[From Wood's Account of IoM, 1811]

Chapter XIII.

From Kirk Michael to Ramsey, Laxey, Douglas: thence to Kirk Marown.

Two miles to the north-east of Kirk Michael is the village of Ballaugh, and full a mile further its parish church, one of the three rectories The name in Manks signifies mire town, and was, according to Chaloner, given to this village or church, from its being situated in a place that was formerly a bog.

Ballaugh is about as populous as Balasalla. it has manufactories for coarse hats, and appears in a flourishing condition. At a newly established public-house, I found tolerable accommodation for the night. It is without sign or any notice of what may be found within, except "Ropes sold here," written in large characters. The innkeepers’ charges are generally quite as high as might be expected from the price of provisions : but here the bill for a supper of cold mutton, a pint of ale, a glass of brandy and ‘water, bed, and breakfast, amounted to no more than one shilling and .sixpence.

The vane upon the top of Ballaugh church has the date of 1717 : the building itself is rather older.

A good deal of bog land and some rabbit warrens are in this parish.

Two miles further and nearly half a. mile from the point of land, which bears its name, is Kirk Jurly.

Few monumental inscriptions of this island are in any other language than Latin or English. In this church-yard is the following epitaph:

" Exu. dom. Gui. Tear Ludimagist. de Peel. Sepul. Jul. 5, 1756, an. aet. 74. Epit. loco Gui. Tear, author. scripto.

Mors heu ! poena quidem tamen es t certissirna vitae,
Janua felicis denique Iaeta piis.
Me licet hic retinent pro tempore vincula mortis,
Spes tamen in Christo non moritura manet.
In Christi meritus patris4ue ciementis amore
Est hurnilis mea spes, hâc moriorque fide.
Tu Deus ipse meum cor scis secretaque cordis,
Obscure abdita quaque patent.
Hic nihil optari dignum est, lieu ! omnia vana:
Ergo beata veni, vanaque vita vale."

The church-yard is on high ground and affords a good view of England, Scotland, and Ireland. It includes a barrow, devoted once more to its former use. This parish. contains several other a few hundred feet out to sea, and is terminated by a light-house. Several cannons lie scattered about ; but here, as in other places, they are, for the most part, without car-riages, and in their present state altogether unfit for use.

Near the town is a protestant chapel, built upon the foundation of an old Romish one.

There is only one inn here. It is kept by a Mr. Smith, a very civil man, who is usually drunk every day, and in this state utters loudly, with little intermission, the most horrible oaths. The evening on which I was there, his wife found great difficulty to get him to bed ; and, in order to gain her end, promised to bring him another glass of brandy when he should be fairly in.Whether she cajoled him or not I cannot tell ; but after he was in his room I heard him rave desperately, and talk of murdering every body in the house. I ought to add, that he is not, in his mad fits, considered dangerous, being charged with powder, but not shot. Even the report of a gun is unpleasant to weak nerves.

Two miles from Ramsey on the Kirk Michael road is Kirk Christ Lezayre, a church on a declivity, with trees about it ; a rural spot. Chaloner can find no better derivation of its name, than its situation in a sharp air, the word in Manks having this signification.

On a stone in the church-yard is this parody of two lines of Virgil:

" Quam veniente die, quam discedente requiro,
Et meam moriens reminiscer uxorern."

In an old register of this parish is the following curious memorandum without date.

" One Robert Cottier’s wife was delivered ofa child, which was baptized upon the Monday and she came to be churched upon the Wednesday next after : and after returning home she fell in labour, and was delivered of another child, and came to be churched upon the Satur clay next after, in the same week : churched twice in the same week. This I testify to be truth.

EDD CROW, Minister."

I find by Chaloner that, in the year 1653, there was an Edmond Crow, minister of this parish:

Not far from the church the remains of a copse of hazel trees are still visible. Several gen flemen’s seats with trees about them are in the neighbourhood : the vegetation is luxuriant: many apple orchards skirt the road and the stone or mud fences frequently give way to the more useful and ornamental quickset. Lezayre parish being very extensive, is embraced by Michael, Ballaugh, Jurly, Andreas, Bride, Maughold, Lonan, Oncan, and Braddon.

In going from Ramsey to Maughold we leave North Barrule on the right. By the road-side near Port-le-voillen is a stone of considerable antiquity, with five raised ball’s upon it, and other devices, being about six feet long and three wide.

Maughold head is an abrupt promontory terminated by a bold cliff. Underneath some, moss-covered rocks was a spring called St. Maughold’s Well, much resorted to for the supposed medicinal virtues of its waters ; and for the fecundity which they imparted to women, when sitting in the saint’s chair to drink them. The name of this village is derived from one of the early bishops of the island.

The church, in dimension seventy-two feet by seventeen, extravagant proportions even for Man, stands in the center of five acres of grass, interspersed with grave-stones. The Manks church-yards have not the neatness of those of Wales ; and the mournful yew is rarely, if ever, to be seen. Near the entrance to this is a pillar of unhewn clay-slate, about seven feet high, the center of a horse-block. Three of its sides represent our Saviour in three states—of birth, passion, and crucifixion. The fourth side is simply ornamented with a sprig of oak. That it refers, as Robertson conjectures, to St. Maughold and St. Bridget is highly improbable.

Nearly two miles on this side of Laxey is a turning towards Snawfel. The prospect from its summit combines the advantages of the two Barrules ; and from its central situation includes a larger portion of Manks territory. The situation of it is said indeed to be the center of the British dominions, whence all of them may be plainly discerned.

Laxey is a place of little trade, being composed of not more than thirty cottages. It has only one shop, apparently very ill supplied, and two public houses. For butcher’s meat and many other articles of convenience the inhabitants send weekly to Douglas. The herring fishery of this place is not very considerable; and the present scarcity of salmon is attributed to the water from the copper-mines. The river’s banks are high and steep ; and in some places well planted with trees. A little way up the valley is a flax-spinning mill upon a construction similar to that of Messrs. Moores near Douglas. The water is kept up by an embankment of stone, over which salmons in the spawning season, were often seen to leap. Trout abound in Laxey river. Milbourn, who keeps a public-house near the bridge, a miner, a fisherman, and a very civil man, will readily inform the stranger where are the best spots for angling, furnish him with flies of his own making ; and, I dare say, if asked, partake his sport. Laxey bridge is very narrow, and apparently ancient.

Lonan, the parish church, is a mile from the village. Its name is a corruption of Lomanus, the saint to whom it is dedicated, a son of Tigris, sister to St. Patrick, and the first bishop of Trim in Ireland.

In the year 1786, two hundred and thirty-seven pieces of silver were found in this parish by a person digging ; and several others had been previously discovered,

Nearly two miles on the Douglas side of Laxey near the road, are about twelve stones placed in a form somewhat oval. Just beyond the oval, and at one end of it, facing N. N. E. are two stones six feet high, one of which is cloven from top to bottom : the other stones are from two to three feet high. The mount on which they all stand is three or four feet high. The center of the mount has an excavation, seven feet long, three feet wide for about one-third of the length, and two feet for the remainder. The stones are of hard clay-slate. The landlady’s daughter at Laxey gave me the following traditionary story of them : The proprietor of the land on which they rest being desirous of removing them, took some labourers to effect his purpose. Being arrived at the stones, and looking back, he saw his house on fire, and consequently returned in haste. Having arrived at home he found his house as it should be, but saw the stones on fire. The man was too wise to disregard so clear an omen ; and the stones have ever since remained undisturbed. The natives do not seem to form even a conjecture of their original use nor ever to have heard of such beings as Druids.

Oncan is a village rather more than two miles from Douglas. The church is dedicated to Onca, the mother of St. Patrick. In the church yard are usually buried the deceased aliens of Douglas. From the high ground of this parish and from Clayhead, are fine views of the sea, usually enlivened by coal brigs trading between Cumberland and Dublin, and of smaller vessels sailing in or out of Douglas harbour.

From Oncan to Douglas is a pleasant walk over the sands. We approach them by a mountain cascade, which some years ago turned the wheel of a corn mill, now burned down ; and further on, pass another somewhat similar, both being destitute of trees or bushes.

Being returned from the promised excursion, I have now only to conduct the reader through the inland parish of Marown, intersected by the road from Douglas to St. John’s. The church is situated on its southern side, five miles from Douglas and six from Peel. The road is very pleasant, and one part of it is over a rising ground, called Lhiaght y Kinny, the Grave of Kinny, who is said to have attempted, for a trifling wager, to run stark naked, on a very snowy winter’s day, from Douglas to Bishop’s-court and back, and who, on returning, fell down dead on this spot.

Two lines of an epitaph are,

" No debts, no laws obliged him to fly
From the dear land of his nativity."

The subject of the poetry was an Irishman.

Nearly opposite the turning to Kirk Marown are the walls of Old Kirk, formerly called St. Trinion’s, said to have been erected in consequence of a vow made by a ship-wrecked person. The present ruinous state of the building is ascribed to the malice of some unlucky demons who, for want of better employment, amused themselves with throwing off the roof. A great quantity of Adiantum, maiden-hair, grows about the walls.


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HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 1999