[from Manx Notes & Queries, 1904]




As I went up on yonder hill,
I met my father in good will,
He had jewels, he had rings,
He had very fine things ;
He had a hammer, working nails,
He had a kitten with ten tails;
Up Jack, down Tom,
Blow the bellows, old man.

The schoolboys used to say over a bargain

Ring fingers, bottle bell,
Tell a lie and go to hell. ~

The boys and girls when they wanted some sweets from one that had some, shut their eyes and held out their hands, saying:—

Fill the cup, fill the can,
Fill the blind man’s hand.

" The black spot on the teeth was observed among the school children. I remember when I was at school, if anyone was telling a tale, if the others did not believe it, the tale teller had to show his teeth, and if there was a black spot ot one of the teeth, it was thought he had told a lie ; but it there was no black speck it was thought be had spoken the truth. The scholars would be very often shewing their teeth when telling anything."

Mothers, when dangling the baby on their knees, used to say :—

Ding, dong, bell, the cat is in the well,
Who put it in ? Little Johnny Tim,
Who took it out ? Little Willy Sprout. .

The school children had the following rhyme

As I went up a sandy hill,
And sandy hill was dirty,
I met a little girl and she
Made me a courtesy.
I gave her ale, I gave here wine,
I gave her sugar candy,
And after that, the dirty slut,
She called me Jack the Dandy.

Hip, hip, hurrah!
My daddy is gone away,
He’ll not be home till morning
Before the break of day.
Hip, hip, hurrah!
We’ll kick the bobbies’ asses,
We’ll break the jugs and glasses
And send them off to Ireland,
Among the bugs and fleas.



It was thought unlucky to see the new moon through glass :—

To see the new moon throngh glass,
Trouble and care while it will last.

It was unlucky to be without some coins in your pocket, and some of the women turned the other side of their aprons outside.

Ta mee er chlashtyn ad gra fakin yn eayst noa yn chied cheayrt

Dy bannee Yee yn eayst noa,
Dy bannee Yee mish troor cheayrtyn
Nagh cloghan erbee cheet orroo
Choud as veagh yn eayst shen ayn.

(I have heard them say on seeing the new moon for the first time

God bless the new moon,
God bless me three times,
That no disease would fall upon them
As long as the moon was in.)

That was a charm to keep them without an accident, and to keep from gathering hands and and fingers while the moon lasted.



Is called a dog by the fishermen ; it was often a sign of bad weather ; and a small ring round the moon is called a cock’s eye, and a sign of unsettled weather,



When it was snowing big flakes of snow the old men said—that they were plucking geese in Scotland.

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Dust flying over the high roads was a sign of rain.



J.J.K. in Note 31 gives a list of Manx names of fish. He seems to be unaware that many years ago Mr J. C. Crellin, M.A., has drawn up already a very careful and scientific List of Fish of the Isle of Mann, for the Isle of Mann Natural History and Antiquarian Society, the arrangement and nomenclature revised by F. Day, F.L.S., author of Fishes of Great Britain, where he will find also the corresponding Manx names. In the same journal, edited by Mr P. M. C. Kermode, Vol. III., Part XI., 1901, he will also find a List of Birds of the Isle of Man, with Notes, by Messrs P. M. C. Kermode and P. G. Ralfe, with the Manx names of the various . birds. Mr Kermode has already done the same for the animals in the same journal.

It shows how little Manxmen really avail themselves of these ready and open channels of Insular information. The above society exists now for many years, and has regularly published its annual volumes ; and done splendid work in connection with Manx antiquities, history, folk. lore, and the whole field of natural history ; and Mr Kermode has laboured, as few, in that direction. It appears that the number of Insular members is very small and poor indeed in proportion to the population. The subscription is small and but nominal, the work turned out is excellent, and it is regrettable that this society is so little supported, which it, however, so well deserves. Every Manxman interested in the history and traditions of the Island, nod in its natural history, should join and contribute to its vigorous maintenance, for want of which it is greatly crippled, and has to curtail publication of much valuable matter the society has, and is still carefully storing up and collecting. Their Archæological and Natural History collections at their Museum in Ramsey are of the highest Insular importance, but few Manxmen seem to be cognizant of the many Insular riches it contains.

I trust Manxmen will not leave things in that deplorable state, and not rest till they have a proper central Museum in Douglas, specially devoted to its history, antiquities, etc., and it is to be hoped that the matter will be taken up at last in the House of Keys ; the credit, moreover, of the Island being greatly concerned in it. Our towns in Lancashire all have their municipal museums. Why should the Isle of Man lag behind so long? It is an important Insular question, and sure to foster true Insular pride and interest in their history and development ; and it would add to the delight and instruction ot the enormous flood of annual visitors flocking to the Island, and demonstrate to them the wonderful changes in ancient times the Island has passed through, which have helped so much to build up its foundation and constitntion. C. ROEDER.



To fully understand the " making " of the present Manxman it is necessary to trace the various forces which have been at work in the course of centuries, instrumental in building up the " physical " man, and shaping and adjusting his character and mental bent. A little sketch which reflects him, as he was known to Bishop Merrick (1577), Speed (1627), Blundell (1648), and Chaloner (1653), at the latter end of the 16th, and in the 17th century, will help us in our task. We are speaking, of course, of the broad country population.

The peasantry is represented as tall, of strenuous build, heavy and homely, and of surly temper. Blundell says he cannot parallel the Manxman with any so well and so fitly as the Hollander in the time of Elizabeth. He is rather given to incontinence of body from their general diet of fish which is of flatuous nature. They are a tall, gray-eyed race of men, the major part wearing black beards. They are characterised as civil, laborious, charitable to the poor and hospitable to strangers. Their diet is sparing and simple, their drink water and buttermilk; their meat consists of heriings, salt, butter, and oatcakes, thin as paper leaves, yet as broad and large as those of Wales. Beer and ale they only take in the market. The meal of servants consists of two boiled herrings, one entire oat cake, butter, with milk and water to drink. They are long-lived, ordinarily living to four score and even one hundred years. Their women are fruitful and hard-working, and they wear blankets of woollen and linen (the so-called winding sheet has to be exploded), a habit taken up from the Irish. Their bedding, hay and straw ; the houses low-built, they live in little huts of stone and clay, and broom thatch, full of smoke ; they have only one room, in this single room the whole family lodges, the meaner sort are forced to place their cows in a corner of the room at the bed feet, the geese and ducks under the bed, and cocks and hens over their heads. Few speak the English tongue, but more like the Welsh do—that is in raised voice They are generally much addicted to the " musick of the violyne " and dancing, so that "there is scarce a family in the Island but more or less can play it, but as they are ill composers, so they are bad players and singers," and their musical sense has not developed since, or made to be cultivated. Their genius is apt for studies of humanity, or divinity, and they are ingenuous. The nation for the most part are mariners and fishermen, and the Island has always been a fine nurseiy for seamen. Until the reign of Charles I. they merchandized by racking, exchange, and bartering of commodities. The English, Scotch, and Irish, and more almost of any other nation, drive the greatest trade in the towns. The wealthier sort imitate the people of Lancashire, both in their honest carriage and housekeeping; the common sort of people, both in language and manner, " come nighest unto the Irish, although they somewhat relish and savour of the qualities of the Norwegians "; all their officers and retinue are Lancashire men. In 1586 only six families of note were left in the whole Island, specially the Christians and Cannels, in former times there were several noblemen.

The population is spoken of as indifferent, neither now (1648), nor at any time heretofore, was it found to abound with numerous natives. Vigfuson estimates their number in the 10th century between 4,000 to 5,000 souls. Godred and Olave "equipped many ships, and in them brought great numbers from Ireland; out of the Islands of the Hebrides were brought the greatest number. In the year 1228 all the South of Man was wasted by Allan, Lord of Galloway, who spoiled the churches, and slew all the men he could lay hold of, so as the South of Man was laid in a manner desolate." Allan left his bailiffs in Man to gather for him all the tributes of the Country. The cessation of the Norwegian line of kings which, as a result, led to the inroads of the Somerled’s, had a baneful effect on the population of Man, it was a time of oppression, extortion, and usurpation, and well might Manxmen moan and sing :-*

Then came in Quinney and then Quaill,
With greater taxes and the rent
Which will be always demanded.
For the blessed Island they were the worst,
At making each bad law in her;
Then came great Ollister—he made most havoc.
O Scotchman, it thou were worthy, Why didst thou not rule as did
The son of Norway’s king?

We have also the Macleods of Cadboll, and the Macleods of Lewis (who quarter the Manx trie cassyn). They took and ousted the natives from their land and possessions, so did the MacGilbert who became seized of great possessions in the Island. It brought in the Quinneys (Clan Siol Cuinm), and the Quaills of the Ballad, and the Gannols, of the Clan MacDonald, +- all of the house of Somerled, and their followers and bailiffs. The effect is even seen in the composition of the House of Keys in 1422-1429, where we have the following Gilberts — Gilbert Reed, M’Allister, M’Callen (Allan), M’Quayle, M’Isaacs, M’Andrews, Gilbert M’Killey, Cubbon M’Cubon Cleark, Gubon M’Quandy, Quark, M’Martin, M’Cundrie (=Andreas). And to make it clearer on analysis, out of 28 members of the House of Keys, we have

45 per cent. Scandio-Gaelic names, representing comers from the Western Isles.
24 p. ct. from the Scottish borderland. (Or 69 per cent. Low and Island Scotch.)
14 p. ct pure Manx names.
10 p. ct. Irish.
2 p. ct. Icelandic, and
5 p. ct. undetermined.

We have to speak now of their political temper. Blundell (1648) remarks, the natives are not apt, or prompt, suddenly to be set on fire, not quick to complain of pressure, or desiring innovation : for during the reign of former kings they had many provocations, yet only once or twice avenged themselves of strangers and tyrants. For about 240 years—which brings it back to 1408—they preserved in their loyalty, and have been constant idolators of the Stanleys, who never forced but rather courted their consent to any new laws and impositions. It formed a landmark in the history of the Island. The reign of the Stanleys introduced everlasting security, peace, and a more fixed tenure, love for their rulers and their benevolent, paternal government. The Stanleys were beloved by the people. and their influence played an important part in the final shape of the Manx character and temperament. With the influx of the Lancashire race, largely recruited from the Fylde, which began with the incoming of the Stanleys in 1407, Douglas, Castletown, and Peel became the great centres which transfused the Island with Lancashire blood, manners, customs habits, and ways ; the computur of 1541-46, of the tenantry of Ballasalla, German, Sulby, Skynscowe, shows them to be made up of 50 Lancashire and 34 Manx families ; and it may truly be said what Lancashire has lost in folklore can be restituted from the Manx peasantry, whose folklore, as it exists now, is largely of Lancashire origin ; their songs, children’s games, and music even have been absorbed by the Manx country people, and are found to have penetrate into the most secluded hill and upland villages The Lancashire rule came as a blessing, and softened the hatred of foreign yoke which had sunk deep into the heart of the Manx, their aversion and apathy for anything Irish, Low or Highland Scotch, became proverbial and simmered on for centuries.

But the picture would not be complete without alluding to a few other points. Their agriculture, in consequence of unceasing wars, alien occnpations and unfixed tenure, and Insular poverty, has naturally been slow, many remained crofter fishermen. In 1577 we find three free schools in the Island, at Castletown, Peel, and Douglas for the town people ; the country people were mostly left without the boon of any secular instruction, and so illiterate that writing and reading ever was a thing unknown ; in Cregneish, for instance within the last 60 years, there was only one person who could write and read, and had to be the scribe of the countryside. The Catholic clergy did nothing for lifting them from their ignorance, their main business was to extract tithe and boons, and their greed became proverbial :—

" There is the greed of seven parsons in man without children,
And the greed of seven farmers (=landlords) in every parson."

They taxed the very rocks in the sea where fish or crab nibbled, and these rocks are known to place-name collectors in the Island as tithe rocks, or Cregyn jaghee, and were abandoned. In religious matters, the stern and paralyzing church discipline of Bishop Wilson did not mend matters much, and only with Wesley’s appearance the peasantry woke up to new life, producing a succession of earnest and eloquent farmer-preachers, and the best metrical Manx version of spiritual hymns. The Wesleyan movement has left a lasting impression on the religious character of the Manx peasantry. We have to lament the total absence of the development of national poetry and ballad in the Island, in which it differs so much from Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, and which may be considered almost as a unique feature in its history. But it is due again to the peculiar fate that Mann unfortunately has suffered : a constant prey to abrupt domination by Irish, Viking, Scotch, and English invaders, without the blessing of Insular seminaries of culture, its poverty, and the suppression of national aspirations and ambition ; ruled by the clergy, foreign kings, or their deputies, as they have been for long, untold centuries. All these factors have to be considered and we cannot expect wonders, or be surprised at the results.

The contending forces which have been busy in shaping the life and mental calibre and character of the Manxmen have provided, however, a co-efficient which may be indicated by his patience, prudence, and thriftiness. He is a solid and intelligent man, good at argument and discourse, with a proclivity for litigation, sober and reliable, and they class among best seamen in the British navy. C. ROEDER.

 ~ Mannanan (see Manx Ballads).

+ I give but a few noble families and chiefs, the Irish, Scandio.-Gaelic list of ancient clans in the Island might be built up again by the examination of old " Balla " names and a careful dissection of the old Surnames.



If you ask me the three things the old Manx worshipped above all things, from an epicurean point of view, I may whisper in your ear : skeddan (herring), prinjeig (haggis), and Cowree (sowans or flummery)—a triad which used to form the time-honoured relish of a Manxman’s culinary aspirations ; but if you press, and further. more ask me, sub rosa, which of above dainties —and the mere innocent mention of which made his eyelid twiokle, or caused his heart to flatter, or quicken his pulse a little above normal point, not to notice certain unsteady movements of his pedals— let ime utter, in a low voice, the magic little bi-syllable : cowree. You cannot possibly, as a Manninagh dooie, dissociate or separate cowree frorn fairy; they have grown up together like foster-brothers, and nursed and reared in the same cradle, and, try as you may, you dare not sunder their ties.

How often have I cowered with my kind hosts in the nook of their lone mountain cabins, in the gloaming of a golden-streaked, mellow summer night, with just a few sparks glowing and crackling up from the sweet peat fire, to listen to the tales of the droll and wonderful doings and cranks of " the little people " of fairy realm that used to hover around their cots, in their nightly rambles ever cronk and glen.

Woe to the man, or household, however, who neglected the gentle and hospitable office of showing due courtesy and good manners to the mooinjer ny gione veggey or,— Yee marin !—omitting to leave for their supper a bowl, or wooden trencher or enticing cowree, neatly and properly served, before retiring to take their worldly rast You had scarcely closed your eyes, softly ‘ the crowd " lifted the latch, you could hear their little feet, trip, trap, scarcely touching the floor, and such a spectacle ! There they are, bright in crimson-burning caps, and a raven feather inter-twined, sheathed in Lincoln green mantle and hose, then sitting down to their banquet, smacking their lips, and finishing up with an airy jig and roundelay, the silver moon brightening the gaudy display of their fluttering dresses ; rollicking and gambolling in wild revel and orgie till the grey peep of day. Yes, often enough " the old man and woman " were compelled, from their loft above, with bated breath and tremor, to harken to the soft tunes rising up, when at last the old fairy fiddler clicked up his rebec in good I earnest ; the little pairs gyrating and whirling in glee and merriment indescribable, and king, queen, and court attending ; and then, oh, for Cruikshank’s pencil ! But, alas ! it seems cowree and fairies have gone out of the land with the disappearance of the old stock, and dyspeptic tea and sodden potatoes and muffins, and sticky and nasty pies, have taken the room of a dish once the staple of every honest household. And the crisp, thin-leaved, tasty bonnags—where are they ? Banished, too, from the Isle?

The cowree, as the little people would have it, and insisted upon, was thus (I filched their receipt):

" Steep the husk of the oats in water for some time, and some dust of oat meal, run the water through a sieve, to remove the husk; then it is like white water. Now fiil the biggest pot you have in the house with it, stir it with a pot-stick all the time it is on the fire, until it becomes thick and solid Then empty it into dishes and boil the milk with the cowree when it is quite cold, and serve it."

This is the royal way, and probatum est, and no other make or counterfeit accepted.

And if you ask to know what in the world cowree means, certainly and surely not the cowry gathered from the shore ? I invite you to an invisible ride into the Highlands, across the deep waters (we bestride our fairy horse—the stalk of the golden cushag—and put our tarn cap on, in haste),* there on nearing the mainland of Argyle-shire, we already discern the old folk busy pegging away at full swing in their cabins. How the plates fly, and they, like their Manx cousins, call it cowry ; but it also bears a bit longer and a bit more melodious name : cabhruich, or cabhrig these, singly and all, again but contractions of the roots :— Càth-bhruich (the aspirated braids), and Càth-bhrig. derived from the Gaelic :— cath==seeds, husks of corn ; and bruich=seething, simmering; which exactly describes the art and mystery in a very comprehensive manner. It has also another name :—Càth-lagan, and is defined in the books as a kind of food much used by the Gaelic and Lowland Scotch (the sowans of the latter), and made by boiling the acidulated juice of oat seeds to the consistency of a thick jelly.

But it quickly crept down to the North country and Lancashire homesteads. It formed a desirable dish in the Fylde district, and Tim Bobbin, the old Lancashire lad, has much to say about flummery, sewl, or sowans, all ugly Saxon names for cowree.

So we see what a fine mess it must have been, times out of mind—did not Esau barter his birthright for it ? It was, I know, not for lentils :— so fine, indeed, that the partakers of the dish were the fierce and generous Gael, and the stolid and spiteful Sausenachs, who, however, for once shared the same camp in brotherhood, and both crouched down peacefully together in coworship of the seething cauldron that kepb rocking from the slouree, bubbling and singing the while old mysterious runes over the blazing peat fire ; the war axe is buried anon for the iron ladle, for a friendly and congenial onslaught on the preparing pottage.

And in tearing myself away from this pleasant meal — which they are just enjoying — I express the parting wish that my Manx friends — both, of the country and the town—may, too, make an experiment, provided their palate is still undegenerated for the trial, and maybe—wonders and miracles never cease—if they will but bring the dish again on the table board, in the old fashioned way, before joining Morpheus, and fill it brimful with good old solid cowree — who knows but it may tempt the Manx fairy tribe of yore to rise up again from their long Rip Van Winkle sleep, or revisit the Island anew, and, like my gipsy cowpanions, beat up again their familar nooks and quarters ; and, perhaps, all bring back, by main force, or coaxing, laurel crowned Mainshter Waldron,* to tell us again or continue his sparkling Manx-Arabian Night stories, to the great joy and delight of all the sweet and true maidens and rose-buds of fair an ever lovely Mannin veg veen!


* In Irish . Manx Folklore the fairies transformed the cushag, or ragwort into horses to ride on

.* See Description o/ Isle of Man, by George Waldron, 1736. He resided in the Island fro 1710 to 1730, and treats in his delightful book "Of the Antiquities, History, Laws, Customs, Religious Manners of the inhabitant, likewis many comical and entertaining stories of the pranks played by fairies, etc., the whole carefully collected from original papers and personal knowedge during 20 years residence there.’, it is a book which should be reprinted, and put in the hand of every Manxman—published a a popular price. [free of charge to all readers FPC]

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In a treatment of folklore of such composite character as that of Mann it is, of course, absolutely necessary to enquire into the various races of people to whom it Is due. Fortunately the investigations of Beddoe1 and Moore 2 throw the clearest light on this important and interesting question. We must consider the Manxman in [us anthropoligical aspect. The Manx face is usually long, and either scutiform or oval ; the former is the outline most prevalent among the Scandinavian. The nose is almost always of good length, in outline oftener straight, less often sinuous than among the Highlanders and Irish. The influence of the Norwegian cross is shown also in the colour of the hair. Red hair is not frequent, fair and light-brown hair very common, the index of negrescence decidedly lower than in most parts of the Highlands or of Ireland. The distribution and combination of colour resembles more to such districts as Wexford, Waterford, some of the Islands off the coast of Argyle, and perhaps the Lewis. But the exact proportion of hair colour together with the greatest frequency of neutral eyes are not produced elsewhere. Blue eyes are less common than grey, and dark shades of grey, varying toward green and brown, very frequent. " Black " eyes are rare. The hair is pretty copious, straight or wavy, seldom strongly curled or very brightly coloured. Their average weight is 155 lbs., and the Manxman is certainly tall and large.

The fishermen and sailors average 5 feet 8.2 inches in height.

The miners, for the most part tall and dark, average 5 feet 10 inches.

The farmers average 5 feet 11.3 inches.

The Jurby, Ballaugh, and Michael people are the fairest and tall, and show preponderance of Norse blood, the St Patrick people being the tallest. The Peel people have dark eyes and fair hair, and are the smallest. It is a mixed population, like Castletown and Douglas, with large infusion of Lancashire and more recently Irish blood. The dark complexion prevails most in Malew and German parish. Gary (Garbh= the rough, rocky country), which contains the parishes of Maughold and Lonan, has the maximum of dark hair, all but the maximum of light eyes, and its population is largely Gaelic. The island has the largest percentage of light eyes. The eyes in the South are darker than in the North ; the North hair is darker than in the South.

Principal Rhys gathers* that in the 11th and 12th centuries the Norsemen were in the habit of largely recruiting their fleet in Shetland and the Orkneys, not merely with thralls, but with men of a higher position, They infused thus a certain amount of Pictish blood into the Island the Shetland blind-Oghams distributed over the island, in such places as Braddan, Jurby, Michael, Onchan, and Bride, with names such as Cunaas, Eabs, Froca, Neaci, Ufaac, Onon, Ucifat, and Truian are sufficient proof. But there was a more primitive population in pre-historic times in the Island The Picts spread through the whole of North Britain, through Wales, the Eastern Scotch Low-lands, Cumberland, and North Ireland ; and it also postulates their presence in Man long before the 11th century. Beddoe found evidence of distinct Turanian types of the bronze race, of the pure Iberian race in Cregneish and elsewhere, and we see, when dealing with the analysis of the Insular folklore in detail through these pages how often we stumble on evidence of these older races. C. ROEDER.

 * Physical Anthropology of the Isle of Man, by John Beddoe, Manx Notebook, vol 3, 1887, p. 21-33.

+ Physical Anthropology of the Isle of Man, by A. W. Moore, 1897.



The Mann, Gaelic.—For the exposition of the growth and development of the native idiom I refer to Principal Rhys’ labours. I shall only allude to some few historical points. There cannot be any doubt whatever that the first impulse reached from Ireland. The Ogham inscriptions at Ballaqueeney connect it with Munster, which may possibly go back to the 6th century. In the middle of the 7th century, Senchan Torpeist, chief poet of Ireland, visited Mann. He found there a poetess from Connaught, which would mean a community of literature.1 Earlier than this we find the religious contentions between St. Patrick (died 461) and the Druidic Mannanan - Mac Leir. We have Lonan and Brigit (438-508), to be followed by Columba (504-580). He named a parish, which also bears the alternative name of Arbory 2 Against the end of the 6th century we have the Culdees. We have the Ogham inscription at Arbory of Magleog, probably falling within the 10th and 12th centuries, which again connects it with Ulster, Connaught, and Iona. Mann belonged to the Goidelic Kings of Ireland in early times, and was conquered by Aidan in 581, passing then away from the Irish connection.3 Later on, in the 9th century, it was ruled by the independent Dana-Irish King of Dublin.4 During the whole of this century the relation between the Danes in Dublin and those of Mann appears most close, and the sovereignities of Dublin and Mann were often held, either by the same person, or members of the family, and forming an appanage to the Scandinavian kingdom of Dublin.

Sufficient has been said to show that the Manx-Gaelic had its rise from Ireland, and must have been nourished from various counties and channels of that kingdom. When finally the Norwegian Vikings became the masters of Mann a fresh current made itself visible. The Irish influence disappears in the background ; contact was broken with its literature and pure speech and thought. The Dairiadic dialect of the Western Islands, and particularly of Lewis, Skye, and Galloway, say from 890-1270, took its place ; its phonology suffered a change from the lips of the Hebridean and Northumbrian Gaels, who largely replaced the Manx blood which was drained by unremitting warfare and extirpation. It was further diluted by the arrival of the Stanleys and the Lancashire people. To trace which the precise stages historically and phonologically the Manx language has undergone by the leavening with Norwegian, Galiovian, Lowland Scotch, and English invaders is a task which still awaits a careful investigator. C. ROEDER

1 See Inscriptions and Language of the Northern Picts, by J. Rhys, Scotch Antiq. Soc. , vol 26, p. 303.

2 See his Outlines of the Phonology of Manx Gaelic, 1894, p- 1-183.

3 See Sodor and Man by A. W. Moore, 1893, p. 25.

4 See Encyclopædia Britannica, Ireland, p. 252,




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