[From Mannin #7, 1916]


READERS of MANNIN frequently write interesting letters to the Editor, expressing their appreciation of our journal and giving enlightening information on their own special work. The following are extracts from recent letters

From MRS. GRANT (Oban). the writer of delightful stories and plays in Scotch Gaelic : ‘ It has just occurred to me to ask whether you in Mann are acquainted with the Cailleach. She is known all over Scotland, and the Irish have her too. The myth is a lovely one. It was in Bucharest I got the clue to it, from a Hungarian woman, who was a descendant of the Saxons, who were invited into Hungary a good many centuries ago, to teach the art of linen weaving The Cailleach or Old Wife is really the old year, and her doings are given in rotation so as to form a calendar for the time between autumn and spring. I am getting the myth ready for publication. ‘

From Mr. T. HUDSON (Gateshead) : ‘ With regard to the account of Le Scrope in MANNIN, I may say that he founded a chantry in the great church of Holy Trinity in Kingston-on-Hull, about 1395. I think his arms are still to be seen. My love for the Island is very deep. My grandfather was on the Primitive Methodist plan-beg, I have heard him preach in the ill-fated Bradda Chapel, now an artist’s studio. He spoke in English and then in Manx for the benefit of a blind man who had no English.’

From MR. GEORGE QUARRIE, an old Manx poet, who settled in New York many years ago : ‘I note your query as to Fanks. The Fanks is, or was, a delightful stretch of close-cropped ever green grazing ground, never cultivated, stretching from old Phil Caley’s, Kionlough, to the Reelaughs, immediately seaward of Clagh Vedu ; half of it a veritable billiard table, and the other half a forest of sweet-scented bracken or ‘ fearn,’ the most delectable place on earth to walk in and look out over Ramsey Bay and along the blue mountains across to the real ‘ Plains of Heaven‘; or to roll eggs on Easter Monday, or hunt rabbits at Christmas, or, as youngsters, to play races and jumping down the brows at any time of the year. The Reelaughs divide the Fanks from Ballavarkish, the latter taking in the high Shellag Hill and Cronk y neeri laa with its Jackdaws’ Church—a sand cathedral where these birds bore holes for nesting. Have you ever seen this curiosity, and Sampson’s Castle, a mighty rock on the very crest of the sand mountain, containing the print of the giant’s hand, who, in a fit of temper, cast this pebble of several tons weight across from Maughold Head ? I notice the Manx Society is collecting all Manx names, even of fields. Here are a few field-names on Ballavair, Crosby : The Neigh or Nigh ; Reelaughs ; Bullandthy or Bullundthy Bullandro; Buliamoor ; Ochtaugh ; Lhergy; Dreemshuggle ; Machenthreigh ; Dan Hatther’s Field ; The Croit.’

From MR. EDWARD HINE (Legislative Assembly, Sydney, N.S.W.) : ‘As an interested reader of George Borrow’s writings, and one who treasures many happy recollections of the Isle of Man, I would be obliged if you could favour me with a copy of the Borrow Diary published in MANNIN.’

From MISS C. QUIRK (Maquoketa, Iowa) : ‘ How I enjoyed Caesar Cashen’s account of the coast at Dalby ! It was almost as good as "a sight home" for me. I know every rock and gully that he writes about. The War makes all the old Viking blood rise in me, and I would fight for my country like the Manxwomen of long ago, who helped their men-folk at Santwat.’

From Miss A. G. GILCHRIST, of the Folk Song Society, who also makes a special study of plant-lore : ‘ I find the Manx forms of English names very suggestive, e.g. pinkel, persal, and kennip, are so like the English fifteenth century forms, fenkyll, percil, and henep, as to suggest that these cultivated plants may have been introduced into Mann at that period. Perhaps the Stanleys imported parsley and fennel to eat with their Manx salmon, and the hemp for the purposes of justice—or injustice ! I wonder whether you or any old Manx musician could give me any information respecting the singing of psalm and hymn tunes in the Manx churches in the olden days. I am trying to trace the date at which the air, which was first assigned to the tenor, came to be transferred to the treble. The change of course would come in gradually, later in primitive and remote communities than in those more in touch with contemporary musical developments, but I have found the air still in the tenor both in printed and MS. choir books up to about 1810 (and in a Welsh tune book as late as 1846), and no doubt some of these books would continue in use in conservative and out-of-the-way congregations till a much later date. The point is an interesting one because I think I have already identified one traditional carol tune (The First Nowell) as the treble part attached to an old "Christmas Hymn" tune. These treble parts, when tuneful, might he transmitted traditionally to a later generation by one of the treble singers and thus acquire an independent existence as new tunes.’

Miss JESSIE DOUGLAS KERRUISH, author of Tales and Legends of the Isle of Man in Stead’s Books for the Bairns series, who is now bringing out in The Weekly Tale-Teller a new series of Eastern Stories, entitled Babylonian Nights’ Entertainments, writes : ‘ MANNIN has quite opened a new world to me, for I had no idea of how the Manx abroad kept so closely in touch through your Society, or how strenuously the Society is preserving everything connected with Mann that it can save. As to the paper itself, it is admirable, both as to its form and contents. We are very much interested in the paper by Mr. Kerruish, of Cleveland, Ohio, some of our people emigrated to America about that time (1827) and later. You ask to what branches of the Kerruishes I belong. To one of the too numerous to mention, I fear ! My father died when I was a girl, and all that I recollect of his family information was that he came from Lonan, and that his grandfather protected John Wesley from a hostile mob and entertained him during his stay on the Island. Some one ought to write about John Wesley and the Island—and might link it up with smuggling.1 Your remarks about smuggling amused me very much; down here they used to be great runners—see Kipling. They were rather more open about it than at most places ; and an anecdote is cherished to the effect that the clerk waited on the parson one Sunday with the announcement, "There won’t be no service on Sunday, sir, there’s no room for the people, the church is full of brandy and the pulpit full of tea."’

FRED GREGGOR, who was several times a prize-winner in Manx music competitions in the Music Festival, writes from Cleveland, Ohio : ‘ I am glad you taught me the old Manx songs, and I shall never forget them. I have sung Mylecharaine, Illiam Dhone, Kirree fo Sniaghtey, and all the other Guild Manx test pieces, here in Cleveland at many a meeting, and our people always enjoy them, and make me sing them over again. On the last Manx day of the Festival, making allowance for the difference in time, I said to my brother—" They’ll be singing the Manx songs at the Palace now," and that night I dreamed that I had taken part in the competition and gained first prize. I was just taking it from Lady Raglan, when I awoke, and knew that I should never sing in the Manx classes at the Guild again."’

From MR. G. W. WOOD (Streatham) : Readers of MANNIN are aware of the publication in the Examiner from time to time of Manx Carvals hitherto unpublished, which Mr. P. W. Caine has been assiduously collecting. Some old carval books in my collection have been brought into requisition, and Mr. C. Paton of Streatham College has been devoting much time to their elucidation— a by no means easy task. One of the books contains (as owner or transcriber) the ancient name of Nideragh (Mac-yn-’idderagh, ‘Son of the Weaver’) in the various forms of McNeddragh, Mc. Nedragh, Nideraug, and Nidraug, under dates from 1774 to 1816.

This brings the record of the name down to nearly two hundred years later than the last recorded date (1623) cf Mr. Moore’s book of Manx Names.’

1 We may, perhaps, hope to have a paper from Miss Kerruish in a future number of MANNIN.


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