Katherine.
Guilley mie—favourite.
Breeshyrs yn Joan Doghernee—John Doghernee’s breeches.
Baatey yn clieau—mountain boat.
Baatey chirrym—dry boat.
Billey feeyney— vine tree.
Corlhea (name of a farm).
Buinney cabbash—cabbage stalk.
Collagh sniper—is the snipe fish ; when they made sharp bows in the boats they called them sniper bows.
Smugler mooar—big smuagler.
Lhiattee yiarn—Iron-side.
Trattley—the name was Australia, but pronounced Trattley by the owner.

Manchester. C. ROEDER.



Ta mee er leeu my chorran dy-geyre,
Dy ghiarrey yn choonlagh marish yn aiyr,
Dy laboragh fo chiass yn ghrian,
Golhish myr dy beign ‘sy cheayn,
Dy churt ny bunneeyn fo haïee,
As paart dy lhie er yn laare-vooiee.

I have whetted my sickle sharp,
To cut the straw and the grass,
To toil under the heat of the sun,
Sweating as if I was in the sea,
That I may get the sheaves under the kiln,
And some laid on the threshing floor.




The Manx fishermen, when out on the sea, used to call the merman yn guilley beg, the little boy. This was his haaf, or sea name, by which alone he was allowed to be alluded to on the sea ; his land name is pohllinagh. There were many other words which were tabooed by the fishermen while engaged on the sea, and the same custom was followed by the Shetlanders and the Scotch fishermen. Even the surname was changed at sea by the men, and I could quote some instances to that effect. Mermen and mermaids have been known sporting and gambolling around the creeks and coves on the south-west part of the Island, and I have heard many a tale about their doings —and as I was told by an old friend :—

" Tra veagh ad fakin eh, veagh ad jannoo braghtan dy arran corkey as eeym, as ceau magh eh. Ta mee er chashtyn jeh dooinney ren cheet er unnane ,jiu er yn traie, as ren eh coyrt eh ayns yn cheayn reesht ; fly lurg shen, tra veagh sterrym ergerrey, veagh yn pohihin. agh cheet dy chur raaue da, as cha row eh goit ayns sterryrn, choud as ve’h goll gys yn cheayn."

When they saw him they made a cake of oaten bread and butter and threw it out. I have heard of a man that came on one of them on the shore, and put him in the sea again ; after that when there was a storm near, the merman was always coming to inform him, and he was not caught in a storm as long as he went out to sea.

Manchester. C. ROEDER.




Ta’n ushag veg my ersooyl gys yn chrouw,
Ny eayin gys ny moiraghyn roie,
Ta’n oie er yn aarkey ksh co-caslys grouw,
Dy gastey cheet voish y shiar-hwoaie.
Ta fainagh ny ghreiney ersooyl harrish ‘oirr,
Gys faarkaghyn lhean y sheear-ass,
Tan eayst ayns shiar er n’irree ayns gloyr,
As yn sheear ayns y coamrey glass.

The little brown bird has gone to the bush,
The lambs to their mothers now run,
The night on the ocean appears gloomy,
And quickly comes from the north-east.
The chariot of the sun is gone over the edge
To the wide waves of the south-west,
And the moon in the east is risen in glory,
And the west in its robe of gray.

Manchester. C. ROEDER.




On May Day (I quote Mona’s Herald, May 5th, 1837) the people in the Isle of Man from time immemorial burnt all the (yellow-flowered) whin bushes in the Island, conceiving that thereby they burn all the witches and fairies which they believe take refuge there. Then also old and young gathered particular herbs and planted them at their doors and in their dwellings for the purpose of preventing the entrance of the witches. In another place we read : " On May Eve they gathered primroses and strewed them before the doors of their dwellings to keep away the fairies on that night. They congregated in the mountains on May Eve, and to scare the fairies and witches supposed to he roaming on that particular night in numbers greater than ordinary, set fire to the gorse or conney and blew horns." Folkard in his Plantlore tells us that on May Day country people strew Marsh Mareygold before their doors, and twine them into garlands, and in another passage : " To yellow flowers growing In the hedgerows the fais-ies have a special dislike, and wilt never frequent a place where they abound. Timorous folk took precautions for excluding elfin visitors from their dwellings by hanging over their doors boughs of St. John’s Wort (which also bears a yellow flower) at midnight on St. John’s Eve." In some parts of Russia, according to Folkard, the country people heat their baths on the eve of St. John’s and place in them the herb Kunalnitza (a yellow crowfoot or Ranunculus), in other parts they place herbs, on the same anniversary, upon the roofs of the houses and stables, as a safeguard against evil spirits; the French peasantry rub the uddes-s of their cows with similar herbs to ensure plenty of milk, and place them over the doorways of cattle sheds and stables. We see that these customs were observed both at May Eve (Oie’l Voaldyn) and on midsummer Eve (Oie’l Eoin) which mark two very important Manx festivals. The May Day in Gaelic is the la buidhe baltuinn=the day of the yellow or golden bealtain ; and in Irish plant lore the marsh marygold, or Caltha palusts-is, is called, amongst other names, lvs buide bealtaine= the flower of yellow bealtaine, and in Cregneish I have likewise heard it called lus y voceldyn= flower of Bealtain. Another Irish name is becsrnan bealtine, or the bealtin chaplet, probably because it was worn as a covering for the head, as was likewise the mugwort. We notice the frequent recurrence of btnidhe=yellow or golden, in all these words. Besides this name we find another word for it used by the Id anx peasantry, variously spelt : belliÓch, bwillógh, booaliúgh and bluight ; bluight in Manx means milk (Gaelic blvochd, Irish bleachd=milk, kine, cows, giving milk) which seems also to be traceable in the Gaelic plant name : biiochan=marygold There is another plant name in Manx : bluightagh viieaun a plant not botanically defined in Kelly’s Dictionary, but which I surmise is to be equated with the Irish : bainne bo bleacht, or verbally, milk of the milch cow, a name given to the cowslip. Bluigtagh in Manx is milch cattle (Gaelic bliochdach=milk producing) and vlieaua is derived from blieaun, Manx~milking. From this it would appear that both the marsh marygold and the primrose played a very interesting part in the observation and celebration of thes festivities and that it was particularly applied to the milch kine—their chief wealth—and use to protect them from the evil influence of the fairies, evil spirits, and witches. The Franc custom aboye alluded to seems to explain the meaning of the Manx bluight or bwillogh, the bluightagh vlieaun, and the Irish bainne bo bleacht) Perhaps the Manx may also, like the Gallo-Celtic peasantry, have in times gone past rubbed and stroked the udders of their cows with marsh marygold, cowslip, and other yellow May flowers, in order to "ensure plenty of milk."

The subject deserves the attention of your Insular readers. I should like them to add to this lore, and increase the store of information to throw more light on the beliefs and customs observed during these early stages of pastoral life.

Manchester. C. ROEDER.



The Manx are a very superstitious folk and one evidence of their.superstitious nature is the large number of fairy tales everywhere current in the Island. That the Manx for generations past have been superstitious will be admitted. But did they always believe their fairy tales ? For instance, there is one which runs something like this (the exact details do not matter) :—

"A man was walking home through the country on a dark and stormy night. As he was passing the side of a hill he saw a cavern brightly lighted up and filled by a company of elves, who were feasting merrily. Upon seeing the wayfarer, two or three of their number ran out to the man with a cordial invitation to join their banquet, at the same time pressing upon him a goblet of wine. The man was sorely tempted, but knowing that if he joined their company he would be committing a deadly sin he, in spite of all entreaty, refused, and finally to mark his determination threw the wine on the ground. No sooner had he done this than there was a thunder-clap, the cavern disappeared, and the man was left alone, weary and footsore. He reached home, however, and had just entered his house when he found that the goblet (which like most goblets in fairy tales was of gold and mounted with precious stones) was still in his hand."

That is the story, was it ever believed literally? We think not, for the antiquity of this and similar stories justifies us in believing that they may have been circulated by the Druids. The Druids were in the habit of conveying religious teaching by parables. And is not the above quoted story a beautiful parable? A man is treading life’s journey, weary and often discouraged. Then come the temptations of the world—"eat, drink, and be merry." But the se are successfully resisted, with the result that in after years the man can look back and see that although he lost the fleeting pleasures then offered to him, he had retained some-thing which was far better. Some people may already hold this view, but there are many who, in regard these stories are in the position of Wordsworth’s character —

A primrose by the river’s brim,
A yellow primrose is to him,
And it is nothing more.

It is certainly a more dignified interpretation of these tales, and one more in accordance with reason, to suppose that they were originally of some real value apart from their character as "fairy " tales.



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