[From Yn Lioar Manninagh Vol 3 pp482/6]



In once again presenting the report of this section. I wish most heartily to thank the Rev. S. N. Harrison, the Rev. John Quine, and Mr. H. S. Clarke for the valuable and interesting notes they have sent me on the subject of folk-lore. I only wish that their example might be imitated by other members of this Society, made up, as it is, by dwellers in all parts of the Island, many of whom must surely have opportunities of jotting down—if only they would—little incidents they meet with which bear on this subject, no matter how small and apparently insignificant they may think them.

No one knows better than I the many difficulties that are to be encountered, and also the absolute accuracy in detail which is necessary if the matter gleaned is to be of any real use. Still, I believe that both these hindrances could be overcome, and I again urge upon our members not to let the Manxman’s fatal motto, " traa dy hoar," prevail with them until the time has really come when it will be too late. I append some of the notes referred to.


22nd March, 1899.


One day this winter we had no bread for tea, at Orry’s Dale. On inquiring the reason the next time the baker’s cart came, the boy who drove it said that the horse saw fairies after dark, and so, as it was getting dusk, he had gone home instead of coming on with the bread


The old entrance to West Hill House, Castletown—now closed— was said to be haunted by a head without a body, which moved up and down and travelled along the top of the wall alongside the old road. So strong was the belief in this, that no one would willingly pass up that way after nightfall.

The following are contributed by Mr. Quine :—

i. A. and his son, living in a cottage (now ruinous) in Glenroy, were seafaring men : the father skipper and the son a hand on a Douglas and Whitehaven coal-schooner. The lane from the cottage is along the river bank to join the highroad at the ford over the Glenroy river. As A. ‘s father was passing the ford coming Douglas way one night, he heard behind him the gate at the end of this cottage lane click as if opened, and click again as if being closed, by some one coming through. Presently he discovered that two men, who had seemingly come from the cottage, were following him. He wished to get clear of the glen, and walked faster up Cronk-a-Thona hill ; but the two men overtook him, and passed in a great hurry, and without speaking, and he noticed a peculiar thing, discernible notwithstanding the darkness, that their faces were as black as coal. That same night the father and son, who lived in the Glenroy cottage were lost at sea, on the passage between Whitehaven and Liverpool.

This is a good example of a Manx story of its kind, with nothing unnatural, given that a few details were drawn more mildly, It depends for its acceptance on the ready credulity of the listener, to whom mere suggestions of the supernatural will secure that interpretation.

ii. A man in Algare had about the place a stone or stones from Keill Abban (St. Luke’s) built into a wall or walls. One night— perhaps the night first after the sacrilege—as he lay in his bed, he became aware that two men were in his room ; but whether visible by a candle that was burning or by moonlight the narrator could not say. Anyhow, he heard them in conversation about himself. One proposed to kill him. "No," said the other, " but let’s straake [strike] him unmarciful. " The man became ill) and spent his time very poorly all the rest of his days ; in fact, it was not very long he lived after that any way.

iii. A treen chapel occupied the side of a field on The Rheyn, in West Baldwin. Blackthorn, gorse, briars, &c. , grew on the precincts ; and the place was used to dry linen on the bushes. Kewley, the purchaser, rooted up the bushes, and removed the stones of foundations, the grave slabs, and some inscribed stones to build into fences and farm buildings. One inscribed stone is in the Government Office ;* but the others were lost. He levelled and ploughed over the ground, incorporating the area into the field The story of the consequences, including the statement that he was warned by neighbours not to touch the old chapel and tihe graves. Anyway—

( a) His son who ploughed the place took an unaccountable pain in his arms, and eventually died before his father:

( b) The Kewley children were always ailing, and several of them died:

(c) Everything went wrong with the prosperity of the family:

(d) He heard disturbing noises-e.g. , in the dead hours of the night all his horses seemed to have been let loose out of the stable, and to be galloping furiously around the farmyard as if terrified or lashed by a driver ; but, on his getting up and going out, he could discover nothing, the horses being found standing quietly in the stable, but a sound of hoofs was heard galloping away past the haggart and the chapel field

(e) A windmill into which the stones of the graves were built became a source of such constant anxiety that it was ultimately taken down. One version of the story implied that the mill was unaccountably and mysteriously set going at night, with the risk, of course, of its getting on fire and burning the whole farmstead. He took down the mill and re-buried all stones as near their original position as possible.

Kewley, in conclusion, was a Methodist local preacher, and an " uncommon good Manx scholar." In the end, they sold the place, having gone back in the world.

* Now in Castle Rushen. — Ed.

iv. An old lady in Baldwin, Mrs. Caine (widow of Philly the Desert), and niece of Captain Quilliam, R.N., who fought at Trafalgar, she being a daughter of Mullen, of Silverburn, who was a younger half-brother to Captain Quilliam), described another old church, called "the Broken Church." On inquiry, it turned out to be St. Trinian’s. Was " the Broken Church " a traditional name ? Is there a Manx equivalent in the mouths of any old people to imply that it is traditional ? If so, it is interesting as confirming the probable historical "breaking " of the church—-namely, some act of partial demolition on the confiscation of the barony.

v. Very important to make a complete list of all old treen churches and keeils. Vide paper at Antiquarian Society on October 29th next, at Ramsey.

vi. Important to find instances of a " crosh," a mound on which to rest the beir on the way to the churchyard. Originally the mound had a cross, no doubt. Two " croshes " exist in Lonan, one of which had a cross recently.

Mr. Harrison sends the following story about Jurby Church, told him by a man he knew (now dead—Joe Kelly)

" Lace, Ballacreggan, and another man said that so!ne years ago I lights were seen frequently at night in Jurby Church, and that he and his friend, being out late at night, saw the light and made up their minds to go and see what was the cause. They went. Lace pushed the door, which opened easily, and went in. His friend, being afraid, stood at the door. On entering, he (Lace) saw at the clerk’s desk a man reading the Bible, with a candle in a skull on a stick. On questioning him as to what brought him there at that hour, he said his daughter was subject to fits, and he was advised by a wise man to read certain chapters at midnight in church, with a skull and candle. It was said she gradually got better."


For the following I am indebted to Mr. H. S. Clarke

Thomas Radcliffe, of Sulby village, shoemaker, told me that, " a few years back," he was walking home from Ballaugh one moonlight night, in the month of December, with a man named Quayle, and, on getting near Gob-e-Volley (about 11.35), they distinctly saw 12 or 14 little people in front of them running across the road, and as they looked, the figures ran into the quarry. At first they took them to be some little children ; but, on second thoughts, they considered it strange that children should be about so late at night. So Radcliffe and his friend went into the opening off the road, where they saw the figures go, in order to ascertain who they were, and what they were doing ; but, on getting into the quarry, no trace of them could be found, nor any sound heard. They looked and searched everywhere for some consider-able time with no success ! Radcliffe says he is quite sure they were fairies.

John Radcliffe, of Sulby, told me that he was one afternoon, sometime during the winter of 1888 or 1889, shooting in "Tellets" Wood (Lezayre), and he saw two little figures of very diminutive proportions, peering at him from behind a tree. He thought at first they were the children of a man who was cutting timber further up the wood, and he took no more notice of them. On getting up to the man he asked him who the children were, and the man said he could not tell. He had been working most of the day and saw no children in the wood. Radcliffe said the figures he saw were very small, and appeared to be clothed in some brown material. He believes firmly they were fairies.

John Radcliffe also told me the following very interesting tale

It appears that one moonlight night he was shooting pigeons in "Tellets" Wood, some years ago, towards the end of November, when most of the leaves had fallen fiom off the trees. He had his dog with him, and was also accompanied by a man named Kewley! The light was fairly good in the wood, and just as they were about preparing to return home, a strange sound reached their ears as if numbers of cattle were galloping towards them from the top of the wood. Radcliffe and Kewley immediately separated some distance apart in order to let, what they supposed to be cattle, pass. The noise was terrific, and the dog crouched down on the.ground beside Radcliffe. Both men felt as if numbers of cattle were rushing past them at a furious rate, but they could see nothing. They went home, and next day Radcliffe revisited the exact spot where he and his friend had been standing the previous night, in order to ascertam if he could find the tracks or marks of any animals amongst the leaves on the ground, but could only see the footmarks of him-self, his friend, and his dog. No other leaves appeared dlsturbed.

He is quite unable to account for the strange sound, and although he is a man of strong nerve and fine physique he cannot never be induced again to visit that wood after dark.


J. R. who recently resided in the Parish of Andreas, but who now lives in Sulby, told me that one night, a few years back, he was walking home from Ramsey and, on getting close to Regaby gate, he saw a bright light (like a ball of fire) in front of him travelling along the road. The light suddenly turned towards the hedge on the right hand side, adjoining the road, and rested upon the hedge for some little time. The light then went into the field. He followed it and saw it going over the field for some distance. It then took a semicircular route and again went on to the high-road further up and disappeared. When J. R. arrived home he told his wife what he had seen, and said he felt sure that a neighbour, who was seriously ill at the time, would die. The neighbour died two days afterwards, and that week J. R. was invited to attend the funeral. He said that he attended the funeral, and that, owing to the bad state of the road, the coffin had to be taken over the hedge into the adjoining field (this was at the exact spot he had seen the light a few nights previously). The coffin was carried over the field and taken again into the high-road at the very place the light disappeared. He said " this was one of the most curious sights he had ever seen."

Margaret Esther Christian, an old woman living in Sulby, told me last week, that one night she was coming from Ramsey late (12-30 o’clock), when she was a girl of 17 years of age, and near the Crossag’s Road she saw a figure in the road beside her which looked like a " cat," but as she walked along the figure also walked, and gradually it grew larger and larger, until it assumed the proportions of a "big horse." She ran along as fast as she could, and after a little time the figure, whatever it was, vanished. She was very much alarmed.


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