[From Manx Soc vol XXI]
THE mountain mentioned in the following legend is situated on the south side of St. Johns Valley, overlooking the Tynwald Hill, and is mentioned by old writers as the place from whence those suspected of witchcraft or other dark practices, were hurled down from its northern summit, finding a watery grave in the depths of the Curragh Glass, the Gray-Bog, which in those ancient days lay at its foot. The Rev. J. G. Cumming, in his Isle of Man, 1848, speaking of the severe statutes enacted against witchcraft both in England and Scotland, says, " in an island like that of Man, where the wind howls over heathery wilds, the lightning plays upon the summit of cloud-capped mountains, the thunder-peal rolls along dark and deep valleys, and is re-echoed against an iron-bound coast, mingling with the roar of the stormy billow in sea-worn caves and fearfully dismal chasms, we need feel no surprise that in such an Island persons should be found seeking gain by practising on the superstitious and awestruck feelings of the ignorant, or that laws should be enacted to suppress, if possible, such dark practices."
The legend here given is from the pen of Mr. John Quirk, of Carn-ny-Graue, Kirkpatrick, of whose poetical talent various specimens have been given in Mona Miscellany, who, from his mountain residence, has no doubt heard those echoes of the wailing winds which have been so often said to proceed from troubled spirits of former days, calling forth many a legend, weird and wild, that Monas sons delight to hear recorded while assembled around their winters hearth. He considers the name of Slieauwhallin to be derived from Slieau, mountain, and aalin, fair and beautiful" The beautiful mountain." Others ascribe it to Slieau, a hill, and Whallin, a whelp " the whelps hill," while the Rev. J. T. Clarke says the real origin of the word " Slieauwhallin " is Slieau-Whialliam, the hills of Quilliam, the oldest family name on record as the proprietor of that hill.
WILL any person now undertake the task of furnishing a true, or even a fabulous account of the rise and progress of the " Slieauwhallin Boagane," so famous in former days?
How an apprentice, or a young journeyman tailor, living with his master, in the vicinity of Glenaspet, was said to be suspected of murdering his masters wife, how he was accused, tried, and condemned to suffer a horrible death, by being thrust into a barrel thickly stuck with spikes or nails, with their sharp ends pointed inwardly, and rolled down the precipice from the heights of Gob-ny-beinney, above Mullin-é-Chloie. How, from first to last he pleaded his innocence of the crime laid to his charge, and told his accusers that if he was not guilty, a thorn-tree would grow at his head where he was buried, and that a well or spring of water would be found at his feet, which said well and thorn-tree are said to be seen to this day. And, moreover, how he warned his persecutors that as sure as he suffered wrongfully, he would continue to frequent and trouble the locality as long as grass continued to grow, or water to flow, and being faithful to his word, how he continued to annoy and terrify the neighbourhood in past ages.
His tremendous yells proceeding from the Monapian Sinai, frowning upon the Tynwald Hill, were said to be truly awful, often reverberating amidst the surrounding hills as far as the Greeba rocks. Sometimes a solitary scream is heard ; at other times they are repeated in pretty quick succession, and uttered with indescribable vehemence and fervency, having some resemblance to the cries of a man shouting at the top of his voice when tortured by the keenest agonies of terror and pain, somewhat smothered and suppressed by partial strangulation. Whether he hath varied or enlarged his sphere of action or not since the commencement of his career, would now be difficult to ascertain, but the mode of his proceeding during the last generations appears to be somewhat as follows :His first alarming note is commonly heard near the spot where he suffered ; then he takes his flight, like a bird of passage, along the Slieauwhallin ridge of hills, shouting at intervals as he goes, passing over Arracy or Arrey-dee. Steering in the direction of Cronk-yn-irree-laa, the echoes of his finishing scream are to be heard dying away among the solitudes of the Dalby mountains.
These are some of the fragments handed down to us by our forefathers, the truth of which were seldom if ever questioned among them, but the whole seemed to go down with them as palatable as the history of the Illiam Dhône tragedy, or any other story equally well attested. Many were to be found in days gone by, who were ready to bear witness to the truth of something like that which I have been endeavouring to describe, and some sensible men are to be met with at this day who appear to be perfectly satisfied of the verity of the case, by having at one time or another had an opportunity of hearing for themselves, though it may be admitted that these opportunities are now few and far between when compared with the tales of the last century. I have never heard with any certainty what was the name of the poor tailor who suffered, as it may be presumed from the sequel, innocently ; the letters W. Corran, are to be found cut in a rock near the place of execution, but whether this was the young tailors name or not, it is now impossible to ascertain.
It is almost astonishing, after so much has been said, that little or nothing to my knowledge hath ever been written concerning this, one of the most popular of our insular boaganes. Is any account to be found among the records of old Mona concerning the days of spiked barrels, if ever such days shone upon the island ; or is anything there to be met with which could throw some light on these stories or how they originated?
It may be remarked that Arreyderyn is a Manx word signifying watchers or watchmen, Cronk-yn-irree-laa " The day Watch Hill" Both these places seem to have taken their name from the constant watch kept there by our forefathers in times of danger.