[From Mannin, #1, 1913]
Through the kindness of Mr. J. C. Kaye, sub-editor of the " Manchester City News, " I have for some time had charge of a printed 8pp. octave ballad which has a romantic history. It is known as the historical Ballad of Mannanan Beg Mac y Leirr, and is probably the only copy in existence.
Although the ballad was printed a century and a quarter ago, the first record of its existence occurs in Train's History of Mann, printed by Quiggin, in Douglas in 1845, in which it was copied.
None of the historians, or the critics of the historians, since Train, had ever seen a copy of the Ballad apart from Train, and they all appear to assume that it was either a figment of the imagination of Train, or that it was not sufficiently genuine for serious consideration. Mr. Moore makes no reference to it in his History, and, although he quotes it in his "Manx Ballads." he makes a qualifying Note that he "had never seen either a printed or MS. copy of the poem ." Mr. Harrison does not include it in his " Bibliotheca Monensis ," and Mr. Talbot and Mr. G. W. Wood treat it with scant attention.
I have little doubt that it is quite genuine. I cannot see why it might not have been written early in the 16th century, for its author describes the events that happened during his time, for instance the landing of Thomas, second Earl of Derby, in 1504. Mr. J. J.Kneen, who has studied the text, confirms this, for he has found in it no less than 14 examples of obsolete grammatical forms.
The owner of the treasure, is Mr. Kaye, who, realising the romance that surrounds the print, has promised that some day it may come to the Douglas Library - which as far as Manx books and documents are concerned,- is the National Library of Mann.
Public Library, Douglas. WILLIAM CUBBON.