Folklore

Manx Fairies

The Isle of Man is steeped in history and tales of fairies and other unearthly creatures.  There are many descriptions of how they look, the most popular being  small human-like creatures, often about a metre tall, with blue or green with red-peaked hats and they definitely do not have wings.

 

They can be both helpful or spiteful, depending on how they feel and they are reputed to take offence very easily, You should never talk directly about them or call them by name, but should refer to them as Mooiney Veggey, or The Little People. 

 When travelling from Douglas to Castletown, just past Santon,  you cross the 'Fairy Bridge' and should always say hello to the Mooiney Veggey or wave to them.  There are many tales about what happens if you neglect to acknowledge them. Many of the bikers who come to the Island make a special journey to the bridge to say hello befor taking part in the races.

 Another hard-working but bad tempered fairy is the Phynodderree.  He helps the farmer with chores and is a large, hairy, shaggy elf.  If, however, a farmer were to offer this elf a new set of clothes as thanks for all the hard work, he would be mortally insulted and would simply disappear.

 The Buggane is the most dangerous and terrifying of all the Manx fairies.  This is the evil hobgoblin of the fairy kingdom.  Bugganes were said to be covered in black hair, tusks and a large red mouth.  As they were known to tunnel underground, they might be said to resemble a giant mole, though they were intelligent and spoke to people on occasion.  A buggane always had a particular home, such as a waterfall, a forest or an old ruin, where it would remain unless disturbed somehow.  The most famous of all is the one associated with the roofless church of St Trinian's on the main road between Peel and Douglas.  This buggane repeatedly tore off any new roof that was put back on to the church, terrorizing all and sundry and to this day the church still has no roof.

 

The Moddeh Dhoo of Peel castle was a spectral hound and relates to a period when the castle was a fortress with its own garrison of soldiers.  The black ghostly dog was well-known to the soldiers and was capable of terrifying people to death.

[from Manx Notes & Queries, 1904]

FAIRIES.

[116.]

The Manx fairies are both big and small, have little eyes, and are agile and vindictive, if annoyed. They are generally dressed in green jackets, and red caps, but sometimes wear leather caps; they dislike evil smells such as mooin, and live in green hill sides, in the mountains. and forests, under human habitations, and sometimes in the tumuli. They are fond of hunting, and also fish in the glens and on the sea, and great lovers of music and dancing. Sometimes, if they can manage, they use men for their horses into which they can change them. They kidnap and snatch human children and women, and are particular eager to capture fiddlers, whom they keep in their subterranean dwellings for their entert;tinmemts. They visit farmers at night time, and to keep them at peace and on friendly terms, every household has to leave them broken bread and victuals, cowree and clean water. They talk foreign languages. On the Mull a little fairy man; seen by a farmer, measured five to six inches high, without beard, he had a little pale face, and his ears were not larger than a shirt button. They also sport in the trammon trees, of which tree they are very partial, they have been seen banqueting, and at their musical festivals, and in stormy nights they lave claimed the hospitality of the peasant. Although they are generally good natured and kind hearted people, still there are also very bad ones, whom one has to guard against with charms, as a preventive from their mischief and malice. Amongst these the most potent are: salt, iron, the cross, the Bible, iron tongues and knives, certain herbs and flowers, particular of yellow or blue and red colour, spread at the door and floor, and particularly so on Midsummer Eve. The rowan is also a great preservative, and affixed to the cottage, and so is the horseshoe; a red thread round the neck, secures the safety of the child, and a " God bless me," or " God preserve me," makes them helpless and powerless. They dislike the ringing of church bells. The Island has produced a rich store of fairy tales, and I have collected personally a great number, some of them perfect gems, and there is sufficient material waiting to make a splendid book, especially if well illustrated, of Manx Fairy Tales.

The Manx call the fairies now mostly by the English name, Ferrishyn. The Lancashire word is feorin; of the dwarfs, distinguished as. such, the Island knows nothing. The Norse or Danish word, troll, has vanished. Neither have we in the Island any indication of the littly Clurican of Co. Cork, or the Lurigadaun of Tipperary, and the Leprechan of Leinster. The tailor and "beggar man," who used to travel from house to house, are our great story tellers of adventures and fairy tales in Mann, we often come across them in our tales.

[117.]

A LITTLE FAIRY.

It was in the last harvest time, two young chaps went about sunset to get the cows home. The cows were in a field near the mountain, and when they were driving them along the road they saw a little man, five or six inches high, walking before the cows' feet, and they bellowed to him to keep out of the way of the cows, but he took no notice, and kept going on just before the cows' feet. He was very small, and had no beard, and a little pale face, and his ears were only as big as a shirt button, and they were a little bit afraid of him, little as he was. He was dressed in blue, and could walk as fast as the cows, but vhen he had come along before the cows, they got courageous, and proposed they would try to catch him, but when they were just going to lay hold of him, he spread the wings of his little coat, and rose up to the clouds, and was out of sight in a moment. He had very little feet and shoes, they said, and left no footprints on the dust of the road.

[118.]

FAIRIES SPORTING IN THE TREES OF LHINGOWL.

An old woman was telling me she and her daughter went down to the place in Ballachrink river, called Lhingowl, one fine mmmer evening to get the cows home, and the Sun was not quite gone down, but was shining on the tops of the trees, and they heard a lot of folks talking in the trees. She could distinguish between young and old, beside the voices of children, and they seemed to have some sport, but she could not understand one word. They went to the spot where they were hearing the talk to try and get a sight of them, but when they got there they would hear them in another place, and they went to five or six different places, but never got a peep at them. When they got to the place where they were hearing the sport, the sport would be in the spot they ofhad just left. And she said to her daughter that they had better drive the cows home, and get away as soon as possible, for it must be the fairies; and they got away, but could still hear them. She said she never liked to go down near Lhingowl again after that.

[119.]

FAIRIES BANQUETING AND CUTTING UP BEEF.

There is a house in Glenchass, which has the name of being haunted. The man who lived in it-an old sailor and a bachelor-one night, when sleeping in the cockloft, was awakened by a great noise in the kitchen. He got out of bed, and had at them, and saw a great many people there, and a great number of candles burning, and they bad a long bench with a fine beef laid upon, and they were busy cutting the beef up, chopping with cleavers, and sawing with saws; but he did not say a word, but got into bed again. He was ex-pecting all the furniture to be all smashed with the row they made, but everything was as he left them, and all the beef was taken away, and there was not even a stain of blood nor trace of their butchering to be seen.

[120.]

FAIRY HUNTING PARTY.

The fairies were bunting in Glenchass hill One fine night, and a man saw a great crowd coming over the cronk, and the dogs were coming in front, and when the dogs. came to the stream of water, always running in the glen, they liad a drink before crossing, and then the hunting party followed on horses, and some on foot, and they had all red hats on, but they could not tell whether their coats were black or green.

[121.]

CALLING ON THE FAIRIES.

A woman had a little baby, and he was very cross in the night, and one night he was crying she lifted him up and said: "Here fairies, take him "-to frighten him, and in a moment the bed was struck with some great club, which shook herself and husband and frightened them very much.

[122.]

FAIRY VISITORS.

The man that lived in the cottage in the heather up the Mull, had the fairies often coming in the house when the -wife and him-self were in bed, and playing, and dancing about the room, but they were not talking but very little when they were awake. They were very little people, but they could jump well. He was awake one night when they came in, and there was one big chap with them that night, and he saw the big fellow coming to-wards the bed, and he closed his eyes, and feigned to be asleep, and the fairy bent over him. Then he said to the company in Manx Ta'n ghenn chellagh ny ehadley er aght erbee (The old cock is asleep anyway).

[123.]

FAIRY VISITORS AGAIN.

A man who was living in a house not far from the Chasms-but the house is taken away to mend hedges for some twenty years now-said the fairies were coming in at the door in the evenings about sunset, as the wife and himself were sitting at the fire: they were like little boys about seven years of age, and they had leather caps on, they would be coming in and going out again, and some of them would come quite near to them at the fire, but they never did any mischief about his remises, and so he never molested them, but et them dance and jump as much as they pleased.

[124.]

GOING WITH THE FAIRIES.

It was said of a young chap that lived in Fistard, that he was going with the fairies every night, and coming home in the morning. He was going out at night, and they could not keep him in the house; he wculd sometimes tell them of the sports he had with the fairies, and that they were turning him to a horse and riding on his back, and telling about the nice whips the fairies had, and how sharply they cracked. He was going that way for years, but he died before he was twenty. The front teeth in his mouth grew very big, and he was a terror to look at.

[125.]

FAIRIES RIDING IN THE ELDER TREES.

The fairies have deserted the haunted house; there were great noises every night, but they have left it for some reason; there used to be very large elder trees growing about it, but they are all decayed, and there is no proper branch to ride on, but whether that is the reason or not, there is no one able to tell, and it seems that Glenchass cronk was a faroatrite haunt of the fairies.

[126.]

FAIRIES, IMAGE-MAKING.

A woman at Glenchass had been con-fined and was in bed, and a light burning in her room; her husband was lying the wall side of her, fast asleep, and she saw a good many of the fairies peeping in at the door, and in a short time they ventured in, and commenced to make an image. She did not know whether it was herself or the baby they intended to take, as they were making the image so big. And she was trying all the time to awake her husband, but he was very hard to get him to move, but before the form they were making was quite finished, she got him roused, and as soon as they heard his voice they were off as fast as possible, and they were dragging the image after them; she could hear it bumping on the stairs as they were running down; they seemed to have big heads, for their ears, she affirmed, were the size and shape like wine botles.

[127.]

FAIRIES AT WORK.

A woman related that on a calm evening-and the sky was clear and cloudless, and not a breath of wind-there arose a smoke out of the garden, and a great white cloud going up straight towards the sky, as thick as the chimney of a house, and was rising at a great rate. The cloud of smoke was cut even with the top of the trees, and went away like a bank of white fog over the fields, but there was nothing burnt in the garden, neither could they smell fire or smoke, but since the big elder trees are taken avay, and the cow-house, and the garden, there is nothing to be seen or heard ever since, so it appears the fairies left the place when there was no shelter or trees to ride on. At one time the fairies began to beat the wall of the old cow-house with something like a sledge hammer, but she could not see, but could hear the blows, and felt the ground trembling under her at every blow.

[128.]

A FAIRY LOVE HAUNTING A MAN (=Lhiannan shee).

There is a story about Ballabick, a farmhouse near Ballasalla. It was about a young Scotchman, and he was coming home late at night and saw a light in Ballahick house and he knew it was not inhabited at the time, but he thought there was some tenant come to live and he would go to the house to see the ihabitants. When he came to the gate there were two young ladies standing there, and he asked them if there was some family come to Ballahick, and they said there was, and asked him to go up with them and see. He went in the house, where there was a great company, and two or three pairs on the floor dancing, but there was no face that he knew among them all. The company made him very welcome, and one of the young ladies he met at the gate kept near him, and it appears he made free with her. When the dancing was over they were leaving the house, and he came away with the rest, but his fairy love followed him home and haunted him ever afterward. He went abroad thinking to leave her behind, but she followed wherever he went-over sea and land. It is supposed he must have kissed her, and that gave her power to haunt him, and to go across the ocean with him.

[129.]

FAIRY FIRES AND FOREIGN FAIRIES.

A man once saw a bonfire on Glenchass, but there was no sign of fire in the morning, and he had seen many times Perivick Brows on fire in the night, but there was no trace there next morning; and he was coming home from the Oie'l Verree at Christmas, and it was late, after twelve o'clock, and be heard great talking at the house when he came near, but could not understand one word. He expected his people up for him, and that the house was full of his companions, but when he got into the house all were in bed fast asleep.

[130.]

A BIG STACK OF FIRE.

Some men were going home from Port St. Mary about one o'clock on Saturday night, and saw a great big stack of fire coming in from sea, and they heard some drunken fellows quarrelling and fighting at the four roads at the time, and this stack of fire went towards the place where they were fighting and disappeared, and the row was over.

[131.]

STORY OF A FAIRY CHILD IN FOXDALE.

There was an old man from Foxdale telling about a changeling in Foxdale. He said it was a true story, for he knew the man and woman and the house, and he had seen the fairy child many times. The father was a miner. At the time the child was changed, on that evening h- was later than usual. The wife was looking out for him, and she beard a great bustle outside as if a great crowd of people were going about the house, and she opened the door, and looked out, but saw nothing. When she came in again the baby was screaming in the cradle, and she went to give it the breast, but was surprised to see her own. fair child changed into a dark little child with only skin and bones. They could do nothing but keep the little fairy as well as they could, but she could not get him quiet, but he always was crying. If they put him to sit on the mantle-piece, or on one of the shelves of the dresser, he would not fall, but was helpless when in their arms, and could not sit up at all. The neighbour woman was trying to persuade them it was a fairy, and. wanted her to let them have him to try some experiment on him, but she was for a long time very unwilling. At length she allowed them., and they got a lot of dry gorse and laid it in a circle, and put the child on some dry straw in the middle of the circle, and set fire to the gorse. So he lay quiet until the straw began to burn, then he commenced to tumble and tumble and tumble out of the ring in a place where the fire had not kindled, and the place where they intended to burn him was on the bank of a river, so he tumbled out of the ring, and went on rolling down the hill toward the river, but just before he tumbled into the water the mother ran, and picked him up, and she had to deal with him or many years afterwards, but he faded away to a skeleton, and at last seemed to be dead, and they got a coffin and shut him in, and buried him, and that was the end of all their trouble with him. Perhaps if she had allowed him to get into the river he would have floated back again to fairyland, and sent her own child back again, but her own baby never returned.

[132.]

ANOTHER STORY OF A FAIRY CHILD FROM THE NORTH OF THE ISLAND.

There was a travelling tailor once serving in a house in the north of the Island, and the farmer's wife had a fairy child crying and yelling in the cradle. Her own child had been exchanged. And the tailor was a great fiddler and always took his fiddle with him, and was playing it when not sewing at meal times. The farmer's wife went out to milk the cows in the morning, and when the tailor was left alone with the child, he took the fiddle, and began to play some new tune he 1i ad been practising, when, to his surprise, the baby leapt out of the cradle, and began to dance, and jump like a mad thing, but when he heard the footsteps of the farmer's wife, he got into the cradle again, and was crying as usual. The tailor said nothing about it for some days, but whenever the house was clear he took the fiddle, and began to play, and the baby was on the floor in a moment dancing like a juggler, but when the tailor had nearly finished his work, he told the farmer's wife about it, and that the child was a fairy. Then they made a great fire, and were intending to put it in the fire, but when the fire was ready he was gone, and their own baby was sleeping in the cradle.

[133.]

FAIRIES PULLING A BOAT ASHORE.

An old man was telling about one time they came into Perwick in a boat which they had for carrying lintels from Spanish Head, and the boat was too heavy for them to pull her up above the high water mark, and it came on to blow in the night, and he got up out of bed to look after the boat, and it was rather dark; as he was coming down the cliff he heard great shouting where the boat was, and he was hurrying to help, as be thought they were people drawing the boat. He saw a great company of people, with an anchor set up in the cliff, and hauling a boat up, and they were shouting in Manx Ooilley cooidgagh (all together); but when he came to them they all disappeared, and the boat was not moved out of her place. While he was there they commenced to haul up a boat in another place, and were shouting like the old fishermen used to be when the herring season was over, and pulling their boats up on dry land for the winter. One would be shouting and the others pulling: Hurrah, hurrah, launch away, a long pull, and a strong pull, and a pull altogether. He did not go near them any more, but left them to draw their boats in peace.

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