[From Yn Lioar Manninagh Vol 3 pp134/191]
[complete but scanning to be corrected]
STORY-TELLING : SKEEALS AND " YARNS."
The old Manx were very fond of story telling ; and from the few scattered legends and tales I have been able to collect, out of a a mass of much which has been lost, we come to the conclusion that they were possessed of a keen sense of wit and humour, and gifted with a lively imagination and descriptive power and drollery. Some of the stories, which I can hardly re-produce, resemble some of Boccaccios tales, with the same fine irony to depict old vanished ecclesiastic morality ; while some of the songs are too rude for re-telling. The Anglo-Manx dialect, which is now on the decline, has much to increase the charm of their stories ; they have their peculiar turns and phoneticism, and are in the habit of pitching their conversation in the emotional key, so characteristic of the Celtic temperament. In winter time. when leisure kept them more at home, and the spinning wheel would sing and whirl, and while gathered round the cosy turf fire at the hearth, the young would rapturously, sometimes frightened, listen with keen interest to the tales of their elders who used to entertain each other with all the wild tales of yoreof the bugganes and fairies and Glashtins, of Finn Mac Cooilthe terror of naughty children and of the old wizard, Manannan Mac Lir, of the Mermaids, and Mermen, and the Fairy fleets encountered by the hardy fishermen when trawling their nets ; and the Phynnoderee and the Wild Hunters, that frightened the herdsmen on the wild mountains in their lonely walks abroad. But story-telling was not always confined to the firesides, it diversified also the monotony, when slack of work, on their fishing expeditions round the coast, or to Ireland, or the Shetlands, and the hill people in the South went to a hill near the Fistard, and gathered there on Sunday evenings to tell old stories" but there was a swarm of insects came to the place, once, some ugly things like tarantéls or carwhaillags, but larger, and no one dared to sit there againthey were so afraid of them
MANANNAN MAC LIR.
" There was once a great island, out off the Calf. It seems, early in the morning before sunrise, when May Day is Sunday, different ones have seen it ; it was inhabited by Manannan Mac Lir, and he is supposed to be living there yet."
" In olden times, long gone, there was a giant with three legs ( doolney three cassyn) who lived in the Island, at last, when he could keep it no longer, it is said he rolled out like a wheel at Jurby Point, and then he disappeared and went out into the tide, and I heard this 60 years ago, when I was a little boy. "
" My next door neighbour was telling me his father went to Spanish Head one morning, at an early hour, some few years ago, and he saw a headless man toward the perpendicular cliff, some-thing in form of the three legs, rolling like a wheel on his feet and hands, and rolled over the cliff, which was full of sea-birds at the time, but the sea-birds did not appear to see anything, or they had all been on the wing in a moment, for if a small stone is thrown down the cliff the birds are flying and screaming in a thrice."
" Manannan was a magician that governed the Island for many years, often hiding himself in a silver mist on the top of some high mountain, and as he could see strange ships who came to plunder the Island, he would get into the shape of the three legs, and roll down from the mountain top as fast as the wind, to where the strange vessels were anchored, and invent something to frighten them away."
" At one time there was the Norwegian fleet coming to Peel, and Manannan, who was a wizard, and held the Island, made a boat of the leaves of the cliogagh (flags), and left them down by the ebb tide, at Peel Harbour, and when they came out and seed them all like ships of war, they cleared away as fast as they could."
Second Version : " There was a fleet of Norwegian ships came to Peel Bay, and the three-legged fellow came rolling to Peel, and it was about low tide in the harbour, with a small stream of fresh running out to sea. So he made little boats of the flaggers by the river side, a good number of them, and put them in the stream. Now, when the little fleet came out of the harbour, he caused them to appear like great ships of war, and the enemies fleet on the bay were in a great panic, and hoisted sails, as fast as possible, and cut their cables, and got away from the Island."
" On Mull Hills stand the Cronk-ny-Arrey, they used to keep watch there, and they say the " three legs" meant that when they saw any indication of foes, they sent messengers to tell the news to the rest of the Island, the three messengers going a row each."
" An old man told me that Manannan drove away St. Patrick from the Island, and chased him to Ireland, and overtook him in a. place in the County Down, and killed him with a blow, and said, Down Patrick ! and he fell there, and was buried there, and the town built in that place is called Down Patrick."
" I never heard anything about his looks, but that his shape was the three legs ; that he lived in a cave at the top of some mountain, and was always covered with silver mist. I think he was seen but seldom by any one, and I dont believe such a man or witch ever existed, or if he did, it must have been in the time when Jan Ben Jan reignedthe man that governed the world before Adam." ,
Prof. Rhys mentions, in his " Hibbert Lectures," that Manannan is still remembered in the districts of Derry and Donegal, and, according to tradition in Leinster, this first man rolled on three legs, like a wheel, through the mist. (See pages 664 and 667.)
From above legends we gather some interestmg topographical information. Manannan is supposed to have lived on a great island, out off Calf, which has vanished, where he is said to live and appear yet ; to South Barrule the inhabitants brought him their rent of green rushes on Midsummer Eve ; in the parish of St. German there is an earthwork yet called Manannans Chair ; at Peel he makes a descent upon the Norse rovers, and finally, when he can hold the Island no longer, he rolls out in the tide at Jurby Point ; so that tradition restricts his existence and sway to that side of the Island which faces Ireland, with which Irish myth .; intimately connects him. There are no legendary traces of his cult to be found on the west side of the Island, a circumstance: which is of great interest and bearing.
FINN MAC COOIL.
The quotation given in Moores Folk-lore (p. 13), and Monas Miscellany, second series (p. 64), differs somewhat from the verse which I succeeded in obtaining yet, and runs thus :
Finn Mac Cooil as ooilley e hymsagh,
" The name of Finn Mac Cooil is still held in great dread, and parents tell their children he will take them if they are naughty."
I have tried hard to hear more about Finn Mac Cooil, or Oisin,, but it appears traditions have died out long ago, and nothing is remembered now except that the former was a very strong man.
There is a proverb : " Mic Mannin, mic Nherin " (Good in Man, good in Ireland), which seems to relate to an early period, when their inter-relation was of a very close nature, and when there were still common interests.
" St. Patrick came on horseback : he took some fancy that there was land near, and broke the charm that Manannan Mac Lir had on the Island. At Peel Head the impress of his horses feet is to be seen yet. The first bird he heard (a whistling bird) was the collyoo (the curlew), and ever since nobody would find the birds nest in the Isle of Man."
*Note* The rest of this article does not contain any more references to Manannan.
" Somewhere in the north of the Island, I forget the lace, there lived a Glashtin, and he got hold of a womans apron in his hand, and threw her on his shoulder or back like, and went avay with her; while they were on the road the woman loosed her apron string, and she fell off his back. He did not know till he was at his journeys end. When he saw that the woman had left, he said
" There was one or two of them Glashtins in some farm house near North Barrule, and it was coming on snowing in the afternoon, and the farmer said to the sons that they had better go and gather the sheeps in the fold like, for fear of the nnow. Well, it appears, that when they went just at night, the Glashtin had gathered all the sheep in the fold when they came, and he had a hare in among the sheep ; and he said : My shiaght mollagh er in oasht veg loghtan ( My seven curses on the little loghtan sheep )she was worse than all the rest to get into, she was three times round big Barrule before I got her driven in."
" The Glashtin was haunting the houses near Ramsey, towards Barrule. There was a man living in the north, in a place called Glen Naredale, and the Glashtin haunted the house. It was a beggarman going about that told the yarn. That beggarman was there one night getting lodgings. At bedtime the farmer brought a lot of peat in, and made a great fire, and the man asked him why he was making such a fire at bedtime, and he said there were friends of his wanting to come in to warm to-night. So they went all to bed, and the beggarman got up after a little while, and he saw two big naked men lying in the hearth before the fire. Next morning he inquired about them, and the farmer said they had been in the house in the time of his father and grandfather. They never did any harm to anything about the farm, and if he was from home, and late at night, there was always one of them accompanying him home, but he never spoke a word to any of them."
" My father, who lived at Ballachrink, Kirk Arbory, told me whatever sheaves the people would loose in the barn, all would be found threshed in the morning."
Other version.-" There were lots of Glashtins at Ballachrink, Arbory. They were filling a barn with corn, and in the morning it would be all thrashed ; and they went to watch them one night, so they were big men, like giants, and stark naked. So they went and made clothes for them, and when they seed there was clothes made for them they went away."
" My father told me John Creer was going to Douglas market to sell pork. He was going in the night, and there was two horses following the cart, and trying to catch the pork, and he had to stand in the cart and scutch with his whip all the time to keep them off; but he could not hit them at all. As soon as daylight came they was off, and it was supposed them were Glashtins. "
" At Ballakilpherick a Glashtin was living, and my father was wild at him, and wanted to kill him. So he was going for that purpose, and passed to the soft place where the Tarroo ushtey was, and he switched his stick back at him (switching back is a good charm), and the Tarroo ushtey was powerless to attack him.When you fetch your blow and strike back, it cannot get from that. He did not kill him, though!"
" I have heard of the Glashtins meeting some place near Ballachrink, and the Ballachrink Glashtins ordered the strange Glashtins away, and as they went away they said : If this place is thine, Glen reagh Rushen (merry Glen Rushen) is not yet thine."
" At Cregneish, in former years, they used to have a kiln for drying the corn, which they fired. Well, once the wife of a Glashtin was seen roasting a piece of fish, and she was saying to him : Roas, Kissack veg, roas telling the fish to roast. [" The Kissack or Skissack is a fish like a mackerel in shape, and common in the Sound ; in English it is termed Kellag, the smaller size is called Kissack, the bigger Strammian, and the biggest Gardash."]
" There used to be many kilns over the Island, I remember one at Bradda. I once heard of a kiln left with grain on to dry for the Glashtins to look to ; for it used to be said of them that they would do all sorts of work left for them, if it was begun, and during the night when keeping fire under the kiln some one, for curiosity, would try to look over the wall down on them, and the he one heard something, and the she one said it was a mouse ; but the other made leap and caught him, and threw him in the fire, but the other caught him out, as she was more merciful."
Ballachrink stood in evil name, and there was a song about the sons of the farmer that lived there, to the following effect
Va beaisht dy fer mooar cabbagh ayn
[ " There was a beast of a big stuttering fellow, he was as tall as a pole, he had some of the Glashtins nature, that live down at Lingowl (in Ballachrink).]
The Glashtins are described as big, strong, powerful men ; they are represented as hairy and dark. There are " she and he" Glashtins. They are generally good-natured creatures, ready to help and protect the farmers. Of their intelligence not much can be said ; they are downright stupid and uncultivated. If vexed, they resent quickly. Ballachrink, in Kirk Arbory, appears to have been a proper haunt, and thick with Glashtins. That place was once invaded by strange Glashtins from another part ; they went away to Glen-reagh, Rushen, when they found they could not hold out. The Glashtins are not always of human form, but appear in the shape of horses, and even of the tarroo ushtev. The Glashtins are known as extremely coarse, though simple-minded, beings, and I have a few stories in Manx which I should like to give were they not too offensive. One of them is reprinted in the " Monas Miscellany," 2nd series, p. 248-249, and told by Campbell. It is about the Glashtins who dressed themselves up as spinning women, but he did not know any Manx, and the account he gives is wrong and out of joint. It was given me as follows : " Yn Glashtin ta shiu lackal clashtynjeh, vainshter ? Tajeeaghyn dy row ny glashtinyn gaase feer thappee. Ta mee er chlashtyn dy row ad cheet gys ny rnraane et Ballachrink tra vad soie anmagh dy snieu as voir ad. Va oie dy row ren ny deiney coamrey ad-hene ayns garmad ny mraane as soie dy snieu. Haink jees jeh ny ghlashtinyn aegey stiagh as hie ad dy loghtey ad, myr bollagh ad. Haink eisht yn Glashtyn moor stiagh as dooyrt eh rish yn fellagh aeg : Va shid, cren pyshag ommijagh tou gobbraghey er ! Naioo yn m . . . . naioo yn b . . . , naioo yn aasag ta mysh gob, naioo yn whiggal, naioo yn fess ? Tou jannoo lesh eash ayns un oie saagagh dy volley."
Cregeen defines the Glashtin as goblins or sprites, and Kelly has it a goblin, an imaginary animal which rises out of the water ; in Irish we have gleosgaire, a silly fellow ; in S-Gaelic, glogaire, a lubber ; gloichg, a stupid female ; and clag/iaire, a lubber ; also ,glaistig-, a goblin ; glaisaig, a female fairy, half female, half beast, words which are descriptive of the popular characteristics of these beings, and serve us for comparing with the Manx name.
BUGGANES (Pronounced Buggethn).
" There was once a man going to Peel on the mountain, and he tame into a very heavy shower of rain, and he went into a cave to take shelter. Shortly after, the Buggane came to the mouth of the cave, and looked on the man, who was very frickened. He said to the man : " If he could tell him three words of truth, he would let him go free,"but what he told him was : " It is raining, but it will get fine again," that was one of the things (the others I forget). So the Buggane said he knew that himself. So the man had the sock of the plough going to the smithy, and the Buggane wanted to shake hands with him, and the man gave him the end of the sock, where the three prongs were on it, and he squeezed them all into one, and he said to the man : " There was some strong Manxmen in the World yet."
" There is a church near St. Johns, Keill Pharickydrummagh, and. there was a foul spirit brought the timber across from Ireland, and he rode on it, and he was asking them : " What did the woman say when they were going to milk" ? and they told him : " No matter to it, markee, jouyll, markee" (ride, devil, ride). Saint Patrick was the man who made the devil ride across from Ireland,.. When the timber was brought across for the roof, and the wall made, and the timber put up, it was down again before it was finished. At last, it appears, the people made an agreement with a; tailor to make a pair of breeches in the church, to see if the church, would go on as long as he made a pair of breeches. The tailor went on as far as he could, and while he was at work the old chap made his appearance. The first part he said : * Vaikoo my chione mooar ?" "Heem, heem" the tailor replied : Vaikoo my + mair mooar" ? The tailor went working as hard as he could," Vaikoo my § cas mooar, mooar ?" " Heem, heem," and the tailor just finished the breeches and run out of the church, and down it went, and the ruins can be seen yet. So the old chap was mad, and he pulled his big Kione off, and whirled it after him in mighty rage and there it burst like a crash, but my tailor was safe, and off lik a shot, before it reached him,that was a clevar tailor" !
* do you see my big head I shall see +Finger §Foot
" There was Tom Cashin, the Niarbyl chap, and he was coming from Douglas across the mountains to Dalby, and when he came to a way there was a sack of chaff, that was lying quiet in the road.:. That sack man, was a Buggane ! It was lying at a boghiane (so called, when a hedge has been broken down to a mound, you know). Well, he struck backwards at it, and shouted : " Ayns enmjm Yee, as yn Mac mullach,what have you got to do there ?" Cashin was thrown away after saying that, and left senseless for a certain time. It was moonlight when he came to himself, and he was bareheaded: and the staff gone too. The hat he found at a certain distance, and the staff another good bit away, sunk half in the ground, and he never saw the Buggane after that. "
" On the Honna road from Bradda to Sulby [sic ? Surby], my great aunt saw some great Buggane there. She was going with some other or Sunday night, and the thing was standing in the middle of the road and he was as large as a stack of corn, filling all the road, and they couid not get past, and had to go back another way."
" A man was once going to Douglas with a cart and a pair of horses, and as he wanted to be there at an early hour he went early to bed. He arose and looked at his watch, but it was stopped, so he got up, thinking it was late, and got the horses ready, and started for Douglas ; and all went on very well until he came to Mwyllin ny Cunney Bridge, the horses shied, and would not go forward, and he stood up in the cart, and saw some great black monster filling all the road. He lay down in the cart again for a few minutes, and then looking ahead again he saw that the fairy had vanished, and he drove the horses again, and they went alright. When he got to Douglas there was nd one up, he was there so early."
" Two young men were going to Ballachrink, and saw something like a black cat first, and tried to kick it, and it grew as big as a horse. They thought they would be taken with them, and got over the hedge at a corner of the field, and the buggane was standing in the road and keeping them there. They had no chance of getting a\vav, and crossed the road to get to the other side to get home, and he made for them, and one of the fellows got over the hedge like, but the other slipped down again, and he was so struck he shouted : Shee Yee orrim, ta mee gotch. The buggane went away as he said this word and that was true enough, the man would not have told a lie."
Second version : " Two young men went to Ballachrink to see their girls ; as they were going up the road they saw something like a cat, and one of them lifted his foot to give it a kick. It went a certain distance with this, and began to give jumps and grow bigger. They got past it, and got to the house and went in, till they heard a row outside, like a horse with a lanket on one foot. As one wanted to leave, the two left together. So they were going across a field on the road home, and as they were crossing they heard the monstrous brute. He was going along the road, and when they came to a fence it was standing straight before them. At last they gave a rush and got past, and the brute after them. One got over, and the other slipped and shouted : My, Yee, ta mee gotch ; the other got hold of his hand and pulled him over the hedge, and the brute could not touch him. In Colby, the road from Ballachrink, they heard it again ; he could not cross the plough butts, only on the length of the brow (the buggane has no power to cross the butts, only the main road, my friend explained). When they got to the main road he was before them again, and they shouted : Ayns ennym Yesus Chris, chass back. " He was spell-bound then, and could not leave at the time, and they came away."
Third version : " It was a thing not bigger than a cat, like a full sack, then it grew as big as a horse. It would not let them pass.
They went over the hedge and across a field, and it would not let them go along the road, so they shouted : Ayns emujm Chris my Chiarn, as my Fee; cretoor, chass ersooyl, and then it let them go."
( These tales come from three distinct quarters at various distances, and the thing happened to a well-known fisherman in Port Erin, whose name I will suppress.)
BUGGANE Y CHIONE DHOO.
"He was often heard roaring, the old folk said. I was once near the place, pulling heather, when I was young, and I heard something roaring at the Bugganes Cave. It was something like the sound of the fog-horn on Langness. The legend is that some pirates hid a treasure in the cave and killed a man to guard it, and it is supposed that when the time of their natural death has come they are free."
" There was a buggane out there at Black Head, near Spanish Head, in this neighbourhood. He was in a cave, roaring awfully sometimes. I have seen the cave often myself, and its floor is paved with white pebbles. His head was like a big horse, and he had eyes like a pewter plate."
" The buggane is a thing to frighten, as a scarecrow in a field to frighten birds. The buggane is supposed to be the spirit of some murdered person that haunts the place where the murder was committed."
"Two men were coming from Douglas, walking in the night, and there was two of these horses meeting them on the way, and they were standing across the road like, and they could not pass them. Well, they took their garters off and made bridles of them and mounted the horses apiece, and in a few minutes they were in a place called Yn Nennagh (the Ennagh). Well, the horses seemed to be getting tired when they came there, and the horse was asking one of them what their women would say, when they were sneezing, and the man said : " Ride on, devil "; the horse after this went down to the beach, towards the sea, and the man had to say:
" God bless us," and they were left sitting on the sea beach, and the horses were gone."
"Behind Spaidrick Bay, there is a bog, and the field is called the Curragh yet, and there lived a buggane, who would chase you, and when I was a boy I was terrible frickened for it would take me away."
" There was Kermode, who had his colt sick, and we went to it, and it was 10 oclock in the night. On the way up Bradda, we met something like a big sow pig in the road, within 15 yards. I saw it well enough, but he did not see it, and it looked then like a speckled heifer, then like a white speckled dog, and turned back before us and went down the broogh, the gap way. The colt died, and was thrown down by us from the broogh."
Describing the buggane, Kennish sings :
" He saw the ghost with eyes like blazing fire
These are very polymorphous creatures, as will be seen from the variety of shapes they assume. As a strong man, and sometimes roaring awfully, with eyes big and like a pewter plate. My Manx friends tell me they are big monsters, savage and mostly black, that come in the shape of little stacks of hemp or corn, sacks of chaff, like black cats that grow bigger and bigger ; like a horse, or again like a sow pig. The buggane corresponds with the Gaelic bocait, Welsh bwgan, bwg, and the Irish puca(the devil, a sprite or hobgoblin), which is probably derived from poc, boc goat. Thorns, in his " Lays and Legends of Ireland," says
" The form under which the Irish Puck or Pooka most commonly appearsfor it seems to have the power of assuming forms at will is that of a goat, a form in which the usual attributes of horns and cloven feet are preserved, as well as the similiarity of the name."
The above, and the Dooiney-oie, and the Glashtin, are often interchanged in the Island. I need not say much about him, because the legends in the South differ not much from those given in Moores " Folk Lore." The only thing of interest is that their names have also been given to me as PhynnsSonly, descriptive of their hairy appearance. (Manx : Fynney, S-Gaelic fionna, fur, hair that covers the body of an animal). The derivation of the full name : Phynnodderee, has led to much ingenious speculation. It is worth mentioning that Bowker, in his " Goblin Tales of Lancashire," speaks (p. 248) of the Hob of Hackensall Hall, in the Fylde, who " took the Celtic form of a great horse"another metamorphosis of the Glashtin. The Manx Phynnodderee is related to the " house boggart, or brownie, at Rayscar and Jnskip, in the Fylde," who at times housed the grain, collected the horses, and played all kinds of mischievous pranks. The Hobs in the Fylde were industrious, and of much use to the farmers. The Hob of the gorge of Cliviger is described as a hirsute demon. In treating of the Hobthrush, or Hobthrust, of the Furness district, Bowker relates : " A tailor made him a coat and hood for winter wear, and in the night the workman was heard bidding farewell to his old quarter ; saying :
Hob thrush has got a new coat and new hood,
His shadowy flail had thrashed the corn
We thus constantly meet with notable points of contact between the Island, and Lancashire, and the North of England and Scotland in particular, a fact to be borne in mind when examining and sifting the Folk-Lore of the Isle of Man, with its striking tincture of Irish, Norse, and North blood, and its fluctuating overlap of tradition and belief.