[From Manx Note Book, vol ii, 1886]
THE ANNEXED SKETCH BY MR. F. SWINNERTON represents a Manx peasant woman in the costume which was very generally worn till quite a recent period and which may still be seen in the more remote districts. It consists of a full loose skirt falling within six inches of the ankles with a short body, both being made of blue keeir1 or chequered (keeir and white) homespun. Over this there is a loose jacket with a broad collar called the " bedgown," usually made of linen and dyed some bright colour, drawn at at the waist by a linen apron.
On the head a mob cap called quoif+ cooil corran, or cap shaped like the back of a sickle dark blue or keeir stockings and buckled shoes complete the attire. At an earlier date carranes or sandals of untanned leather fastened by thongs were worn out of doors; a sun bonnet is substituted for the mob cap in summer, and a shawl in winter. It was, perhaps, in reference to this latter custom that Bishop Meryck wrote in 1577 "The women never stir abroad but with their winding sheets about them, to put them in mind of mortality."§ At the beginning of the present century very highcaps were worn, which gave rise to the following witticism:
"My Harragh ny noidyn voish yn cheu heear,
Veagh dagh teen aeg bwaagh gait son grenadier,
Veagh ny noidyn ain agglit nagh bionedane ny phooar,
Veagh ad ooilley agglit lesh ny quolfyn keen vooar."
If the enemies should come from the west,
Each pretty young woman would be taken for a grenadier,
Our enemies would be frightened, they would not know their power,
They would all be frightened by the great linen caps,
The following pretty costume was formerly worn by women of a higher class: A short waist body of homespun turned in from the neck to the waist, showing a white habit shirt; a white handkerchief crossed down to the waist; the underskirt striped or figured and quilted; the overskirt, to the sides only, of the same material as the body; a white linen apron; white open-worked stockings and sandal shoes.
1: "A dark colour, the natural colour of what is
called, in English, a blacksheep."(Cregeen.) Russet is,
perhaps, the best description of the colour.
+ Evidently from the English coif, French coiffe, a close fitting cap.
§ Camden's Britannia, First Edition. This statement is corrected in Bishop Gibson's Edition of 1695, published by the Manx Society.
see also [Manx Costume]