[From A Manx Scrapbook]
Lonan is unequally but radically divided by the Laxey Valley ; geographically, her top corner is Maughold, but the whole parish consorts more with her Northern neighbour than with Conchan in the degree to which she has retained her immaterial heritage, and in its peculiar flavour. The grimness of her harsh coast and wind-scoured dusky uplands has a little entered the souls of her people. Her shape reminds one of Africa, but not her winters and springs.
Keeill ny Traie, " Church of the Shore," is an alternative name for the old parish church, abandoned to solitude in the Southern extremity of its former sphere of influence. As it is half a mile from the coast and a mile from the nearest strand at Port Groudle, considerable distances on the Manx scale, traie suggests a former lake or marsh, as in the case of the keeill of the same name at Ardonan, Lezayre. Whatever Saint may be secreted in the name of the parish, his flock seems predestined to an inconvenient fold. If the old church was nook-shotten, the new church is skied ; if the one is stranded like a whale the other is stranded like Noah's Ark.
Cooill Roi, " Reddish Corner "-ruy is a lighter red than jiarg-was formerly known as Ballagroa. There are here, or were till recently, two spots " well known in the locality as the graves of two suicides, who lived in that house (now in ruins) situated in the field to the immediate North. The graves are marked by two stones."-(O.S. Name Books.)
Ooigyn Dhoo, " Dark Caves," two of them, are on the Ballavarane shore in a section of the coast which sees few strangers. Close to the caves is a remarkable rocky outcrop called " The Castle."
Glen Gowan (" Smith's Glen ") in the Lonan Parish Register, 1804, is now Glen Gawne, perhaps by confusion with the surname.
Goudness or Goodness was once a croft on Baldromma Monar, from which it was taken and added to Baldromma Beg ; this is the reason given locally for the fact that the latter is a larger estate than the former, in contradiction to their names. Another version of the transaction is that a piece of land was transferred from the treen of Merest to that of Rigg, and hence from one farm to the other, as compensation for stolen sheep.
Booilley Veen, " Smooth, or Fine-textured, Cattlefold," was the name of the ground on which the present Kirk Lonan stands.
Lag Dhoo and Laagh Dhoo (O.S. Name Books), two small crofts North of Garwick. If these are really two different names, the interpretations are " Dark Hollow " and " Dark Mire "--Gaelic lathach.
Cleigh ny Cuilleig, an ancient fish-weir situated at the Southern extremity of Laxey sands.-(Name Books.) " Hedge of the Corner," at the foot of Struan ny Quill. Cuilleig relates to what is now called
The Apple Ghuilleig above the shore, apparently half-translated from Cuilleig ny Ooyl. This was traditionally a hiding-place from the press-gangs which were so much feared, especially during the Napoleonic wars, and which are still well remembered by the people of the Island.
Gob ny Rheynn ; Rheynney and Rinnagh are variants. -(Name Books.) " Headland of the Fern." This is just South of Cleigh ny Cuilleig.
Ballaquine, " Quine's Farm." In reference to this place the O.S. Name Books, 1867, contain the following remarks, which are of value in view of changes which have occurred. " Site of chapel and burial-ground ; only the site left. A portion of the burial-ground still exists, in which human remains have been found. This chapel is probably the oldest in Laxey. A stream or rivulet now runs through the enclosing circle, and cuts off its North-Eastern portion. This rivulet, which is not of artificial formation, must have established itself subsequent to the discontinuation of Ballaquine as a place of burial. Stone lined graves recently turned up, containing human remains. Authority, Mr. Jas. Cowin of Ballaquine."
Legend says that when the first attempt was made to remove the remains of the Ballaquine keeill, a wheel of fire rolled in front of the man who was digging up the stones, and so scared him that he would have nothing more to do with the business. It was nevertheless carried out at some subsequent time. Kennish in his poem " Old May Eve " tells a dark tale of witchcraft and counter-spells at Ballaquine.
Crosh, " a small piece of masonry in a field to the immediate East of Poolvilla, is said to have been in ancient times a place to rest the coffin on, and was used by the people living on the hills, they having to bury their dead in the ancient burial-ground at the old Parish Church."-(Name Books.) For " coffin " we should perhaps read " bier," as the custom among the lower classes was to bury without a coffin.
Creg Towl y Buggane, " Hole-of-the-Buggaue Rock," is near Thalloo Carooin, " Carooin's Land," above Laxey. Here, as in other places of the kind, the sound of the wind among the rocks and boulders produced a weird whistling sound which was attributed to a buggane. The effect has now been destroyed by quarrymen.
The steep wooded slope high above the South side of the river and beyond the village, though not named on the maps, is well known as
Axenfells. I have been assured that this, though also attached to a house here, is an authentic place-name, and not of recent introduction. If so, it may be either Norse or English, with the same meaning of " Oxen Hillside." A little farther comes in the
Ault, the river flowing through Glen Roy (Kelly's Dictionary), now usually called the Glen Roy river. In it are
Lhing y Cooilley, " Pool of the River-bend," a spot near the influx
of the Awin Ruy ;
Lhing Broogh yn Eayn, " Bank--of-the-Bird Pool " ; and
Spreigh Vedn, " Bright Sprinkle," a place on the same river, under Ballalheaney. This was one of the Fenoderree's favoured localities ; others in Lonan were Ballamiljyn, Laxey, and Ballayolgane, Agneash. On the North side of Glen Roy are the following field-names of interest :
Cor ny Killey, " Hollow of the Chapel," on Baljear ;
Carnane Mooar, " Big Heap," on Ballamiljyn ; i.e., a burial-place ? On the same farm is
Boayl Raad s'Yrjey, " Upper-road Place." From this name I deduced a Raad s'Yrjey (page 152), but I now see that Raad relates to Boayl and not to s'yrjey. Though there is a raad in the locality, its actual name does not appear. Also on Ballamiljyn are Cronk Dan and Peark Dan.
The Nikkesen's Pool, more often called simply " the Nikkesen," is in the Awin Ruy, " Ruddy Stream," near its junction with the Glen Roy river. It is shut in on the North side by a high, concave wall of rock over which the stream tumbles into a pool screened by small timber. Nikkesen was a water-sprite who appeared sometimes in the form of a horse or pony, like the Glashtyn and the Cabbyl-ushtey, sometimes as a handsome young man who drew human beings, chiefly girls, down into his abode beneath the water. When so engaged, his traditional pathway to his pool was the streamlet, now usually dry in summer, which runs into it from the South. Their bodies were never found ; but round the little green meadow below the pool, by the light of the full moon he would lead a singing and dancing procession of his victims. The people would gather on the broos above to watch, while Nikkesen and his ghostly company trooped round and round the field and then danced in a circle. He was also seen occasionally in his equine form, roaming about the hazel-woods of Glen Roy. The legend as I have heard it does not describe the method employed by the Nikkesen to lure mortals down to his unfathomable dwelling-place, but I venture to supply the omission by suggesting that the bait he used was some kind of music ; for there is a strong resemblance between him and Hom Mooar, Big Tom the Glashtyn or waterhorse who sometimes wore human shape and decoyed unwary listeners into places from which they seldom returned. His headquarters were the Fairy Hill, Rushen.
The word " Nikkesen " evidently belongs to the Germanic series of Nikar, Nikuz (Old Norse), Nichus (O.H. German), the Gothic Nichor and his Anglo-Saxon cousin the Nickar in Beowulf, who was last seen in Sussex, the Highland Nixie, and innumerable other variants ; and Nikkesen the sprite, in the days when his appearance was more familiar to the country people than it is now, must have looked very much like his Germanic relations. Thorpe, Northern Mythology, i., 246, describes the German Nixen as resembling in form a human being, though smaller. " According to one tradition, the Nix has slit ears, and is also to be known by his feet, which he does not willingly let be seen." These, we may suppose without doing him an injustice, resembled horses' hoofs. "Naked Nixen, or hung round with moss and sedge, are also mentioned." The male water-sprites of Germany, he says on page 248, " carry off young girls and detain them in their habitations, and assail women with violence." But they had their moods of clemency, for Grimm tells us (Teat. Myth., 492) that " at evening up come the damsels from the lake, to take part in the human dance, and to visit their lovers ; " and the Nikkesen's passion for music and dancing is equalled by that of his counterpart in Sweden, where " they tell of the Stromkarl's [Streamyouth's] alluring enchanting strain ; his lay is said to have eleven variations, but to only ten of them may you dance ; the eleventh belongs to the night-spirit and his band. Begin to play that, and tables and benches, cup and can, graybeards and grandmothers, blind and lame, even babes in the cradle, would begin to dance." Of the same quality, no doubt, was the playing of the now forgotten Hom Mooar. It is the true Orphic and fairy music, all the world over ! Mortal musicians con it by flowing waters, to bring home only the faint echo in their memory ; and it may be well for our peace of mind that they can do no more.
The toll of human life taken by the treacherous element would suffice to explain a spirit who preyed on human beings ,' but the tradition of his preference for girls, and the frequent association of the word inneen; girl, daughter, and its equivalents in other languages with so many coastal and riverine rocks, pools, lakes fords and waterfalls, combine to suggest that a long time ago the droNvnings were not all accidental-that some at least were sacrifices to the indwelling spirit of the place. By these he would be sufficiently appeased to spare the more valuable lives of men, to refrain from trespassing on their lands, to keep their wells filled, to provide them with plenty of fish and sea-wrack, and to perform all the other duties of a Water God. Perhaps I had better add that as the legend of the Nikkesen did not originate in the Isle of Man, sensitive patriots are not obliged to believe that human sacrifice was practised in their island.
In the case of Loch Nighean Dhugaill in the Isle of Eigg-" the Lake of Dougal's Daughter," a close parallel with Creg Inneen Thalleyr, " The Rock of Taylor's Daughter," in Malew, which has lost its story-the name is clearly due to a legend which strongly resembles the well-known Manx water-demon stories located in Glen May, Colby Glen, Sulby and Ballure, with this addition : after the girl had escaped the monster's clutch by cutting off a piece of her dress, the water-horse appeared among the people as they sat gossiping upon a hillock on the following Sunday afternoon, and carried her off before their astonished eyes. They never saw her again, but her inwards were found some days later, floating on the surface of the loch. The complete story may be read in the Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Inverness, xxii, 203, in an article of much interest by the Revd. C. M. Robertson.
More permanently equine in form than the Nikkesen, though still imperfectly so, was the Manx Cabbyl Vooar, the Big Horse, or Cabbyl-ushtey, the Waterhorse, of whom I have already spoken and may again, if he should happen to present himself. He was seen at low tide and towards twilight on the seashore or about the tracks leading up the cliffs and broos. White was he like a breaking wave, or of a dun colour like the rocks, but never grey with the Glashtyn of the rivers and pools. He could travel as well under the sea as over it or over the land ; but when he came ashore his preference was for the marshy places. Anyone who was reckless enough, or ill-instructed enough, to mount him was carried into and under the tide, but was still able, in some obscure manner, to draw his breath ; from which it may be inferred that he entered the land under the waves) where the ambient medium is not water, if it is not the air we know. This is doubtless why we read in Scottish and Irish stories of the floating up to the lake or river surface of the victim's lungs ; he has no further use for them, but it is not necessary to conclude that he is dead. The Cabbyl Vooar was usually seen riderless and was then capable of mischief ; but on the rare occasions when he emerged from his natural element ridden by someone having at least the semblance of a, man, he was willing to help in farm work, especially in the heavy task of bringing up weed from the shore to fertilize the fields. And right welcome was he then to the farmer ; for his strength, like that of the Fenoderree and another, was as the strength of ten.
In the same fashion the Nennir or Nikur of old Norway " presents himself on the seashore as a handsome dapple-grey horse, and is to be recognized by his hoofs looking the wrong way ; if anyone mounts him, he plunges with his prey into the deep. There is a way, however, to catch and bridle him, and break him in for a time to work." And Thorpe gives details of such experiments, which one can only characterize as risky.
Peark yn Noble, " Noble's Hill-pasture," is on the Eastern slope of Slieu Carn Gerjoil. Noble was a former owner.
Slieu Losht, " Burnt Fell," is another name for the Carn Gerjoil of the map, which is locally Slieu Chiarn, " Lord's Hill." As I have only heard the first name on the North-Eastern side of the mountain it may refer to that side alone. Feltham, page 237, locates over the boundary in Conchan " Karn-ajole, a small mountain situated South of Shen Coure in Lonan," which is probably the same. The correct name is evidently Slieu Charn, " Cairn Fell," and not " Slieu Chiarn."
Cleigh Clagh, " Stone Hedge," is a lonely croft at the North-East foot of Slieu Charn. Places of this kind have mostly been abandoned, but Cleigh Clagh was still inhabited a couple of years ago.
Cronk y Thona, " Hill of the Backside," is part of Lhergy Grawe between
Glen Roy and the high road ; St. Patrick's Well and Paddy's Well are on the
verge of it. There is another hill of the same name in Andreas. The croft on
which this one lies was formerly
Thalloo Vullagh, " Summit Land."
Lag ny Bhoirrey (pronounced " Woorria ") is a triangular uncultivated corner of a field by the roadside within sight of Lonan Church, containing bushes and the antlered anatomy of a tree too long dead to identify, from which depended the major portion of an old pair of stays the last time I was there--about 1925. As no well is discoverable, the curative or procreative virtue which the presence of the relic implied must reside either in the tree or in the area, designedly left uncleared, in which it stands. Joyce, Irish Names of Places, vol. iii., has " Billeady (Bile-eudaighe), ' the old tree of clothing; ' " of which he enquires, rather surprisingly, " Why? Perhaps an outfitter or dressmaker lived beside the tree." The hanging of a piece of the garment of a sick person on a tree or bush, usually by a well, has been a common practice for untold ages, but the name of this particular spot, though found elsewhere in the Isle of Man, is puzzling. It means, according to modern parlance, " Hollow of the Disturbance or Uproar." The Scottish form of the word, buirich, is rendered " wailing " in Tales of the West Highlands, iii., 326-7-the wailings of the ancient warriors after the death of Oscar ; Joyce, vol. iii., has " Cloonboorhy, ' Meadow of Contention ; ' " Kelly's Dictionary has " Buirroogh, a roar, crash," a definition which fits the sounds heard at Lag ny Bhoirrey or Virragh in Rushen ; see page 38. Whatever shade of meaning is the appropriate one, and however it was deemed applicable, the general sense is evidently that of a loud pervading sound, which may perhaps have proceeded from the (now extinct) bittern. The idea at the root of the word was probably the lowing of a cow or bull-bua ; this may have been the reason why such sounds were sometimes attributed to the Tarroo-ushtey, as in Glen Shoggil, Ballaugh. Bandon Mountain in Co. Cork is in Irish Sliabh Bo-buireadh, and its lough below bears the same name, which is due to the late presence of an enchanted cow.
Creelagh, " Shaking-land," i.e., bog-land, is a field on Baljean. There is another of the same name in Patrick.
Magher y Skeg, " Field of the Thornbush," on the same farm, has a name which occurs so frequently all over the Island that this example may stand for the rest.
Keesh Wooar, " Big Tax," is a field-name of more interest than usual on North Baldrine.
Boayl Streeu, " Place of Strife," is another, on Raby ; there should be a story about it, as there is about Lheeaney Streeu, " Meadow of Strife," on Kewaigue, in Braddan.
Above the entrance to Glen Roy the West side of the Laxey Valley is seamed
with a series of small watercourses, beside each of which was perched a cottage
surrounded by a few miniature fields. The cottages are now mere ruins, and many
of the fields are only distinguishable by the remnants of their former hedges.
The first of these places, going Northward, is
The Raby, or " the Raby - house," which was presumably an intack belonging to the large farm of Rheaby or Raby on the table-land above the valley. A story, of which the following is the gist, has a limited currency in the district ; it reached me from an elderly sheep-farmer of the neighbouring hills. The Rabyhouse was inhabited by an old woman named K-and her servant-girl. One morning when there was a great deal of spinning on hand the girl ran off and left her, and she was at her wits' end to get it done. Finally, in despair she went down to the river and asked it, or asked the spiders-accounts differ on this point-to help her ; and it, or they, promised to do so. Not only did they spin her wool for her, but after the work was finished they wove her, all out of their own silk thread, a shawl of miraculous delicacy and beauty. It was preserved in the family for several generations, but has now disappeared, like the two Fairy Cups, the Mylecharaine Cross, and other Insular treasures.
So simple and fanciful in character is this little story that I venture to think that no violence will be done to the sacred integrity of oral tradition if I expand it into the verse-form for which it seems to plead.
THE WONDERFUL SPINNING.
(By what I've heard from jemmy Dan,
Them Killyas out at Gliodn y Can
Once owned-well, this is how it ran.)
Old Moggy rose at break of day
And called the girl to waken ;
She crossed to where her pallet lay,
And found the nest forsaken
" Young Ibbot to the Fair has run
And all my wool is yet unspun
How will I get my spinning done ? "
Out went she to the shady wood
That edged her apple-orchard,
To tell the Stones that in it stood
The way her mind was tortured;
She made the turn about them twice,
She made the turn about them thrice,
She stepped it Southward with the Sun
For help to get her spinning done.
In came she to the Trammon-tree
That leaned against her gable,
And prayed him most respectfully
To do what he was able ;
She laid three fingers on a bough
" Good neighbour Trammon, help me now
Young Ibbot to the Fair has run
And left me with my wool unspun
How will I get my spinning done ? "
Up toiled she to the hoary Drine
That writhed above her garden;
She curtsied thrice and made the sign,
Then humbly begged his pardon
" But Ibbot ere the break of day
To Laxey Fair has run away
And won't be back till set of sun,
And here's my spinning not begun! "
* * *
She stood and wrung her withered hands
" Auch, auch, not one that understands!"
Low knelt she by the River then
And wept into his flying bubbles,
His bubbles whirling down the Glen,
And told his water all her troubles
" Young Ibbot to the Fair has run
And not a stroke of work begun,
And all alone I cannot spin
The rolls and rolls of wool that 's in
And must be balled ere daylight ebbs
To give the weaver for his webs;
O River singing ever by,
Swift River, tell me how will I
Get all my spinning done ? "
The River left his lazy song
And rolled a thunder loud and long
Up all the rushy gills that fed
The rapids in his rocky bed ;
From Laxey Mines and Glen Agneash,
The Foss, the Lhaggan, and the Rheash,
From hedge and tussock, bush and wall,
Obedient to his drumming call
The Spiders gathered at his banks
And clustered thick in ready ranks.
He took them on his back and ran,
For he had hit upon a plan;
To where old Moggy's ground began
He bore his hairy riders.
He took a boulder in his stride
And spilt them on the Raby side,
They scuttled up the ferny broo
That glistened yet with morning dew,
Through cracks that would not pass a mouse
They poured into the Raby-house,
They covered ceilings, walls and floors,
They crowded Moggy out of doors
And made a workshop of her room;
No need of wheel, no need of loom,
For each was loom and wheel in one,
And all day long till set of sun
They strove and spun and wove and spun
To get old Moggy's business done,
These magic-fingered Spiders !
At dusk when she crept sadly home
Her window gray as midnight foam
Betokened to her sleepy head
Young Ibbot back and off to bed;
She plucked the sneg and peeped inside,
Her mouth grew round, her eyes grew wide,
She tossed her withered hands and stood
Dumbfounded in a deep jerrude ;
For not alone her thread was spun
And round a score of cinders run,
But something stranger faintly lit
Her kitchen with the sheen of it,
As though the Moon an inch or more
Had pushed her horn above the floor
A Wonder by the Spiders left
Of their own silk in warp and weft,
A mist of gauzy gossamer
Enveloping her high-backed chair,
A shining SHAWL! more beautiful
Than moonlight on a river-pool,
More flyaway than thistledown,
And warmer than a woollen gown.
She wrapped it round her, danced and sang,
(Lame Moggy with the yellow fang),
Until the solid rafters rang
" O spotted Spiders from the Glen,
My blessing on your spinning then,
And on your weaving twice again,
You long-legged airy gliders!
O River singing by the broo,
My blessing on your water too
That floated down this clever crew
Of swiftly-spinning Spiders!
The River ran, the Spiders spun
From rise of sun to set of sun ;
They wove a Shawl that passes all,
And got my spinning done! "
It will be noticed that, like her fellow-speakers of English in Scotland and Ireland, the lady had a " will " of her own in conflict with that of the grammarians ; also that by letting her tears fall into the river she established-wittingly or by a happy accident-the requisite magical rapport between its guardian spirit and herself, whereby his sympathy was awakened and his aid enlisted. Further still, the practised eye will detect without much hesitation the presence of fairy folk under the thin disguise of spiders, which are called " weavers " in the Isle of Man, as they are called "spinners" in Germany; or if they were not actually fairy housewives on an errand of mercy, they were at least working to instructions from a higher source than even the river's. But the former view is corroborated by a Mull legend which I will condense from Mr. John MacCormack's enjoyable account of that island. In this case a simple wish expressed aloud brought the Muinntir an Dúin, the People of the Hill, to help in the work, and by the mere power of their sung word each stage in the processes of spinning and weaving was accomplished as soon as it was named. The little workers then gathered round the table in hope of being rewarded with a meal, such as the Manx fairies were given at every halt in their celebrated tour of the Island, but the poor woman was unprepared for such an emergency, and they had to be hoaxed out of the house by a false alarm of fire in their own home, which was perched at the brink of a sea-cape not far away. Though this was an ungrateful trick in the circumstances, it was only turning the tables on them, for it is a common expedient of the Good Neighbours when a mortal is about to meddle with any of their property to inspire him, either by eye or by ear, with the delusion that his house is in flames; they did it once at the Cloven Stones in Lonan. Perhaps if she had fed them nicely they would have left her a dhooragh in the shape of a silken shawl.
Laxey Valley from the foot of Glen Roy, a hundred years ago (Ashe 1825)
The Granane, " the Sunny Place," is the name of the next small ravine together with the land and house at the head of it. The house has remained empty for many years " on account of the Tarroo-ushtey " who used to come out of the river below and roar round the premises, trying to find a way in. It became necessary at last to push the heavier articles of furniture against the two doors and sit up -all night to keep him out. In the course of time the nervous tension became unbearable, and the occupants were forced to leave ; since then nobody has been bold enough to take the place. This Tarroo was occasionally spoken of as Yn Dhow Vargad, Margaret's Ox, which points to his having been connected with the involved and fragmentary witch-legend of Berrey Dhone and Margad y Stomachey, who lived in Cornaa in Maughold parish.
The Carnane, " The Little Cairn," the next gully, has no trace of habitation.
North of it comes
The Lhergy Veg, " The Little Slope," below the Eairy Veg, " Little Shealing," and Creg Dhoo, " Dark Rock." The house, now long deserted and fallen into decay, was once tenanted by weavers and bears architectural traces of the industry. Another occupant of the place was surnamed " the Fairy Doctor" and "the Fairy Tailor," which implies that he practised unorthodox veterinary work and other crooked branches of science in addition to his legitimate business. He included fiddling among his accomplishments, and got wonderful tunes from the sounds of the rock-thwarted river below his house. Being " a big, light, airy man," he would go off over the mountains to Douglas for a reel of thread or anything he wanted and be back again in twenty minutes. Themselves was helping him. Douglas, it may be remarked, is about ten miles away by road, or eight as the tailor flies. This was good travelling, but not so good as that of a South Cork man thumb-nailed by Miss Somerville in her Irish Memories, page 188 : " There was an ' ould Cronachaun of a fellow' who lived in the parish of Myross, who was said to be ' away with the fairies ' a great deal . . . and had the Bad Eye. It was asserted that he could go to the top of Mount Gabriel, a good 20 miles away, in five minutes." But the object of his journeys was less innocent than that of the Manx flying-man.
The substantial blocks of stone tumbled confusedly about the ground near the house have served, I suspect, as foundations for the edifice of legend which has grown up there ; their interstices are thought by conservativeminded people to be " a way in" to underground regions, and during the weavers' tenancy, if not since, Themselves were often seen, and heard singing and fiddling, among these stones ; they were heard too in the big holes like caves under the house, where they were living. The tunes they had, that the weavers were listening to while they were working, they were knocking out of the sounds of the river below ; that was where they got them from. A more unusual tale is related by a local shepherd of the old school with whom I am acquainted, and who has much to tell of this place and others among the surrounding hills. In point of fact, the following specimen of his archaic mentality reached me through a friend in common, and not directly from him in the first place, though when I managed to lead him up to the subject some time afterwards his account did not vary. It must be understood that he did not pose as one of the participants in the adventure, but he had known them personally in his youth. He simply related it as one of the many interesting things which happened when he was younger; but to attempt to pin such story-tellers down to a date is usually a waste of time. In any case, the kernel of the matter here is the existence of the story as a story.
Well, one day when the weavers were busy at their work they heard a great noise in the room, and first one of the hearthstones began to heave up and then another. The men were terribly frightened, and huddled into the farthest corner to watch. And what did they see but a thing like a horse's winkers or blinkers rising slowly up from under the hearth. With that they tumbled out through the window and away with them like the wind. Presently their courage revived a little, and curiosity prevailed over fear ; they crept back and peeped through the window, and what it showed them was the form of a man, but far higher than a mortal man, like a foawr, a giant, he was, and a woman something like himself, sitting one at each cheek of the chiollagh, the hearth. And on the sides of their heads they were wearing things like horses' blinkers and bridles, and something else rising above their heads like a sort of a helmet ; it was these the weavers had seen pushing up among the hearthstones. After that they didn't stop to find out what the pair of them were doing there, but hurried off across the river to get help from the nearest neighbours at Agneash. But when they all got back to the Lhergy Veg there was not a soul in it, and nothing of the sort was ever seen there again.
Something of the sort, however, was once seen in Glen May, though shorn of the most striking ornament, the " blinkers," which is absent also from similar tales in other lands. In John Nicolson's Folk-Tales and Legends of Shetland, page 43, a Trow living in a cave on the sea-shore used to come inland by an underground passage, push up the hearthstone of a cottage a quarter of a mile from his own home, and steal the cakes off the griddle. Subfocal visitors appear to be Germanic rather than Celtic , besides those in the Shetland story, Grimm says they often come up from under the hearths of the Fatherland, which in such circumstances are the doors of subterranean dwellings. They are strictly hearth-gods (Teut. Myth., page 500). In Hesse, as a man was eating his supper, an " earth-wife " suddenly pushed up her head through the floor by the fireside and offered him some green vegetables. In Thorpe's Northern Mythology, ii., 127, a Danish woman watches an elf-wedding through a crack in the hearth. But it was in Etruscan, and later in Roman, Italy that such beings received the fullest honour as Lares or housegods, and Manes, the house-haunting souls of dead ancestors; and I should be surprised to find that Italian folk-lore of the present day has not much to tell of them under other names. In Wales the machinery of the idea has been put to a different use. Rhys, Celtic Folklore, pages 135 and 136, relates a story " which seems to be genuine," of a young man losing his way while going to visit his sweetheart, and falling into a lake, whence, after a month's stay among the lake-fairies which seems like three days, he emerges on a subterranean road leading into his sweetheart's house by way of the hearthstone, which lifts itself up as he approaches it from below.
* * *
The foregoing remarks were jotted down shortly after I first heard the Manx story, some five years ago. Leaving them exactly as then written, I would add a guess that the mode of entrance adopted by the Lhergy Veg visitors may be connected with the underground " tunnels " believed to issue among the boulders outside the house. Such " tunnels " are an article of faith in Lonan. The matter of the " blinkers," at first hearing so incongruous and inexplicable, is not made much clearer to me by the only two instances which I have come across of the wearing by human beings of anything resembling such articles ; but perhaps they will prove less surprising to those who are familiar with the subject of prehistoric ornament. One instance occurs on the illustrated cover of a small volume in the Irish Saga Library, The Courtship of Ferb, by an artist whom I am unable to trace ; but from it I infer that they were an occasional item of costume in the Heroic Age of that country, and are perhaps to be identified with the ornaments briefly and hesitatingly alluded to by O'Curry, Manners and Customs of the Ancient Irish, iii., 185, as the " Au-Chuimriuch, which literally signifies ear-band or ear-ligature." The promised illustration of it does not appear in my edition of the work. O'Curry seems to have had but a single example before him ; in the saga entitled Bruidhean Dá Derga, Dá Derg's Hostel, the nine harpers of King Conaire (1st century B.C., though the telling is of course much later) are described as wearing " au-chuimriuch or ear-clasps of gold upon the ears of each " ; or, in Whitley Stokes's translation, " an ear-tie of gold round each man's ear." The other example is even more distant in space and time from a 19th-century weavers' cabin on a Manx hill-side. An ear-ornament unmistakably similar to-one might safely say identical with - that on the Irish book - cover and its jacket adorns the elegant head of " the Lady of Elche," a limestone bust of the 5th century B.C. which was disinterred at that town in Valencia in 1897 and is now in the Louvre. Her photograph forms the frontispiece of Mr. Havelock Ellis's The Soul of Spain, and a smaller one may be seen in a little handbook, Cities and Sights of Spain, by E. Main (to mention two easily accessible works). The art of the bust is said to be distinctively Iberian, modified by Oriental and superficial Greek influences. A descriptive pamphlet by a French writer, Pierre Paris, states that " the bust was either a votive monument, or else, as is more probable, a monument to the dead. In fact its form closely resembles the representations of the subterranean gods, and of the Manes, which are figured as half-buried in the earth. The ear-rings are particularly curious. In the Campana collection at the Louvre, amongst the Etruscan ear-rings, is a pretty gold wheel bordered with pearls exactly like the ear-rings of the bust of Elche." It should be added that the ornaments are not ear-rings in the ordinary sense of the word, and are better described in a later work of the same French author as " the great wheels which frame her delicate head." Whatever use was made of the bust-there is a cavity behind it which may have been a receptacle for offerings -it declares itself as having been modelled from a living or a newly-dead subject, and has the look of being an excellent likeness. Indeed, after the lapse of twentyfour centuries the Lady of Elche is still able to make aficionados of those who have the good fortune to become acquainted with her.
Some corroboration of the probability that wheel-like ear-ornaments are of Etruscan provenance is to be found in Gaidoz' La Symbolisme de la Roue. On page 1ii he refers to an illustration, in a German work on the Homeric Epic, of an Etruscan figure of a woman wearing a wheel ear-ring, though this appears to be a comparatively small article which may have been worn in the lobe of the ear in the ordinary manner of all nations and all ages. For Gaidoz the wheel is always a symbol of the sun, and doubtless that is its general significance ; but it must not be forgotten, and was not forgotten in Egypt, that the sun's course lies as much below the earth as above it. Indeed, Gaidoz on page 108 mentions a shrine dedicated to the great Earth Mother which was ornamented with an emblematic wheel ; it was found at Clarensac, near Nimes.
In the only other instance of " blinkers " which I have met with in Manx folk-lore they were not decorating the human ear. In reply to an enquiry, made in a different district of the Island, as to whether people had ever worn such things, a woman told me that " people who were taken by the fairies always wore blinkers." As an example she related a story which in Moore's Folk-lore of I.O.M. is assigned to Ballaleece in German ; it appears in Scottish collections also, and I need only summarize it. A man who had lost his first wife sees a troop of white horses galloping into the barn. One of them tells him in passing to throw a halter over her on the following night to get her back, but the barn must be quite cleared of its straw. His second wife frustrates the plan by hiding a single straw under a bushel. The point of interest, and of difference from all the other versions, is that the white horses, including the lost wife, all wore blinkers.
This story, it may be remarked in passing, exhibits among other striking features a perfect reverse of the commoner pattern in which a magic halter is used to transform a human being into a horse.
Lhaggan Agneash (O.S. map), " Agneash Hollow," where some of Nicholas Raby's snow-foundered sheep were discovered too late, in the song which laments the loss of his flock, lies more than a mile on the Snaefell side of Agneash, above the Laxev River. In it stands the abandoned mill called " Jimmy Phil's Mill," near which has been seen the mysterious elderly feminine figure in a red cloak who frequents so many places in the Island. It was an old man from the Lhaggan who, while travelling the Slieu Rea on the other side of Agneash one dark winter night was startled by the apparition of a snow-white beast like a unicorn.
Chastalyn (O.S. map), " The Castles," at the head of the Laxey Valley, consist of three low hillocks beside the stream. Near here, I am told, is the Lhaggan, distinct from the Lhaggan Agneash and the Lhaggan Varrule, all of which are brought into the song " Kiree fo 'Niaghtey."
Creg yn Dhorys, " Rock of the Door," is a small piece of perpendicular denuded rock on the East side of Snaefell, visible at a considerable distance in a good light by reason of its pale colour. It is understood by some to be a way into the mountain. There is a sea-rock of the same name near the Chickens Lighthouse, also figuring in folk-beliefs.
Above the Laxey Valley on the opposite or NorthEast side are
Ny Creggyn Glassey, " The Light-coloured Rocks," between Clagh Height and Struan ny Fasnee.
Coan ny Chistey, " Hollow-place of the Chest," is a gloomy fissure on the Southern slope of Slieu Rea or Ruy where most of Nicholas Raby's sheep were found dead in the snow. It must have been a place of evil repute long before it helped to kill Nicholas, as the legend, though not the song, relates. A friend tells me, for instance, that a giant or magician kept a kistey (treasure-chest) here, and put spells round it to keep it safe from another member of the same race who lived at the top of the Cornaa Valley. The Cornaa giant used to prowl round at night trying to steal the chest, but the spells were too strong for him ; so he surrounded the owner's spells with further spells of his own weaving, to the end that if he could not get at it the owner could not take it away. So there it must be yet. In that case it is underground, or else vibrated out of the solar spectrum by the double spells which envelop it; for it is no longer to be seen. Concerning Knocka-Kishta in Co. Cavan, Joyce, Irish Names, iii., outlines a legend similar to the Lonan one ; a chest containing treasure was hidden in the hill under fairy guardianship. In Dr. Kelly's Manx dictionary occurs the term " Kishtey feniaght, a stone coffin or chest, where the remains of some champion, Fingallian or Phoenician, were supposed to be laid." Without wishing to suppose the remains of a Phoenician, may we take this to be one of the now obsolete place-names which lie buried in this dictionary ?
Chibber ny Meilley, " Well of the Basin," in Coan ny Chistey, is renowned for its fine water, which was preferred above that of other wells for use in the illicit still mentioned farther on, or else, and more probably, for a second one farther up among the hills. The well was also a favourite meeting-place for the shepherds of the district, in the same way as the Brandy Well and others.
Agneash was Hegnes in 1510, probably the Norse Eggja-ness, " Ridge Cape," which suits its position above the confluence of its river with that of the Laxey Valley ; the ridge required is Creggyn Agneash, " Agneash Rocks," the hill rising behind the village. Though " ness " is a coastal term, the Norse sometimes brought such names inland with them. Some of the older people occasionally call the place " Lagneash," also " the City." There are half a dozen " Cities " in the Island. How Agneash earned the honourable title I cannot say, for there is neither evidence nor tradition of any monastic settlement. The only ecclesiastical antiquity is the remains of a chapel, which is thus described by the Ordnance Books in the middle of the last century: " a small and ancient chapel, now occupied as a dwelling house. It is of oblong form and somewhat rude construction, void of ornament. No traces of burying . . . have been discovered." This is near the mouth of Glen Agneash ; near it there is a field called " the Burying Field."
" Here [Agneash] the visitor may meet with the descendants of Mollecharane of the song," says a Guide to Laxey, by a Resident, Oldham, 1876. Mylecharanes were in the Lhergy Veg across the river at the close of the 19th century, and the last of the name left the Agneash district only a few years ago. They can be traced thither (by the tradition of another branch of the family) from the Curraghs--where the legend places them-by way of Ballaugh Glen.
Though Agneash has even less claim than Peel to be called a Cathedral City, it has certainly seen better days, and in that golden age its citizens-may one say ?-enjoyed clearer vision than they do now. The whole district was, in fact-to apply a phrase not peculiar to it-" a great place for fairies." A friend tells me that a friend of his used to be seeing them every day, three or four or half a dozen Little Ones (which I take to be the modern equivalent for the old Manx term Guillyn Veggey) ; he wouldn't be taking any notice of them, so used, and Jimmy M-- ploughing below the C-- last year was lifting graves all the time. My friend's swift transition from fairies to burial cists in the one breath of speech struck me as extremely significant, and in accordance with my own opinions. The man who was in the habit of seeing Themselves as it might have been rabbits died some thirty years ago.
The reputation of Agneash-the name connotes a district of considerable extent on the Manx scaledoes not rest only on the seeing of fairies ; invisibly also they impinged upon the lives of the human inhabitants. There is an old tale, and a queer tale, whatever view may be taken of it, of the spiriting away of a small boy, hardly more than a baby boy, from the presence of his mother and her fellow-workers on the mountain-side. The name of the people concerned could be given, but there are reasons why it is better withheld. In the hope of coming a little nearer to the native atmosphere of the story I have rendered it into verse.
AN OLD TALE OF THE HILLS.
Something tempted him away,
Something better than playing
An old rhyme half-remembered,
Or a word whispered
Among elders, but overheard,
And treasured and pondered;
Or the look of the track rising
And the thought of behind the hillsTeasing, enticing;
Or just the brightness of the day
And the beckoning daffodils
Set his feet straying
In strange ways that morning
From his mother cutting ling,
From Glen Drink into the hills.
Between Slieu Chairn and Barrule
They searched, grumbling but pitiful,
Men of Maughold, men of Lonan,
All day till the light grew dim,
Certain of finding him,
Seven days from the day they began.
A ground easily searched, a ground
Familiar as their gardens,
By their own sheep grazed over,
A ground almost their own.
Nowhere steep, nowhere deep,
just dreems and struans and little glens,
Ling and gorse and stone.
Every gill looked into,
Every tholtan searched through,
Every field, every pound.
More than a lifetime ago
His feet went straying so
What he met among the hills is not known,
For he was never found.
Old tales, old fireside tales-
Histories of cowhouse and barn
On rainy afternoons
Yarns in long summer nights
Rocking off Maughold, rocking off the Shoulder-
How they jostle to be remembered !
A grave-mound levelled that none should have disturbed,
That a thousand ploughs had spared,
And swift ruin falling on him who dared it;
A tune overheard
By some belated fiddler passing a carn ;
A meaningless word whispered
Out of a wood at nightfall ;
Something that might have been a call
Hillward, or only a fleeting overtone
In the troubled mumbling of baulked water
The look of the hills by times
When the night climbs them;
Fear, like a monstrous wing
Suddenly overshadowing . . .
Ghosts of dead nightmares, you 'll allow,
Whose bones are safe from ploughing,
Long given a decent burial in our minds
(A ground thoroughly searched, thoroughly known,
Perfectly familiar, almost our own.)
Even so-even now
The odd things a man finds there,
The hid things, the lost things,
They tease him, they tempt him to ponder,
They set his thoughts straying.
Mwyllin Agneash, " Agneash Mill," notwithstanding its name stands in the outskirts of Laxey, near the " Big Wheel." Whether the anomaly is due to Laxey's expansion, or to the mill's position on the road to Agneash, or to its former use by the Agneash people, is a dark mystery. At all events, it is a good deal more picturesque than its immediate surroundings, the tall and ribby " Lady Isabella " not excepted.
Cronk y Chuill (O.S. map) is written " Knockechull " so late as 1869
in the Highway Accounts, and there are other instances in which the transition
from " Knock " to " Cronk " has been accomplished still later, besides those
in which " Knock " has survived unaltered. The farm now called
Cronk y Chuill was Crot y Chuill in 1703, and has evidently been assimilated
to the name of the hill. In the neighbourhood are the two unmapped holdings
Crot 'Nolt, " Croft of the tholt " (soalt), which is usually translated " barn," like its Irish original, sabal ; there is no stream here to warrant alt ; and
Thalloo Holt, " Barn Land," if " barn '" is a sufficiently exact rendering.
The Claram, a farm lying to the Eastward of Agneash, probably derives its name from the Gaelic cláran, diminutive of clár, a flat place, which is also applied to a plank and to objects made of planks, as for instance the Manx lhierrym, which Kelly defines as " the larboard quarter of a boat," but which is also used for the thwart at that point.
By the side of the track leading to Agneash a spot is pointed out where whisky was secretly manufactured in an illicit still, until " the Revenue men came from London ; " the operators got warning just in time, so they locked the doors and away with them. But in the end they had to pay fines of £20 each. There was a general raid on such stills in various parts of the Island in the year 1813, but the names and details relating to this one tend to place it at a later period. The only point of interest in the affair, and it is a striking illustration of the adaptability of folk-lore, is that although the still dates to not much more than a generation ago, the ancient Celtic tradition of the " heather ale " has already been grafted on its history. It is affirmed that the parties in question had a secret process for making specially good spirit " out of the tops of the ling." In Scotland this knowledge is attributed to the Picts, in Ireland to the Danes. O'Curry (Manners and Customs, i., 378) characterizes the heather beer of the Danes as a myth. In Folk-lore of Orkney and Shetland (Folk-lore Soc.), page 221, the familiar tale of how the secret was kept-and lost for ever-is placed in Shetland, where the Picts had the " art of brewing spirits from the heather-tops."
Cushington (O.S. map) near the foregoing place, was named, a local man tells me, by two strangers who came from Cushingtown (sic for Cushendun in Antrim) in the 19th century and took in uncultivated land.
Thalloo Hogg, " Hogg's Land," lies farther down the slope towards Laxey village. The field containing a pond near Thalloo Hogg gate was much infested with fairies. A passer-by, who had often conversed with them at this spot before, had the temerity one evening to start an argument with them in the matter of a skate he was bringing home, and they threw him and his fish into the pool. Another man, belonging to Glendrink in the mountains Northward, was going home by this route from Laxey one winter evening, when he found himself accompanied by a stranger whose only peculiarity was the bright buttons on his coat and waistcoat. (Large bright buttons are often a feature of Manx apparitions.) When the Glendrink man attempted to climb the hedge to get out of the field all suddenly became dark, and he felt that he was being swept along by running water. The pleasant movement lulled him into sleep or unconsciousness ; when he awoke he was standing in broad daylight on the edge of a steep rock at Clay Head, about four miles away, his clothing soaked with water.
For a fuller account of these striking events see (if procurable) a brochure called Manx Tales, published in Douglas at some date unstated.
Laxey consisted of about thirty houses in Feltham's time, 1798. Presumably
this was what is now known as " Old Laxey," near the shore. In this lower portion
of the village is
Cronk y Quayle, " Hill of the Assembly" ; though now written " Quill " it is still pronounced " quail." On the opposite side of the river is
Cronk Ghennal, " Pleasant Hill," but possibly for Cyonk Ghenney, " Sandy Hill."
Kione Losht, " Burnt Head," at the Northern extremity of Laxey Bay,
is the vernacular name for the " Laxey Head " of the Ordnance map. Scattered
about its heathy surface are the remnants of a large cairn, from which the landward
portion of the headland has acquired the name of
The Cairn, whither Laxey folk are wont to resort on fine Sunday mornings. There was once a dwelling on this exposed point, concerning which a romantic piece of fiction has been printed in pamphlet form. The actuality upon which it must have been founded survives only as a vague atmosphere, gloomy in tone and without definite details. Also, in a certain spot on the Head, difficult to find, once grew a plant having a blue flower shaped something like that of the foxglove, and called by some " the blue foxglove." It was not known to grow anywhere else on the Island, and so industriously did the people gather it for medicinal or other purposes that it no longer exists.
Gretch is derived by A. W. Moore from Grettis-stadr, " Grettir's Homestead," a very likely explanation. It may be worth remarking, however, that an early form Gretastaz occurs in the record of the Boundaries of the Lonan Abbey-lands, and that the Old Norse Gridastadr meant a place of peace or truce, as being the precinct of a temple with its customary appurtenances of sacrifice, divination, etc. An older pronunciation is " Greetch," consonant with " Greist," now Grest, in Lezayre. The Scandinavian burials and other antiquities at Gretch, and the tradition of " King Orry's Grave," combine to render it a place on whose history any sidelight would be welcome.
Continuing up the coast-line from Laxey a few small features, mostly unnamed on the map, remain to be noticed.
The Darragh, " The Oakwood," is a little copse of stunted trees on the steep seabrow to the North of Laxey Head. It came there in one night by the Fenoderree's industry for the purpose of sheltering a local celebrity named Ewan the Darragh, who was in the habit of retiring here when he thought it advisable ; for he was a man of secret courses. He was in close touch with the fairies and with Other-World affairs in general, and he had the Sight. Out of weather- whitened bones picked up in his wanderings on the mountains he made for himself a fiddle, and taught her to echo the wild music of the winds and streams. The last of him was, that an unknown ship stood into the bay and sent off a boat which took away him and his fiddle, and they were seen and heard no more in their native place.
Glion Darragh, " Oak Glen," a little farther North, is a narrow bushy ravine falling steeply to the boulderlittered shore. Only two or three of its scrub-oaks now survive the salt-laden winds. The remains of a building in it, which has been partly preserved as a fold but is no longer used, are identified as the house of Ewan the Darragh. Enough of it is left to show that it had two rooms, one door, one window and no fire-place. Ewan is said in Mannin, No. 6, page 360, to have lived in a cave at this spot ; nothing like a cave is visible, and perhaps his hiding-place in The Darragh was meant.
The rocks under this section of cliff are called
Martland, though there is some uncertainty about the exact application of this name ; it does not, however, belong, I am told, though it is occasionally applied, to the inlet to which it is attached in the maps. That is properly called
Corroo Wooar, and is a rocky creek North of the foregoing. With Corroo may be compared Ny Carroo on the West side of the Calf Island.
Struan ny Grangey, " Stream of the Grange," the " Struan ny Gragee " of the Ordnance map, is situated on the Abbey farm of Skinscoe, hence its name.
Traie Ronan, probably " Seals' Shore," raunyn, is
a small strand immediately South of Bulgham Bay. A short distance inland is
Butt Wooar, " Big Hedge-end," a high massive bank of earth where three quarterlands meet, and which is therefore a focus of occult virtue. There are other such natural earth-temples elsewhere in the Island ; they are often called " Fairy-holes," and their general use is as follows. A funnel-shaped or three-sided cavity scooped out of the top of the bank in the middle receives the desires of the suppliants in the form of pebbles, as wishes confided to a well are signalized by coins and pins, and those entrusted to a tree, whether near a well or not, are represented by rags or integral portions of clothing. The pebble, similarly to these, is carried on the person for a while previously to being offered, and is further associated with him or her by spitting on it before placing it in the hole with an appropriate wish, prayer or curse. If the cure of a disease or other affliction is the motive for the ceremony, such is then lifted from the sufferer ; but it would be conveyed to anyone removing the stones, in accordance with the usual working of symbolic magic. Requests of other kinds are proffered in much the same way. Earth taken from the cavity is also endued with special virtue.
The explanation, or part of it, seems to lie in the idea that the magic power of " land," so compelling to those who have lived on and by the land for uncountable generations, is triply concentrated at the meeting-point of three estates. The junction of three treens does not excite any interest, perhaps because the treen as a land division is obsolete and has no practical bearing on the lives and fortunes of the people. Parish and sheading boundaries, which form their triangles in remote and barren areas, are not invested with the glamour of those of the quarterlands, which are moreover the units of the other divisions.
No doubt a similar superstition exists in other Northern countries ; possibly it was something of this kind, a long distance Southward, which eluded the Rev. W. Webster, who says in his Basque Legends, page 48, " we distinctly failed to make out what are the ' fairies' holes ' . . . As far as we could gather from the narrator they are simply bare places in hedges, when covered by the web of the gossamer-spider." A resemblance between the Manx " fairy-hole " and the national emblem naturally presents itself ; but I have no ground for suggesting that the users of fairyholes relate them, however vaguely, to the Three Legs, or for thinking that the Trie Cassyn is recognized as a mystic symbol of which the virtue and the motive energy reside at the meeting-point of its limbs. It is looked upon as a symbol, but in other ways.
Bulgham Bay (O.S. map). The Gaelic bolghan, applied to inlets on account of their shape (bolg, a bag) is the evident source of this name. A Lonan intack in the Composition Book, 17o;;, The Volgan, and a later Croit Bolgham, were perhaps situated on the slope above this bay, now uninhabited.
Creg Vanannan, " Manannan's Rock," lies at the South end of Bulgham Bay. From a friend I have a local legend to the effect that it once stood on North Barrule, but King Orry threw it into the sea one day for sport. Three times it went back to the mountain of its own accord, and three times he tossed it down; but the fourth time it stopped in the sea, and there it is still. Another account of the matter says that a shadowy people of the nature of sea-giants landed at Port Cornaa in Maughold, and after taking possession of the lower part of the valley made their way up North Barrule, where their two leaders quarrelled about something and began to pelt each other with boulders by way of argument, after the manner of giants everywhere. Two boulders which missed their objective fell into the sea, and are now Creg Vanannan and another rock in Bulgham, the Clet. Possibly one of the missiles hurled in the opposite direction by the other giant is accounted for by a large stone near Jurby Church which is said to have been thrown from Snaefell by the Fenoderree after a companion who insulted him, but who escaped his vengeance by taking to the water at Jurby Head and swimming to Scotland.
Homing rocks are common objects all the world over ; and to this particular specimen, Creg Vanannan, I hope to return when enquiring into the history of the Three Wonders of Mannin. Meanwhile, it may be remarked that Manannan does not appear in either of these anecdotes which are intended to explain why the rock bears his name ; in the former of the two King Orry has been substituted, just as we sometimes find St. Patrick where we should rather have expected a more fabulous personage like Orry.
The Brig is the name of the headland at the South end of Bulgham Bay. With the name may be compared that of Rattray Brigs, rocks at the foot of Rattray Head in Aberdeenshire. Possibly the Manx name is to be explained by the Norse brekkr, a slope.
Clagh Oolin (phonetic) is another large detached boulder, some 20 feet high and thatched with scrub, on the Southern part of the shore of the same bay. Close by is a cape with a somewhat similar-sounding name, Gob yn Ooyl, which is translated " Point of the Apple." It was once the haunt of a mermaid, of whom and a Maughold man who comforted her with apples a story is to be read in Miss Morrison's Manx Fairy Tales. The symbolism of the apple is familiar to those interested in such matters, and the phrase " throwing out the apple " may be heard among the Manx people. It has even received the imprimatur of their legislative assembly. We do not get much nearer to the raw material of Miss Morrison's pretty idyll by studying its Welsh version, which is almost equally civilized. To a young farmer living near Llanberis appeared a lady of the lake who " begged him to throw her one of the apples " he was eating. But he made her come for it, caught her, and married her. Full details of the affair are to be found in Celtic Folklore, pages 127-130.
Struan y Gheay, "Stream of the Wind," flows from Mullagh ny Gheay, " Summit of the Wind," into Bulgham. But it is difficult to know how often this word, so frequent in Manx place-names, should be translated " wind." Besides a similar Gaelic word for a marsh, not now, at least, in use in the Island, the sound of guiy, goose, comes fairly close to that of geay in the mouths of thosethe overwhelming majoritywho speak English only, and it may sometimes be the correct rendering. It would not be invalidated by remoteness from dwellings, for people from the lowlands used to bring their geese to the mountains to breed and fatten. They were housed in low thatched shelters shaped something like a horse-shoe, and their owners went up every few days to feed them. Between-times they lived on the " keep-grass," until they were brought down in December to meet the common fate of geese.