[from Manx Notes & Queries, 1904]



Can any reader give an account of the origins of the name of " The Horse Leap " on Douglas Head Marine Drive?

[41 ]

Is there any historical data of the use of the old fort at Castleward, or what is the most feasible theory of its purpose and age?



The Old Manx had two kinds of braains, the braain laue and the braain vwillin. The former are occasionally* turned up. The manipulation of these braains is illustrated in an interestiug account in the Hibernian Magazine, December, 1793+ :—The wiiter says:—

"They burn the straw of the sheaf to make the oats dry for meal. and though the grain is black by the ashes and the meal coloured, yet it is not unpleasant to taste, and is thought to be very wholesome food. This, with most of their oatmeal, they grind on braahs, a kind of mill similar to the quern, but made of harder stone, and of the same magnitude with quern millstones. being about three feet in diameter, and four to five inches thick. The uppermost stone is turned round by the hand of one or two women, who grind as much meal, evening and morning, as to serve for the day."

The Irish name for it is brõ (gen. brõn, for which we have in Welsh breuan, Cornish bron, Breton breon)=-hand mill, quern, and Professor Zimmer thinks that probably the word signified originally only the stone with which by the help of the hand the grain was ground.2 C. ROEDER

* Instances : Cregneish Ballastole, Lonan Shea Whallin Bradda.
+ Of the genius, custom, manners, and dress of the Western Hebrideans, pp. 304-505.
2 See Prof. Zimmer, Zeitschrift der Celtischen Philologie, Band I., 1396, page 86.



The Manx carranes, or kerranes, have realty nothing particularly Manx about them, and we must dismiss the popular idea that they were peculiar only to Mona. In the Shetlands, the common shoes in which they travelled, called rivilings, were a kind of sandal made of cow’s or seal’s hide, dried. The flesh side is put to the foot, and tied above the ankles. Logan+ informs us that the cuaran reached higher than the broque, which simply covered the foot, both being fastened with laces of thong,. The cuaran, he says, worn in Mann and throughout the whole Highlands, was an oval piece of raw cow or horse hide, drawn neatly round the foot by thongs of the same material by means of holes in the margin. The hair was often kept inside for warmth, they were perfectly flexible and pierced with small holes for the purpose of allowing the water received in crossing rivers and morasses to escape In Irish we have cuáransock, bandage, and cuarog=a shoe or brogue made of untanned leather ; and in Welsh we meet with curan=boot or boskin- To carry the enquiry a little further, in Dumfries they had the screa or scrae=an old shrivelled shoe ; in Norwegian we meet skraa or skrae, for an old shoe ; and the Icelandic presents us with its equivalent, skor, p1. skuar for the word shoe, probably derived from skra=dry skin.


+ See Caton, p 103 ; see also Rev Dr M’Ailum’s Excursion to the Shetlands, 1829. There shoes are of untanned bull hides fastened with thongs.

2 See James Logan The scottish Gael, vol I. , p. 251.



A few notes on-the old native breeds will not be amiss in this place. Sacheverell says the Manx cattle were generally small. The swine used to be in abundance, and a small mountain kind, called Furs, formed admirable meat. The old country stock of cows was already seldom in Felthcem’sf time, and short legged and thick bodied, and more remarkabk for fattening than for milk. Of sheep they had a breed of yellow, or rather buff’ colour (Sacheverell). Feltham writes

" The native stock is small and hardy, and would endure the hardest weather with little loss, and the meat tasted flue. This (he adds) is still the mountain breed. There is also (he continues) a peculiar breed, called Laughton, of the colour of Spanish snuff, and these are not so hardy, and more difficult to fatten. The natives like the cloth and stockings made of this wool."

More recently 1 a writer offers the following remarks about the Manx breed of sheep:— " The sheep are small on the hills, seldom exceeding 8 to 10th the quarter, and producing a fleece of short or middle wool, weighing 241bs. 2 They have much resemblance to the Welsh sheep, and have most of their peculiarities and bad points. They are narrow chested, and narrow-backed, long in leg, and deficient in shoulder. They are both found horned and polled, mostly of white colour, but some of them grey, and others of a peculiar snuff or brown colour, termed in the Island a laugton colour, this colour either covering the whole of the sheep, or appearing in the form of cepatch on the neck, is considered as the peculiar badge of the Isle of Man sheep. In the valleys a larger sheep, with longer wool, a proper long woolled sheep, the fleece averaging 7lbs., and the quarter from 12 to 16th is found, The flesh of both breeds is said to be good, and the wool of the hill sheep valued in the manufacture of stockings, and some of the worsted goods.

Some attempts have been made to improve the vale breed by crossing with the South Down, Leicester, and Merino, and with considerable success."

The Manx garron orpony.—The Manx ponies were all black and brown. Waldron says they were fleet, small, very hardy, never shoed, not eating corn, nor ever going into a stable. Formerly, Feltham remarks,— " They are remarkable for their beauty, and much in request in England and Ireland, to run in carriages, but now their rumbers are much diminished, as larger horses are found more useful."

The garrons of the Western Islands and Skye,3 like the Manx breed, were fed and reared, summer and winter, in the open air. With so much exposure their hair is very long, and they have altogether a very shaggy, weather beaten appearance. They were left unshod, docile, sure footed as mules, and patient as donkeys. Feltham does not state their height. In Shetland they range 9 to 11 hands, and in the Orkneys 12 to 14 hands. Geare’an in Irish is geneially a hack horse, but in Donegal it means a horse.

Red Deer.—There was a small number in Sacheverall’s time in existence in the Island, and plenty of goats and hares, and sufficient foxes for the sportsmen, and there is still the Lheim y chynney (Foxleap) near the Sound to remind us of the Manx foxhunters of days gone by.


* Account of the Isle of Man, W. Sacheverell, 1707, p 4.
+ A Tour through the Island of Man during 1797-8, by John Feltham, p. 55.
1 The Sheep : their Breeding, Management, and Diet, London, 1837 ; Baldwin & Cradock, page 501.
2 During the sheep shearing season at Bradda Head in 1897, when I was present, the fleece produced 3 to 41b. weight of wool, and the prics was put down at 9d per lb
3 Transactions of The Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland, Vol. 4, 1872, page 60,


Fragment of an old song which used to be sung to the children

Nagh ren mee my lhiabbee,
As hie mee gys fea?
As haink mitchoor stiagh,
As cha s’aym quot ye.

Nagh ren mee my lhiabbee,
As his mee dy lhie?
As tra dirree mee moghrey,
Van lhiabbee fud thie.

Did I not make my bed,
And went to my rest?
A rogue came in,
I know not who he was.

Did I not make my bed,
And then lay down?
When I rose in the morning
My bed was scattered over the house.

And then there was the chorus

Yn cadley kiune er y beggan yree,
Ny mooar y nhee haink orrym!

Oh ! the calm sleep of weakness,
Whatever came over me!


THE USHAG VEG RUY (another version).

Ushag veg ruy ny moanee doo,
Cre’d chaddil oo riyr s’yn oie?
Nagh chaddil mish riyr er baare yn dress,
Tra va’n gheay sheidey gymmyrkey lesh.

Ushag veg ruy ny moanee doo,
Cre’d chaddil oo riyr s’yn ole?
Nagh chaddil mish riyr er baare y thooane,
Myr shinimey mac dooinney te’r chadley ayn roym.

Ushag veg my ny moanee doo,
Cre’d chaddil oo riyr s’yn oie?
Nagh chaddil mish riyr er baare y crouw,
Lesh fliaghey tuittym er dagh cheu.

It will be seen that this rendering differs from the one given in the Mann Ballads and Music by A. W. Moore, p. 43. It is by far better and more rational, and should be substituted instead for accompaniment of the music.



SONG (fragment)

Mooinjir yn jiass ta bunnys roit ass,
Lesh gleck noi geay as tidey.
Ta’n jough cheet stiagh, yn argid goil magh,
As Neddey Gawne* yn eirey.

The men of the South are nearly driven out,
With striving against wind and tide,
Ale comes in and money goes out,
And Ned Gawne is the heir.

* Ned Gawne was the great brewer.



A wedding with none of the bride’s relatives was called a crow’s wedding, and we have the following rhyme

Poosey beg fannag
Hie shiar yn bayr,
Gyn mummig ny jyssig,
Ny shuyr ny braar.

The little wedding of the crow
Went over the road,
Without mother and father,
Or sister and brother.



Dy neeagh ny fee ny tannagyn,
As ny fannagyn ny fee,
Cha beagh unnane er-mayrn,
Dy ee convayrt erbee.

If the raven would eat the crows,
And the crows eat the raven,
There would not be one alive
To eat any carcase at all.



Old women used to say this rhyme to the baby about the cat and the mouse :—

Lugh va sneeu er queeyl yn mwyllin,
Haink yn kayt as yeeagh e urree;
Cre’n red t’ou jannoo my yen ainshter?
Sneeu sheeldey as srol’ da ben y ree.
Roish my jig bishaght ayn bainney ny baa,
Beeni’s kiart dy liooar my jig yn laa.

A mouse was spinning on the mill wheel,
Up came the cat and looked upon her ;
What are you doing my landlady?
Spinning silk and gauze for the wife of the king.
Before the milk of the cows increases,
I’ll be even with you before those days.

We have a somewhat similar rhyme in Aberdeenshire, beginning :—

A cattie at a mill door sat spinnin’, spinn’in’,
Fin by comes a mousie, rinnin’, rinnin’,
Says the mousie t’ the cattle,
Faht are ye deeing, my winsome laidie? &c, &c.

See Gregor, Folklore of N.E. Scotland, p. 125.

+ New to the Manx Dictionary.


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