[from Proc IoMNH&ASoc vol2 #1 1913]


In a paper on this subject in " Yn Lioar Manninagh," Vol. IV., p. 51, my late respected friend, Mr. A. W. Moore, gives the Manx variant of ' Oranges and Lemons,' familiar to me when I was a boy in Douglas, 40 years ago :

' Pancakes and flitters is the way of cantailers,
I owe you three farthings,' etc.

'Two shillings,' as I .remembered. The association of pancakes and ' flitters ' in the rhyme appears accidental and meaningless nonsense, as also the word 'Cantailers.' But is it so?*

I remember, when a boy at Douglas, to have often seen people of the poorer sort going down to ' the rocks ' to ' pick flitters.' These people always carried an old table knife to separate the flitters from the rock, and a large tin can to put the ' flitters ' in. I suppose that the word ' cantailers ' has something to do with 'flitters ' as regards the ' can.' But ' tailers ' seems to be a corruption of some other word, which was probably ' trailers.' ' Trailing ' is a common Douglas word. And ' can-trailer ' might appropriately be applied to a person ' trailing ' about with a can, or who , trailed ' a can about from place to place.

As pancakes are peculiarly associated with Shrove Tuesday, and as that day was formerly a fast day, when poor people probably picked flitters-either to serve on that day or on the following one-Ash Wednesday-as fasting fare, the conjunction seems to have some meaning. The meaning is probably a hit at Roman Catholics. But, as a matter of fact, poor people, even forty years ago, went, on particular days in the year, to " pick flitters " on Douglas shore.

Writing the lines in the orthodox manner, that according to the chant of ' Oranges and Lemons,' the lines run :

' Pancakes and flitters,
Is the way of can-trailers
I owe you two shillings,
I'll pay you to-marrow,' etc.

Not impossibly, ' It's the day of can-trailers.' Shrove Tuesday formerly was observed as an occasion for all sorts of games, such as cock-fighting, football, etc. On that day, too, Roman Catholics made a game of pelting cocks with, sticks and stones. One wonders if the " Doagan " game is an improvement of Puritan times on this last custom. It can hardly have an older origin, for the pelting with sticks of anything- resembling a crucifix would not have been tolerated by Roman Catholic priests.

In the same paper is given the rhyme :

' HAINEY, FAINEY, fig NA fag,
Ooilley, dooiley, adam a nag,
Stony rock, calico VACK,
H am ram, rash, tig and away.'

in which Mr. Moore considered there were various Manx words-those in capitals. But my wife gives me the following, common among Anglo-Indian children when she was a girl at school at Naini Tal, North-west Punjaub, India:

' Inney, minney, money, my,
Buk a laddie, honey sky,
Arrytko, varryko,
Ee, vo, vack.'

This is evidently of Scotch origin. It will be noticed that the first words are almost identical, " calico " in the Manx rhyme resembles " varryko " in the other-and " vack," the supposed Manx for "son " occurs in both, It is difficult to believe that any of the words are Manx.


Simla, 20th July, 1910.

* Cantailers ' cf. crann-tav''oll, a sort of sling for projecting stones. See P. W. Joyce, ' Old Celtic Romances,' p, 240, Footnote. [Ed.]

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