[Yn Lioar Manninagh Vol1 p153/8]




In the address which, as President of this Society, I gave last year, I took upon myself to suggest the study of certain branches of Natural History, and accompanied my suggestions by a statement of facts which had come within the range of my own personal experience. I hope you will allow me on the present occasion to pursue a somewhat similar course, and to touch upon topics into which it may be interesting to inquire.

As this Society is specially designed for the investigation of the Natural History and Antiquities of this Island, we ought not to forget to extend our researches to the condition of its inhabitants in pre-historic and pre-legendary times ; and I know of no means by which we can so well extend them in that direction, as through the medium of the ancient Erse language. There can be little doubt that the habits and characteristics of ancient tribes may be largely discovered from their language. Indeed it seems to be one of the most valuable attributes of philology that it is the medium through which .....


 After the manufacture of woollen cloth and the cultivation of flax, most of the Erse terms for articles of clothing were evolved. The Manx word lieen, denoting flax, and also used for linen, cannot be very old. It is obviously derived from the English linen, or the Latin, linun In the Highland Scotch Gaelic anart means linen. The usual Manx word for linen is aanrit, the difference between which and the Scotch word is only dialectic. Aanrit-barree is a coarse cloth made of tow, and aanrit-caitnagh is a kind of fustian. Aanrit-soillee is a swathing cloth

Bayrn-denotes a cap or headdress, thus bayrn-bussalagh is a cap in the form of a hood, and so made as to fall over the shoulders for comfort in stormy or cold weather. The bussal-whannal was a cloth worn round the neck. The giare-choot was a kind of jacket or short coat, while the cossag-varkiagh was a great coat, a riding coat, or a watch coat. The idd was a hat. The word idd literally denotes a bird's nest. The oanrey was a petticoat. One kind of undyed woollen cloth, made in the Island, was called keeir-lheeah. Keeir represents the natural colour of a black sheep, and leak a sort of grey or mouldy colour. The keeir and leak wools were spun and proven together.

Another kind of undyed woollen cloth, as we all know, was called longhtan, made from the wool of a brown sheep. It is said that James the 10th Earl of Derby, lord of Mann, in the beginning of the last century, wore clothing made of loughtan wool.

A stocking is called oashyr, a word which seems identical with the English " hose." There were several kinds of stockings worn by the natives. The oashyr-voynnee was a stocking " without a foot, but having a string under the foot." This string was called the boynnagh. The oashyr sloblagh was a stocking having no sole, but having over the instep a lappet looped to the fore toe.

The carrane, or kerrane, which, within the last 50 years, was commonly worn by the male peasantry of the Island, was a sandal made of raw hide, salted and dried. It covered the sole and sides of the foot, and, on the top, was laced with thongs of hide. The hair of the skin was outside. A similar sandal is, or was, worn by the Scotch and Irish peasantry, and is called by them cuarag. Sandals of hide were worn by the ancient Goths. In the description of a Goth, quoted by Camden from Sidoneus, it is said the Goths cover their feet as high as the ankle with untanned leather. Gibson's Camden, cxvii.Dornagh was a kind of glove worn to protect the hand when cutting gorse, &c.

Several other articles of clothing have names in the Manx tongue, but these are, for the most part, corruptions of English words, formed, occasionally, as a new kind of apparel was introduced.




Back index next


Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 1999