[From Manx Fairy Tales, 1911]


IN the old days when there were wizards and witches in the Isle of Mann, the greatest Wizard of all was Caillagh-ny-Faashagh. He did not live above ground, but in a quarry, in a hole under the rock on the lonely mountain side, and that is why the people called him the Prophet Wizard of the Wilderness. At dark he would roam over the mountains, and people walking there, when night was drawing on, would hear him crying ' Hoa, hoa, hoa ! ' like the bellow of a goat, in a voice so terrible and strong that the earth, and all who heard it, trembled with fear. He could change himself into any shape he liked; sometimes he would be a goat with big, fiery eyes; at other times a tall, tall man.

Once, when he was a goat, he followed a man that was walking along the mountain road, and. that time he had eyes in him as big as two dishes. The man was carrying a lantern, and as he shifted it from one hand to the other the goat followed it from side to side. The man was terrified and began to run. As soon as he left the mountain road the beast roared after him

'Hoa, hoa, hoa!'

Another time, in the shape of a tall, tall man, as tall as two men, he followed a woman who'struck across the mountain at Garey mooar, and he had great, big, burning eyes, as big as two plates, in his head. The woman ran with all her might, for life or death, and he ran roaring after her: 'Hoa, hoa, hoa I ' But when she turned down from the mountain he came no further.

He was a great soothsayer, but he would not foretell what was to happen unless some person asked him. It seems that he must have lived for hundreds of years, for he foretold a battle that was fought in io98. This was the Battle of Santwat, Sand Ford,' between the north and south Manx. He said:

The river Neb shall run red from Glen Crew to the sea,

'And gulls shall sip their full of the blood of Manninee.

It all came true. The north men sailed into Peel and ran their flat-bottomed boats up to Glenfaba Ford, where the south men iult them to keep them from landing. They ~i~t up the stream to Glen Crew where tl~ was a great slaughter, and the bodies of'the slain dammed the stream and turned the little glen into a pool. The waters of the Neb were reddened by Manx blood when they ran into Peel Bay. The south side women had followed the men and were watching the battle from a little distance, but when they saw that the north people were winning they rushed down, and into the heart of the fight, with bratfuls of stones and with hacks, and won the day for the south. And a law was made that henceforth the widows in the south of the island should get half of their husband's estate; but the north side women, who stayed at home, were to get only one-third.

The Prophet Wizard foretold, too, the finding of Foxdale lead mines. A man came to him and asked :

' How will I get rich, O Caillagh-nyFaashagh?'

And the Wizard answered:

There's a butt in Ballafesson worth the whole of Balladoole.

But the riches of the Isle of Mann lie bid behind, Barrule.

He also gave this prophecy to old Juan' the weaver, who asked him for one:

At the foot of Barrule there will be a market town,

Mullin-y-Cleigh with blood for twenty-four hours will turn roun'.

Now the village of Foxdale stands at the foot of Barrule, and it is said that in the old tirnes a great battle between the Manx and the Irish was fought by the stream above Mullin-y-Cleigh. the Mill-by-the-Hedge.

To a Peel man he foretold:

' There will be a battle between the Irish and the Manx at Creg Malin.' And the old fishertnen say that that battle took place two hundred years-ago. 'It-was a Sunday when the Irishmen came'-.in the bay, and they found no place to beach their boats, so they turned the Manx boats adrift and thought they had the place for themselves. But they soon found their. masters. The Manx men came after their 'boats, and there was the battle-red blood running like water! And the battle was not over that day, but they fought round into Douglas, and finished at last in Derby Haven, so the old fishermen say.

Then there 'was an old maid that had a cressad (a melting pot), and she went from house to house making lead spoons. She was a bit queer ; she would not smoke a mould on a sunny day, nor a misty day, nor a wet day, nor a windy day; she must have a day to fit herself. She met the Caillagh when he was in the shape of a goat, and she asked him to foretell when would be the end of the world. He said that before the last :

' The Mountains of Mann will be cut over with roads, and iron horses will gallop over them, and there will be an inn on the top of Snaefell.'

That has all come true; trains rush over the island and, for sure, there is the inn on the top of our highest mountain. He said, too :

' Mann and Scotland will come so close that two women, one standing in Mann and another in Scotland,. will be able to wring a blanket between them.' But that has not come true yet, though the sandy Point of Ayre is stretching further and further towards the Mull of Galloway.

And another of his prophecies has not come to pass yet:

' The Chief Rulers of Mann will be compelled to flee.'

But it will all be before the end.


Back index next

Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2001