[Yn Lioar Manninagh Vol 1 p323/328]

MANX FOLK-LORE, 1882 TO 1885.

Collected by C. ROEDER, Manchester.

(From Lezayre.)

The old people never give out any milk or meal without first sprinkling it with salt, to keep off the fairies.

Salt.—A friend of Mrs. G. killed a calf, and sent her boy with a piece to Mrs. G., but in her hurry forgot to sprinkle it with salt, and the fairies followed him and licked him till he was sore, and when he got home his mother had to wash him in salt and water to take the fairies’ charm away.

Fiddlers.—There used to be a great many fiddlers on the Island, four used to come on the floor, two men and two women, and they danced an X.

Fairies.—Do you know that little cottage down Loch-ny-guiy side, said Mrs. G~, a little, little thatched house by the river ;well, Casheens was the name of the man living there, and when he was a lump of a boy he remembers one day before Chrisermus, being sent to bed, and he was terribly cross, because his mother was making a grand bonag, an’ he kept his eyes open, not wanting to sleep. He slept in his parents’ bed, and after they were in bed, he crep’, an’ he crep’, an’ he got to the oven at last without waking his father and mother, an’ when he got theer he was dreadfully frickened, for theer was one of the " little uns " sitting up before the oven. with his han’s like claws put up as like he was going to scratch him, and his great red eyes a-starin, and starin’ vicious at him ; well, he rushed back to bed widlan’ quite, and he~was glad to goodness gracious to get theer, like enough too-—I wouldn’t have gone to the oven by night, not if I’d been starving, and I’m thinkin’ it ‘çid be a long time before lied go pokin’ his nose theer again.

For years Mrs. S. had been an invalid, and never went out of doors, except to sit for a few minutes in the garden However, one day the dottor said she seemed so much the better, a short drive would do her good ; so her husband ordered the cairiage and they drove out ; they had not ridden far, when all at once his wife pointed her finger, saying :—"See there, they are beckoning me, I must go, the coffin is waiting, I see the plumes shaking." He tried to calm her, she fell back in the carriage with her finger still pointing to some unseen spectacle. Two hours after they reached the house, she was a corpse.

The Water Horse.—" Now, theer’s a relation of mine, Jim Quirk by name. He’s a ieal smart one, and terrible fine, not the man to be afeard of anyone, but one night his senses were near taken away from him ; he was tellin’ it many times in this house. One winter’s night, two years ago, when all the ground was covered with snow, my relation Jim in the evening came into the cottage, covered with snow and as pale as a sheet, like as if he had been frckened. ‘Well, Jim,’ says I, ‘what’s been your work to-day ?‘ He looked at me so strange, I began to tremble. Then he laughs, queer like, an’ says, ‘ I had work enough to last me some time to come. I left home six o’clock this evening to go to mend Farmer S. barn. It took me two hours before I got to the river. I could not see the bridge at all, at all, and the couth (cold) was something terrible. I did not know what to do, when I saw good luck—an old mare, with bit already in its mouth ; so I catches hold of it and jumps on its back. He, without my leading, plunges right into the water, and takes me along under, and the water, woman, was as cold as ice. I thought I should never see the land again, when all of a sudden the sleech* plunges out on the other side, and before I could give it a taste of my stick, it had gone under the water again. I was terrible~ frickened, and it will be a long time before I get on the back of a water horse again."

Fairies.—A woman living up on Barrule was taken sick, and her husband went for the doctor. All at once thewoman called. " Mother, mother, do come here quick." Well, her mother ran to see what it was, and just when she got on the stairs she saw a big man standing, wi/h a three-cornered cocked hat. So she thought it must be th~ doctor. She passed on to her daughter’s bedroom, and asked her what she wanted, and she said :—" The Bishop of the Fairies has been here, and he took out a cake and broke it in two, and. gave me half." .

Fairy Music—As the husband and an ould man, coming home over the mountains, passed a ruined cottage, which serves now for a cow-stable, they heard music, and such carryings-on. Well, they could not fancy who it was, the windows of the cottage being stuffed with sods. So the auld man goes and puts one of his eyes to the keyhole, and sees the fairies dancing and fiddling away, an’ one of the fairies put his fiddle-stick right through his eye, an’ he has never seen since, an’ that’s true.

. ~ . *A sneak. ~ . ~ ~

Fairy Child—An old woman was coming here often, and my daughter would be giving him a penny to tell her some fairy tale, and he come in one day and told her about a young woman who went to be churched. She left her baby in the cradle, and a tailor sitting by, and when she was gone the tailor goes to the baby and asks it t’ come and dance and he would play a tune, and the baby got up on the cradle and commenced dancing till the tailor went of Jiddling away wi/h the baby. When the woman came l)ack she looked in the cradle for the child and could not find it nowhere, so it became a fairy child— that’s what they were saying.

One night when the boys were coming home for supper, they happened to look through the window, and saw th e fairies eating uft their supper. So one of the boys said to the other fellow, " Will you cut away that’s been left over ?" " No," says he, " will you ?" " Well, yes, I don’t see the good of leaving my supper," and its said the fellow who would not touch his supper ded before the year was over, and the other was all righ:.

One day, long years ago, my mother was sitting by the fire preparing dinner (" peelin taters") when the door was suddenly opened, and a little old woman came in. She had a red skirt and a kind of petticoat just thrown over her head like, and, dear me, she looked queer. "Good morn to you, mothy," sas she, " I’ve come to borrow a grain of male (meal) from yer," and she pointed to a small bowl of meal on the plate-shelf, and she says, " Praps yer can spare this." " Well," says my mother, " you may have it, an’ welcome." " Thank yer, mõthy, for yer great kindness, I will return every grain," an’ off she goes, and soon father comes home, and mother says, " John, there’s been a fairy woman," but father he laughs at mother, and goes out to his work smiling. Next day the same queer little woman comes, and says she, " I’ve brought the male, motliy, an’ if yer take this and wrap it in a clean cloth, and put it in a hole in yer room, you will always have as much male, and you and yours will never want." Well, every day they turned out good, and one day the fairy woman came and said, " Mothy, I have not seen yer for some time, but I’ve come to ask you to do something more for me. Go to your stable, and turn your cows’ faces to where their tail is, because the dung comes right through our house ( she lived underground), and if yer do this with a good heart your cows will never fall sick." Now, mother was frickened, because she knew father would never go to the bother of putting up new troughs ; so when he came home she told him that the fairy woman said, and he got angry and said he was not going to do it. Well, the cows grew sick, and mother cried and persuaded him, and at last, after some days, he went and turned the cows’ heads where the tails were, and everything went on terrible well.

Fairy Revenge—Some years ago, well, Im thinking it was shortly after I met William Teare, a friend, a very nice young woman got married to a farmer, and he had a good dale (deal) of money, so he went out often with her, but he was not half such a nice body as herself, not so generous ; she was so ready for helping everyone. Well, one day he takes her for a walk, and they had riot gone very far on their road before they met a liktle man all with crooked legs and clothes all in rags, who asked for a sixpence, so the woman puts her hand in her pocket, but finds her purse was left at home at her, so she asked her husband, and he turns so nasty to her—" No," says lie, " do you think I have nothing to do but put my hand in my pocket ? " and he turns the old man ot1 " Well, good day to yer both, and may my curse be on you and yours for your unkindness ; and you will see." The woman was terribly frickened ; when she came home she told one of the women what had happened to her, and looked so bad. " Don’t take on," says the farm servant, " he can’t do no harm, its only his jaw. Why din’ec (did not) yer give him yer handkerchief, I have heard that is as good as money ? " Two years. . passed, and Annie got her first baby ; and, dear me, when he came he had dreadful bad legs, worse than the little beggar man. Well, they tried and tried no end of cures, but the child staid weak in its legs—and she have five sons and three girls, and every one of the boys were crooked, and the girls quite straight. Yes, an’ they’re saying all the boys were made so because . their father had been so stingy ; and if they had left the first boy’s legs and not broken them after God once made them, the other sons would have been quite right. I know this to be true, because she was quite an auld friend."

Night Horse—Yes, theer’s nzçht horses; a man was tellin’ me he was for riding one, and it is quite true, bekase I know the . man very well, and he would not be for tellin’ me a lie, at all. One night he was comin’ home, and he was feelin’ very tired—its like he could scarcely go on much further—an’ just as he was turning round the corner of the road, near by Christian of Milntown, he seed a fine horse, a terrible beauty of a horse, and he gets quicker like in walkin’, and soon gets near to it ; the truth, there was no one near about, and the horse was main and beautiiul, and theer was a splendid saddle on, so he jumped in theer saddle and the horse flew oft wid’ him like mad just, and he was thinking surely he would be home soon, when the horse it gives an awful leap right up in the air, an’ he was frickened, but gives a regular plump on to the airth (earth) again, and, sudden like, he finds himself kicked on to the growand (ground) ; he got up middlin’ quick, but theer horse was gone, and he said it wearnt One of our horses at all he had been ridin’ so easily, but a night-horse.—Yer know we have night-men, too, big, big fellars, and they wear no clothes on them. Many years ago, when I was a lump of a girl like our Kitty theer at one of the farms, cloas (close) where I was livin’, . a night-man used to come every night and grind the corn for the farmer ; he . was a terrible big chap, and so awful strong, yer never saw the like ; one day the farmer was thinkin’, " Now the couth(cold) was comin’ he would give the fellow some clothes," and his wife made the clothes, and in the evenin’ the ‘farmer put them dowan (down), so that he could see them ; in he came, and surely he seed them clothes. and catchin’ hould on them, he muttered some-thing, and puttin’ on theer clothes, he went away and never came back again.

They are not for mindin’ the fairies much now, at all, not like they used to be ; in the auld times a woman would never leave her baby in the cradle, ‘without puttin the tongs in the shape of a cross on the cradle.

( From Ballacaine, Jurby.)

Fairy Music.—The fairies at Ballacaine were very mischievous. They did not even respect old age, and used to play such abominable pranks on one of the oldest men on the farm, that no wonder he was cross. You can just fancy the poor old man going tired to bed after a hard day’s work, and then to be suddenly awoke, while just dozing off, by the horrible sound of cronk, crank, for the fairies were putting the strings of their fiddles in order. One night, being damp, the strings were worse than usual ; so was their cronk, cronk. Poor old man ! No sleep again for him to-night. A bright thought struck him ; should he humour them. Poor old fellow, although his limbs were stiff with rheumatics, he hobbles out of bed. feeling very cold, begins dancing about, saving in a cheery tone, " Play away, my little fellows ; I am dancing." They played for some time, and did not leave off until the old man was fairly done for. Then they made a polite bow, and for an instant a clear light filled the barn, where the old man slept, and the next minute fairies and fiddles all disappeared, and the old man fell into a beautiful dream, and was never disturbed by fairies. So you see good ‘humour got the best. If he had stormed, he might have stormed to his dying day, and never been any the better for it. .


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