[From Manx Church Magazine Oct 1901 ppcxxviii/cxxx]

Some Inscriptions in the Gaelic of Mann.

The inscriptions in any given language are its most durable parts;. We know not how Etruscan was pronounced, or what literature adorned it; but we possess its remaining inscriptions, collected by Monsignore Liverani, of Cortona. How many others have perished ! Is Manx to become as dead as Etruscan? Manx is a language which opens the doors to the rich national literatures of Wales and Eireland, and helps one to converse with the Highlanders of Scotland. Is anyone the poorer mentally or pursily for being able to talk with the Manxmen who still possess the language into which the Bible, and, the Prayer Book, the sermons of Wilson, and the hymns of Wesley and Watts, were so well translated by their ancestors? The inscriptions in -Manx are, it seems, exclusively epitaphs, and very few in number, occurring, I believe, only in five places. Let me, then, place on record those which I have personally copied since I crossed the Channel from Dublin after the, Pan-Celtic Congress last Friday week. Mr Cubbon, editor of THE MANX SUN, informed me of the first two; and showed me that in the first locality, in the cemetery at Douglas, on the stone "sacred to the memory of Ann Cleator, also the above-named William Sayle,, Esq., who died December 23rd, 1876. aged 82 years" :

Son 'night myr ayns Adam to ooilley geddyn baase, dy jarroo myr shen ayns Creest bee oillley jeant bio.-I. Cor. xv., 22.

The translation of this erse, from the Manx New Testament of 1820 will be found in the corresponding place in the English New Testament.

2: Found for me by the son of Mr Richard. Qualtrough, the parish clerk of Rushen, to the north of the nave of the parish church there, on the tombstone of Eleanor wife of Thomas King, who died 28th March 1863:

Kys ghoghe shin aggle dy chur sheese,
Nyn girp syn oaie gys fea.,
Raad lhie corp ooasle Yeesey Creest,
Te'r yannoo maynrey jeh.

Mr Qualtrough translates these verses thus

Why are we afraid to put down
Our bodies in the grave to rest,
Where lay the worshipful body of Jesus Christ"?
He has made a happy place of it.

They will be seen on page 19 in hymn XVI. of the Manx Hymn Book of 1799. There, however, chur is cur; syn is 'syn; oaie is oaye; ooasle is oasle; and T'er. is 'S'ter.

3. Mentioned to me by Mr R. Qualtrough, at Kirk Arbory, on the tomb of Paul Keig, who died 15th May, 1870:

O vraar tou scarrit vooin son tra
Ny smoo cha glinn mayd dry chorraa
Chord. vees mayd bia syn eill
Gys fagys mayd yn thie dy chray
As roshtyn gys yn boal dy fea
Raad nee mayd oo veeteil.

I should be glad to know who composed these verses. Some of the letters in, them have been damaged. They are thus rendered by Mr Wm. Cashen, the guide of Peel Castle

O brother, thou art separated from, us for a time;
No more shall we hear thy voice
While we remain alive in the flesh,
Until we shall leave this house cf clay
And reach unto the place of rest .
By the road where we shall meet thee.

4. Mentioned by Mr W. Cashen, on the pedestal of a Keltic cross, in memory of Elizabeth, wife of Thomas Leece in Peel cemetery. She died 22nd May, 1892

Cur graih da Jee, as jean mie. (It means)
Give love to God, and do good.

5. In the churchyard at Kirk Patrick, near Peel

(a) Mentioned by Mr W. Cashen„ on the stone of John Gill, who died 21st February, 1872

Stop, traveller, as thou passest by,
As thou art now, So once was I ;
As I am now so: shalt thou be;
Faw aarloo dy gholl quail dyt Yee.

Mr Edmund Goodwin, who teaches music and Gaelic at Peel (Albany-road), and is capable of writing a good treatise on Manx parsing and syntax, translates the last line thus : " Get ready to meet thy God." Dyt is a blunder for dty.

(b) Mentioned by Mr W. Cashen, on the stone of Mr. W. Quane, who departed 23rd January, 1853

In Kione shen veagh ching ta ec aash,
E smooinaghtyn ooilley ec fea:
Yn aigney ta seyr veigh angaish ;
Ny smoo cha jean gennaght anvea.

These lines are taken from hymn 26, page 31, of the Hymn Book of 1799. The carver has put I for Y at the beginning. Mr E. Goodwin translates them thus

The head that used to be sick is at ease,
All its thought are at rest;
The mind is free from auguish,
No more will it feel unrest.

I found for myself the following:-

(c) On the stone of William Quirk, who died 7th May, 1867

Nish, ta aym yn bosyl dy fea;
Ayn ta m'annym nisti ec aash.

In the 79th hymn, on page 85 of the collection of 1799 these lines are printed thus

Nish, nisil, ta aym boayl dy fea,
Ayn oddys m'annym ve ec aash;

their meaning being, according to Mr E. Goodwn, as follows

Now, now, I have a place of rest,
In which my soul can be at ease.

(d) On the stone, of Elizabeth, wife of Thos. Clark, who died 12th December, 1857:

Bannit t'adsyn ta, glen ayns cree ; son ver act Jee my-ner.-Matth. v., 8 (from the Manx New Testament cf 1820).

(e) On the stone next to, it, in memory of Ann Clark, who died 18th of March, 1828

Cre t'ayns y theihll nee miste cumrail
Veih gloyr as maynrys braa ?
Tra. ta, ny hainlyn cheet my whail,
Tar-royd ta Yeesey gra.
Dy chur myner yn Eayn hur baase,
As cur ard-voylley da
As goaill arrane jeh mooads e ghrayse
As shen er son dy bra.

These lines occur in hymn 41, on pages 47 .and 49 of the Book of 1799, in the 4th and 8th stanzas. Mr W. Cashen, translates them in this wise

What in the world will hinder me
From glory and happiness ever?
When the angels come to meet me,
"Come on the way!" is Jesus saying;
To behold the Lamb that suffered death
And give high praise to Him;
And take up a song about the greatness of His grace ;
And that for ever!

(d) On a slab of slate: "In memory of Ann Gallister [sic ?Callister], otherwise Kelly, who died 1651. I saw no older insciptions than this in Kirk Patrick, where there are however, many of the 18th century.

(e) On another slab of slate

Ane and

I cannot explain this. The C's have a dot inside them. It many be an E.

(f) On the stone of Robert Moore, 6th August, 1826

In. youthfull bloom I've quit this Earth,
And bid adieu to all it's Toys
Have enter'd on a heavenly birth,
And bask in bright Celestial joys.

This is not a bad specimen of English verse for a Manxman of the time of King George IV. It seems' to me that Manx, unless the speakers unite, will flourish longer on these few sad beds of the dead than in the heads of the men of Mann. It is evident that the hymn book of 1799 (which, as its preface shows, was only the 2nd edition) was very popular throughout the 19th century, as its verses appear even in the cemeteries of the Established Church [writer was obviously unaware that apart from that at Peel, Athol St there were no Methodist graveyards]. It was reprinted in 1830 and 1846; and another edition would probably be acceptable to many insular patriots of the present day. Mr E. Goodwin permits me to offer you the text of the preface of 1799, together with his own literal translation, which. will be a, very useful help to many a beginner. In 1897, or early in 1898, I suggested to the secretaries of the Gaelic League, and, the Society for the Preservation of the Irish Language, the formation of a branch of their respective societies to apply their methods to the Gaelic of 5,000 Manxmen. The former replied that it was too late to undertake such a mission. But Mr Fournier was sent; and we have once more a Manx Language Society! Of this Mr J. J. MacSweeney tells me that I was, if not the founder, at: least. the proposer. I say this to show how much I desire that, God's special Gift to Mann should be manfully uphold and thankfully respected. If it once goes altogether, it cannot be replaced! It is like a rare bird or a unique flower, which needs protection because man cannot make it again any more than he can breed the Irish elk. What would Mona be without Tynwald or her historic tongue? Such rarities are precious to angels if not to man. Ought not science to shield them from their enemies ?

Manx Cats do very well without their tails; but a, Manxman without his tongue is less interesting!

I have seen a tract in Manx of 8 pages, entitled "Smooinaghtyn crauee mychione beaynid," i.e., "Pious thoughts about Eternity." It has no date; but would seem to have been produced about 50 years ago. At the end there is a note worded thus: "Liverpool: Printed by R. Tilling, for the Manks Society for promoting the Education of the Inhabitants of the Isle of Man through the medium of their own language,"

Where can one see a complete set of the publications of this society - During how many years did it exist? and who were its leaders?

One might almost parody the well-known motto of Wykehams Colleges, and, say "Mann Erse maketh Man." It is to be hoped that a phonograph will be provided onto which the best Gaelic speakers in the Island, such as it Mr Cashen, shall be invited to read off the whole of one or two of the older books in the language, the paraphrase-epitome of "Paradise Lost," for instance [It was but the wax cylinders were allowed to decay so Sophia Morrison's gift was of no use].

By this means a future generations would have the means of knowing how the words were sounded at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Mr Wm. Radcliffe, the Gaelic-loving schoolmaster of Kirk Andreas, has let me see two collections of Manx carols in manuscript, of which the most recent is dated March 8th, 1863. It is a compilation by Mr R, Kerruish. It is to be hoped that these, manuscripts be deposited in the Public Library at Douglas, so that they may be copied. If they contain, any items snot included in Mr Moore's collection or any variations from that in wording or spelling, they should be printed.

I may add that I have hopes that the Trinitarian Bible Society, of 25, New Oxford Street, London, W.C. will shortly reprint the New Testament, or at least the four Gospels, in the Manx language.

(Member of the Philological Society of London.)

Peel, 2nd September, 1901.




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