[From 3rd Manx Scrapbook ]
1. Seasonal Customs. 2. Birth, Marriage, and Death. 3. Omens and Prognostications. 4. Various Bygones.
Written notes of the weather are taken during the first twelve days in the year ; with these the weather of the ensuing twelve months is expected to agree, in the ratio of month to day. Some people begin their observations on the ist January, but the old-fashioned method is to start with " Old New Year's Day," the 12th January.
In the Coligny Calendar, drawn up by the chief priest in a pagan Gaulish temple nearly 2,00o years ago, twelve days which were intercalated at the beginning of winter, to make the lunar year agree with the solar, bore the names of the twelve lunar months. Gaidoz, " L'Annëe Celtique," in Revue Celtique, vol. xxv., points out that these complementary days foreshadowed the customary method of weatherprediction still followed in Brittany.
Rolling Easter Eggs. Every district seems to have had its appointed place for this Easter Monday amusement, which was formerly as popular as in the rest of the British Isles, and is still practised to some extent. Port St. Mary children went to a certain slope at the little bay of Perwick. In Kirk Bride the Fanks on Kionlough was the favoured spot 7o years ago, Quarrie says. Ramsey children, I believe, still carry their hard-boiled eggs to the top of the Fairy Hill or Fairy Mound on Ballastowell on the morning of Easter Monday, and roll them one by one down its grassy sides. A regular picnic is enjoyed. The mothers accompany the children, baskets are carried, and the contents, including the surviving eggs, are eaten after the rolling ceremony is over. Games and races follow. This hillock is respected as an old burial-place. Some homemade historians even regard it as the site of the battle of Sky Hill. The result of its attempted cultivation was described in A Second Manx Scrapbook, page 290. More recently a deep hole has, for some unknown reason, been dug into the top.
It would be rash to say that the hillock was chosen on account of its antiquity. It may be noted, however, that children used to roll Easter eggs on Easter Monday down the Bonks, two prehistoric burial mounds in Birkenhead Park. (Caton, The Romance of Wirral, page 3.) Also that a remarkable form of amusement was customary on Easter Monday at a prehistoric barrow near Dieppe, involving the carrying of eggs to the top and down again while another man was running a course. Feasting and dancing followed. (Johnson, Folk-tales of Normandy, page 145.)
" Good Friday eggs," as they are called in some Manx districts, are boiled hard with the addition of gorse-bloom to the water to make them a greyishyellow colour, with a moss called scriss-ny-grey for crimson, with another moss taken from the stone " hedges " (walls) to give a pretty silver-grey, or with onion-skin for pale yellow shades. Logwood may be purchased to dye the eggs blue, cochineal to dye them red, and so on. Boys knock their eggs against those of others, as in the game of " conquers," and he who can break his opponent's egg wins it and eats it.
Easter Monday Sails. It was customary in various parts of the Island to go for a pleasure-sail in the bays or harbours on Easter Monday.* Douglas was the only place where there was a more definite intention than mere enjoyment. What it was, appears in the following lines from Legends and Recollections of Mona, anon., Guernsey, 1849, in a poem entitled " Easter Monday " :
Those little boats are gaily laden i
Many a happy, favoured youth,
Many a fair and lovely maiden,
Are hast'ning now to plight their truth.
They never heed the wind or weather,
In light and gay attire they flock;
Those happy lovers met together
To sail round good St. Mary's Rock
* " The favourite amusement of sailing on Easter Monday spoiled this year by north-east breeze "-i.e. at Douglas. (Fargher's Annals, 1793.)
For they are doomed to wear the willow,
('Tis thus the ancient gossips say),
Who fear to trust the treach'rous billow
And seek St. Mary's Rock this day.
[They land upon St. Mary's Rock.]
Yes! with this wild devotion
They've left awhile fair Mona's shore,
And trusting to the restless ocean,
St. Mary's blessing they implore.
" St. Mary's Rock " is, of course, Conister, on which the Douglas herring fleet found no blessing in 1787. How did this rock come to be associated with the Virgin Mary ? Was there once an oratory on it ?
" On a beautiful Easter Thursday evening (April 5th), just at sundown, many fires suddenly appeared blazing and smoking on the hill tops in the Isle of Man. In about ten minutes they all vanished as suddenly as they had appeared, and a Manksman, who was asked to explain the cause, looked much disturbed, and went his way in haste without answering " (Campbell, Tales of the West Highlands, iv., 402.) The author seems so sure of his unusual date that his observation is worth reproducing. The volume is dated 1862.
In 17th-century Castletown English customs were observed on the 1st May. The younger local men and the soldiers of the Garrison (many of them Manxmen) went out into the country and " brought home the may " in triumph. (Perhaps some of the Castletown girls went with them.) As the first day of the month was then equivalent to the present twelfth they may have found some hawthorn in flower, but if not, ivy and other evergreens would satisfy the tradition. These rcjoicings were always accompanied by as much noise as possible. The issue of gunpowder for this purpose from the Castle storehouse is recorded in the Castle Rushen Papers (Manx Museum, Jnl., No. 28). At about the same hour the same thing was being done throughout England. E.g. " at Dartmouth, 1634 . . . a company of yonkers on May-day morning, before day, went into the country to fetch home a maypole with drumme and trumpet, whereat the neighbouring inhabitants were affrighted, supposing some enemies had landed to sack them " (Brand and Ellis, 3rd edn., 1., 238).
In the high bank on the left side of the lower part of the Glen May river, below the village, a trickle of water falls into a hollowed stone which somewhat resembles an archaic stoup. On Tynwald Day, especially if a visit to the ceremony was to be made, it was customary to go early to this spot, wish three times while gazing into the basin, and drink of its water.
The ascent of South Barrule mountain was made on the second Sunday in August, or " the second Sunday in harvest," as it is sometimes expressed. The climb culminated in a visit to the cairn at the summit. On stones taken from this the climbers scratched their initials and carefully replaced the stones. Nothing was said by the old man who was my informant about drinking at the spring there ; but in view of the visits to other wells this may have formed part of the ceremony, if it deserved the name.
" The second Sunday in harvest " is used as though August and harvest were equivalent and interchangeable terms, which they are certainly not in the Isle of Man, where harvesting, even in the lower lands, does not begin till the latter part of the month, and may not finish till October in the higher regions. The explanation may be one of language. " Harvest " in Ireland is " always used for 'autumn ' " (Joyce, English as We Speak It, page 273), and Mx fouyr means both " harvest " and " autumn." In the popular calendars of both countries the autumnal quarter begins about the 1ist of August.
The following description of the procedure at an old-time harvest-home is gathered from a pamphlet by George Quarrie entitled The Melliah. It is a rhymed account of the final harvesting of thirty stacks of oats, barley and wheat in Kirk Bride in 1856. Its value as a picture of the bygone days was fully appreciated by Hall Caine in The Manxman. This delicate subject is dealt with in detail in Quarrie's Introduction and Appendix.
Before noontide on the last day a thirty-foot pole is set up on high ground,
with aprons, a woman's old frock, and a long cravat fastened to it. This serves
as a signal to the neighbours that the Ballavair Melliah is about to be taken,
and that the customary feasting and dancing will ensue.
1 On the party's arrival at the field in the morning with their sickles under their arms-there are thirty-eight workers, the women in clean print frocks and sun-bonnets-the foreman tells off each man and woman to their tasks according to their abilities. When at last only a small area is left unreaped, those who had been cutting, " according to the good oul' fashion " stand a little distance away and throw their sickles into the patch still standing, to the sound of cheers and the clashing of blade on blade as they fall in a heap.
2 The oldest woman among the workers then steps proudly forward, draws a sickle from the pile, and strikes down the remaining heads of corn.
3 Then " hooray for the Melliah ! " and " the Melliah's took ! " is the cry, and the last bunch is plaited and tied with tape to grace the Melliah Cup at the dinner.
4 Impromptu games and horseplay follow, in which the younger men chase and catch the girls, or trip them up with a straw rope, and " rag " and kiss them. , Then the youths race homeward, jumping the stooks as they go, while the girls follow more leisurely, all hands proceeding to " slick " themselves for the evening's enjoyment.
The Melliah dinner in the barn consists of rich meatbroth with vegetables and apple-dumplings in it, accompanied by potatoes, barley boanag and clapcake, and followed by pudding made of rice and currants. Ale is the drink ; doubtless there is tea for those who prefer it, though Quarrie does not say so. When the ' See Notes beginning on page -75. workers and hangers-on have satisfied their appetites they adjourn to the loft and their places are taken by the children, master and mistress still presiding.
After the dinner, and a necessary interval for digestion, comes dancing in the barn by the light of oil-lamps and candles stuck to the wall by their own grease. Forms, stools and sacks of wheat serve for seats. At the darker end of the barn there is plenty of kissing and skylarking. A fiddle or two and a clarinet provide the dance-music. The first dance, the Swivvle Hornpipe, to the tune of " Edinburgh's Flowers," is led off by the mistress with Jem, the foreman reaper, as her partner. Many of the women dance with their shoes off, bare-footed in the oashyryn voynnee or footless stockings of that era. e In the midst of the merriment old Nannie, who had performed the ceremony of cutting the last ears of corn, comes in at the door with a straw rope tied round her. ' She " floors a clout " and sings
" Kiree fo Sniaghtey." Dancing is then resumed :
" Now quicker flew old Collins' bow,
Now Dawsy, blow, ye divil, blow!
And reel and wheel and quicker go,
Ye merry dancers
A solo, the difficult Frog-dance, is executed to its special music by a recognised expert :
" with kick and prance,
Low on the floor, doin' well, my faith The oul' Frog-dance ! "
Then more jigs, more reels, more jough, and a final " hip hip hooray ! " to Nt~ind up the Ballavair Melliah.
1 Here the pole is merely a signal.
" Th' oul' flag is thrue flung, welcome sight
To mortal lots from lef' to right."
Strictly, the dressed pole is a vestige of an image which symbolized the harvest as a woman. Henderson, Folk-lore of the Novthern Counties, p. 87, has this description of it in Northumberland The cutting of the last sheaf is announced by loud shouting, " and an image of it is at once hoisted on a pole, and given into the charge of the tallest and strongest men of the party. The image is crowned with wheat-ears and dressed up in gay finery, a white frock and coloured ribbons being its conventional attire. The whole group circle round this harvest-queen, or kern-baby, curtseying to her, and dancing and singing; and thus they proceed to the farmer's barn, where they set the image up on high, as the presiding goddess of their revels." By another account the dressed image on the pole stood in the field from early morning till the reaping was finished, as in Quarrie's description. In Styria the last sheaf, dressed up as the Cornmother, is carried off the field at the top of a pole (Golden Bough, abridged edn., P. 400). " As Ave approached the isolated hamlet, we were aware of a Maypole . . . it was decorated with flowers and ribands fluttering in the evening breeze." (Hone's Every-clay Boole, ii., col. 1155). This relates to the harvest-home at Hawkesbury, in the Cotswolds, with an illustration of the pole which may be fanciful.
2 The motive of the act in the South of Scotland, Wales and Ulster was to cut the still-standing stalks with the flying sickles -a feat of some skill, or luck. This is not mentioned in the Manx account, and perhaps had already lapsed.
a The oldest woman, because the last sheaf represents the Cornmother, whose life (for the year) is ending. In Britain it was called " the Old Woman " or " the Old Man," in Gaelic countries the Cailleach, i.e. old woman. In classical Greece this was the goddess Demeter ; in Egypt, the god Osiris, according to Sir James Frazer. In other Manx parishes the Melliah Queen was a girl or young woman, who tied the last sheaf herself and rode off with it at the head of the procession. Similarly at Hawkesbury in Gloucestershire, the " Queen " was a girl, who sat on the leading horse (Hone's Every-day Boole, ii., col. Iz55).
° The shape was a rough representation of a woman's figure, with a pair of arms akimbo like jug handles. This was the usual form of it, but in Kirk Patrick I have seen the melliah sheaf made into a miniature stack of the round variety. It was preserved on a window-sill of the farmhouse.
e In some foreign harvest-fields, notably in Germany, such amusements took a more serious turn, and were definitely symbolic of the reproductive powers of Nature. It will be remembered also that the Rape of the Sabine Women traditionally occurred during the Roman Consualia or harvest-home festival, on the 21st August.
e This I take to be the meaning of " Ankles clane, half stocking bare, They foot it lightly." Or does it mean that half of the women danced without shoes and stockings ?
'+ Throughout Europe, especially in the Germanic lands, and in India, the cutter or the binder of the last sheaf, or the one who places it on the cart, is afterwards tied up in sheaves or straw ; for he or she personifies the Corn-spirit which was to lie dormant until the next sowing. Near Stettin, for example, " as late as the first half of the 19th century, the custom was to tie up the woman herself in pease-straw, and bring her with music to the farmhouse, where the harvesters danced with her till the pease-straw fell off " (Golden Bough, abr. ed., p. 427). In Poland " she remains till the dance is over " (p. 40g).
The Hop-tu-naa-Boys varied their proceedings (already recorded by other chroniclers) by pounding the front doors with cabbages, turnips, and other weighty objects fastened to sticks, if the householders refused to open and give them the customary pence.
A pathetic last flicker of the Hop-to-naa custom is visible in the following excerpt from the Isle of Man Weekly Times of 2nd November, 1933
A correspondent writes : " I had been led to suppose that the Hallowe'en (or Hollantide) celebrations had completely died out. But in the afternoon of 31st October, and in Douglas of all places, I saw a little thing of about four proudly carrying a turnip lantern, scooped out from one side to hold the candle, and most artistically decorated on the surviving surface with a man's face, complete with a slit for the mouth. The turnip, of course, played a most prominent part in the
Manx version of Hallowe'en ceremonies, and indeed All Saints' Eve was known in some districts as' Thumpthe-Door Night.' Parties of the ` mob-beg ' would gather outside the houses of people who were not specially respected, and bombard the door with turnips. A group of lads who were prosecuted at Ramsey some years ago for persecuting some old cottager whom they thought eccentric pleaded in excuse that they were only honouring a good old custom."
Christmas decorations in the form of holly, ivy and the like, should be left in their places on the walls until Pancake Tuesday, when they are burned under the pancake frying-pan, for luck during the rest of the year. A man who appeared in Douglas Police Court in 1933 for setting his chimney on fire pleaded that he, or his wife, was complying with this custom. A few people, however, prefer to take down their " Christmas " on Old Christmas Day.
The Kissing Bush or Bunch was a great hoop of holly, ornamented with apples, oranges, paper roses and streamers, hung at Christmas from the ceiling for the purpose implied in its name.
The Christmastide Mollag Bands, like the Wren Boys and other ceremonial processions, descended in the course of time from men to boys before dying out altogether. My only recollection of the Mollag Band is that of an itinerant party of boys with blackened and raddled faces and eccentric attire, one or more waving and thumping with a mollag and all bellowing some popular song of the period. But I have been told by old residents that the Ramsey Mollag Band formerly consisted of fishermen, headed for a period by a big Irishman who swung his mollag at the end of a pole and swatted all who ventured too near. Some members of the old processions were dressed as women. The party used to go into shops and demand money, in addition to collecting coppers en route. They had a marching-song with English words. The police put an end to the custom about fifty years ago, on account of the men's rough behaviour. The Peel Mollag Band seems to have had much the same characteristics. Castletown and Dalby had a dance of their own, recently rescued by Miss Mona Douglas. A woman who remembers the custom in Castletown over fifty years ago says that when she was a child she was so much afraid that she never dared even to look out of the window when the band was passing, and once, when they tried to come in at the door, she fainted. At all these places they came out after dark, when the Wren Boys had finished their performance. The people everywhere, and not only the children, seem to have stood in greater awe of the bands than the swinging bladders warranted, or even the occasional rowdiness, and it would be interesting to know whether any superstitious feeling lay behind this timorousness ; and if so, of what ceremonial procession the Mollag Band was a vestige.
A localised Christmastide custom which has hitherto escaped notice was practised at Poylvill, a shrunken pool, remote and usually deserted, near the Stone Circle and Hut Dwellings on the Mull in Rusben parish. " It was coming on to Christmas time, the children were practising the carvals, the little boys rigging up their boats to sail at Pulveel, and many a father too digging out a little yawl " (Blanche Nelson's MSS., circa 1900). The date particularly referred to was that of the loss by explosion of the brig Lily in the Sound in 1852.
Two similar customary pastimes are listed in " A Catalogue of Brand Material," Folk-Lore, xxvi, pages 78 and 94; one in Sark and the other (egg-shell boats) in the North East of Scotland. Both, however, belonged to Easter-tide.
When a woman was expecting a baby no animal dying on the farm was, if avoidable, buried until she was safely delivered.
" When a child comes into the world, the first thing done (now in our own days) is, if it is a boy, to wrap it in a singlet or pair of flannel drawers of its father's if a girl, in a flannel petticoat of its mother's-and so soon as it is put into the cradle a Bible and a pair of flannel drawers are laid on the cradle, and the same on the mother's bed.
" Neither mother nor child is ever let out of the house until the christening day, and then, before going out, a bit of vervain is sewed into the child's underclothing and also into the mother's. A little bit of soot is also put on the child's person, and a bright steel sewing-needle quilted into some part of its clothes.
" Great care is taken that the name which the child is to receive is not made known to any person except those who have to know, until after the christening.
" The future of the child depends in a great measure on whether the stranger who first sees it, after its father has got the first look, is a " lucky " person or not. The greatest honour any person can do to a child the first day it is taken out for a walk is to spit in its face " (Blanche Nelson's MSS. circa 1900. Her observations were made in the South of the Island, the Howe in particular, where she lived as the wife of a fisherman).
" The luckiest thing for a bride to have on her wedding day is a borrowed pockethandkerchief " (B. Nelson's MSS.).
It was an old Manx custom that the bridegroom should present the bride with a pair of white gloves to be worn at the ceremony. Hence the title of a Manx song, " Piyr dy Lauenyn Baney."
A similar custom obtains in parts of France at the present day.* In Yorkshire, in the middle of the 17th century the groom gave gloves to all the weddingguests, with the occasional variations that he gave them to the men and the bride gave them to the women ; or he to the women and she to the men. (See Best, Rural Economy in Yorkshire, Surtees Soc., page 116.) It is not stated that the gloves were white. * " Quand ils avaient assez fait l'amour et qu'ils ëtaient enfin dëcidës h se marier, les paysans du Bas-Poitou et d'une partie de l'Aunis prcsentaient å leur bien-aimëe une paire de gants blancs. (The presentation was accompanied by a song.) " C'ëtait lå le premier pas dos fian~ailles, ensuite venait la demande aux parents, les accordailles et enfin la noce." (Bujeaud, Chansons Populaires de l'Ouesl, ii. 3.)
When the marrying couple were in poor circumstances it was the custom to leave a dollan (sieve) in an unobtrusive but convenient spot in the kitchen. Into this every guest dropped a penny towards defraying the cost of their entertainment. The same thing under the same name was done in Scotland and England.
In A Second Manx Scrapbook, page 242, note, an extract from WoodMartin's Elder Faiths describes how bride and bridegroom ratified the wedding ceremony by clasping hands through certain holed stones in Braddan Churchyard, and mentions betrothal customs of the same character in Scotland and Ireland. Of the same nature as all these was a practice in Onchan. " The Onchan Cross was called the Troth Cross, it having been customary for engaged couples to place their hands on the head of the cross, and there plight their troth, the idea being that all who did so would live long and happily together, and be blessed with many children " (Dr. J. Bradbury, " Sketches and Stories of the Isle of Man," Oldham Chronicle, 1891-2). This last-named cross was probably the one figured on Plate XXI in Kermode's Manx Crosses.
Exchange of Sods. When the heir to a farm married the heiress to another farm they used to exchange a sod from each farm. The symbolism is obvious, as it was in Scotland when, at the conclusion of a sale of land, a little earth and stone were transferred to the hand of the purchaser.
Kelly's Manx Dictionary contains a definition which implies that the Manx retained down to a late period the custom of expressing grief by continuous hand-clapping. At funerals in Ireland and the Highlands this, accompanied by the " keen," was part of the duties of professional mourners. In Man the name for such a person was Basseyr, " a clapper of hands, particularly in morning " (sic Kelly, s.v. Basseyr).
White stones, ranging from the size of boys' marbles up to that of small boulders, are plentiful in or on burial-places both ancient and recent. Almost every Manx tumulus excavated yields a quantity. In the remains of the keeills or cells they are found under the floor, under the doorway, even under the altar. A certain burialplace, most probably pagan, has a circle about 23 feet in diameter composed of white quartz boulders and filled up with small stones most of which are quartz also. Their use in comparatively modern graves is illustrated by the following excerpt from the Ramsey Courier newspaper of 22nd July, 1893, over the signature " H.S. " :
" I have noticed at the digging out of old graves in Bride Churchyard that at the bottom of nearly every old grave you will generally find a number of round white stones. These stones are often found close together, and are about the size of hens' eggs. I have counted as many as twelve in one heap, but very often the number is three, six, or nine. I have been asking several old people the meaning of these stones, but can learn nothing regarding them save that the churchyard had been used as an old Catholic burying-ground, and that it was customary to put in the coffin these white stones, so that the departed spirit could hurl them at the Devil, in case he was interfered with on his journey to the unknown world."
None of the graves in question would have been more than a couple of hundred years old, and most of them more recent.
Cemeteries now in use testify that the taste for white stones has not died out. Whether they were ever the occasion for any special ceremony or custom I do not know. It is so in South West Wales. In 1933 I noticed extensive and peculiar arrangements of what looked like large sea-pebbles, white of course, on the graves in the picturesque old churchyard of Nevern in Pembrokeshire. An intelligent local tailor told me afterwards that on a convenient day between the hay and the corn harvest every little community makes a picnic-excursion to the seashore and gathers white stones, which they bring back and arrange on the graves of relations and friends. The day of this annual practice is called " Glan-y-mor Day,"-Sea-shore Day. Apart from their use in and on graves, white stones are considered unlucky. In such a risky occupation as that of a fisherman, the fact that they thus are consecrated to the dead would be sufficient to veto their use in ballast or as sinkers. In the Orkneys, however, a different reason is assigned for avoiding them ; namely, that they are symbolical or suggestive of white-crested waves. It may be that the practice of putting white stones about the houses of the dead followed that of placing them about the houses of the living. How far, in the latter case, they are meant to be more than merely ornamental would be hard to decide. Gwynne Jones, Welsh Folk-lore, page 176, classes white pebbles inside and outside houses as " decorative charms " ; adding that " these charm-survivals are more abundantly found where signs of the development of any decorative purpose are mostly absent." A classical instance may be worth noting. In the third Book of the Odyssey "Nestor . . . sat him down upon the smooth stones which were before his lofty doors, all polished, white and glistening, whereon Neleus sat of old, in counsel the peer of the gods " (Butcher and Lang's translation). So seated, he gives instructions to his six sons.
The placing of salt on a corpse has been recorded for Man as for many other countries. In this connexion an enquiry that appeared in the Ramsey Courier for 16th September, 1893, may be quoted. The writer mentioned " a funeral (about 12 years ago) at Kirk Lonan, when the floor of a child's grave was sprinkled with salt. . . . That it was done I know as a fact." The correspondent wished to know the exact date and the reason for the procedure. I could trace no reply.
There is a family tradition in the West of the Island that after the sudden death of a farmer his wife paid regular nightly visits to his grave in the hope of meeting his spirit and learning from it where he had hidden his money and some other valuables. But her quest was in vain.
The fear of untoward consequences must have saved from destruction many old chapel walls, burial mounds, boundary and other memorial stones, thorn and elder trees, and such like evidences of the past. In the two previous volumes I have given instances of the tradition on this subject. Here are three more.
The man who dug up the remains of the ancient chapel at Booilley Velt in Maughold was struck by lightning in consequence, and his head and mouth were crooked ever after. (Fredk. LaMothe's MSS.). The father of C. of Balla-- in Andreas gave him on his marriage a smaller house a short distance away. One morning he found the son ploughing up the ground skirting the chapel called Keeill Thustag. He was very angry, and warned him that if he went on with it he would bring serious trouble on himself and perhaps on the rest of the family. He stopped at once, but what he had already done lost him some of his best horses and cattle. (Oral.) T. of Ballateare in Kirk Bride destroyed a tumulus on that farm. The family, which had held the place for many generations, thereafter produced no more heirs, and consequently soon died out. (Oral.)
* Omens involving apparitions or Second Sight will be found in chapter iv.
The wide-spread objection to placing boots on a table has been mentioned, for the Isle of Man, in a previous volume of this series. The origin of the superstition may perhaps be seen in a dictum of Scottish and Yorkshire fishermen that seaboots should never be carried over the shoulder but under the arm, and should never be put on a table. (Anson, Fishermen and Fishing Ways, page 63.) These positions, it may be conjectured, suggested the picture of a drowned fisherman being carried home on men's shoulders and laid out on a table.
In the spring time yellow flowers of any kind should not be brought into the house until the goslings are hatched out of their shells, or they won't hatch. (Oral.) There is some fancied connexion, probably, between the colour of the flowers and that of the goslings, but the line of reasoning is not obvious.
" If a young man and a young woman who are keeping company happen to be standing at a spring-well of an evening, and the young man throws out his arms to stretch himself, and he breaks the stretch part-way without letting any part of his arms or hands rise above his head, he and the girl will never be married, because he broke the stretch at the well " (Blanche Nelson's MSS.).
" Some young people from the Rectory having called at a farmhouse in the parish, and being detained by the rain, were induced to have tea with the family, when it was observed that company had been expected, because the cock had been crowing on the doorstep." (This note was added to the Rev. W. Kermode's MS. Account of Ballaugh Parish, written in the 'seventies, by his successor, the Rev. E. W. Kissack. Per P. W. Caine.)
If any woman not belonging to the household, especially a red-haired woman, came into a field where C--- of Cardle Veg, Maughold, was in the act of beginning a piece of work, he would always put it off till another time. (Oral.)
It is thought an excellent omen if the first-born lamb of the season is black, especially if the ewe is white. The more completely black the better. But if this lamb dies many others, of the usual colour, will follow it. And if you intentionally kill a tarroo-deeyl (devil's coach-horse) no black lamb will be born in your flock. (Oral.)
Three fairy rings in a line, especially if the line ran due North and South, were an omen of disease among the cattle of the farm where the rings occurred. (Quarrie.)
When strongly defined sun-rays are seen extending to the surface of the sea, the sun is thought to be sucking up water into the clouds, for it to fall again in rain. The phenomenon is therefore taken as a prelude to wet weather. (Oral.)
The use of a certain Communion Cup at Kirk Malew, in Parson Gill's time, is said to have been discontinued because it was noticed that people who drank from it went mad afterwards. It is true, I am told, that insanity (whatever its cause) was unusually noticeable in the parish about that time, the r86o's. (Oral.)
The Manx fishermen's dislike to being the " third out " of the harbour when the fleet was leaving for distant waters was common to all the six ports; but Port St. Mary had, in addition, a taboo of its own against being the sez,enth boat to leave. This was thought to be almost as ill-omened as the third. (Oral.)
The dislike of sailors to commencing a voyage on a Friday was not formerly shared by Manx fishermen, if the following clause in an Act of 1613 maybe taken as evidence: "The Tyme appointed to begin to drive for Hearing (herring) this present Yeare, is, by generall Consent, to be uppon the xvith Day of July next, being Fryday." (Statutes.)
If you don't take care always to throw the bones in the fire after eating herrings, the fish will never get back to the sea, and herring will be scarce next year. This custom explains an obscure sentence in A Vocabulary of the Anglo Manx Dialect," s.v. Feel : " Not a herring felt out of the sea but them that have had their bones burnt." The meaning of " felt " here is still not clear to me. In the last line of the Orkney version of the Wren Song a resolution is adopted about the bird's bones : " We'll burn them in fire "-probably to provide a foundation for next year's wren. For in other parts of the world a similar practice with the bones of animals consumed as food betrays a belief that the bones burnt supplied the framework of the creatures' reincarnation, after which they could be caught and eaten over again. The Manx pronunciation of " bonfire " is still " bonefire."
On Peel Island, between the two ruined churches, lies a flat stone on which people used, and perhaps still use, to stand while formulating a wish. For the antiquity of the practice I am loth to vouch. A former custodian of the Castle and its precincts was an assiduous discoverer of items of interest for visitors.
When the unmarried reader next finds himself or herself at the North end of Peel Promenade, he should remember to touch the cliff which blocks further progress in that direction, if he fails to do so he will never be married. I take no responsibility for this assertion either. " It is said " ; which formula has as much weight in the Isle of Man as " it is written" has in Mahommedan lands.
" No sleep for Nellie bogh that night, but wandering all alone Along the cliffs at Ago Point and by the Wishing Stone." (Quarrie, " Nell Kerruish.") Quarrie's poem embodies lore which was familiar to him in his young days, now nearly a hundred years ago. " The Wishing Stone " was the popular name of the cross-slab with a 9th-century inscription which stood at the left hand side of the road on leaving Port-y Vullin for Kirk Maughold, in the "Ago field." It is now preserved at Maughold Churchyard. In all probability it had been removed to the roadside hedge from the treen chapel and burial-ground of Ballaterson close by. (See Kermode, Manx Crosses, page 122; "Crux Guriat.")
In the neighbourhood from which the stone was removed in 1895 a tradition of Sanctuary still clings about its memory. I have been told that " if a man had done a crime he could be hanged for, like stealing
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antiquity of the game is well established, mention of it being found in the legends and myths of over a thousand years ago. In Cuchullin's time the game was played pretty much as it is to-day, though without the prescribed rules which have gathered round the game. In ancient days matches assumed the proportions of a battle between parishes, and sometimes clans " (Transactions of the Gaelic Soc. of Inverness, xxxiii. 88).
Contests between representatives of Manx parishes are not difficult to imagine-they took place in archery ; but the gargantuan game, starting at Kirk Michael, with Peel and Ramsey for goals, which is mentioned in A Vocabulary of the Anglo-Manx Dialect, must rank among the myths, or as somebody's joke. In the Dalby district I have been told by an old native that a grand Cammag match between picked-up sides was customary at the Niarbyl on Easter Mondays. In other parts of the Island it was more especially a Christmastide amusement. Roeder was told in Rushen that " on the 31st December they used to play cricket, which was done with a ball and a stick with a crook (Cammag), and they ranged themselves on two sides, twenty men on each side " (Lioar Manninagh, iii, 190). The misnomer of " cricket " which is here given to the game may have been due to the name of the ball or its substitute-the " crig " or " crick."
An old Kirk Michael shepherd remembers seeing, on a Sunday morning about Christmas time, great numbers of men coming from Ramsey, Peel, Laxey and Douglas to Cronk Dhow, Michael, to play Cammag. The snow stopped Dibb's cartload of provisions at the bottom of the hill, and the driver had to carry the baskets up on foot. But the match was played, and the provisions eaten afterwards.
Though Camanachd is recovering its former popularity in the Highlands, in the Isle of Man Cammag has been ousted by football. (See also my Manx Dialect, s.v. Cammag.)
A friend of mine, a retired fisherman, possesses a line made by his grandfather which has been in use, he tells me, for fully a hundred years. It is made of horse-hair, three-ply on two-ply, and plaited throughout by hand-a tedious task. The hairs for such purposes were taken from horses, not from mares, because the latter wet the tail in urinating, and the ammonia weakens the hair. Colts at grass with their tails still undocked were thought the best to take it from. Modern lines bought at the shops are said to be composed largely of cotton, which has no " give " in it and is apt to snap. Another theory held was that stallions' hair should be chosen because they are stronger than mares.
That the use of horse-hair is long established is shown by an enactment of 1629, that " whosoever shall be found or detected to pull Horse Tayles shall be punished upon the Wooden Horse, thereon to continue for the space of two Hours, and to be whipped naked from the Waist upwards."
The men wore a little tight-fitting coat something like a boy's jacket in front, having two narrow pointed tails with a pocket under each. It was worn buttoned up on cold days, and " let go slewing " on fine ones. With this went short knee-breeches, coarse grey stockings (finer quality for Sundays), and a tall felt hat with a narrow brim, called a " crock hat." (Blanche Nelson's MSS. The epoch when these fashions flourished is not stated, but it appears to be about a hundred years ago.) This costume, besides being picturesque, had according to tradition a practical value. When the stone ballast was being put into the fishing-boats at the beginning of a season, the skipper sat with a leg each side of the stern-post so that his coat-tails hung overboard. When they dipped evenly into the water the boat was judged to be ballasted and trimmed.
Mr. James Mylchreest, a native of Lonan, has kindly given me a description of a baking-stone (Mx losh), or " stone oven," which was removed from the little farm called Booilley Vane in that parish when the house was being pulled down about 6o years ago. " I remember being shown the stone oven on which they baked. It was somewhere about 3 ft. 6 in. long by a couple of feet wide, and very thick to prevent it from cracking. On one side the turf-fire was lit, and left until the stone got red-hot. Then the fire was bodily pushed to the other end of the stone, the stone dusted, and the cakes put on. When hard enough they were stood on their edges around the fire to finish them." The bonnags, made of barleymeal, were 6 in. or more in diameter and 12 in. thick. The oatcakes were a little broader, but only about 4 in. thick.
Old-fashioned Manx people will not eat fresh-water eels or river-trout, although they will eat sea-eels and sea-trout.
At a Rushen Great Enquest held in 1718 (Files, fo. 7), William Christian of Ronaldsway was presented for the offence of " turning the water out of its right course, down to Ronaldsway Harbour, by which the Harbour was abused and damnified." He was " fined 3s. 8d. only, in regard he has brought the water into its right course again."
This is but a slight passage in a much larger quarrel. William was the only son of George Christian, who was the eldest son of William Christian (" Illiam Dhone "), patriot and traitor like many another man, who was arrested at Ronaldsway House and taken to Castle Rushen to be tried for treason to the Derby family, afterwards being shot on Hango in 1663. Possession of Illiam Dhone's estate was in dispute till the William Christian here under notice was ejected from it in 1706. He was reinstated in 1717 in obedience to a Royal Edict based on a decision of a Committee of the Lords , but it is likely that he found the place too hot for his comfort thereafter, for in 1721 he sold it and removed to Waterford, where his descendants were living in 1900.*
Deflection of the Ronaldsburn in its present volume, or even its total disappearance, would not be likely to have any effect on the harbour of Derby Haven, which itself has suffered " damnification " by natural changes.
Even in 1718 the alleged damage may only have been a convenient legal fiction.
Christian's unlucky experiment in irrigation, or whatever his object may have been, perhaps took the same line as the present mill-stream which leads water from the burn into the sea at a point adjacent to Ronaldsway House, where a cove is shut off from the Haven by a point of land. The former conveniences of Ronaldsway, in a certain respect, are recognized in an article in the Isle of Man Times, of 5th November, 1932 :
" the house had evidently been used for smuggling, when that very doubtful but profitable business was carried on by 'all the best people of the Island,' some of whom are reported to have made big fortunes out of it. Under the house are huge cellars into which at one time, boats laden with goods could be run. A stream which flows near by at one time ran under the house, making an excellent blind for the sea entrance to the cellars."*
The cellars, however, might have been entered from the sea under cover of darkness without the need of diverting any stream from the landward side for a blind. As regards this facility, the late Mr. R. E. E. Quilliam, who was permitted to examine the basement of Ronaldsway House in 1917, told me that he found distinct vestiges of the bed of an old watercourse, wide enough to admit a small boat into the cellars ; and that he and his companion, Professor Griffiths, " came to the conclusion that at some time in the past arrangements had been made to run a boat straight in, under cover, to that portion of the house."
* Further particulars of the Christians' ownership of Ronaldsway and their long struggle against the Earls of Derby can be found in Yn Lioar Manninagh, iv. 54-58.
* " Goods were landed in the creeks and bays of the Island and conveyed to the cellars and vaults which were constructed to receive them " (Manx Smuggling, pamphlet by G. H. Wood). Smuggling began, Wood says, about 1689, when the war with France necessitated a heavy increase of the import duties. From these, of course, the Isle of Man was exempt.
In the year 1710 sixty-one men of Lonan disloyally refused to pay the assessment made for refunding the expenses incurred in connexion with the Act of Settlement. Finally three files of soldiers were sent into the parish to arrest a score of the leaders and take them to Douglas Fort, where those who were still obstinate were imprisoned until they saw reason. One of the defaulters was William Kelly of Raby, another was Philip Kewley of the same place. (Records.)
One writer has copied or paraphrased others on this subject to such an extent that the exact value of a Scot in early Man has become doubtful. The oldest statement that I have seen, and the likeliest therefore to come near the truth, is that in a Capt. Webber's " Impartial Enquiry into the State of the Isle of Man," about 1760 (see Wood's pamphlet on Manx Smuggling) Webber says
" There is the strongest antipathy and prejudice handed clown amongst the Islanders from one generation to another against the Scotch that can possibly subsist between creatures of the same species, and there was even an old Act that if any person killed a Scotchman he only forfeited three goats' skins. This law was occasioned by the Scotch making frequent excursions upon them, nor was it repealed till the Duke of Athol became Lord of the Island."
By " Scotchman " must have been meant only a peaceful trader. To kill the usual Scotch excursionist or encursionist bent on plunder was regarded as a meritorious deed, as history and ballads show.
The Last Execution in the Island was that of Kewish of Sulby for killing his father in 1872. On his premises was found a pitchfork the prongs of which exactly fitted into the wounds, and at the trial it was naturally assumed that this was the instrument used. Before his execution, however, Kewish confessed that he had committed the murder with three roughly-fashioned slugs fired from a gun. This remarkable coincidence in circumstantial evidence might easily have led the jury to record a wrong verdict.
In the declaration of certain "Breast Laws" or customary laws by the two Deemsters to the Lord of the Island in 1577 occurs the following old law-custom : " Also, we give for Law, that if any Person or Persons baving Occasion to take the Law against one another, if that he finds him within the Court, he may by Law take him by the Arm and bring him before the Deemsters, and set his Foot upon his, and take the Law of him, altho he never summoned him. " (Statutes).
The same action had quite a different object when it enabled a man possessed of Second Sight to transmit his vision of a scene to another man. Is any common origin discoverable ?
Another curious and obsolete form of procedure is described in a Court Roll of 1417-18 (see page 27 above). Translated, it runs thus : " Because John would not place his hand in the hand of the Deemster to receive the Law, as the Court ordained that he should do, inasmuch as it was requisite in accordance with what he himself had proved by legal witnesses there sworn, summary judgment was given against him." The same gesture at the Welsh Gorsedd (Iolo MSS., page 447), was more clearly in the nature of an oath or promise, as it was in the act described by Cregeen, Dictionary, s.v. " Lane my Height,"* and as it is in the common conclusion of a bargain. In the case quoted above, was it tantamount to a promise to accept judgment without demur ?
* " Laue my Height," which should perhaps read " ny Height" (or, better, " ny Hoit "), seems to imply a fixed obligation to prosecute. There are several instances of Clagh Hoit or Clagh Height as the name for a fixed stone ; also Claghyn daa Hoit, now " Claghyn daa Hit." throne of Minos in Crete, dating to about 1500 B.C., need only be alluded to.
"The 'Great Inquest ' was, in ancient times, held twice a year, between the outer gates of the Castle of Rushen, where a large stone chair was placed for the Governor and a lesser one for each of the Deemsters " (Train's History, ii. 211). Compare the Statutes for 1430 : " At a Court of all the Commons of Mann, holden at the Castle of Rushen betwixt the Gates." The relics in question have disappeared. Irish Brehons (judges) gave their judgments from stone seats ; and in a review of Sikes's British Goblins in the Folk-lore Record, ii. 221, the use of such chairs is stated to have been a very primitive political custom in Scotland. The recently-discovered " Gilbogus " in Ecclesiastical Law. In the Synodal Statutes of Bishop Simon, drawn up in 1229 (Oliver, Monumenta, Appx., page 177 ; taken from Dugdale, Monasticon Ang., v., (1825), page 253), an article relating to Mortuary Dues contains the following passage :
" If he [the dead man] was poor, and he paid no funeral fees, let his garments, such as they are, and every fifth penny from his free goods, be taken, and the Mortuary Dues paid by Gilbogus with the goods in hand which cover the amount due. But if his goods shall not cover it, then every fifth penny derived from the free goods shall be paid to the Church. And if it be asked, what is Gilbogus, let it be said that Gilbogus is one who, if he should have existed for so long as one night, and been appointed to possess goods or lived in possession of goods, then if, as has been said, he should die, the Church shall get its dues. And though the aforesaid Gilbogus shall have discharged these dues, yet he must still satisfy the dues of the priest and the clerk as well as those of the Church. And though he shall have paid no Mortuary Dues, yet he must come to an agreement with them notwithstanding." (Translated.)
" Gilbogus " appears to have been a kind of nominal or imaginary executor, a means of ensuring that the Church should get its rights. During the subsequent three centuries the death dues consisting of personal property were evidently slipping away from the Church ; for in 1532 the clergy's representatives preferred a claim to them, as well as to various other dues, before a Commission of the secular authorities of the Island.
Bishop Simon was a Scot, and may have introduced this legal fiction of " Gilbogus " from his native country; but I have been unable to learn of its existence in Scottish Church-law from well-qualified correspondents.
(With reference to the name " Auffrick " see Aveyick, page 154.) Among the bearers of the Three Legs as a coat-of-arms is the family of Auffrick or Aufrick, according to Papworth's British Armorials (1874), page 964. Two versions of the blazon are given. "Auffrick, gu., Three Legs armed proper, conjoined in centre at upper part of thighs, flexed in a triangle, garnished and spurred or." "Aufrick, gu., Three Legs flexed in a triangle, armed arg., spurred or." The second is referred back to Glover's Ordinary, there taken from a Cotton MS. Tiberius D10, and Harleian MSS. 1392 and 1459. Burke, Encyclopedia of Heraldry (1851), has the former of the above Auffrick coats. What I cannot explain is how a surname could derive directly from the 12th-century wife of King Olaf ; and if not, why the arms were assumed. " Armed and spurred," unless a modernization of a previously existing coat, suggests a comparatively late adoption based on a hypothetical descent from the Scoto-Manx queen, and on the presumption that this was the Manx emblem in her time. I leave it to students of Insular heraldry.
In the year 1785 a Memorial signed on behalf of the merchants of Cork to Commissioner Hutchinson requested him to lay before the Board of Revenue their grievance that Swedish herrings were imported into the Isle of Man and re-exported at very low prices, so as to be carried thence to market into the British Caribee Islands. An inquiry and remedy were asked for. Extracts are given from three letters on the subject from Liverpool correspondents. (Histl. MSS. Commn., 12th Report, Appx. 9, page 316.)
Among the Domestic Papers in the British Record Office is a note, made presumably in 1592, of the " Accounts of the Isle of Man from 1588 to 1592, excepting the Water Bailiff's accounts for ingates and outgates, which are casualties " ; viz. charges of Rushen and Peel Castles, varying from £1037 to £1,071 yearly ; allowances from £744 to £832 ; remains from £92 to £266 yearly. Endorsed by Lord Cecil, " A note of the receipts of the Isle of Man since 1588."
A similar note, also endorsed by Lord Cecil, " Receipts of the Isle of Man since '95," summarises the accounts of the Island from 1595 to 1600. The receipts from rents, venditions, customs, etc., ranged from £1,048 to £1078 per annum, and payments ranged from £75 to £691. A comparison with current receipts and expenditure is instructive.
Among the mountains of Lonan, a long time ago, I chanced on a stone standing upright in the ling. Roughly cut on it were the names P. Stole, P. E. Stowell, and Stoal, and the dates 1814 and 1824. Lately I heard from Mr. James Mylchreest a story belonging to it. It marks, he says, the burialplace of a man who had been to Sulby Glen to see a girl, and on his way back to Lonan he was overtaken by a heavy snowstorm. He must have wandered from the track and struggled on till he was unable to keep on his feet any longer. Two or three days afterwards he was found lying dead near his stick, which he had stuck into the ground with his hat on the top of it, to catch the eye of any searchers for lost sheep, or for himself. Where he was found he was buried.
Another and earlier gravestone, now undiscoverable, is said by Mr. Mylchreest to have stood till recent years not far from the Stowell stone. It marked the burialplace of a man who lived in one of the small farms on the North East side of the Laxey Valley. He drove a cow over the mountains to the October Fair on Sulby Claddagh. There he sold her and started back in the evening with the money-or most of it ; but he never reached home. Six months later his corpse, with a damaged skull, was found lying some distance off the track ; clothed, but with no money in the pockets. The conclusion was drawn that he had been followed from Sulby, murdered and robbed, and his body hidden.
The widely spread belief that a victim's wounds will bleed afresh if touched by the murderer is strikingly illustrated, as regards the Isle of Man, by a dramatic story, the entire truth of which I cannot guarantee, nor yet its entire fictitiousness. I have merely re-phrased a little what was related to me a few years ago by a Manxman of many tales.
Two lovers were sitting on the green bank outside the walls of Peel Castle, at or close to the point where Fenella's Tower rises above the battlements. Thus sitting they conversed ; conversing, they quarrelled, and turned a little aside from each other as they sat. The young man made some stinging remark which maddened the girl, who happened at the moment to be poking about pettishly in the soil with the point of her umbrella. Impulsively she picked up a long nail which she had just unearthed, and a stone, and drove the nail into the back of her lover's head. He died almost at once. She was horrified at what she had done, and losing her presence of mind hastily pushed the corpse down a gully there, through which for centuries the Castle rubbish had been shot into the sea. Having done this without being seen, she went home. Next morning she got up very early and stole out of Peel to catch the Liverpool steamer from Douglas. It was thought in Peel that the two lovers had eloped, and no search was made. Many years afterwards she came back to the Island, and mingled with a party of visitors to Peel Castle. At the fatal spot a youth among them who was exploring the gully held up a skull which he had found wedged in the rocks near the foot. It was bleached pure white, and looked so ancient that none of the party had any compunction about taking it in their hands and passing it round. Not to make herself conspicuous by refusing, she took her turn in the examination of the relic ; but as soon as she touched it tiny drops of blood began to ooze from a hole in the base. Either this was not noticed by the strangers, or no guilty significance was attached to it. At any rate, no suspicion was aroused, and the facts remained unknown until she lay on her deathbed.
In certain fanciful fables talking birds are the sole characters and indulge in dialogues between themselves. One between the plover and the blackbird is based on a proverbial saying to be found in Macintosh's Highland collection: " The londubh, the long-clawed londubh, I gave him the sheltered grassy wood and he gave me the black desert mountain." In the Manx version this is expanded into an argument between the two birds. There are also some bird-songs translated into Manx rhymes. Several specimens of both classes have appeared in The Manx Note Book, Manx Fairy Tales, and Mannin. Simple we may find them, yet they are genuine products of native literary art, and one of the last refuges of the spoken native tongue.
One anecdote, typical of a number in which a bird's song is rendered into Manx words, pictures a dishonest miller of East Baldwin surreptitiously taking double multure from the one customer for grinding his corn. Just as he is dipping the measure into the sack for the second time a blackbird carols on a bush by the door. The song reaches the miller's dusty conscience as
" Goaill foilliu daa cheayrt, drogh wyller, goaill foilliu daa cheayrt ? Neems y goll i-nsh Awhallian ! " (In English, " Lift two multures, vile mealy miller, will you ? Lift two multures ? Oho ! I'll tell Awhallian ! " And away the blackbird flies to tell the farmer, as the greedy miller supposes, who thenceforward mends his ways and confines himself to his legitimate commission, when there are birds about.
A bird's song as the accusing voice of conscience is heard again in a yarn whose rudiments were related to me near Dalby a long time ago. I retell it as I imagine it would be told by a Manx countryman. " Paul Creer was not a man who was a teetotaler ; he wasn't altogether houlding with it. Well, one spring evening he was walking home from Peel to Glen May after putting a sight on some friends he had in the town, and when he'd got a piece of the way up the road past the Raggatt a lil bird begun chiming out ` Paul Creer, Paul Creer ! Scooyrit, scooyrit ! ' Paul thought it was just some boys behind the hedge having a game with him, and as he felt he was making rather heavy weather of it he held on his course and took no notice. But the lil bird kept fluttering along with him and singing ` Paul Creer, Paul Creer, scooyrit, scooyrit, scooyrit!' without taking rest, all the way to Kirk Patrick like church bells going, till Paul got mad. He brought to in the middle of the fairway and wanted to know who in thunder was this kept saying he was drunk when he was not drunk ? Show him the man, he said, and he was going to do all there was to him. And the lil bird kept on singing its ` Paul Creer, scooyrit ! ' like a testpiece. Well man, at last poor Paul seen how it was, and he contrived to pick up a stone, but the bird clicked and the stone went through the window of the Methodist Chapel and fell into a prayer-meeting they were houlding, and they thought at first it was the Enemy of Mankind had done it, but when they came running out there was nothing to be seen but Paul Creer making short tacks up the road Shenvalla way, and a lil bird with him fluttering along the hedge and shouting ` Scooyrit, scooyrit, scooyrit ! ' as hard as ever it could go."
Manx birds are not always on the side of the Recording Angel, however, for there was one in Glen Rushen that held very lax views on the sacredness of property. When Dollin the Blackguard was helping himself one night to a fat wether on South Barrule (hundreds of years ago, of course), he heard a voice from the darkness piping : " Gow daa keyryey, Dollin, gow daa keyryey ! Cha inshyms y toshiagh." " Take two sheep, Dollin, take two sheep ! I won't tell the Coroner." (The Sheriff, in England.) The advice struck Dollin as sound, so he took it and another sheep. Manx Version of the Magpie Rhyme.
" One for sorrow, two for joy, Three a wending, four to die, Five, a ship upon the sea, Six, a letter soon for me."
A fragment of a Manx Song.
" O graih my Three, vel graih ad orrym ?
Ta ayd veg, cha nel my follym.
Visthress veg, hig der as vooar,
Visthress vooar, hig dy liooar."
Taught to a boy named Kelly by an old man in Glen Helen, and heard by Mr. J. T. Irving about 25 years ago from Kelly, then a Liverpool policeman. I give it as it was given to me, without attempting to rectify it.