[From Feltham's Tour, 1798]
In this parish, which I think as pleasant as any in the island, are comprehended the Calf of Man, Brada-head, Port-iron, Spanish-head, Port le Mary, Fleswick, &e. with Cregnaish, a little village. It is bounded by Arbory, Patrick, and the sea. The mountains are Brada, Slieunyeranane, and Mule. On the first and last are evident traces of the Druids, and a large tumulus near the church. In short, by a minute inspection, a variety of objects, silently speaking antiquity, are observable.
At Port Erin, Earn, or Iron, from its being opposite to Ireland, is a beautiful natural harbour; a pier at a small expense would render it extremely commodious, and give twenty-five feet water.
Here also is a fine spring, with the best water I met with, called St. Catherine's Well, worth the attention of the inhabitants, who, at a small expense, might possibly secure it from the sands which now envelop it.
Trinity Well, near the church, evinces that good springs are to be found here. A plan of Port-iron and bay is in the Commissioners' Report.
The lead-mines of Brada are about one mile and a half from hence; they were closed the day I was at Port-iron, so that I could not visit them. The ore is brought in boats to Port-iron river, where there is a conveniency for cleansing it; it is then conveyed by land to the smelting-house, near Port le :Mary, at Bunroor.
Port le Mary is a natural harbour at the back of Castletown, and at a small expense it might be rendered commodious.
Two large stones are observable near Port le Mary, and the ruins of an old chapel.
Pool-vash bay has a fine quarry of a sort of black marblestone; the steps leading to St. Paul's, London, are paved with this stone, sent by Bishop Wilson.
From Castletown to Port-iron is about five miles, passing the church of K. C. Rushen. Port-iron consists of a pleasant bay, with a few neat houses around its banks; Brada-head forms one side of it, whence boats are generally taken for the Calf of Man, from which it is about three miles: you pay about 15d. an oar, as the strong tides at the sound require four hands; the shore to it is bold and steep, but where there is the least herbage sheepare visible, standing perpendicular almost over your head, near the shore. The usual rock-birds also catch attention, and indicate what you may expect on the Calf A few partings in these rocks supply slate in small quantities. The Calf is about five miles round; sheep, and some of the Laughton kind (see letters iv. and xi.), abound, but no part of it is in tillage; fern,heath, and short herbage, variegate its surface. On the west side of the Calf the rocks are stupendous, and the quantity of birds called muters, &c. incredible; whether sitting on the rocks with their young, floating on the surface of the sea, or filling the intermediate air, they give vivacity to the scene; and their shrill voices, "which carol about, and in one chorus join," arrest attention, and please from its novelty.
Spanish-Head promontory, and Castletown, are visible from hence. Kitterland Island, or Pock, you pass in your way. The Calf has two little untenanted cots, and the ruins of two more; a stone-wall runs through it, and a convenience for shearing the sheep (about 500) is on the side of one of the great chasms, which runs up some way. Rabbits are by no means so plentiful as formerly, as the rats destroy them.
They have a tradition of a person who fled and lived as an hermit in the Calf, and still speak of his pendent bed, coffin,&c.; this was a Mr. Thomas Bushel, who says, " The embrions of my mines proving abortive, by the fall and death of Lord Chancellor Bacon, in James's reign, were the motives which persuaded my pensive retirements to a three years' solitude, in the desolate isle called the Calf of Man, where, in obedience to my dead lord's philosophical advice, I resolved to make a perfect experiment upon myself, for the obtaining of a long and healthy life, most necessary for such a repentance as my former debauchedness required, by a parsimonious diet of herbs, oil,mustard, and honey, with water sufficient, most like to that of our long-lived fathers before the flood, as was conceived by that lord; which I most strictly observed, as if obliged by a religious vow, till Divine Providence called me to a more active life "*1
The Calf is separated from the island by a narrow rocky channel, which has a heavy it is the Duke of Athol'sproperty; three pointed pillars are worthy of notice, as one halfof each is of a black bastard marble, and the other half of a shining white.
But to return: the stranger should visit Fairy-hill, and the fields adjacent, where King Ivar fought a battle.
Rye is but little grown here, nor is there any marl; but they are a little more industrious than on the north side, in collecting the sea-weed on the shore, for the purposes of manure.
" The prudent farmer all manure provides,
The mire of roads, the mould of hedge-row sides;
For him their mud the stagnant ponds supply:
For him their soil, the stable and the sty.
For this the swain, on Kennet s winding shore,
Digs sulphurous peat along the sable moor;
For this, where Ocean bounds the stormy strand
They fetch dank sea-weed to the neighb'ring land."
Donations to the poor about 40l. principal.
Rev. Mr. Quayle, Mr. Crebbin, Mr. Christian; and in1782, the Rev. John Clegg, the present vicar. The church was built in 1775, and the chancel since that period; it is light, large, neat, and pleasant within, 78 feet long, by 21 feet broad, and is dedicated to the Holy Trinity
The vicarage-house was rebuilt in 1715. Bishop Wilson gave 2l. towards it, and, in 1734, 2l. towards the school-house.
A copper mine has lately been discovered in this neighbourhood.
The beautiful little bay of Port-iron, it is generally allowed, furnishes the first samples, in point of excellency, of all the choice kinds of fish frequenting these shores; the herrings taken here are superior to all others in flavour and plumpness.
Fairy-hill is a noble barrow, which, tradition reports, was raised to perpetuate the memory of Reginald, king of Man, who, on this spot, was killed in single combat by Ivar.
Sacheverell mentions a pool in this parish of so vitriolic a quality, that poultry avoid it; this probably proceeds from the particles of copper which (says he) are discovered on the sides of its mountains.
Ballagawn has the ruins of an old chapel on it, in which is an excellent spring.
In looking around the " frail memorials," which so plentifully store the burial-places of the island, I observe many of the persons to have perished by sea. Among others in this churchyard, is James Cottier, son of Thomas and Ann Cottier, of the Roweny, who perished by sea, Oct. 20,, 1789, and was buried Nov. 14th.
In Christ-Rushen churchyard are buried twenty persons between seventy and seventy-nine; and eleven between eighty and eighty-eight years of age.
As the fishery promises to hold out a new source of commerce and riches, by the conversion of fish and its refuse into soap, and may thus affect the interests of this island, I shall make no apology for quoting part of the late examination of Sir John Dalrymple, Part., before the Committee of the House of Commons, on this discovery, Mr. Ryder in the chair.*[* For the whole examination of Sir John Dalrymple on this subject, and the speoifioation of the patent for making Soap from fish, granted to Mr. Crooks, of Edinburgh, see Reper`. of Art, No. 50, July, 1798]
"Question. What are the advantages of making soap from fish or salting it ?
" Sir J. D. First, It requires no salt. 2dly. It employs more hands, coals, and other materials. 3dly. It consumes the refuse of fish that have been salted. 4thly. It will consume the offal of whales, which at present are thrown away, and also those myriads of fish which are driven ashore on the coasts of the British isles, by tempest, or the pursuit of voracious fish. Mr.Fordyce, of the House of Commons, told me that he once bought some tons of herrings, which had been driven ashore on his estate, for a bottle of brandy. Lastly. The salting business can take place only in the fishing season, when the fish are fresh;whereas the other will have three working times: 1st. The fresh fish will be salted. 2dly. Those turned to putlidity,.even though three or four weeks old, may be turned into oil. 3dly. The refuse of both, and the superabundance of fish, which cannot beused in salting, or making oil, can be turned into saponaceous matter, and made into soap all the rest of the year.
" Quest. What are the proper places for such an establishment ?
"Sir J. D. Cornwall for pilchards; the Isles of Man, or Anglesey, for cod; Shetland, and the Firth of Forth, for herrings, where they are to be had for 21. a ton; but, above all, Hartlepool, if the fish be as numerous as I have heard, because to that rendezvous, on the east side of the island, might be brought the offal of the whales of Scotland, Whitby, Hull, and London.
" Quest. What do you know of the dog-fish for the purposeof making soap?
" Sir J. D. I know nothing of dog-fish myself, but have been told by soap-makers, that they would make soap best. The Duke of Athol told me that they were in vast numbers round his Isle of Man; that they destroyed the herrings, cod, and other fish, and were called the tyrant of the sea there. To which Sir J. Banks added, 'that they were a real small shark, which not only destroyed the fish, but prevented fishers from baiting fish, because they swallowed the bait and hooks,entangled the nets, and when the fishers took them, they threw them away."' [See page 196.]
*1 MS. penes Mr. Moore, of Douglas