[from Manx Place-names, 1925]
THE name of the sheading is Norse, and derived from eyrr, 'a gravelly bank;' either of the banks of a river or of small tongues of land running into the sea ; and refers to the sandy and gravelly expanse extending along the north coast of the Island.
The sheading of Ayre is bounded on the N. E. and W. by the sea and on the S. by Glenfaba and Garff. The sheading contains three parishes ; Kirk Christ, Kirk Bride and Kirk Andreas.
The ancient treen names show that the sheading was well colonized by the Norsemen. Nineteen treen names bear Norse names and fifteen Gaelic. The Scandinavian homestead names which still exist are: Sulby, Crosby, Grenby, Rygby, (now Craig); Grest, Alkest, Auste, Leodest, Brausta and Bravost. The landing places of the Norsemen are indicated by the following names containing vik: Breryk, at Ramsey, Balywarynagh at Cranstal and Balyhamyg at the Lhane. The following Norse personal names are found incorporated in the place-names of the sheading, many of them being Gael icized, and at a later date forming component parts of Gaelic place-names : Lagama-6r, Alfgeirr, Ottar, Brüsi, Grettir, SSli and Ljotr. Among obsolete Gaelic personal names are the following: ODubhghail, ODor-chåin, OLaoidhigh, OhOistfn, OBeargha, OBeollain, Conchatha and MacEochaidh.
Ancient churches, most of them now disappeared, bear the following dedications : Finnian, Columba, Adamnan, Esconn, Cuthbert, Bridget, Martin, Breaga, Ciardn, Mark, Matthias, Michael, John the Baptist, Andrew and Christ (or Holy Trinity).
The boundary names of the Abbey Lands of Kirk Christ Lezayre are a most interesting series, some of them postulating grammatical forms long obsolete in the Manx language. In one of these names occurs the Irish name OGormåin (v. Hatharygegormane), and it is interesting to find that a certain Gormand the parson was one of the witnesses to a charter of Magnus, son of Olave, on the Feast of the Invention of the Holy Cross in 1257. This would be the patronal festival day of the parish, and it is probable that Gormand was the vicar of Kirk Christ Lezayre.
Both personal-names and place-names show that the sheadings of Ayre and Garff constituted a unit which was almost purely Scandinavian. In the other four sheadings, Norse names only occur sporadically, but in the two sheadings mentioned, Norse homesteads are found adjoining one another, and the Crennells, Christ-ians, Corletts, Casements, Cottiers, Corkells, Cormodes, and Castells, are the descendants of these colonists from the Northlands. The sheadings of Rushen, Glenfaba, Michael and Middle must have contained a population which was largely of Gaelic extraction, and in the course of time the Norse element was entirely absorbed.