Isle Of Man

Mona once hid from those that search the main,
Where thousand elfin shapes abide.
   The Isle of Man, peopled by Celts, and early and frequently visited and colonised by the Northmen, has also its Fairies, which differ little from those of the greater islands between which it lies. An English gentleman, named Waldron, who resided in the island in the early part of the last century, was curious about its Fairy-lore, and he has recorded a number of the legends which he heard.1 His book, indeed, has been the chief source whence Ritson, Sir Walter Scott, 2 and others, have drawn their illustrations of English Fairy-lore in general, and the subsequent inquiries of Mr. Train have enabled him to add but very little to it. We will here relate some of these legends:
   The great peculiarity of the Manks Fairies, according to Mr. Waldron, is their fondness for riding, and this not on little steeds of their own, or on the small breed of the country, but on the large English and Irish horses, which are brought over and kept by the gentry. Nothing, it was said, was more common than to find in the morning horses covered with foam and sweat, and tired to death, which had been shut up at night in the stable. One gentleman assured Mr. Waldron that three or four of his best horses had been killed with these nocturnal exercises.
   They called them the Good People, and said that their reason for dwelling in the hills and woods was, their dislike of the vices of towns. Hence the houses which they deigned to visit were thought to be blest. In these houses, a tub or pail of clean water was always left for them to bathe in. Good, however, as they were, they used to change children. Mr. Waldron saw one of these changelings; it was nearly six years old, but was unable to walk or even stand, or move its limbs. Its complexion was delicate, and it had the finest hair in the world. It never cried or spoke, and it ate scarcely anything; it rarely smiled, but if any one called it Fairy-elf, it would frown and almost look them through. Its mother, who was poor, was often obliged to go out for whole days a-charing, and leave it by itself, and when the neighbours would look in on it through the window, they always saw it laughing and in great delight, whence they judged that it had agreeable company with it, more especially as let it be left ever so dirty, the mother on her return found it with a clean face, and its hair nicely combed out.

The Fairy-Chapman

   A man being desirous of disposing of a horse he had at that time no great occasion for, and riding him to market for that purpose, was accosted in passing over the mountains by a little man in a plain dress, who asked him if he would sell his horse. "Tis the design I am going on," replied he: on which the other desired to know the price. "Eight pounds," said he. "No," returned the purchaser, "I will give no more than seven, which if you will take, here is your money." The owner thinking he had bid pretty fair, agreed with him, and the money being told out, the one dismounted and the other got on the back of the horse, which he had no sooner done than both beast and rider sunk into the earth immediately, leaving the person who had made the bargain in the utmost terror and consternation. As soon as he had a little recovered himself he went directly to the parson of the parish, and related what had passed, desiring he would give his opinion whether be ought to make use of the money he had received or not. To whichhe replied, that as he had made a fair bargain, and no way circumvented nor endeavoured to circumvent the buyer, he saw no reason to believe, in case it was an evil spirit, it could have any power over him. On this assurance, he went borne well satisfied, and nothing afterwards happened to give him any disquiet concerning this affair. This was told to Waldron by the person to whom it happened.

The Fairy-Banquet

   A man one time was led by invisible musicians for several miles together, and not being able to resist the harmony, followed till it conducted him to a large common, where were a great number of little people sitting round a table, and eating and drinking in a very jovial manner. Among them were some faces whom he thought be had formerly seen, but forbore taking any notice, or they of him, till the little people offering him drink, one of them, whose features seemed not unknown to him, plucked him by the coat, and forbade him whatever he did to taste anything he saw before him, "For if you do," added be, "you will be as I am, and return no more to your family." The poor man was much affrighted, but resolved to obey the injunction. Accordingly, a large silver cup, filled with some sort of liquor, being put into his hand, he found an opportunity to throw what it contained on the ground. Soon after, the music ceasing, all the company disappeared, leaving the cup in his hand, and he returned home, though much wearied and fatigued. He went the next day, and communicated to the minister of the parish all that had happened, and asked his advice, how he should dispose of the cup, to which the parson replied, he could not do better than to devote it to the service of the church, and this very cup, they say, is that which is now used for the consecrated wine in Kirk Merlugh.

The Fairies' Christening

   A woman related that being great with child, and expecting every moment the good hour, as she lay awake one night in her bed, she saw seven or eight little Women come into her chamber, one of whom had an infant in her arms. They were followed by a man of the same size with themselves, but in the habit of a minister. One of them went to the pail, and finding no water in it, cried out to the others, what must they do to christen the child? On which they replied it should be done in beer. With that the seeming parson took the child in his arms, and performed the ceremony of baptism, dipping his head into a great tub of strong beer, which the woman had brewed the day before to. be ready for her lying-in. She said they baptised the infant by the name of Joan, which made her know she was pregnant of a girl, as it proved a few days after when she was delivered. She added, that it was common for the fairies to make a mock christening when any person was near her time, and that, according to what child, male or female, they brought, such should the woman bring into the world.

The Fairy-Whipping

   A woman who lived about two miles distant from Ballasalli, and used to serve Mr. Waldron's family with butter, made him once very merry with a story she told him of her daughter, a girl of about ten years old, who being sent over the fields to the town for a pennyworth of tobacco for her father, was on the top of a mountain surrounded by a great number of little men, who would not suffer her to pass any farther. Some of them said she should go with them, and accordingly laid hold of her; but one, seeming more pitiful, desired they would let her alone, which they refusing, there ensued a quarrel, and the person who took her part fought bravely in her defence. This so incensed the others, that to be revenged on her for being the cause, two or three of them seized her, and. pulling up her clothes, whipped her heartily; after which, it seems, they had no farther power over her, and she ran home directly telling what had befallen her, and showing her buttocks, on which were the prints of several small hands. Several of the town's-people went with her to the mountain; and she conducting them to the spot, the little antagonists were gone, but had left behind them proofs, as the good woman said, that what the girl had informed them was true, for there was a great deal of blood to be seen on the stones, This did she aver with all the solemnity possible.

The Fairy Hunt

   A young sailor coming off a long voyage, though it was late at night, chose to land rather than lie another night in the vessel. Being permitted to do so, he was set on shore at Douglas. It happened to be a line moonlight night, and very dry, being a small frost; he therefore forbore going into any house to refresh himself, but made the best of his way to the house of a sister he had at Kirk-Merlugh. As he was going over a pretty high mountain, he heard the noise of horses, the halloo of a huntsman, and the finest horn in the world. He was a little surprised that any one pursued those kinds of sports in the night; but he had not time for much reflection before they all passed by him so near, that he was able to count what number there was of them, which he said was thirteen, and that they were all dressed in green, and gallantly mounted. He was so well pleased with the sight, that he would gladly have followed could he have kept pace with them. He crossed the footway, however, that he might see them again, which he did more than once, and lost not the sound of the horn for some miles. At length being arrived at his sister's, he tells her the story, who presently clapped her hands for joy that he was come home safe; "for," said she, "those you saw were fairies, and 'tis well they did not take you away with them."

The Fiddler And The Fairy

   A Fiddler having agreed with a person, who was a stranger, for so much money, to play to some company he should bring him to, all the twelve days of Christmas, and received earnest for it, saw his new master vanish into the earth the moment he had made the bargain. Nothing could be more terrified than was the poor fiddler. He found he had entered himself into the Devil's service, and looked on himself as already damned; but having recourse to a clergyman, he received some hope. He ordered him, however, as he had taken earnest, to go when he should be called, but that whatever tunes should be called for, to play none but psalms. On the day appointed the same person appeared, with whom he went, but with what inward reluctance it is easy to guess; and punctually obeying the minister's directions, the company to whom he played were so angry, that they all vanished at once, leaving him at the top of a high hill, and so bruised and hurt, though he was not sensible when or from what hand be received the blows, that he got not home without the utmost difficulty.

The Phynnodderee

   The Phynnodderee, or Hairy-one, is a Manks spirit of the same kind with the Brownie or the Kobold. He is said to have been a fairy who was expelled from the fairy society.
   The cause was, he courted a pretty Manx maid who lived in a bower beneath the blue tree of Glen Aldyn, and therefore was absent from the Fairy court during the Re-hollys vooar yn ouyr, or harvest-moon, being engaged dancing in the merry glen of Rushen. He is condemned to remain in the Isle of Man till doomsday, in a wild form, covered with long shaggy hair, whence his name.
   He is very kind and obliging to the people, sometimes driving home the sheep, or cutting and gathering the hay, if he sees a storm coming on. On one of these occasions, a farmer having expressed his displeasure with him for not having cut the grass close enough to the ground, he let him cut it himself the next year; but he went after him stubbing up the roots so fast, that it was with difficulty that the farmer could escape having his legs cut off. For several years no one would venture to mow that meadow; at length a soldier undertook it, and by beginning in the centre of the field, and cutting round, as if on the edge of a circle, keeping one eye on the scythe, and looking out for the Phynnodderee with the other, he succeeded in cutting the grass in safety.
   A gentleman having resolved to build a large house on his property, at a place called Sholt- e-will, near the foot of Snafield mountain, caused the stones to be quarried on the beach. There was one large block of white stone which he was very anxious to have, but all the men in the parish could not move it. To their surprise, the Phynnodderee in the course of one night conveyed all the stones that bad been quarried, the great white one included, up to the proposed site, and the white stone is there still to be seen. The gentleman, to reward the Phynnodderee, caused some clothes to be left for him in one of his usual haunts. When he saw them, he lifted them up one by one, saying in Mania:

Bayrm da'n choine, dy doogh da'n choine,
Cooat da'n dreeym, dy doogh da'n dreeym,
Breechyn da'n toyn, dy doogh da'n toyn,
Agh my she lhiat ooiley, shoh cha nee Ihiat Glen reagh Rushen.

Cap for the head, alas, poor head!
Coat for the back, alas, poor back
Breeches for the breech, alas, poor breech!
If these be all thine, thine cannot be the merry glen of Rushen.
   And he departed with a melancholy wail, and has never been seen since. The old people say, "There has not been a merry world since he lost his ground."3


1. Description of the Isle of Man. London, 1731.
2. In his Essay on Fairies in the Minstrelsy of the Sottish Border, and in the notes on Peveril of the Peak.
3. Train. Account of the Isle of Man. ii. p. 148.