[from Manx Notes & Queries, 1904]




There used to be a wise old woman living near St. John's, who was making charms against witchcraft, and curing many things with herbs and charms. There was a couple that had been married many years, but had no family, and they were getting old at the time when a young couple went to live with them. When their first baby was born, the young wife was nearly out of her mind, for she saw this childless woman coming to the bedside times in the night, and pulling the baby away from her. She got her husband to lie the floor side but she was little better; so the man consulted this wise old woman, and she went to gather some herbs, and when she came back she said it was the woman living in the house with them, and that she did not wish them any harm, but that she coveted the baby, that was the cause of her spirit coming in the night, when her body was asleep, and she did not know anything about it. The fairy woman gave him some herbs, and told him to boil them a certain time, and wash the baby in some of the water, and to sprinkle the mother and the bed with some of the water, and then to empty the whole of the water and herbs that remained in a running stream, and he did all she told him to do and the mother and child got on very well, and she never saw the woman coming to the bedside nor pulling the baby away after that.



The old farmers — now very long ago — the first day they were taking the horses out to plough, used to get a bucket of Chemerly (Chamberlye, or mooin), and put some hen's dung in it, and stir it for some time, and then sprinkle the horses and the plough with it. That was the charm against witchcraft and the evil eye.



The Cabbyl Ushtey, or Water Kelpie, or Water Wraith, and the Each Uisge of the Western Highlands, was a creature that was thought to be of an amphibious nature, inhabiting deep pools, rivers, and lakes, and believed to be the " foul thief" himself. At times be appears to the belated traveller on the lonesome road, and invites him by various allurements to mount him, when he rushes off into the curraghs,. or stream, and carries the rider to his death. To catch and overpower him you have to cast over his head a bridle, as Harper* sings: —

Stout Samson hands the magic tether,
Stuck round wi' sprigs o' holy Yarrow,
Woodbine, an' rawntree, an' rosemary ;
Wi' hern fern frae the ditches,
Emetics dire for deils and witches;
And now they draw a circle round him,
And wi' some potent speeches sound him.

In Scotland he turned into an old man with long grey hair and beard.+ In the Island he is known besides as the night horse (cabbyl ny hole), and appears invariably in the shape of a gray colt or horse. It is this colour which has led the Manx to call him also the Glashtin, derived from glas=gray. In consequence he is often confused with the Glashan, who has absolutely nothing to do with the water horse. Here are some of his reported lurking-places

At Surby, where be generally makes for the Curraghs, his supposed headquarters.

At Ballure Glen, near Ramsey.

His transformation into a gray man or woman, as in Scotland, has not been noticed in the Island, and further local instances of his occurrence are very desirable.

In Sweden, the vulgar are afraid of his power. There he is called the Nekr, or Vatna Hestr, and ferrymen warn those who are crossing dangerous places in some rivers never to so much as mention his name, lest they should meet with a storm and be in danger of losing their lives In these places formerly, during the times of paganism, those who sailed, worshipped Nekr, their sea deity, as it were, with a sacred silence for the reasons already given, for he exercised his dominion over the wind and waves.** This I may remark, in passing, may account for the absolute interdiction observed by the Manx fishermen to whistle while out at sea.

A bit of Norse folklore in the Island seems to be found near Laxey, on the Ballacowin stream, where we have a haunted dub or pool, called Nigison or Nikison, probably the residence of a water nixie.

* Fruits of Solitary Hours, by Alex. Harper, Aberdeen, 1852, p. 62.
+ Gregor, Folklore of N.E. Scotland, p. 66.
**See Jamieson's Scot. Dictionary, sub nomen.



It is translated in the Manx Bible (Deut. xviii. 11) as familiar spirit. We have it also in the Highlands and Ireland, and it occurs under three headings; a familiar or guardian angel, as sweetheart and love, and as nightmare. We have the former on record in Man : —

The Lhiannan shee of Ballafletcher (Kirk Braddan), the cup which the family held was dedicated to her, to break it would be deemed a catastrophe to the owner. It is the same as the legend of the famous Luck of Edenhall.

As a fairy wife we find her: —

In Glendowin, where a man lived with her.

In Struan dy snail, in the shape of a white woman.

Near Port Erin Chapel, going up the gate to the mountain.

At Surby, where she is chasing a man in the shape of his wife.

At Kentraugh Bridge, where the man only gets rid of her by saying: "If you don't tell me who you are I'll make a sacrifice of you, by God," when she grins and is gone like a flash of lightning.

At Ballahick, near Ballasalla, where she follows the man over land and sea.



Of the Manx peasantry constitutes a kind of tutelar spirit, attached to certain families, and the fore-warner of coming ill-fortune or calamity. McAlpine speaks of a Highland caointeach (from caoin=wail, cry), a female water kelpie, who gives warning to her favourite clans of the approach of death in the family by weeping and wailing, opposite the kitchen door. It is to be hoped that further instances of the dooinney oz e may be put on record in the Island, along with his precise haunts.



Is a harmless creature, which mixes and breeds with the farmer's cattle, known by its sparkling eyes and short ears. It prefers swampy places and streams. It has been noticed formerly —

At Ramsey, in a pool now occupied by the Promenade.

At Slegaby. Ballakilpherick. Cregneish.

and should be found to abound in other places over the Island.

In the Highlands McAlpine* notices a fairy bull, called core, and the laogh corcach, "a calf, having small ears like his father the core." It seems derived from corcach, Gaelic and Irish = a moor, marsh, English car, — their usual habitat. Perhaps it may point to an ancient wild and indigenous race of cattle.

*See Gaelic-English Dictionary. 1877.



The Buggane is a creature of which the Manx peasantry stood always in great fear and trepidation. It was scarcely safe to venture abroad by night, for he strolled about the lonely lanes, roads, cross roads, stiles, and churchyards at the outskirts, and hillsides. He would chase, obstruct, and threaten the traveller, and timely flight, an ejaculatory prayer, or retreat across the hedge-banks, where his power apparently ceased, was one's only salvation. The shock he gave to the victim was such that generally it prostrated him for months, or even caused the person's death; occasionally it permanently unsettled his disturbed mind. He and the good people made their lives very uncomfortable. The belief is not quite died out yet in the more secluded parts. The Bugganes have suffered the same secular fate as the Glashtins and Glashans, etc., and have become considerably mixed up. They are of different complexion, and have to be separated, to introduce clearness: —

(1) We have the Buggane connected with the old keeils and chapels; their chief occupation at these Christian places of worship is to obstruct their erection, or to remove the material, and pull down over-night what has been built up by day, as

The Buggane of Keeil Pharick y drummagh* who is a demon with a big head, long arms, big body, sharp claws and cloven feet. Saint Patrick made this devil ride across from Ireland with the timber, when the timber and the walls were put up, he pulled it down again, also

The Buggane of Keeil Saint Trinian (or Ringian), who was as black as ebony, and covered with wrinkles, alluded to already by Grosse [sic Grose] in 1774. He also tossed the roof off, as soon as it was on, with a loud fiendish laugh of satisfaction. He had, as at Keeil Pharick. an encounter with a tailor who dared him. The latter seated himself in the chancel and began a pair of breeches, in which situation the "old chap" found him when he paid his regular obstructive visit. The tailor kept his eyes close to his work and escaped with his life. At. the end the Buggane lifts his great head from his body and hurls it after him.

(2.) We have Bugganes connected with the sea-caves, as at the Ghaw ny Spyrryd, near the Sound of the Calf; his head is like a big pot, with three great horns. The Buggane y Chione dhoo, at Black Head; his head is like a big horse, his eyes like pewter plate.

And these Manx bugganes, now described, go about, galloping, clanging, making all sorts of unearthly noises, rattling chains, howling, roaring, wearing horns, and with their glaring, blazing eyes, goggling and frightening you to death.

To make a little advance in our notions of the nature and origin of the Buggane we must go a little further into the examination of the roots. We have the —

Gaelic: Bochdainn*=Old Nick, as in the phrase tha bhochdainn ort=the devil is in you; gun gabh' a bhochdainn=plague take you. Also bochdan=apparition, hobgoblin; bocan = ghost, bogle.

Irish : bocan, boc, poc =he-goat, buck, spirit.

Welsh: bwgan, bwg=bock, hobgoblin; pwca= fiend.

Compare the strange looking man with the Welsh y gwr drwg=the bad man, or evil one; and the yr ysbryd drwg; the Manx drog spyrryd, and noid ny hanmey=the evil spirit, and the enemy of the soul.

And let us remember also that the early Christian missionaries, who were familiar with the Pagan semi-human satyrs (half-goat, half-abhorred imp), the better to oppose heathenish rites and creeds, connected and presented the devil with, and in the shape of, a cloven. footed, horned, and black shaggy, goggle-eyed he-goat.

The evolution of the Buggane has a historical background, he is a reality: but we have to go back to a much earlier stage of religious development ; and a comparison with the ceremonies and rites of modern savages, and their medicine men, etc., will facilitate our comprehension.

At all great and particular occasions, the chief, the medicine-doctor, and the great men etc., of the tribe, appeared in "full gala, dressed in gorgeous, imposing style; assuming animal garb and form, with moveable counterfeits super-imposed;* shouting, howling, singing, and dancing the while. The Goidels and Teutons were no exception — names only changed, and the Druids and their privileged corporations continued the same observances, and the mediæval mummeries, morris dancings, and our modern pantomimes and carnival are but relics of a by-gone religious phase.

The Manx bugganes come out clearer into view at the dawn of Christianity, when they came into violent clash with a new set of religious ideas; here it was a struggle between Druidism and Rome. We see them ado quite the same thing as the old medicine-men, etc., the old Buggane (Druid) of Keeil Pharick and Trinian pulls his head off in a rage, he has cloven feet and horns, he roars and shouts. All the Bugganes swarm, and move about, assuming the shape of animals; ever growing larger and larger (an old trick) ; they are painted to increase terror and frighten Christian converts and proselytes; and to heighten the effect they bang and shout most unearthly. We naturally find them mostly in the neighbourhood of old keeils, cairns, churchyards, cross-roads, stone circles and tumuli.

The second class are the cave-bugganes, and felches or ghosts, of which the Island has many tales. These are the detached ghosts which appear after death. There are various reasons assigned for their appearance. Murdered persons come again to haunt their murderers, persons who had hid any treasures were doomed to haunt the place where it was concealed, and those who died with any heavy crimes on the conscience, not confessed. These latter of course, although popularly classified with the buggane proper, are compounds.


1 See my Folklore, part I„ p. 140.

2 Why the tailor was held in fear and dislike He made the clothes which the savage men despised, clad as they were in skin and fur; they did not desire to be domesticated, which made them forfeit their liberty and roving life.

3 See Armstrong's Gaelic-English Dictionary.

4 On the last day of Yule, the Laair vane, or white snare Dnumrnery, was performed in the island, even within recent years. This was a horse's head, and so contrived that the person who had charge of it and concealed under a white sheet, was able to snap the mouth at the guests. In Scotland the man dressed himself, however, in a cow's hide on New Year's Day, and went from house to house, saying: — " God bless this house, and the cattle, stones, and timber belonging to it." Each neighbour then pulled off a piece of the hide and burnt it for driving away disease ! The magical druid-medicine man again ! changed into a Buggane.


The undersigned desires to be informed where the old spinning wheels were manufactured : also whether any of these picturesque household machines are at present in practical use in the Island, and if so — where ?





Of these we seem to have in the Island two distinct sets, the semi-domesticated and the roaming or wild Glashan. The former attaches himself to the farmer and his stead, and good-naturally assists him, for little, in his labour; while the other, more sullen and intractable, and a rather savage specimen, roams at large, haunting and preferring the lonely glens, caves, and moorland shelters. Both have this in common that they are big powerful men, very hairy and shaggy, and dark complexioned, who disdain (for they wear, of course, skins, and grow long hair) the offer of cap, coat, shirt, and breeches. Of their local distribution our information is yet very meagre and limited. Of the first class we may mention: —

The Glashans of North Barrule, who gather and drive in the straggling sheep.
„ of Ballachrink, who thresh.
„ of Bradda, who dry the grain in the kiln.
„ of Cregneish,

And of the latter order I may name: —

The Glashans in the North, savage women snatchers.

„ in Glen Narradale, big, silent unclad fellows who, dog-like, follow the farmer.

„ at Ballachrink, where the local Glashans are thrown into contact with a number of alien Glashans.

There were he and she Glashans. The domesticated sort were attached and grateful, but considered very stupid and clumsy. In the Highlands we have: —

The Glaislich, a she and he giant that haunt the hilly coast of Invernesshire.*

* Highland Superstitions, by Stewart, 1825, p. 542.

Another Brownie was: —

The Gruaghach, who haunted Skipness Castle — a supernatural female, doing jobs about the house for the maids, and living in the ruins until driven away by the offer of a cap and coat,1 and the Gruagach=the hairy, uncouth fellow in Argyleshire who repeated a rhyme over the clothes;1 furthermore the female brownie, to which the Highland dairymaids made frequent libations of milk.2 The Irish Gruagach= a giant enchanter; otherwise Browny, a hairy,3 alluded to also by Kennedy as the Gruagach (Graoch in Breton) from gruag =the hair of the head; Manx, gruag.

Meg Mullach, the hairy Meg, a diminutive brownie, a hairy creature in the family of Grant of Tullochgorum.

The Mailleachan, the young brownie of the Irish and Highlanders.

The Uruisg, a brownie (brunaidh) that haunted lonely dells, moorland lakes and waterfalls. At harvest time he hovered at farm yards, stables, and houses, and especially the dairy; every manor and family had its uruisg, and in the kitchen was a seat left unoccupied for him. He performed many exploits in kitchen, barn, and stable without reward, and if offered any, left.

Then we have the: —

Shetland domestic Trow, or Brownie, who attended on almost every family, and who during the night would thresh, brew, churn, grind corn, or milk, or sweep the house ; but it was requisite to offer for each night's work a little wort or cream, etc This would ensure good ale and butter, and preserve the stacks in the storm, etc.4

And corresponding to these: —

The Hob-thrust of Rayscar, in the Fylde, who housed the grain and got the horses ready for the farmer.

The Hob of the Gorge of Cliviger, a savage hirsute being.

The North Lancashire Throb-thrush, a domesticated brownie, who left, on receiving a coat and hood ;5 and The Throb-thrush of Millom, in Westmoreland,6 a brownie who had his regular range of farmhouses. His only reward was a quart of milk porridge. He sheaved the grain, and did all the farm work. He left when " throb-thrush," as he sang, " had got a new coat and a new hood, and he'll never do more good."

The Glashan seems to have derived his name from the root glassy =grey or pale, as in the Manx neeal ghlass=a pale complexion ; a description which is also applied to the Glashtin or water-horse (from its grey colour), hence the confusion which has arisen between the two. W e know that the Manx Glashan had black shaggy hair and a pale complexion, and was a muscular, tall fellow. All these comparative examples point, no doubt, to the existence of an older prehistoric race of people, scattered across the country long before the intrusive historic Celt or Saxon arrived! representing a rude, uncouth, fur or skin-clad, and physically strong people, which still survived in small numbers in the more inaccessible upland and moorland districts, dwellers of the glens and eaves, and lingering by tarn and stream; a view already urged by Campbell (see Tales of the Western Islands, vol. I., 101), who groups the Gruagach, Glashan, Bucan, bodach, and fuath as survivals of half. tamed savages, that hung about the pastoral homesteads. They were naturally enough looked upon as giants, enchanters, evil spirits, apparitions, and supernatural beings.

1 Popular Tales of the West Highlands, by J.F. Campbell, 1860, vol. L, 23.
2 Armstrong, Gaelic-English Dictionary,
3 O'Reilly, Irish-English Dictionary.
4 see Caton, the History and Description of Shetland Islands, 1838, p. 115.
5 see Goblin Tales of Lancashire, by James Bowker, London, n d
6 Westmoreland as it was by J Briggs, 1825
7 in German folklore we have also the Grau-mannel (=grey little men).



The Finnodderee has to be kept distinct from the Glashan, or Manx Brownie, He has a strange and wonderful pedigree of his own, unequalled in the folk-history of the Island, and has been the puzzle and despair of Manx folklorists. In order to get at him we must dissect the most reliable accounts. The precisest description is related by Cumming 1: — A farmer who was erecting a homestead on the mountains had determined on possessing (1) a large quartz block lying on a neighbouring shore which resisted all his efforts at removal. The Finnodderee conveyed it one night to the desired spot. To reward him the farmer caused a few articles of clothing to be laid for him in his usual haunt at Ballathoar, in Ballaugh. The hairy sprite took up the garments, one by one, and thus expressed his wounded feelings : —

(2)Cap for the head - alas poor head,
Coat for the back - alas poor back,
Breeches for the breech-alas poor breech,
If these be all thine, thine cannot be
(5) The merry Glen of Rushen.

Quiggin (Guide to the Isle of Man) : —

(3) He is covered like a he-goat with shaggy hair, (4) he has been known to mow the grass of a large meadow in a single night; (1) he has carried huge stones of many tons weight from the bottom of the lowest valleys to the top of the highest hills, and placed them as corner stones to mansions about to be erected.

Quiggin (a later edition) : —

The Big Boggane or Finnodderee (3) has thick hair as black as India rubber, he can (5) lie in the dark caves of South Barrule (and Snaefell) without bed, he would (4) thrash out the whole stack of the farmer in a single night, if by misfortune it had remained unthrashed until Candlemas; if left by laziness, be would scatter it to the winds.

Moore (Folklore, p. 55-56) : —

A gentleman wanting to build a large house, a little above the base of Snaefell mountain, at a place called Tholt-e-Will, had the stone quarried on the beach, but (1) one immense block of white stone he wanted, could not be moved from the spot. To his surprise, not only this block, but likewise the whole of the quarried stones of more than a hundred cart loads were in one night conveyed to the site by the Finnodderee.

He also (4) cut down and gathered meadow grass which would have been injured by the coming storm. Once a farmer complaining he had not cut it close enough, the following year the farmer cut it himself, but the Finnodderee went after him, stubbing up the roots so fast that the farmer scarcely escaped having his legs cut of by the angry Finn at St. Trinian's Church, Marown.

It is said (4) he borrowed a sickle and cut down two fields of corn in the parish of Bride in one night.

In an old Manx song: —

The Finnodderee went to the meadow,
To lift the dew at gray cock-crow,
The maidenhair, and the cattle herb,
He stamped them under both his feet.
The scythe he had was cutting everything,
Skimming the meadow to the sods;
And if a leaf was left standing
He stamped it down with his heels.

A pendant to (4) is found in the Popular Rhymes of Berwickshire,2 it says : — Crawshaws in Berwickshire was once the abode of an industrious Brownie, who both saved the corn and thrashed it for several seasons. At length, after one harvest, some person thoughtlessly remarked the corn was not well mowed, or piled up in the barn. He took offence, and the next night threw the whole of the corn over the Raven Crag, a precipice about two miles off, muttering —

It's no weel mowed [ it's no wee] mowed !
Then it's ne'er be mowed by me again.
I'll scatter it o'er the Raven stone,
And they'll hae some wark ere its mowed again

Now we have to split up the Finnodderee into his component parts, and by (1) He is a powerful, strong giant, who can lift and transport immense rocks and huge blocks of stone from the valley to the highest mountain top

(2) He deserts the farmer when he is offered a reward cap, coat, and breeches

(3) He is covered, like a he-goat, with shaggy, thick, black hair

(4) He cuts down and gathers the meadow grass for the farmer, but if the latter finds fault with him, in his rage and fury he scatters the crop to the winds, or stamps it down; he also lifts the dew at gray cock-crow and the maiden-hair and the cattle-herb (luss ny ollee) ; the latter useful for sores in the mouth of cattle and thickening of the milk; robbing the farmer of his curative and useful herbs, and collecting the dew at gray cock-crow for some charm for evil :

(5) He lies in the dark eaves of South Barrule, in the merry Glen of Rushen (the pass to South Barrule), and also on Snaefell mountain, on the upland hills — the home of the giant; or he is seen in the valleys and flat-lands hanging about farms ; at Ballathoar and near churches, in the round field close to St. Trinian's Church,

The Finnodderee is called occasionally Finn in the South of the Island; the Finn is also a giant in Norway

The Manx Bible translators (see Isaiah xiii. 21, and xxxiv. 14) in their attempt to coin a suitable and good Manx equivalent for the Satyr, apply the term Finnodderee (they give it in the fanciful form of Phynnodderee) ; while the Irish translation for want of a substitute retains Saitir; and the Gaelic gives us daoine fiadhaich=wild men; and Luther in his German version uses Feldgeister and Kobold-field boggles and hobgoblins.

The bearing of all this, the next chapter will show.

1 See Guide to the Isle of Man, by the Rev. J. G, Cumming, London, 1861, p. 23.



We are enabled now to perceive what composite being he really is : —

(1) shows him to be a powerful giant.

(2) Our old friend the Glashan, the good natured and hard working Brownie, who loves to hover about the farmstead, and for whom — the half-civilized creature — the farmer has a great partiality.

(3) Proves him to partake of the Buggane or Satyr.

(4) is another genus of the Brownie group, more erratic in his habits, a cross-grained, ill-tempered fellow, uncontrollable in his rage and spitefulness, and more closely related to the Scandinavian troll, and little brought under the domination of civilization.

But who is the powerful giant ?

He is the same giant mentioned in the legend of the enchanted Manx king, where in the devil's den, at the foot of South Barrule, he keeps bound, by magic spells, a great prince, and is one of the giants inhabiting Castle Rushen " till the days of Merlin "; he is transformed by tradition into Goddard Crovan,* who, it runs, lived with his termagent wife in a great castle on the top of Barrule, and down in the valley of St. Hack's lies the famous granite boulder, weighing 20 to 30 tons, which be hurled after her in his temper, when he could bear her tongue no longer. The same giant keeps spell-bound in his castle at Rushen no other than Godred Crovan (1095), as I shall show later on. But this is not all: he turns out to be Finn's cook, Enoch, who with his witch-wife, Ada, dwelt in Fin's Castle on the top of Barrule, and the two Osianic Manx legends of Finn and Ossian declare him to belong to the heroic race of the mighty Finns — great Norwegian Vikings and freebooters — he is, what must be perfectly clear now, Gorree, or Finn Gorree himself, the mischievous destroyer of Brugh Farola, who set fire to the castle, and shutting in all the women of the lions, thus extirpating the clan — a. thing not wholly unknown in the history of the Highlands. He is executed with the magic sword, Man an Luinn.

Passing to the analysis of the word itself, is it composed of the two roots Finn and Gudrodar, which finally crumbled down to Godrod, Godrod, Gareth, Gorree, and Orry. In Manx phonology and mutation the word, of course, became Finn Odderree. We can follow now the stages through which Gorree passed: —

(1) A member of the Fions living in their Castle of Barrule.

(2) A Glashan. (3) A Buggane. (4) A Troll.

(5) Falling into the handsof the Bible translators, a good makeshift for Satyr; and thrust into a shaggy he-goat, with glowing eyes, two horns and a tail, to serve the devout congregation — sic transit gloria mundi ! And lastly we see him merged with Mannanan, Mac Leir, the great Island magician, who ruled on Barrule, wrapped in mist and mystery, ages before him, and whose power in spells and charms tradition has lent to the Finnodderree subsequently.

*Quoted in The Goblin Tales of Lancashire, by James Bowker, London, p. 247.

* In the legend of Goddard Crovan's Stone.



I think we can follow the various stages of transformation the conception of the Finnodderree underwent in the course of the succeeding centuries.

We have to consider the —

Norwegian rule (890-1270) for 380 years

Scottish conquest (1271-1344) „ 73 „

English change of hands (1345-1406) „ 65 „

Lancashire or Stanley government and influence (1407-1765) „ 360 „

The story of the Finns and King Godred, their bold adventures and heroic feats and performance were to the Scandio-Manx household tales, during the early rule of the Viking race, forming the topic of entertainment many an evening at their hearth. With the baneful invasion of the Scotch and English contenders for the next 138 years, which was a time of oppression and extirpation, and being an alien people indifferent to insular traditions and institutions, the vestiges of the old folklore dwindled into oblivion, or became dimmed and confused, their vividness crumbling quickly away. Gorree became a misty giant and wizard, and was turned into a Troll, and Glastran. With the influx of the Lancashire men, 500 years after the Norseman set foot on the Isle, the trituration and dilutation of the legend had robbed it of its very essence, and produced a blurred counterfeit into which their boggart and the Manx buggane largely entered; but although he has been stripped of his original features, Celtic tenacity still clings to this day to the old Manx word of 1,000 years ago — his memory is still fresh in Manxland.

The legend entered clearly into Man from the North with the Norse who landed at the Lake, Lhane Mooar ; it left traces at Ballathoar (in Ballaugh) ; it firmly fixed itself on South Barrule ; and we follow it finally to Castle Rushen.

*In the North we have besides Cashtal Ree Gorree.


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