[From The Manx Quarterly, #29]

A Trip Round the Island a 1,000 Years Ago

Below we reproduce a paper read by Mr J. J. Kneen before the Manx Geographical Society

The ethnology of place-names is a very important factor in fixing the ethnology of its inhabitants. When such names are analysed according to fixed laws, based upon sound philological principles and a comprehensive observation of facts, as far as they can be ascertained, they afford the most important and untrustworthy results. The natural tendency of the human mind is to a mere phonetic etymology of names, both of persons and places, in which the sounds of the name of the place appear to resemble the sounds in certain words of the current spoken language.

Prior to the publication of Moore's Manx Names in 1890, etymology founded upon mere resemblance of sounds had hitherto characterised most of the attempts to analyse the topography of Mann, and to deduce ethnological results from it. I subjoin a few examples of this style of etymology.

The little village of Boayldin, erroneously pronounced Baldwin, was said to have received its name from the fact that when the Danes arrived in Mann, and came to the summit of the hill overlooking the beautiful vale of Boayldin, they exclaimed

" Boayl dooin," which being roughly Englished means, "Just the place for us !"

But " Boayl dooin" is Gaelic, and how these newly-arrived foreigners from Denmark were fluent in the latter tongue is not quite apparent.

The same kind of phonetic :translation was applied to surnames. The Kerruishes were said to have taken their name from "kiare rooisht," or "The four naked men"; who escaped from a wreck, with no wearing apparel of a denser texture than sea-foam to cover their nudity.

I could give you many examples of this kind of popular derivation, but I must hurry along, after giving one more interesting translation of his class.

There is a little hill in Sulby which the Norsemen appropriately named " Shamrick," meaning " Short Ridge." This name probably belongs to, the 12th or 13th century, as an earlier form would have been " Skamrick." You will all be acquainted with the Norwegian word "ski," which is sill spelt with sk, indicative of the older pronunciation "ski" (hard k), as it is still pronounced in Iceland. Shamrick had a phonetic resemblance to Seamrog, which is now adapted from the Irish into English as Shamrock. But through a phonetic process of metathesis, Seamrog became in Manx Sumark, and the meaning of the latter also changed and became " Primrose." So the hill became in Manx "Cronk Samark," and in English " Primrose Hill." The earliest- form of the name we find is in the Manorial Rolls of 1703, where it is called " Knok Shemmerick." Thus, during the course of seven or eight centuries the Norse " Short Ridge" blossomed forth as the English " Primrose."

That system of interpreting the names of places, which we might call phonetic etymology, is, however, utterly unsound, and is incapable of yielding results that are either certain or important. Names of places are, in fact, sentences or combinations of words originally expressive of the characteristics of the places named, and applied to them by the people who then occupied the country, in the language spoken by them at the time, and are necessarily subject to the same philological laws which governed the spoken language. The same rules must be applied in interpreting a local name, as in rendering a sentence of the language. That system, t1herefure, of phonetic etymology which seeks for the interpretation of a name in mere resemblance of sounds to words in an existing language, over-looks entirely the fact that such names were fixed m certain localities at a much earlier period, when the language spoken by those who applied the name, must have differed greatly from any spoken language of the present; day.

Since the local names were deposited in the country, the language itself from which they were derived has gone through a process of change, corruption, and phonetic decay. Words have altered their forms-sounds have 'varied-forms have become obsolete, and new forms have arisen; and the language in its present state no longer represents that form of it which existed when 'the local nomenclature was formed. The topographical expressions, too, go through a process of change and corruption, till they diverge still further from the spoken form of the language as it now exists. This process of change and corruption in the local names varies according too the change in population.

In dealing with Manx place-names, we have five different periods to consider 1, Pre-Celtic; 2, Early Celtic; 3, Scandinavian; 4, Late Celtic; and 5, English.

1. The Pre-Celtic are the very bed-rock names of the country, they have come down from the dim past, and belong to times anterior to history itself, and to nations whose names are hidden in the obscurity of a yesterday. long ago. We find this type of name in every country, and any attempt to reduce them to known roots, or elucidate their meaning, is, with our present state of knowledge of the languages of these early peoples; a hopeless task.

2. The early-Celtic period offers us morn encouragement, but there is a great deal of overlapping between this period and the succeeding onë, owing to the bi-lingual nature of the Gall-Gaelic population, and it is sometimes impossible to determine which is the older form, the Gaelic or the Scandinavian.

3. When we arrive at the Scandinavian period, we have many names, not only round the coast, but in the remotest inland spots showing how thorough was the Scandinavian colonisation of Mann. The in-habitants of Mann from the 9th to the 13th century were called Gall-Gael or Stranger Gaels, being so called by the true or unmixed Gaelic population of Ireland. Mann was the centre of an island kingdom which included the Hebrides, or Western Islands, as they were sometimes called by peoples living east of them. This group of islands, with Mann as its administrative centre, was called "The Kingdom of Mann and the Isles." The Scandinavians called the Hebrides the Sudereyjar or Southern Islands, in contradistinction to the Shetlands which were the Northern Islands. Hence the term Sodor still attached to the Bishopric of Mann, a relic of the time when the Manx bishops held ecclesiastical sway, not only over Mann, but also over the Hebrides. This mixed population of Mann were bilingual, speaking Gaelic and Scandinavian in a more or less corrupt form. A contemporary writer in speaking of a certain Gael, says, that he spoke pure Gaelic, not `the gig- og of a Gall-Gael, which goes to prove that, at least the Gaelic of the latter people was not all that could be desired. We have a singular confirmation of this bi-linguality in many place-names, as we find numerous in-stances of Gaelic names with their Scandinavian equivalents in the same neighbour-hood. Thus we find a mountain bearing the Scandinavian name " Sartfell," and a farm nestling at its foot called " Cronk Doo," both meaning "Black Hill." We shall meet with further illustrations later. On the Runic Crosses bequeathed to us by the Gall-Gael, and scattered all over the Island, we find a mixture of Gaelic and Scandinavian surnames, and a great many modern Manx surnames are of Scandinavian extraction.

4. The fourth period we have to consider is late Celtic. These are comparatively easy to translate, as not only the words but also the grammatical forms, are still found on the lips of Manx-speaking people.

5. As regards the 5th period, the English, the meanings of most of these names are patent to every. English-speaking person and they constitute a comparatively small class.

When the new language introduced by the change of population is one of a differ-ent family entirely, the odd name is stereo-ped in the shape in which it was when e one language superseded the other, becomes unintelligible to the peoples and undergoes a process of change and corruption of a purely phonetic character, which often entirely alters the aspect of the name, and this is usually the case with the Scan-dinavian nomenclature of Mann. Here is an example. A Norse chieftain settled in the parish of Andrews, whose name was Otter, and his estate was therefore called Ottarstadr. His descendants became MacOttier, now Cottier and part of his estate is still called Ballacottier. But the original Norse name, is still there in a much worn down and corrupt form. Through centuries of Gaelic-speaking lips it has become Aust.

When the topography of a country is examined, its local names will be found, as a general rules to consist of what may be called generic terms and specific terms. What I mean by generic terms are those parts of the name which are common to a large number of them and are descriptive of the! general character of the place named; and by specific terms, hose other parts of the name wWch have been added to distinguish one place from another. The generic terms are usually general words for river, mountain, headland, bay and so on; the specific terms, those, words added to distinguish one river or mountain from another. Thus, in the Gaelic name Glen Mooar, "glen" is the generic term and is found in a numerous class of words; " mooar," great, the specific, a distinguish-ing term, to distinguish it from another called Glen Beg. In the Saxon name Black-pool, "pool" is the generic term, and black the specific, to distinguish it from Liverpool, and so on.

When the names of places are applied to purely cultural objects, such as rivers, mountains, and so on, which remain unchanged by the hand of man, the names applied by the inhabitants of a certain period are usually adopted by their successors, though, speaking, a different language; and in most cases become phonetically corrupt., as Barrule, a corruption of its older Scandinavian name Wardfell, i.e., Ward Mountain, where watch and ward was kept from a very early period down to within recent times, to look out for enemies. Other Norse names have altered very little, as Snaefell or Snow Mountain, which has, however, been corrupted into Sniaul in Manx.

A very familiar coast name termination is "wick," which occurs no lees than 31 times around the coast of our Island; but many of these names are no corrupted as to be quite unrecognisable, and out of the number which I have mentioned. only a bare third of them can be recognised by the casual observer as "wick" names.

A vik means a creek or bay. A viking was a freebooter, rover, or pirate in the Icelandic Sagas used specially of the bands of Scandinavian warrliors who during the 9th and 10th centuries harried the British Isles and Normandy. The word viking (veeking) or wiking (weeking), as the old Norsemen pronounced it, is thought by some to be derived from "vik," on account of their haunting the bays, creeks and fjords; while other authorities think that it means the men from the fjords of Scandinavia and the fact that the Irish called them le Lochlannaigh, or fjord-men, supports the litter theory.

Let us now begin our journey round the coast. Making Douglas our starting point, we shall proceed south to the Calf, travel up the west coast past Inis Patrick, the sand dunes of Ballaugh and Jurby, round the Point of Ayre, and leaving Ramsey and Laxey behind us, arrive back at Douglas.

The popular derivation of Douglas is that it took its name from the two rivers, the Doo and the Glass, which join each other just above the Nunnery.

The earliest form of the name we find is in the Chronicle of Mann and the Isles, where, under the date 1192, we find the following entry : " This same year the Abby of S. Mary of Russin was translated to Dufglas."

The Manx people called the Nunnery 'Mannishter Ghoolish" (Mainister Dhubh Ghlais), or the Monastery of Douglas, and in all probability Douglas derived its name from this source. The, Nunnery is situated just below this; junction of the Doo and Glass, so it was called the Monastery of the Doo (Dubh-a) and Glass (Glas-a). Centuries later, when the fishing hamlet sprang up at the mouth of the rives, it was called Balla Ghoolish, a name which I have hear Manx-speaking people use, i.e., The Town of the Black and Grey Rivers. Eventually Balley was omitted, exactly as Peel-town was shortened to Peel in recent times.

In Douglas bay we have the hybrid name Conister. The latter was the end of a reef which is now almost covered by the Victoria Pier, a great part of it being covered by the Angle; and this is exactly what the name indicates. " Kione." the Gaelic "head" or " end," and " Sker," the Scan dinavian for a "rock" or "reef." The two words together mean the " End of the Reef." " Sker," like many other Norse words, has been adopted into all the Gaelic languages.

We now arrive at the well-known creek, " Port Skillion," but formerly " Port Skilleig," which is a corrupt form of the Norse " Shell-vik," meaning " Shell Creek."

" Stack," from the Norse "Stakkr," and of the same meaning as the English " stack," is often met with round our coasts, and is usually applied to a large, isolated, columnar rock. After leaving Port Soderick we pass " Stack Indigo," but from whence this name received its specific part, I have no information.

We are now passing the estate of the Nunnery Howe, Norse " Haugr," anciently part of the Abbey Lands. Here is a cliff 400 feet high, bearing the Norse name

" Wallberry, from " Val-berg." " Vaë" has the same meaning as the Saxon " Wealh " - " strange," " wild," or " foreign." Hence the name Wales, the inhabitants of which were foreigners to the Saxons. But sometimes this ward also carried with it the meaning of largeness or immensity, which is merely a development of the original idea which we have expressed in the words " whale," .. walnu~," etc. " Gal" is the Gaelic equivalent of " Wal," hence the Manx " Galchro," a walnut, of exactly the same) construction a,s the English ward. " Berg," meaning a mountain-side, cliff, or precipice. So that Wallberry might be roughly translated as the " Great Cliff."

Here is a little creek called Keristal, at which we shall tarry awhile. I have shown one development of the letter "s"; there are several others which I shall now ex plain. When thus consonant immediately preceded " t," " k," etc. it was very often omitted, and just as oitten attached to a ward to which it did not historically belong. Thus in the case of Keristal, the specific part of the name is the Norse " sker, ' and the generic part " stadr." the combination meaning " Rock" or " Crab Estate." Here again we have bilingualicy, as the farm above this creek haz3 the Gaelic name " Ballacreggan," of similar meaning. But the Norse name is not solely applied to the creek and seaward part of this estate, whilst the farm above, bears its Celtic equivalent.

" Sk" often 'becomes " st," both at the beginning and end of words, but I do not know of any examples along the coast.. I shall give one example of initial " sk." Scarvagh in Irish, means a rough, stony ford. In place-names the oblique form is usually, found, and this is so common that it is now usually called the locative form. Hence Scarvagh becomes " Scarvey' in Ireland,, but " Starvey" in Mann. This ford in German is now bridged, but the adjoining farm still bears the name.

Our next stopping place is, Soderick, from the Norse " Sudr-vik," Southern Bay. The stream here is the boundary between the parishes of Braddan and Santan, and bears the Norse name Crogga, from " Krok-a," meaning "Winding River."

Passing Port Grenaugh, Norse, " Green-vlk," "Green Bay," and Port Soldrick, " Sõlar-vik," " Sunny Bay,' we arrive at " Cans ny Hawin," Gaelic for " The Foot of the River." The latter is now called the Santonburn, and is the boundary between the parishes of Santan and Malew. In ancient times it was the boundary between the Lord's Lands, and the lands of the Abbey of Rushen, and had the Norse name " Korn-á," " Corn River," so designated from the fact that there were several corn mills along its banks. Cass ny Howin was formerly called the " Loch," Gaelic for a firth or fjord.

We now arrive at a bay which was in former times, next to Peel, the most im-portant bay in the Island. Now called Derby Haven, its oldest name was " Comnary," from the - Gaelic " camus ny reel," the " Bay of the Kings." When she Norse-men came, they called it " Rognalds-vagr," or " Reginald's Bay." There were several Kings of Mann and the Isles named Regi-nald and undoubtedly the memory of one of here is preserved in this name. The adjoining farm bears the name Ronaldsway, postulating the older one. When the Derbys became Lords of Mann, the port became known as Derby Haven. Thus we have three distinct names bearing the impress of royalty - the Gaelic " Camus ny ree," the Royal Bay, the Norse " Rognald's-vagr" (King) Reginald's Bay; and Derby Haven after the Earls of Derby, when they were Lords of Mann.

Why was Derby Haven a royal port? The answer is obvious. It was the gateway to the Castle of Rushen. In ancient times there was a tarbert acrosis the narrow neck of Langness, providing access to the inner and safe water of Castletown Bay, as the entrance to the latter was dangerous, as it is to this day; while, on the other hand Derby- Haven is one of the most natural harbours in the Island. A tarbert means a narrow isthmus, where the flat-bottomed galleys of the Norsemen could easily be dragged over,- and launched on the other side. Such was the tarbert of Langness. The Norsemen rowed their galleys into Derby Haven, dragged them across the tar-be t, launched them again on the other side, and rowed in safety to the Castle of Rushen.

Guarding the southern entrance to Derby Haven, is the little island of Inis Michel of S. Michael's Island, now usually called Fort Island, after the fort built by the Earls of Derby, on the site of a much older one.

The name of the peninsula Langness, is Norse, meaning Long Naze. Its ancient Gaelic name was Rushen, meaning a little peninsula, and this name was eventually applied to the sheading, castle, town, and abbey, in course of time becoming detached from the peninsula, and the Norse mine Langness being subtituted.

In the Chronicle of Mann and the Isles under the dace 1184, we read:-" This same year king Olave gave to Ivon, abbot of Furnes.s, a part of his land in Mann, to found an abbey, in the place called Russin." The latter place was the Shedd-ing of Rushen, and we can 'sell very approximately the period the Island was politically divided into six parts. The word "sheading" or more correctly " sheadin," is an obsolete derivative, from së, six; and is not found in modern Gaelic. Sëden is the dative form of Sëde, meaning " Six Things." This word is 10th century Irish, usually called Old Irish. From the fact that three of the sheadings bear Gaelic names, and three Norse names, we know that the division of the Island into sheadings was not pre-Norse, but Gall-Gaelic. From these facts we can tell with a reasonable degree of certainty that she sheading was instituted somewhere between the 10th and 11th centuries.

Rushen Abbey was built on the sight of an older building named the Monastery of S. Luce. The parish of Malew still postulates this name. The later Abbey was dedicated to S. Mary.

The castle also took its name from the fact of its being in the Sheading of Rushen, and the little town which grew up round it was called the Town of the Castle of Rushen, which eventually be-came shortened to Russin, then Balley Chashtal, its Manx name, which was translated into the English ` Castletown."

The Ancient Name for Castletown.

But Castletown had also an older Gaelic name. In a bull of Pope Eugenius III. to Furness Abbey, A.D. 1153, the following lands in Mann are mentioned as being the gift of Olave, King of Mann and the Isles. "The lands of Caxneclet as far as the Monastry of S. Leoc." These lands, with others mentioned in the charter, were granted by Olave I.. third son of Godred II. circa 1114, and in a charter to Furness Abbey in 1134 Olave confirms this gift.

Carneclet has now become Scarlet. I have :already explained the phonetic law governing then letter s. Keristal postulated the older form Skeristal, while Scarlet postulated an older Owlet the latter being a worn down form of Carneclet.

The treen of Scarlet, or Castleland, as it was otherwise known, went as far as the Great Meadow, or the Meadow of the Monks, so that the phrase " Carneclet as far as the Monastery of S. Leoc," meant

From the boundary between Scarlet or Castleland and the Great Meadow as far a,; the Abbey of Rushen.

Carneclet means : " The Fortress of the Wickerwork Bridge," and the reason it received this name I shall now explain. In contradistinction to the raths and duns which were mostly made of earth and sods, the cahir (Ir. cathair) were built of stone and their remains are found in neighbourhoods like Oastleto-wn, where stone is abundant. Of such a character was the building which existed in early times on the bite where Castle Rushen now stands, for, as ihese fortresses were usually round m form it is very improbable that any of the structure standing m 1153 now remains.

A clay, cleea, or in Old Irish " cliath" (th sounded) mearJt a kind of causeway made of wicker-work. Primarily, the word means a hurdle. and to this day, the memory of this kind of bridge, is preserved it: many places in Ireland by the names. The Irish name of Dublin is Ath-Cliath, meaning "Hurdle." or "Wicker-work Ford."

Probably this wicker-work bridge span-ned the Silverburn somewhere in the neighbourhood of the old bridge opposite the Castle, and provided access from the other sidle of the river-in fact, fulfilled the same purpose as the present one.

In the Chronicon Mannioe we read that Magnus, king of Norway in the year 1078 landed at S. Patrick's Isle, and visited the field' of battle where many of the' slain still lay unburied. This was the Battle of Santwat, to which I shall refer later. It is also stated that he was so pleased with the Island that he chose it for a residence, and built fortresses in it, and thus became Magnus I. of Mann and the Isles. It was probably he who built the cahir or fortress on the site where Castle Rushen now stands, and it is also probable chat he built one on S. Patrick's Isleti

The first mention we have of the name Castle Rushen, is in 1265, when the Chronicle informs us that Magnus II., who was the last king of Mann and the Irles, died here. He may have built the oldest parts of the Castle now standing, on the bite of the less pretentious cahir.

The landing of royalty at Derby Haven is recorded several times m the Chronicle, ostensibly for the purpose of proceeding to the royal residence of Rushen. In 1223 Olave II. landed here.

A creek at the Point of Langness is Dreswick, from the Norse Död-vik, having the lugubrious meaning, "Death Bay," and anyone who can visualize what a death-trap Langness was before the light-house was erected, will fully appreciate the name bestowed on this creek by the Norsemen.

At the point of Langness we have a reef called the Sikerranes, Norse "skepr" with Gaelic diminutive, and ,latter English pllural, meaning the little skeariee or rocks. Here is a little creek called Brava., from Norse Bra-vik " Brow Creek." There a rock with the distinctive Gaelic name " Creg Innelen y Thal-leyr," the Rock of the Tailor's Daughter; but I have not yet been able to ascertain why. the name was bestowed. It may recall a tragedy, or mayhap an elopement -who can say?

On the other side of Langness is Castle-town Bay,, a, little creek palled: Sand-vik, or Sandy- Bay; has been eroded- `away. There is nothing in the nature of a vik here now, but like many anØer, the name bears silent testimony to its former existence, and reminds us of Longfellow's "Footprints on the sands of time." Thib ci eEk was on the other side of. the tarbert, by which the Norsemen had' access to Castletowu Bay.

We next arrive at Hang-o, Hill, where. Illiam Dhone or Brown William, other wise William Christian, was shot in 1662. This place was used as a gallows from Ntiy early times, as the Norse name Hango Hill (Norse, Hangs-hall), Hanging or Gal-lows Hill,, indicates. Erosion is here again in evidence; it will be noticed that a large portion of the circular encampment has been washed away by the sea, and old chroniclers often record how the skeletons of presumed malefactors became the` play-, ful sport of the waveb, as they were tossed to and fro, after a storm had fulfilled its work of denudation.

We next arrive at Bate ny Carrickey, or the Bay of the Rock, taking i11a name from the large rock called the Carrick in the centre of the bay.

Then Port St. Mary, a translation of Purt Noo Moirrey, which takes its name from an old church long disappeared, and passing Perwickt Norse again, meaning, Expased Creek, ' and ` Kione ny goagyn, the Headland of the Clefs, where the famous Chasms are found, now peculiarly corrupted into Noggin Head in English. The chasms axe called Ny Skortyn in Manx, which is itself derived from the Norse " skor," a chasm or cleft. It in worthy of note that in the Manx name of the headland the Gaelic " Goag" has been preserved, but the Norse " Skor" is always applied to the Chasms themselves. There are two Irish names for a chasm. " gág" and " gobhag." The former, following a well-known, linguistic law, has become " gaaig" in Manx, but the latter is obsolete, although its former existence in Manx is proved by the name of the headland. Here also ds the famous Sugar Loaf Rock, which has several names in Manx, but none of them quite ao fanciful as the English one; then Kione Doo or Black Head in English, and Spanish Head, in Manx. Kione Spaainey, where tradition affirms that ships of the Spanish Armada were wrecked tux 1588. Near Spanish Head there is a little bay called Rhleboeg, the entrance to which is barred by a reef of rocks, hence its a propriate name (Rif-vik)

"Reef Bay." similar creek on the coast of Braddan bears the same name. The little blunt! Sound headland called Eunoo Ned next claims our notice. This is a (hybrid name, the first part being derived from the Norse Burg, a castle or fortified hill, ,and cognate with the English " borough," " bury, " burgh," etc., and the second part the genitive plural of the Gaelic "head" (Manx "edd"), a nest; the compound meaning,. " The Hill off the Nests." This may require Some explanation. When this lull is approached from the landward side, it will be noticed that it has bean defended by two ramparts, buiilt of earth and ,stone, one near the base and the other about half way up. When we arrive at the summit, the remains of several hut-dwellings are noticeable; but the most inscrutable mystery of all is the fact that the rocky. summit is covered with cup-markings, ranging from the very tiniest to the size of a medium-sized wash-basin. These markings axe undoubtedly due to human agency, and are found in many places. All that we can definitely say about them is, that the people who executed them were in Britain before the Celts arrived, but for what purpose they were made and used has not yet been satisfactorily explained. The cliffs on the seaward side of this headland are a great breeding place for gulls, hence the second part of the name. Some years ago I ascended this headland, accompanied by the proprietor, during the gulls' breeding season, and, approaching too closely the edge of the cliff, we were compelled to beat a hasty retreat, as the gulls, regarding us as possible despoilers of their nests, in which there were many young ones, kept swooping down on us, endeavouring to beat us with their wings, so that we were driven to use our sticks an self defence. Needless to say, the birds were too wary to allow us to inflict any injury upon them.

Here is a rock called Creg y Jaghee, the Tithe Rock. In former times, anyone fishing from these rocks so-named, had to pay tithes. Needless to say, such rocks were usually given a wide berth. Next, a rock called Carrick yn oaie, the Grave Rock, which recalls the following tragedy. About a hundred years ago, a ship was wrecked on Kitterland. The crew tried to get to the mainland in the ship's boat, but their frail craft was dashed on this rock and they were all drowned. Their bodies were found next morning washed apbore, and they were buried on the headland above, and the conclusive evidence of the little green mounds may still be seen.

The Kitterland Legend Discarded.

In the Sound lies Kitterland, a small island upon which a dozen sheep may be pastured during 'the summer months. Tradition is responsible for the story that it took its name from a Norse baron named Kitter, who lived in Mann, and perished with some companions on this rocky islet, while proceeding from the Calf to the mainland. This is really one of the Fianna legends, and probably originated in pre-Celtic times. Its parallel is found in Ireland, Scotland, and the Western Islands, slightly altered in each case. In Islay, :Mac an R.eaidhinn fir thel one! who is drowned, and the strait is still called Caol Readhin, or Readhin's Strait or Sound. It is much more probable that the name Kitterland postulates the Norse " Kydaland," or " Kid Land," i.e, a place where goats could be placed during the breeding season. Such islands on the coasts of Scandinavia are called Kydeyjar, or Kid Islands.

The Norsemen called the Calf of Mann " Manar kålfr," of which the English is a correct translation. In Manx it is called In Colloo, through labial vocalisation. Even on the coast of the Calf, most of the names are Norse, such as " burroo," a round hill- "stack," a columnar rack; " sker," a pointed rock or reef; " clet," a reek-ridge; " bows," a tidal rock ; " l au " a creek or cave, " howe," a headland; and so on. We also have Gibdale, meaning Deep Glen; the Eye, meaning an isthmus which jams the Burroo to the Calf at ebb-tide; Rarick, Nook Creek etc. A few Gaelic names are also found, such as Kione Roauyr, Fat or Thick Head; Kione Beg, Little Head, and so on.

Proceeding along the coast, we pass a little creek now called Giau ny kirree, but by the older people Giau ny geyrragh, a more literary form, both meaning "Sheep Creek," where ,the sheep from the Calf were waded ashore.

We will pass hastily Giau ny moayrd (Gaelic, Table Cave), in which the fairies were said to make furniture-tne fishermen often heard the thumping of their ham-mers-Greg Liauyr, Gael. Long Rock; Creg ny inneen, the Girls' Rock, another tragedy here. Before Port Erin breakwaterc was built, this was a dangerous tidal rock, on which two girls were once caught by the tide, and they were found drowned next morning with their tresses tied together. Many and varied are the tragedies which these rock-names unfold, although humour is occasionally found, Not far from the rock which we have just discussed is one called Skinnerbittalion,; failing in my endeavour to throw some light on this weird and mysterious name, I interrogated an old salt, with the following result

" Skinnerbittalion thou're axin the mean-in' off Well, I can tell thee that. It was this way: The Rock used to be called Skinner, an' there was a ship wrecked on it called the ' Lion,' an' so the oul people said that Skinner bet the lion, an' tha's the name it hey to this day."

Now we enter Port Erin Bay. Manx-speaking people call it Purt Iarnt but no sabisfactory derivation of the specific part of this name has yet been found. Probably it has some remote connection with Ivern or Erin, the early name of Ireland, which is now generally accepted as of pre-Celtic origin. Port Erin is one of the sweetest spots in the British Isles in the summer-time.

Rounding Bradda Head, and passing a host of interesting coast-names-Bradda, by the way being the Norse " Bratthangr,"Steep Head - we arrive at Fle,shwick, Green Spot Creek; Raclay, Nook Cliff; Eairnyerey (Arna~A hrerdr), Eagles' Eyrie-eagles nested here until recent times. Close by we have the Gaelic " Boayrd yn Urley," the Eagles' Table, an elevated part of the cliff where they were won't to sit and look out for prey. All these names are Norse.

Proceeding North, we have the Norse " Hashtal" (Hax, stalls), High Cliff; the Gaelic "Stroin Wuigh," Yellow Headlands; the Gaelic " Lag ny Killey," Church Hollow-remains of old church here dedicated to St. Patrick, where tradition affirms many Kings of Mann were buried. It. position-on the side of a cliff-is difficult of access, and would hardly ,suit modern requirements.

The coast here is wild in the extreme. Let me give you a short extract from a vivid account ~orf this neighbourho-od by Mr P. G. Ralfe. He says: "Along the whole extent of this coast-line these is no inhabited house, nor does cultivated lands approach the shore. Human occupation has hardly left its mark. Could the hermit who perhaps. 1,400 years ago first established himself at Lay ny Killey, revisit the scene of his ministrations, he would find the ravine scarcely changed. Some lines of stone walling, themselves now of considerable age, and a distant ware fence alone would be unfamiliar. The pre-historic hunter and fisherman might watch for the rabbit to issue from beneath the same earth-fast boulder, might hook the crab from the same tide-crevice, might cast his line from the name grey ledge into the same deep pure water. The plough has never driven over these slopes, the creeks have never been quayed. Perhaps, indeed, an even deeper solitude than that of 2,000 years ago broods over this region, for the primitive methods by which man nourished his life in the wilderness have for the most part been abandoned and he has withdrawn himself to regions where his labour is more easily and largely remunerative."

Legends of St. Patrick abound in this neighbourhood. Passing " Gob Bre-ac" (Gaelic, Speckled Headland), -and other names of a more or less interesting character we arrive at the Niarbyl. Let us tarry awhile here.

Probably you all know the Niarbyl, that long reef of rocks which may be seen from almost any point of vantage in the South of the Island. This name is Gaelic, Yn larbyl, the Tail; the "n" of the article being still preserved in the English form of the name. A real or fancied resemblance to different parts of the body, both human and animal, has originated a great variety of topographical terms. in every country; the natural features being compared with, and named from them. The early Celts, and Scandinavians had no exception to this rules they were just as imaginative as other nations, and hence, in our place nomenclature, we find almost every part of the body represented. So the Gae's called this reef, Yn Iarbyl, and when the Norsemen came along, they simply translated this name into their own language, as they did in many other cases, and they called it Taglit; " tagl" being cognate with the English "tail," and "it" being the article, which the Norseman suffixes. A Norse jarl settled here on the coast, and called his estate Tagl-by or Tail Homestead: which in the course of time became softened into Dolby, on Gaelic lips. In the early part of the 16th Century we find a Mao Gell here, meaning the Son of the Foreigner and it is very probable that he was a direct descendant of the jarl who first took up his abode on this coast. Elby and Ballelby are simply anglicized and aspirated forms of Dalby or Delby, as the old people sometimes pronounced it. Dawby is a modern pronunciation, based on the analogy of such words as " dolphin" (dauphin), . " faloon" (fawcon), etc. Here we have further evidence of bilinguality, and similar to what must have been very much in evidence a few decades ago, when Gaelic and English were spoken by the same individual with equal facility, and a hill which was called " Cronk Doa" when speaking Manx, became Black Hill when English was resorted to.

From Dalby to Peel we pass many names with the Gaelic generic "traie," a shore or strand; and passing S. Patrick's Well or the Silver Well, as it is sometimes called,-which., tradition ,asserts, gushed forth when the hoof of S. Patrick's horse struck it, on his landing in Mann, and the shape of which is said to be an exact replica of a horse's shoe -we arrive at S. Patrick's Isle, a translation of its older Gaelic name Inis Padric.

The earliest authentic record we have relating to Inis Padric, is the Annals of Ulster, where we are told that Inch Patrick was burnt by the Gentiles this was in the year 798. Now the Gemiies in this case were the Scandinavians, but they did not begin to colonise Mann until about half a century later, and towards the end of the 9th or the beginning of the 10th century, the kingdom of Mann and the Isles was founded. The first king of Mann of whom we have any record, was Godred Crovan, Or Godred of the white hands, said to have been so called from the white gauntlets he wore. He reigned over Mann and the Isles ip the time of William the Conqueror, and died the !same year that Malc.olm Canmore devadiated England. But Godred Crovan, or Godred I. as he is called, had been reared in Mann, so it is very probable that he was not the first king.

The history of Inis Padric is closely interwoven with the destinies of Mann itself, for it was, with Castletown, one of the royal residences until a comparatively recent period.

"Probably Magnus I., whom I have already mentioned, built an early fortress on Inis Padric in the 11th century. Godred III. resided here, and died in 1167.

The Gaelic name of Peel is Purt ny h Inshey, meaning the " Port of the Island." The Scandinavians called it Holm-tdn, meaning "Island Town," of course, both names, referred to Iniss Patrick. In recent times S. Patrick's Isle received the name of the " Peeley," which is Anglo-Saxon for fortress and is also found in the north of England and Scotland. From this name the town became Peel-town, which name, during the last century, was shortened to its present name Peel.

Where Glenfaba Sheading got its Name Before leaving this neighbourhood I should like to say somePhing about the historic river which empties its waters into Peel Bay — the Neb. In the year 1098 we read, in the Chronicles of Mann and the Isles, that "there was a battle fought between the Manx at Santwat, and those from the north obtained the victory. In this engagement wear slain, earls Other and Mac Manus, the chiefs of both parties."

Santwat is Norse, meaning Sandy Ford, and the place where this internecine battle was fought, is the ford which is now spanned by Glen Faba bridge. Faba is an old Gaelic name (Feab~d), meaning " Battle RivØ," and it was probably !so named from the sanguinary engagement recorded in the Chronicle. Now rivers are always of the feminine gender, and in Gaelic, when a feminine noun is preceded by the article, aspiration ensues. In the case of the letter "f" total elision takes place, thus Feaba when preceded by the article became Yn Eaba, and in the course of time the final unstressed vowel dis-appeared, leaving Yn Eab, whch was contracted into Neb in English, the final " n" of the article being retained; as in the name Niarbyl, and many others. The sheading ultimately took its name from the Glen surrounding the ford, very little of which now remains.

Proceeding northwards we pass the Gob, Gaelic for Blunt Headland, Traae Fogog, Gaelic, which the old fishermen say should be Traie Feoghaig, Periwinkle Shore; the Stack; Lhoob y reeas.t,, modern Gaelic, the Gully of the Waste Land, Cass Strooan, Gaelic, the Foot of the Stream; Gob y Skeddan, Herring Head; and several others.

We pass a glen bearing the Gaelic name of Glen Broigh, Dirty Glen, which the Scandinavians called Svalt-daAr, Black Glen; a bay Lhiannag (Leyni-vfk), another " wick" name meaning " Hidden Bay."

Dangean, which in Irish place-names often becomes " dingan," and cognate with the English word " dungeon," is found in Gob y Dgigan. In Gaelic it means a circular fort, of earth or stones, and probably they Manx name indicates the Headland of the Fort. These coast forts are common all over the Island,

We pass two caves the Ooig Vooar and the Ooig Vag, the Big and the Little Cave. Ooig Is the Norse word wick which has been adopted into Manx, like many other words, especially those relating to the coast and sea-faring.

We now pass an estate called Skeristal, corrupted from the Norse Skerja-stadr, meaning " Skerry" or " Rock Estate." There is a remarkable outcrop of rock on this farm.

Next an estate called Ballacarnane, but anciently Baly Crynan, postulating an older Balley Grianan or 'Summer-house Estate." The literal meaning of Grianan is a sunny spot, and it frequently occurs in the most ancient Irish M.S.S. The Irish Lexicographer, O'Brien, explains it as a royal seat, in which sense it is used by the best Irish writers. Joyce, the great authority on Irish place-names, says : "that this is unquestionably its general meaning, when it occurs in topographical names," This ancient summer-house is still to be seen here on the coast, and now called a camp.

We pass next an estate called Berk, but formerly Barryk, from the Norse " Berwik," Exposed Creek. This is the creek at the entrance to Glen Wyllin a modern Gaelic name, meaning "Will glen." The older name of this glen was Bordall. from Norse Borgu-dalr, "Fortress Glen," taking its name from a natural low round hill at the entrance to the glen, which may have been fortified in early times.

Next an estate called Balleira, a hybrid name, from Gaelic Balley, an estate; and Norse Leir-a. Muddy Stream. The little stream which flows through Glen Balleira was so named, and probably the Norse name of this glen was Leir-á-dalr.

The Whole History In the Name.

We now come to a co.apt-line where erosion has been taking place for a very long time, and several creeks, bays and headlands have totally disappeared, and if it were not for the fact that their names may still be found in a more or less corrupt form, we might neveh have known that such had existed.

On the coast of Ballaugh, there is an estate caylled Brough Jiarg, which is usually translated "Red Brow." Let us analyse it. The first part of the name is the Gaejlio " broogb,," us)aally applied to a brow or hill near the sea. The second part is simply a phonetic translation of the Norse "Diar-vfk,' meaning " the Creek of the Priests," which eventually evolved into the Gaelic " jiarg," a word of similar sound. This creek was at the mouth of the stream which is the boundary between the parishes of Michael and Ballaugh, and it seems significant, that this stream flows through the estate of Bishop's Court. The first record we have of a bishop residing

here, is in the Chronicle of Mann, under. the date A.D. 1247, we read: " This same year died Symon of blessed memory, bishop of Sodor, on the day before the the Kalends of March, at the church of S. Michael the Archangel, and was buried in S. Patrick's Isle, in the church of S. German, which he' himself had .built." Kirk Michael Church is, as is well known. quite close to Bishop's Court, and the fact that' Symon died here is conclusive evidence that he had his residence in this neighbourhood.

In the same chronicle we read: "The first (bishop) that is known before the reign of Godred Crovan is Bishop Roolwer (probably the Scandiinavian Holfr), who lies in the church of S. Machutus (Maughold Church). Many bishops have existed since the time of the Blessed S. Patrick,. who first brought and preached the catholic faith to the Manx, in Mann, but the memory of these Bishops has perished. Suffice it to say that who or what bishops existed before, we know not,, because they have not been transmitted to us in writing, nor by the traditions of our fathers."

About a century ago we are informed by Oswald, that Bishop's Court wore more the aspect of a place of military strength than it does now, the ditches and mounds of earth around it having been levelled, and a portion of its massive walls-of great hardness and strength-having been removed by Bishop Murray. when he repaired and modernised the building.

In early times monasteries and religious houses were defended in this manner, no place was sacred to the heathen Norse-men. Everything seems to show that Bishop's Court was used four ecclesiastical purposes almost from the dawn of Christianity in Britain, and Jocelin says that ' the Bishopric of Mann was founded in A.D. 447.

S. Patrick was born circa A.D. 363, and it is quite possible that the first religious house on this site was founded by him. However, it is very remarkable to find that the creek at the mouth of the Bishop's stream was anciently known as Priest's Creek, and the Norse name may have been a translation of its earlier Celtic one.

A little further north there is an estate called Ballakoig, but in the 16th century Rally Skeba, a peculiar corruption. Skeba is the Norse "Skip-vfk," Ship Creek. The little stream is still there which emptied is waters into the bay.

Proceeding northwards we, come to the coast of the Parish of Jurby. In early times this parish was-if not exactly an island-insulated. On the north it was bounded by Sulby River, which instead of , flowing eastwards as it does now, flowed west emptying, itself at the place called the 'thane, on the east by the Sulby River and a large lake called Doologh or Dubh-loch, "Black Lake," on the south by a stream now called the Killane River, and on the west by the sea.

The Scandinavian name Dyr-by now little altered in Jurby, meant; ' Animal, Beast, Deer, etc. Estate. It is the same word as the English " deer," and cognate with the German "shier," an animal. Jurby had an older Gaelic name which must have been an extremely ancient one, as I shall show you. This name was " Caerland," having exactly the same meaning as the Norse one, i.e. "Animal Estate or Enclosure." Caer or caera now means a sheep but anciently an animal of any kind: Land is now generally used in an ecclesiastical sense. an idea borrowed from the Welsh " Llan," which is also a cognate word. We find remnants of this ancient name in three modern ones The Killane River, Clrawyn land the thanes I shall deal with them singly. The Killane River Was formerly called Strooan ny Carlane, or the Stream of the Caerland, an estate on itø banks was in 1643 called Kerlane, but now strangely corrupted into Crawyn ; and in the name thane we have the remaining fragment. According to tradition the Calf of Mann was used as a game preserve, and it is possible that the parish of Jurby was similarly used, as, with its insulated character, it would be admirably adapted for that purpose.

Thus we find the old Gaelic name Caerland confined to two rivers Killane and the Lhane, and one estate. Crawyn; while the Norse name Jurby, has become, not only the name of the village, but also of the whole parish.

The headland now called Jurby Head has practically disappeared. Near the site of the latter promontary Ø the ruin of an old church, on a alight eminence called Knock Sewell, meaning "Barn Hill." Whence came this strange name, and what connection had it with the sacred edifice? In the tripartite life of S. Patrick we read that Patrick converted a certain chieftain named Dichu to Øistianityy and the chieftain to express his gra¢,'tude gave Patrick the barn in which his evangelising services; were held. A great church was afterwards raised on this spot, which is still called Saul, in commemoration of the original building. It is not my intention to claim Mann as the scene of this story, Ireland has already done so, but it is most remarkable how many legends there are current in this Island concerning this renowned saint; and not only legends; but also many place-names seem to connect him as intimately with Mann, as with Ireland; and one cannot help but feel impressed by the idea chat Patrick's initial missionary efforts might with equal truth be said to have taken place in Mann. The little chapel on Knock Sewell to which I have referred, in mentioned in an old document as one of the churches of S. Patrick of Jurby.

Proceeding northward we come to the site of another bay which has disappeared, not by erosion this time, but by a reverse process, it has become silted up. From a point near here, to the Point of Ayre, erosion ceases, and new land is being formed, then when we burn' to travel southward erosion begins again, to a point north of Ramsey. This process of land changing has been going on for a very long time. Lying east and south-west of Ayre there are three banks called respectively the Bahama, King William's. and Ballacash, and it may be presumed that the land which is being washed away on the east and west coasts, is not only responsible for the steady northerly ex-tension of the Point of Ayre. but also for the formation of three banks.

A coastal farm named Ballamig contains the remnant of this ancient bay-name. In the 16th century it was called Baly Hamyg, and the latter part of the name postulates the Norse " Hamn-vik," meaning " Harbour Bay." This bay was at the mouth of the Lhane, to which I have already referred, as being the former out, let of the Sulby River, and it received its name from the fact that the shipp or galleys of the Norsemen could easily row or sail up this waterway into the safe anchorage of Dooloch, an extensive lake which formerly existed in this neighbourhood.

We pass an old coastal fort here, now bearing the modern fanciful name " Cashtal Ree Gorree," or King Orry's Castle; but its older name is hidden in the present farm name, now Balladuggan, but anciently Baly Dorghnn, Gaelic, the latter part meaning "Strong or Impregnable Fortress."

A little headland here formerly called Gob Gorm now hears its English equivalent "Blue Point," and another headland Rue Point, is a semirtranslation of Gob Ruy, "Red Point."

Further north another creek has similarly disappeared. Ber-vik, Exposed Creek, now found m a corrupt form to the farm-name " Ballabirraghs" There are no names on this coast, except a few modern ones, the old coastal names must be sought for inland.

[To, be Continued. - no continuation appeared as #29 was final issue]


Back index next


Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2003