[from Manx Notes & Queries, 1904]




Appended below are the Manx names of the piscatorial family, which will no doubt be of interest to Manx fishermen. As it would be very desirable to make the list as complete a one as possible, criticism and corrections are invited. There are many old Manxmen with whom not a few of these names will be familiar, and there are many points which may require clearing up, so I shall esteem it a pleasure to have the list freely criticised. In some cases, two or more Manx names appear for one fish, in others it is hard to determine their English equivalent, while a great many seem to have no Manx name. Some of these are merely translations of their English equivalents, which I have taken the liberty to make. No doubt, not a few of these have Manx names, so I hope that Manx fishermen will peruse the list and send in any additions or corrections. A list of animals, birds, insects, &c., will follow in due course.

J. J. K.

Angel or Monk Fish— Eeast-Vaynagh
Butterfly Fish— Eeast-Foillycan
Sea-Horse—Cabbyl Marrey
Cod —Boiddagh
Cod, rock — Boiddagh Ruy
Crab, soldier—Partan Sidoor
Cray Fish—Gimmagh Awin
Dog Fish—Gobbag (?) Gobbag Ghoal
Eel —Astan
Conger Eel—Astan Vooar
Flounder, Flook— Liehbage
Flying Fish—Eeast Etlee
Gold Fish—Eeast Airhey
Grampus—Perkyn Vooar
Gurnard —Crodane Gurnard, gray— Crodane Ghlass
Limpet, Flitter— Baarnagh
Mackerel—Brack V’trrey (Cheayin)
Minow — Burdoge
Sea Owl—HulladVarrey
Salmon Trout—Brack Ghiaal
Saw Fish—Eeast Saaue
Sea Woif—Moddey Oayldey Marrey
Shark— Sharkagh,
Bock Glass
Skate ~ Scarrag
Sole—Lichbage Chiare
Sucking Fish—Eeast Jiolee
Sun Fish—Eeast Greiney
Sword Fish—Eeast
Tench—Bollan [Cliwe
Toad Fish—Gailley
Trout—Brack [Pern
Trumpet Fish—Eeast Hellym
Sea Unicorn—Eeast Eairkagh
Whelk-Mwatlag— Buckee
Pollock Fish—Blockan
Sand Eel—Gibbin
Stinging Sand Eel— Gibbin-Kialgerey
Scollop —Raucan
(?) Giarechutt
(?) Callag, Keilleig
(?) Bulkione

There seems to be no Manx equivalent for the following :—Adrniral, Anchovey, Bream, Chama, Char, Chub, Cockle, Dace, Dolphin, John Doree, Father Lasher, Gar Fish, Grayling, Horned Silure, Kraken, Lucerna, Lump Fish, Narval, Perch, Pike, Pilchard, Pilot Fish, Prawn, Reinora, Roach, Flying Scorpion, Smelt, Snipe Shell, Sparling, Sprat, Sturgeon, Thornback, Torpedo Whale.



In ancient times there was no parish and sheading in the Island but had its Airey on the upland hills, wherever they would yield fair pasturage. It was a merry, happy time, this, and the Highlands of Scotland owe to their existence some of their finest ballads and songs. Then when the summer came at last the black cattle and milch cows and goats were driven to the Aireys, and booths were built from the Hebrides, Shetland, the Highlands, down to Mann and Donegal. Pennant in his Highland travels gives us some picturesque sketches of their daily life during that jolly time, and shows us some of their quaint sugar-loafed and heather and turf-built erections. The Norsemen, too, had their shealiugs, and called them Setr, and they had their Sels, or as we call it, shealings and booths. They soon, in their Gaelic intercourse, became acquainted with the term Airidh and used it, but they pronounced it Erg or Arg, as we know from early Icelandic records.* Airidh, now contracted in Manx variously into ary, eairey, irey, harry, ari, or eree, means originally a place for summer grazing in the mountains, a hill pasture for black cattle, or a shieling, or shed, or booth in the secondary sense. Indication of an eanly use we have in the word Airey Steane or Stane (pronounced now by the peasants Harry Stane). The Lewis, the islands par excellence with their hun-dreds of Airidhs, Airidheen’s, and Gearridheens, always affix the owner’s or clan’s name to it, and amongst them we have also the Airidh Stein an Totair, or Stein’s an Totair Shealing, so that we see how closely Norwegian surnames run in Lewis and Mann. The name Steane is found in the Ballaugh Burial Register of 1598, and of course is much older in the Island. I will not count up here the numerous Aireys in the Island ; no parish, as Arbory, Patrick, Marown, Breddan, German, Garif, &c., is without them. They were either communal, going then simply by the name The Airey, Airey glass, mooar, lhean, ny Kione, ven, but they have also proprietory names given to them, as Airey Cushlin, Steane, Torkell, Kelley, Wind (Quinn), Carrigan, and there is also an airey of the Strangers (jora)—but that is long ago, the system has crumbled, and the aireys have become enclosed. The commune which held out longest was Rushen. An old Manx friend told me— " I can remember when there were a great many of the farmers sending their heifers to Paark Staine somewhere near Airey Staine (known in Manx Folklore by the legend of the weaver’s leaping beam). There used to be great wide common between Lhinguage a Airey Staine, and many cattle were sent to the pasture every summer, but the farmers of Rushen all joined, and sold the common a have done away with all"

But the interest does not end here ; we also have our Aireys even in name in Lancashire, implanted by the early Norseman, as proved by Dr Colley-March,1 and preserved in such names as Grimes arge, Anlasasghe, Gusharge, Skelmerserghe, Mansergke, etc. (Grimes, Anlafs, Goose, Skelmers, Mani, Olaf’s son, arghe ; in Amounderness, Furness, West and East Riding, etc. Did these Norsemen come from Garff to Cumberland an North Lancashire, crossing from Laxey, Maughold, and Onchan, where they had large settlements, or did they descend rather in their ships from Lewis and other Western isles ? The connection between the Norsemen of Mann and th opposite west coast of England was very intimate I believe the former assumption is the more likely oue.

Manchester. C. ROEDER

.* see Vigfusson’s Icelandic Dictionary, sub nomen.*
1 Transactions of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society, 1890, specially 93-96.





They have a peculiar way of keeping Christmas. In the evening of the 24th of December, all servants are allowed to knock off, business, who ramble about till the clock strikes: twelve ; and then the bells ring in all the, churches to call them to prayers, which, being ended, they go to hunt the wren, kill the first they find ; lay her with great solemnity on a bier, bring her to the parish church, bury her with whimsical ceremonies, singing dirges over her in the Manks tongue, which they call her knell. This done, Christmas begins. Every barn is occupied for the twelve days. Every parish provides fiddlers at the public charge, to accommodate the young people, who spend the nights in dancing. On the twelfth day the fiddler lays his head in one of the women’s lap, which posture they look upon him as a kind of oracle. For one of the company coming up, and naming every maiden in the company, asks this fiddler, who shall this or that girl marry ? And what-ever he answers it is absolutly depended upon as an oracle. This is termed : The cutting off the fiddler’s head, because he becomes useless till the next year.


+ An historical and geographical descriptions of the British Empire, by the Rev. John Entick, MA., vol. IV., pp. 274-275, London, 1774.  



An old saying of the people at Christ.mas time was :—

Tan Ullick veg fo’n vink,
Tan Ullick vooar cooll thie,
Tra yiow mayd lune dy iu,
As glout browe mooar dy fie.

The little Christmas is under the bench,
The big Christmas at the back of the house,
When we will get ale to drink,
And a good big lump of pie.

They used to, and still call the new Christmas the little Christmas, and the old Christmas, the big Christmas, and most of the houses in Cregneish had a stone bench near the front door, to set tubs and other things on to dry. It was called bink, in Manx, and when the Christmas was very near at hand, they used to say : it is under the bench, that is to say, at the door ; and the big Christmas is at the back of the houses (cooil), that was : it is near, when we’ll get ale to drink and pie with merry cheer. The people of Cregneish keep old Christmas, for they think it is the right Christmas.




The old men at Christmas times were dancing in the public-houses and singing :—

Darrey dy Graase Vorgaig,
Cha vtalk mee rieau dty lheid
Fiddler ayns Bradda, as piver s’yn Howe,
As shen Hommy gonnagh ec y thie dole er yn clou.

Dorothy Grace Margaret,
Never saw I the like of you
A Fiddler in Bradda, and piper in the Howe,
And old sore Tommy at home, playing with the tongs.




In old times the farmers and fishermen used at Christmas time, after coming from the Oie’l Verree, to go to a public-house and have a spree of Manx ale. They called it jaugh vie. Every house had a big candle made for the occasion, and the men would be enjoying them-selves until the large Christmas candle would be burning down in the socket. And then they would be singing before they left the house :— Ta tree gholl thie dy gholl ely lhie, &c.




On Holy Eve the girls used to go at 12 o’clock at night and carry a ball of woollen yarn in their hand, and steal to a barn without any-one knowing anything about it, and twisting the end of it round their wrist threw the ball in the darkness as far as they could ; then after a little while they began to wind it up, beginning at the end twined around their wrist. If the thread was held they would cry out : " Who is holding the thread ?" and they expected whoever held it to say who he was ; if there was no answer they were to be old maids,* C. ROEDER.

 * Also current in Ireland, Scotland, &c., &c.


[38 ]  


I alluded in the first part of my Manx Folklore (see Lioar Vanninagh) to a custom still remembered in Cregneish on Christmas The fiddlers then used to go about after twelve o’clock playing and singing some Manx song which they called the Unnesup. It ran thus :—

Goll er yn Unnesup, goll er yn Unnesup,
Daa oor roish yn laa,
Dooinney ta ny lhie marish ben dooinney elley,
Te bwaagh dy girree ayns traa.

Goll er yn Unnesup, gall er yn Unnesup,
Daa oor lurg y vean oie,
Dooinney ta ny lhie marish ben dooinney elley,
Te bwaagh dy girree ayns traa.

Unnesup was likewise a common word with the old people, and meant a good thrashing, when the young ones played some tricks. They gave them unnesup on being caught.

My attention was drawn recently to the above word by a passage in Anderson’s Cumberland Ballads :—

Thy fadder’s comin’ frae the croft,
A bonnie hunesup faith he mek.

Hunesup is rendered " to scold, quanrel,* and was a word current in the central part of Cumberland. In slang it would be to give you a taste of the " tune." The hunesup is also the name of a livey old tune peculiar to Christmas, called The hunt’s up through the wood. John Briggs+ informs us that tbe inhabitants of the Westmoreland cottages were aroused from their dreams on Christmas night by the elegant aid of this song. Going a step further we finds that Hunesup was a tune played on a horn under the window of sportsmen very early in the morning to awake them—hence the term was applied to any noise of an awakening or alarming nature. In Craven it denoted "a clamour, a turbulent outcry." But the great interest ot the Manx song of the Unnesup (the masked Hunt is up) consists in the circumstances that we have already an early rendering of it in English, which is found in The Merry Drollery Complete, 1661, and in the New Academy of Compliments, 1694, which runs :—

The hunt is up, the hunt is up,
And now it is almost day,
And he that’s in bed with another man’s wife,
It’s time to get away.

Our Manx song contains a second strophe, and appears to be a close verbal , translation. We learn, further,1 that it is in the same measure, and was probably sung to the same tune, as the old ballad :—

The hunt is up, the hunt is up,
And it is well nigh day,
And Harry our King has gone hunting,
To bring his deer to bay,

which was one of Henry VIII. favourite melodies, and has been traced back to 1537. it is certainly one of the finest tunes in the whole history of English ballad-literature, and has maintained its hold upon the people for centures, and to find therefore a faint echo of it reverberatitg in the little secluded hill-village of Cregneish, in Manx garb, with its old meaning and origin, however unknown to the old people, gives its re-discovery a peculiar charm. It passed over, no doubt, with Stanley’s "merrie men," who carried it from Mid-Lancashire to the South of the Island, to Castletown and Peel, from whence the catching tune was quickly taken up by the Manx morris-dancers and fiddlers who went on Christmas from village to village, playing and singing, and merry making and—goll er yn unnesup. And the Christmas festival used to be ushered in not so many decades ago by the young men perambulating the streets fantastically dressed up and playing the White-boys. For several nights, just preceding the festival, the fiddlers went about the streets of the town for hours together, playing a tune called the Andisop. This is of course the same as the Unnesup of Cregneish, and was played in the Northern parts, as Ramsey, &c. The blowing of horns at weddings was a very old custom, and formerly not very complimentary to the bride.2 This was also a kind of hunesup, of an indelicate nature, in vogue in England in the 17th century, to which allusion is made in Chappell’s Ballad Literature. A good many old so-called Manx tunes are really of English origin, introduced to the Island at different periods.


P.S.—I see from the programme of the inaugral meeting of the Manchester Manx Society, November 27th, 1901, that the Manx air, Yn Unnesup is associated with the song Mannin veg villish veen. Why not restore it now to the proper and original fine old tune The Hunt is up, current in the time of Henry VIII , which is given in Chappell’s Ballad Literature of the Olden Times, page 61 ? C R.

* See also Dialect of Cumberland, by W. Dickenson, London, 1878.

+ See Westmoreland as it was.

1: See Halliwell.

1 See Craven Glossary.

1 Bee Ballad Literature and Popular Music of the Olden Times, by W. Chappeil, F.S,A., and harmonised by U. A. Macfarran, London ; page 61.

2 See Quiggin’s Illustrated Guide through the Isle of Man, page 191.



The note referring to Erystein in a recent issue in " Manx Notes and Queries " must have been read with interest. It would appear, however, that the derivation ot the word from Steane (Stephen) is hardly correct. Tradition says that this place formerly belonged to the Austeyns from whom the name is probably derived—it being originally "Eary Austeyn." This is borne out by the Rent Roll of 1511, where we find the following entries of Lord’s rent for this treen :—

John Brice, senr., and Patric Brice, with Michael McAusteyn xvjs vjd

And Michael McAusteyn iijs iiijd.

The McAusteyns were, of course, the descendants of the Austeyns, and the name has become corrupted into the modern Costain. Austeyn is a shortened form of Augustin and this is the diminutive of Augustrs (see Moore’s Surnames and Place-Names). The same remark applies to Park Stein and Slieu Eary Stein. From Erystein would probably come the Costains who settled at Ballachrink, and gave rise to that numerous family. Tradition also asserts that these Austyns were originally Dutch immigrants ; and the Stevensons of Balladoole are said by some not to be Stephensons, but Steynsons. Indeed the whole subject is a most interesting one, and worthy of thorough investigation. ARBORY.



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