[Yn Lioar Manninagh Vol 2 pp 92/93]



Several derivations have been offered of this word, but I think I shall not be accused of uncharitableness in saying that not one of them is worth wasting a thought upon. I am about to offer another, which may meet with the same judgment as that I have passed on those of others; nevertheless I shall offer it, and then leave it to the judgment it may deserve, whether good or bad.

In Woods' Atlas of the Isle of Man, he states, in his description of the parish of Jurby, that two of the Treens bear the names of "Les Sulby," one of than comprises part of Ballacurry ; the other, Kerroo Kneale.

In explanation of the fact that the name of Sulby is found in Jurby, I have been informed that the Sulby river, instead of turning off sharply to .the right on its way to the sea at Ramsey, as it does now, formerly flowed in a northerly direction through Jurby, by a channel, which is still visible, and entered the sea at the Lhen, if I have spelt this word correctly. Now, I build my derivation of "Lezayre" on two facts. This of the presence of the name "Les Sulby" in Jurby is one of than; the following is the other

The last time I was in France I was lounging about the streets of Calais, while waiting for a train. In this idle state, with my eye roving in quest of something to occupy it, it was caught by a public notice, which I stopped to read for want of something else to do. What the notice was about I have entirely forgotten, but this is no matter. The fact I wish to draw attention to is, that the event was to come off at "St. Pierre les Calais." I was puzzled by the name, because I could give no meaning to the word "les." When, however, my attention was drawn to "les Sulby," in Wood's Atlas, then "St. Pierre les Calais" came back to my recollection. At the same time something else came back to my recollection, which was that very shortly before I had learnt that there was a Treen of "les Sulby" in Jurby, I had by accident learnt from Cassell's French and English Dictionary that there was a French word "lez," meaning near; that consequently "St. Pierre les Calais,," meant St. Pierre, "near Calais," and therefore "les Sulby" meant "near Sulby," and "Lezayre" meant "near Ayre." Then there arose two questions : What was it that was "near Ayre" ? and how did the French word "lez" get into the nomenclature of the Isle of Man ?

Why the name of "Lesayre," or "near Ayre," should be given to the parish is clear enough. The real name of the parish in Manx, as I learn from Kelly's Dictionary, is Skeeylly Chreest, ny Hayrey," or "Christ Church, near Ayre," but there is another parish, Rushen, formerly better known as "Skeeylly Chreest, Rushen." Hence the two parishes, each with the name of "Skeeylly Chreest," were distinguished from one another by the adjuncts of"Rushen" and "ny Hayrey." But the Manx language has not held undisputed sway in the Island, and in some bygone period-perhaps during the time of the Scotch occupation of the Island : perhaps during the early times of the English occupations-the Norman French "lez" was introduced to distinguish the "Skeeyll Christ" of the North from that of the South, at the time when French was still the language of the governing classes in England, and was well known on the coast of Scotland. As this derivation of the word "Lezayre" seems to me more satisfactory, and much more probable than any hitherto given to the public, I submit it for what it is worth through the pages of your magazine, to the judgment of those who are qualified to form nu opinion on such matters. As it appears to me; there is really only one eifhculty in accepting the derivation, and that is to account for the introduction of the French word "lez," into the Isle of Man. There was nothing to prevent the introduction of it, and there is nothing impossible in the supposition that it was introduced while Norman French was still the language of the Courts, both of London and Edinburgh.


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