[from Manx Notes & Queries, 1904]
CROSH MOLLEY MOOAR AND POYLL VILL.
These two places-the former meaning the great deceiving cross, and the latter the honey pool, are situated a little south of the stone circle on the Mull, up the way to Cregneish. The stone circle itself is called in Manx, Lhiack ny virragh=a sharply pointed pile of stones. I was very anxious to obtain the proper spelling and sounding of the name, and examined a great number of old men from the Darrag, Ballahowe, and Cregneish, and I am perfectly satisfied that the above rendering is the only correct one, which exactly describes the place. In the paper The Excavation of the Neolithic Stone Circles on the Meayll Hill, 1894, by Prof. Herdman and Mr P. M. K. Kermode, it quite wrongly given as Lhag ny Boirey=the hollow of trouble (.) The legends which cluster round Crosh molley and Poyll vill, taken in conjunction with the stone circle that crowns the height of the cronk, are of great importance-the spring just above, called Chibbyr ny gabbyl-not Chibbyr ny garval-or the horse well, is also haunted by fairies. (See my contribution to the Folklore of the Isle of Man vol. III., part IV., page 166.) The Crosh molley may have stood as the first of the big upright monoliths forming the long avenue running from west to east outside on the south side of the Circle; the Crosh has disappeared, but the traditions are still known to the old Mull people.
CROSH MOLLEY MOOAR.
I never knew why it was called so nor ever heard of any settlement, but there are traces of ruins near to it, It was said the fairies called it so. There was another man of our gathering, from Surby, telling one time he was coming to Cregneish up Port Erin way at a late hour one fine bright night to see his sweetheart, and when he was coming up at Crosh molley mooar, he heard great laughing and sport up near Poyll vill, and as he got near the company he saw a great crowd of gentlemen and ladies dancing in rings, and others playing ' kiss in the ring,' and others jumping, and they were all dressed very fine. He stood for some time to get a good view of them, and they kept dancing, and jumping, and laughing, and shouting away; they did not seem to take any notice of him. So he came on his way to Cregneish and they got on with their merriment until he was out of hearing.
There was an old man on the Mull. He was on his way home from Port Erin, and when he came to Crosh molley there was a great crowd there, and they took hold of him, and he was obliged to go with them, and when they came to Pooyl vill they met a very big man, and be found fault with them for taking the man away with them. "Let the decent man go,' said he, "right before the wind." So they let him go, and he got away before the wind as fast as he could. Many of the old people used to see fairy crowds at Cosh molley when the were near it, but on arriving there they had vanished, and I fancy that Crosh molley took its name from that, because the "crowds" always disappeared and they were deceived or disappointed
Returning from Port Erin it was one night in the winter we got on very well till we came to Crosh molley mooar, and we could not tell where we had got to, and could see nothing. We were climbing precipices on our hands and knees, and more than once we walked into deep pools of water, taking us up to our knees. But after a little while we saw a bright light and made towards it, and found it to be our own. If we were on the Mull all the time it was very strange how we had to climb such places and walk into such deep pools of water.
I was coming home from Port Erin alone one night, about thirty years ago, and it was moonlight, with a full moon in the sky. When I came out on the gate that leads to the Mull I could see the road very plain before me going towards Crosh molley, but I went on. walking for a long time, but could -not find Crosh molley at all, and could not tell where I was going, but all of a sudden I found myself at the gate again, and started towards Crosh molley again, and got past it without any difficulty.
A man from the Mull was coming from Port Erin at a late hour, and when he was near Poyll vill he heard a hand bell tolling just beside him at a great rate, and he stood to listen and look about to see who it was, but he did not see anyone, and the ringing ceased, but as soon as he began to walk again the bell ringer commenced to ring again, sometimes at his right side and sometimes at his left, and it kept on until he was very near Cregneish, but he never saw anybody.
Seventy years ago some of the men got a new yawl built at Port St. Mary, and they carried her in a cart to Cregneish. She was a boat to fish in the Sound of the Calf; they put her down in the mountain above some house until it would be fine to take her to the Sound to fish. She lay there more than a week, and the people that were passing Poyll vill in the night were saying that the fairies had her in Poyll will every night sailing away. I suppose they were not getting many fish in the Pool, but I have heard of an old man that was engaging a crew in the public-house to go with him to fish Penprock in Poyll vill. I think they are called crayfish in English.
A young woman was coming from Port Erin. It was Pancake Night, and she was going to the farm-house in the Sound to make pancakes
She was coming at Poyll vill, and some darkness cane over her, and she did not know where she was going, but walking all night and did not see or feel a hedge; but she must have gone over hedges, for when daylight came she was in Ballahowe mountain, in the middle of the cliff above Ghaw ny mooar.
BALLAQUEENEY IN RUSHEN.
Ballaqueeney is too important a place in Manx archaeology to be passed over. It is connected with pre-Christian times, and has many features to single it out specially from other places. In 1874, in cutting the railway, an ancient burial ground and a superconstructed keeill was discovered, at a former little eminence called Cronk Ballaqueeney. The keeill displayed remains of foundations, chiefly built of stone, the walls were erected without mortar. The keeill, which stood in the centre, had a number of graves round it, forming tangents to the centre which it formed. They had slabs over them, the interior lined with flags; two bodies were found in the same grave. Close to the remains of the keeill was found an old paved platform, with a lot of charcoal scattered about, pointing to a previous occupation by pre-Christian peoples. The now famous two Ogham-inscribed slabs (re-used for the later graves) in memory of a Bivaicunas maqui mucoi cunava, and of Dooaidona magui Droata (son of the Druid), bring the place certainly back to at least the fifth or the sixth century, beyond that we cannot go at present; the fire-burial or cremation place it, however, into pre-Christian times. The Druids were certainly in possession of the place, and in early times it must have attracted the eye of Columba as a rich field for conversion. The parish is called after him, Carbory (Corbbri's name is also found on an Ogham stone in Mayo), and we have already seen that it drew a goodly number of Culdees to the locality, attested by the copious numbers of keeills; besides it was very accessible and the district inviting by its greater fertility and situation. Flint implements also have been found in great number, in the hollows particularly, all through Port St. Mary, Ballacreggan, and Ballaqueeney by my old friend Cowell, late of Ballacreggan, who searched the district attentively for me, many years ago. Close by at Ballacreggan we have a square stone near the middle of the field, twenty tons in weight, with a hole on the top, and said to mark a place of worship. Another one of the so-called giant quoiting stones, 7 to 8 ft. high, exists near the place, also supposed by tradition to have been a place of ancient worship, at the Four-roads. In the night-time many bugganes, and a very large pig, two calves, and a great monster, as big as a turf stack, hang about the place to frighten off the traveller; all this, taken in conjunction, shows the early pre-Christian existence of the place., That this centre must have continued in importance is shown by the former existence of a runic cross, originally standing in the magher clagh ard (of the 12th century). Up to that time it appears that Ogham writing was probably even practised there-witness the Ogham stone Macleog (at Arbory) ; and the additional discovery of coins in the graves dating from Edmund (946), Edred (955), Edwy (958), and Charles III., the Simple, of France (893-924), serves us as a good finger post during the course of the troubled occupation in the 10th century by the Scandinavian Kings of Dublin.
# The name in the mouths of the Mull people is variously Yack y veddach and Yack y verrach, the d is often in common parlance used for r. We have also such Manx place-names as Gob birragh, Balla-birragh, Lag birragh, the Berragh=sharp, pointed. (See page 73.)
t See my note, Folklore I, p. 168.
BALLAQUEENEY AND THE STONE CIRCLE ON THE MULL.
After finishing my preceding observations, some additional information supplied to me by a very old Manx fisherman, of Surby, extends my views about the prevalence of Druidism in the South_ The fact that we find evidence of Ogam inscriptions only in this part, viz, at Ballaqueeney and Arbory (the Kirk Michael inscriptions stand on a different and independent basis) will strike everyone as a noteworthy thing. No other locality in the Island has yielded Ogam stones, in spite of Mr Kermode's ardent searches for many years.
I mentioned Port Erin as a probable port at which early Irish missionaries, such as Carbery, Columba, or St. Patrick's followers, and many Ouldees might have originally landed, from thence penetrating into the Parish of Rushen, and Arbory in their efforts of the conversion of a rather dense native pagan population.
My informant, in replying to a query of mine: whether Port Erin had any other name, answered that it was also called Port Casherick, or the Holy Port. It is just what I might have expected, for Erin here means clearly Ireland, as I have already shown elsewhere. It was, no doubt, the port, par excellence, to which these holy men flocked from the Emerald Isle to the southern parts of the Island.
There appears to be a historical thread from the time of Bivaicunas and Dovaidona, in the 5th or 6th century down to the 12th century, connected with and indicative of the unconverted and converted native Manx and the later intrusive Norse settler.
The Mull Circle (Lhiaek ny virragh).-That it must have been a place of very ancient worship cannot be doubted. It had a long and grand avenue leading up to it from the west, and at its lower end was the Crosh molley and the Poyll mill.
We gather from the legend already given that:
(1) There is always a great crowd to be seen at the Crosh and Poyll.
(2) A big man is here met and asks the crowd not to molest the stranger, but send him before the wind.
3) The crowds when you draw near the place, vanish and disappear.
(4) Or darkness suddenly and generally sets in, and you completely lose your way, and land from where you have started first.
(5) Great laughing, sporting is going- on, a great crowd of gentlemen and ladies is seen, dancing in ring, others jumping, others playing kiss-in-the-ring, and all dressed very fine.
(6) When coming to the Poyll a hand-bell is heard, tolling at a great rate, without seeing any one on looking, after passing it the bellringing begins again, sometimes at the right side, sometimes to the left.
And perhaps we may also venture to weave this up into a slight picture.
There is the great crowd of pagan worshippers wending their way to the avenue, and up the stone circle-their solemn place of rites. The big man is the druid who sets the arrested intruder off again " before the wind." We see them forming themselves into a ceremonial ring, dancing and singing, the druid in the centre; afterwards they have their rejoicings, dressed very fine in their robes. When they are disturbed in their ceremonies they break up and disappear, or the Druid casts his magical spells and darkness suddenly is spreading over the hill and circle*; intruders lose their way. At the Poyll there is to be heard the tolling at a great rate. The Poyll mill is the honey poyll, the sweet and blessed water poyll, used first by the Druid for his rites; but when the power of Druidism is slowly broken up, and the missionary comes to invade the very fountainbead on the Mull, and firmly sets his foot on Druidism, the poyll becomes a blessed vehicle for baptism and consecration-the holy water for wetting finger and forehead, and the Crosh molley mooar, planted firmly now at the entrance to the avenue, the symbol of the cross, becomes the breaker of heathenism; to the pagan worshippers it meant the great deceiving cross.
We seem to perceive the missionaries ascending and winding up in procession, with banner and cross, the silver bell ringing out over hill and mountain, cbaunting and solemnly approaching the poyll with their triumphant Christian stone-cross planted beside, preaching and anathematizing druidic creeds and spirits, which the sweet tinkle of the bell and the ebaunt of the psalter drives away. And thus the connection between Ballaqueeney, Arbory, and many other now forgotten places, and the Mull, seems to come out clearer. Of course, we have no direct demonstration for the picture I have introduced; but it may not be improbable in certain aspects.
* The Druids were accredited with the power to produce and spread mists over the place to make it invisible-perhaps by some dense fumes
THE CORONATION OF KING GEORGE IV. AND THE DUKE OF ATHOL'S FEUDATORY PRESENTMENT OF TWO MANX PEREGRINE FALCONS.
It is curious that King Edward should have paid his interesting visit to the Isle of Man so shortly after his crowning in Westminster Abbey. At one time a very curious connection existed between the Island and the ceremony of the Coronation. Man, as everyone knows, was formerly a kingdom all by itself, and then came the Stanley's, who continued to hold the lordship "of the isle and Castle of Pelham (Peelholme) and their serviory and dominions " for many a year. The conditions attached to this office simply consisted in the presentation of a nest of Falcons to the English Kings on their Coronation Day. The Stanleys, as Earls of Derby, retained their position until the eighteenth century, when Man passed by marriage to the Duke of Athol who sold his sovereign rights to the Crown in 1784. He still however, retained the actual territory on the same curious tenures. The last occasion -on which this quaint condition was fulfilled was at George IV.'s coronation, at which we learn that " Amongst the feudal services, the two falcons from the Isle of Man were con spicuous. Seated on the wrist of his Grace's hawking gauntlet, the beautiful peregrine falcons appeared with their usual ornaments. The birds sat perfectly tame on the arm of his Grace, completely hooded and furnished with bells. The King descended from his chair of state and the ladies of the Court pressed round to caress and examine the noble birds." (see Manchester Guardien, column : London correspondent, August 28th, 1902).
ON CRONK NY ARREY LHAA AND MANX WATCH HILLS IN PARTICULAR.
Mr Moore, in his Surnames and Placenames of the Isle of Man, says this eminent hill forms one of the series of ancient watch hills, he spells and translates it: " The Hill of the Day Watch." According to the ancient statutes, constant Watch and Ward had to be kept throughout the Island; " the night watch ,hall come at sun-setting and not depart before the sun-rising, and the day watch, shall come at the sun-rising and not depart before the sun-setting." Now we have (I give the spelling of the Ordnance Survey) :
1. Cronk ny arrey lhaa, 1,449 feet above the level of the sea, between Niarbyl Bay and Fleshwick.
2. Cronk ny irey lea, 34 feet above the sea, near Point Cranstal.
3. Cronk arrey lhaa, 96 feet above the sea, a tumulus in Jurby, south of Sartfield.
4. Cronk- ny Harrey (=Arrey) 430 feet above the sea, on the Mull. south of Cregneish.
There were officers in each parish appointed to look to the strict observance of day and night watch of the coast and ports. The burning faggot passed from parish to parish. Archallagan, in Patrick, is known to have been a watch hill, and so was certainly the one above Cregneish and Cronk ny Watch, near Scarlet.
When we come, however, to the Cronks Nos. 1 to 3, we meet with certain difficulties in accepting Mr Moore's interpretation of the Manx name. Why, if they were watch hills, should they be qualified as arrey lhaa, viz., of the day watch ? Why should we, on that basis, not also have hills known as of the night watch P The night watch was perhaps even more important than the day watch. Have 2 and 3 been also used formerly as watch hills ?
I believe the correct spelling to be really Cronk ny irree lhaa, the hill of the rising day, for reasons I shall now give.
A Manx friend of mine, an aged fisherman, when talking about this topic, once told me that he thought the old fishermen gave the hill that name in old times. The fishing and the herrings then followed much nearer the land, and when at the foot of Cronk ny irree lhaa (No. 1), they always saw the sun rising over that hill. He also mentioned, which is of significance for my contention, that some called it Cronk brishey yn lhaa, or daybreak hill, for the dawn is in a direct line behind that hill. Some of the characteristic points near the coast, amongst them Cronk ny irree lhaa (No. 1), were also often used as landmarks at sea.
It would be really interesting if Mr Kneen, or the grand old custodian of Peel Castle, would draw up and supply a full list of all the known ancient Manx beacon hills. It has been done for Lancashire and Cheshire in a very attractive and instructive form.
I regret to see so extremely few Manxmen assisting the Manx Notes and Queries, their help would preserve many valuable and now perishing traits, and besides a little support in many other directions-biographical and domestic-descriptive of the old peasantry and their habits and life, indoors and outdoors, would increase the value of the columns con siderably. I hope my appeal will fructify, an, then we may gradually obtain a more faithful mirror of the old customs, habits, and life in Man during days gone by.
Note.-" For whosoever fails any night in his ward forfeiteth a wether to the warden, and to the warden the second night a calve, and the third night life and lymb." (See Statutes 1411 and 1594 )