The Shores of Baie Mooar

ITOOK a walk to Dalby the other day, and when I got there I sat down to take my rest on Sayle’s Brow that overlooks the Niarbyl shore. As I sat there I thought of the old times.

Now there is only one inhabited cottage left, whereas a little over fifty years ago there were five, and out of these five, three were public-houses. I have heard that two different people kept ale and spirits in one of these and when customers came in one landlady said, ‘There is good ale here,’ the other one said, ‘There is better here.’ At that time the Niarbyl had a fleet of about thirty boats. These were called square sail, owing to their rig, I suppose. They carried one square sail forward, and measured about twenty-five to thirty feet long, and about ten to twelve feet beam, and carried a crew of eight men. They were engaged in the herring fishing in the summer, and fished cod and haddock during the winter and spring. There was another class of boat, too, called wherry, about fifty to sixty feet long, with about fifteen feet beam, rigged fore-and-aft. Their chief market was Liverpool. These wherries ran the fish to market, and many a good tale the old ‘buccaneers’ could tell of the races to market with the fish. If the weather was favourable they would take the fish on board in the Niarbyl Bay. So it is no wonder that they required a few public-houses. It is said that one day the jough’ ran short, and one landlady was drawing ushtey 2 from the chibbyr3 and teeming it in the barrel. When found fault with, her reply was, ‘Cha jean eh roshtyn daue, lurg shen.’4 Looking at the Niarbyl now,

We can still see the fragments of old-time things. Yet there is what is known as the Barra, which means a passage or inlet, where there has been a passage cut through the rock from low-water to half-flood, and where the boulders, some of them tons weight, have been rolled up on the south side so as to form a sort of quay—such as it was.

One of the rocks on the beach, it was said, was used by the Mooinjer-Veggey 5 playing at quoits in the nights, and throwing stones against the rock. When a small boy I have often lain listening to the sound of the stones tap-tapping, and in the morning, time after time, I have found a ring of little white stones round the rock, and as often as the stones would be thrown out to sea they would always be back again in the morning. The only stones like them on the shore are on Traie Enn6 half-a mile away. Round about are the large rocks where men and lads used to fish. The Niarbyl, or rather Yn Arbyl, (The Tail), is a long reef ; dividing it from the mainland is the Gulled, so called because the tide flows through at half-flood, and we cannot cross until half-ebb. The first part we come to is called the Lheern, perhaps it gets its name from the rocks, which are of a grey-mouldy colour. The sea never covers this portion, excepting the light spray dashing up. This contains half of the reef. When we pass these high rocks we come to the Doarlish.7 The tide flows through this at half-flood. Now we come to Nannag Veg,8 and then Nannag Mooar.9 These two rocks are covered in any rough weather at high-tide. I daresay they got their names from their appearance when surrounded by water ; the old people called the Northern Diver, the Nannag Mooar, and the rocks when so surrounded very much resembled these birds. The next rock is the Cabbyl Mooar, as it is horse-backed shape; this rock is awash at half-flood and half-ebb. There are quite a number of fishing rocks here. Starting with Cheutwoai10 we go round Cheu-jiass.11 This is Creg Tim. Next is Gulled Richard, next Grunt Sollys Cheu-twoaie,12 then the Quay, because it resembles a quay. It was on this rock that Tom Ferrick13 sat fishing, and as he was catching bollans he would sing—

‘We will shoot an’ haul amidst the squall
An’ throw the bollans against the wall.’

The next fishing rock is the Nannag Veg, then Grunt Sollys Cheu-jiass,14 and then Cabbyl Veg.

But the morning is growing on, so let us continue our walk along the cliffs to the south. First we come to a little cave called Ooig ny Meill,15 which has three entrances facing south, west, and east. Leading to the west entrance is a little patch of white sand, the only white sand on this coast, and once when a boy I saw on it tiny footprints, no bigger than my thumb, the marks of little clogs they were, going into the cave and round the rock in the middle of it. The rock is about two feet high and it was said that the Shenn Ven Ooig ny Meill—the Old Woman of Meill Cave, often sat on it with her face to the west. I think that she must have died, or shifted to some other cave, as she has not been seen for years. A little farther on we come to a little cave called Ooig fly Claghyn Baney ; perhaps it got its name from the white stones of the cave. Next is a long dark cave called Ooig Dorra,16 under a cliff a!most perpendicular. Then turning Gob y Sharrey17 we come into Gulled Paddy. There is no shore here, simply a few big boulders with steep cliffs on both sides. Next is Ooig y Daa Chione,18 this cave is open at both ends, We pass through Ooig y Daa Chione and get into Gulled Jimmy Dhone or Brown Jimmy’s Gullet. It has perpendicular sides and is about twelve feet wide. This cleft got its name on account of Brown Jimmy. In his time they were pressing men into the Navy to fight, and Jimmy, being pursued by the pressgang, jumped this gullet and so escaped them. Passing on, we come to Traie Vrisht Veg19 and then over Creg Adda20 and we are in Traie Vrisht Mooar.21 The cliffs above these shores are very steep, almost overhanging. We now turn Gob y Jane. At the foot of this headland there is a cave which leads to Traie Enn. It was in this cave that Nan and Tom y Keilley, passing through one day, shouted to one another, the cave echoed, and never having heard an echo before they thought there must be something unearthly in the cave. Tom shouted to Nan, ‘Ta beisht ayn, roie, Nan. ‘Like a shot, the echo ‘Roie Nan,’ fright-ened them more than ever. Nan shouted back ‘ Roie, Thom.’ They did run. They ran all the way home and told their mother that they were ‘Bunnys ass nyn geeayll’22 with fright.

Now, after passing through the cave in which Nan and Tom got such a fright, we are on Traie Enn or Traie Vane, the most beautiful shore in the Island, composed of white stones, although there is very little white rock about this portion of the coast. Next we come to Traie Carran or Carran’s shore. This shore is divided from Traie Enn by the Lag river. These are the only two shores of any consequence, as all along this coast the shores are composed of scraggy rocks and boulders. Now we come to what is known as the Shiaull Bane, this is a big flat rock about twenty feet square. It stands on edge against the foot of the cliff. The fishermen use it as a fishing mark by carrying it in line with some other object. Shiaull Bane means white sail, its colour being a light grey. Leaving Shiaull Bane, and walking along for about four hundred yards over rough boulders, we come to Gob ny Gimmeryn or Gimmagh or Gimmee,— Gimmagh means lobster and Gimniee means lobsters; as it is a good place for lobsters, I suppose it got its name from that. Off this point there are a lot of rocks called Ellaneryn Gob ny Gimmeryn, which are dry at low water spring tides. Next is Traie yri Faiyr Mollagh.23 This is a rough rocky shore, I think that it takes its name from the rough ground above, covered with tall grass mixed with sloe thorn. There is a cassan24 going up from this shore, and another cassan breaking off about half-way up to the left, called the Cam.25 Passing on from Traie yn Faiyr Mollagh, and crossing a ridge of rock called Creg Adda, we are in Harstal—that is the name given by the old people, but called in the map ‘Fheustal.’ The cliffs at the east end are very high. At the edge here, there is a hole called Towl Bill Nick. It was in here that Bill Nick hid himself from the pressgang, and so escaped. In the south end of Harstal shore, there is a well or spring called Chibbyr Barra Harstal, as it is situated at the end of the barra. Next is Traie ny Lhingey,26 this is another rough shore. It is known, too, as Carran’s Tacks. They owned the land and made a zig-zag road to the shore to cart seaweed up.

We cannot go any farther this way on the shore. Up, then, we mount the tacks or zig-zag path to the edge of the cliff, and are in Maghyr Stack or Stack Field. The next field above it is called Contholthey.27 In it there are two piles of stones. It is said there were two holes in this field that went to the depth of the shore, some hundreds of feet, and that a dog fell into one of these holes and came out at the shore through Ooig Stack, about half-a-mile away, and that is why they piled the stones over these holes. Ooig Stack has two entrances, one pointing south—a very large one, and the other north—a small entrance. At the foot of the cave is Creg Stack, running to a point, we can get on the rock at low-water spring tides. It is a very good fishing rock. We pass on to the Crackan Mooar, meaning big skin, a very high sloping side, rough with ling and gorse ; there is a footpath here that brings us to Gob yn Ellan 28 or Gob yn Ushtey.29 Between Creg Stack and Gob yn Ushtey, there is a fishing rock called Creg y Yeean or Bird’s Rock, some call it Creg y Lhong, Ship’s Rock, on account of a ship which was lost here about a hundred years ago,called the Miriam. There is a cave here called Ooig y Dhullish—the Cave of Freshwater Dullish. The dullish is watered by the sea from half-flood to half-ebb, then fresh water drips from the top of the cave and feeds it from half-flood to half-ebb. Now, returning to Gob yn Ushtey, there is a waterfall on the south side that may account for it being called Gob yn Ushtey ; and at the foot of the Gob, there are two island rocks that may account for the other name, Gob yn Ellan. One of these rocks is called Ellan Croobagh or Lame Island. These are very good fishing rocks, too, but difficult to get to. Crossing over the waterfall river into Eary Cushlin, we come to Ooig ny Goayr or the Cave of the Goat’s Jaw, there is one high overhanging side to the north, the other side falling back. Now we are on the shore called Da-leura Liauyr, the next is Da-leura Giare ; about one hundred yards above the shore is a little flat field called Maghyr Beg Da-leura. In passing Da-leura Giare we are on the Eaynin Mooar—the Big Precipice. Next comes Cronk Shellagh or Sally Bank. Now we are at Ooig ny Seyir or Carpenter’s Cave. This is the cave in which the fairies built their boats and cured their herrings. About fifty years ago the Baie Mooar fishermen, passing close to the shore, could hear Themselves knocking their barrels about—heading and hooping them ready for market. It is said the Little People had a horror of tar, and never used it on their nets or buoys to preserve them—just leaving them white. Fishermen when sailing in the night crossing over trains of nets with white buoys would know that they were amongst the herrings. Then the skipper would sing out—’Gow shiaull, guillyn, as ceau aynjee,’ which means ‘Take sail, boys, and throw her in.’ Next is Gob y Quiggin or Quiggin’s Point. This is also a good fishing rock. Joining this is Lag ny Keeilley shore.

About two hundred yards above the shore is the ruins of Lag ny Keeilley Church and burial ground. Now Lag ny Keeilley is said to be the burial place of the Kings of Mann. Some say it was the worshipping place of the ancient monks. Strange place to bury, stranger still to worship. There are many stories about the place. I heard one quite lately. It was told to me by Robert Quayle, of Peel, who vouches for the truth of it. ‘About twenty years ago,’ he said, ‘we were at the spring fishing, and one night we went into Purt lern to spend part of the night. About two hours before day we got ready to return to Peel; I happened to be steering, and when off Bradda Head, being a fine night, I told the rest of the crew to go below and have an hour’s sleep. When abreast of Slock, being left alone, I was suddenly startled to see a light spring up in the valley of Lag ny Keeilley. I watched, thinking it was strange, another and another appeared. until I am sure there were fifty lights, about forty yards apart. Then I heard the beat of a drum and music—wonderful music. At last I called the crew from below. When they came on deck and saw it the same as I did, one said to the other, "It is the Little Chaps making merry." And as the music played the lights moved to and fro. It continued until the day broke, and the lights disappeared one by one and the music died away in the distance. I remembered the tune they had for months afterwards.’




1 Any kind of drink, but especially ale.
2 Water.
3 A Well.
4 It won make reaching to them, even after that.
5 The Little People, i.e. fairies.
6 Traie (V)ane, white strand.
7 Gap.
8 Nan nag—Yn (f)annag, the Crow, Nannag Veg, the little crow, i.e. the Oreyback, Corvus cornix.
9 Yn (f)annag niooar, the big crow, i.e. the Northern Diver Colymbus glacialis.
10 North Slde.
11 South side.
12 Northern shining ground.
13 Tom Pharick, Patrick’s Tom.
14 Southern shining ground.
15 Cave of the mouths.
16 Ooig Dorra—Ooig Dorraghey, dark cave.
17 Mouth of the foal.
18 Cave of the two ends.
19 Littlebroken strand.
20 Rock of a crown.
21 Big brokenstranch
22 Almost out of their wits.
23 Strand of the rough grass.
24 Footpath.
25 A bend.
26 Strand of the pool.
27 Contholthey—Kione Towley, head of the hole.
28 Beak of the Island.
29 Beak of the water.


Back index next

(see also Gill Patrick place-lore)

Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2000