[From Mannin, #5, 1914]

Folk-Lore Notes.

Cat’s Cradles.

In all parts of the world, though especially in those lands to which civilisation has least penetrated, the natives, as a pastime, make figures with a piece of string representing the common objects and animals about them. These string figures are called Cat’s Cradles. Probably they had originally some further signification and were not made simply for amusement. At present, however, nothing is known of this. Several hundred Cat’s Cradles and string-tricks have already been found, and more are being collected from all parts of the world ; some have been found in England and some in Scotland, and there is also at least one string-trick especially characteristic of the Orkney Islands. It is possible then that some may be found in the Isle of Mann different from any yet known, and it is also possible that, as has happened elsewhere, different methods may be found in the Island of doing old Cat’s Cradles. So far I have found one Cat’s Cradle in the Island, but I think it is probable that there may be many more, and I should be very interested to hear of any that may be found among the people.



I was talking with one of our old friends in the Glen. She said:—’There was a friend of my own that was married to a farm man and they were living in a house somewhere near Sulby Bridge. One day about noon she went to the door to see would her husband be coming in to his dinner. There was a string of carts passing in the road at the time coming from St. Jude’s and the men leading the horses. She stood watching till they had passed when all of a sudden, without word or warning, down she fell in the doorway and lay like one dead. Just then her man came in and there he found her lying in the door-way. He was in a terrible state, thinking she was dead. He lifted her in his arms and brought her into the parlour where he laid her on the sofa and then ran as hard as he could to the Inn at Sulby Glen, for the man that was keeping it was terrible wise and had done many wonderful cures on people. When the man had heard his story he looked at him very solemn and said, such a thing would need a very powerful remedy. So he went to the cupboard and brought out a little bottle which he put in his pocket and then the two hastened back to the sick woman. There she still lay on the sofa, but the moment the man put a few drops of the stuff on her lips she opened her eyes and after a few minutes began to come to. In half an hour she could speak to them, and then she told them how she had been watching the carts in the road but could remember no more. "It is very certain," said the wise. man, "that one of those men put the evil eye on you, and it is very well that your husband came for me, for I knew while he was speaking what was to do, and what remedy to use." She was telling me afterwards what a power of strength was in the bottle, for she said, " In one second I felt it all through me to the tips of my fingers and the ends of my toes." After a while when she felt stronger she made a cup of tea for them, and as they sat at the table her husband said:—"It’s well it wasn’t me that had the evil eye." " It is so," said the wise man very serious. "You may be thankful all your days it wasn’t you, but it is very certain one of those men with the carts had it and put the illness on her."’



Keayrt dy row hie fer jeh Skeerey Mayl veih’n Lar gagh er y sooree dys thie-eirinee ayns kione Glion-Vallure Toshiaght ny hoie myr row eh shooyl harrish Coan Cardle lesh cree eddrym as kesmad liauyr, haink kay neose veih mullagh Varrool, as myr daink yn kay sheese er y lhiattee cheayll eh feiyr cheet woish go’rish myr row fer geamagh ard cheet veih’n clieau huggey. ‘Cha s’aym dy vel shoh coraa dooinney.’ dooyrt eh rish hene myr hass eh. ‘Dy saue barniee mee, c’red erbee t’eh as c’red t’eh la’al.’

Er y hoshiaght cha dug eh monney geill da son v’eh foddiaght dy ghoaill shilley er mulish; nish hug eh greim lajer er maidjey mie va ayns laue as chroggal eh seose ‘syn aer, dooyrt eh, ‘Ta mee smooinaghtyn nagh vel oo er lheid erbee mie, as my nee oo cheet ayns my raad, bee oo jouyl ny dooinney. bwoaill mee oo dys yn ooir.’ Hie eh raad reesht as traa daink eh dys corneil giare va ayn, va’n Fer Mooar hene ny hassoo roish. ‘Ass my raad,’ dooyrt eh rish, troggal y maidjey seose reesht, as myr ren eh shoh hooar sooillyn y Fer Mooar go’rish rollageyn dy aile, tra foshil eh e veeal hug magh bree atchimagh woish as taarnee dys ren y thalloo craa, myr ve—eisht dirree yn folt er chione y dooinney wheesh dy row eh foayst goaill eh edd ayns laue. Lheim eh mygeayrt as roie eh back da’n Lhargagh son e rioys, as ny lurg shen cha darragh eh dy bragh harrish lhiattee Varrool.


Ashburton, New Zealand.


Once upon a time a Maughold man from the Largagh was going sooreying to a house at the head of Glen-Ballure. About the beginning of the night as he was walking over Cardle valley with a light heart and a long step, the mist came down from Mullagh Varrool and a fog came up the side of the mountain, and he became aware of a noise coming out of it to him like as if a man was shouting out loud as he was coming from the mountain. ‘I don’t know is that a man’s voice,’ said he to himself as he stood. ‘Salvation bless me, whatever is this thing—.

At first he took no notice for he was longing to put a sight on his sweetheart ; now he took a good grip of the good stick in his hand and raising it he said : ‘I’m thinking that you will not be any good kind, whatever, an’ if you will come in my road, be you ghost or man, I will strike you to the earth. He took his road again and shortly came to the corner where the Big Man himself was standing before him. Out of my road, said he, raising his stick, as he did so he became aware of the eyes of the Big man, like stars of fire, and when he opened his mouth there came forth a horrible vapour and thunder that made the ground shake—then rose the hair on the man’s head that he had to take his hat in hand. He leaped round and ran back to the Largagh for his life, and never again would he venture over the side of Barrool,

 [see Manx Soc vol XVI p 193]


Back index next


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