[From Manx Note Book vol 2, 1886]

Fin and Ossian Heroic Poem (withIntroductory Remarks) 


EARLY A HUNDRED YEARS AGO, THE following poem, with four others, in Manx, was deposited in the British Museum, by Professor Thorkelin, of Copenhagen, among a large number of Celtic MSS., which he had collected. The other poems are "Eubonia's Praise," and "Mylecharane," published in the Manx Society's Miscellanies ; "Scarlett Rocks," and "The Little Quiet Nation," in Parts I. and II. of THE MANX NOTE BOOK. Copies of these, however, were in existence elsewhere, but "Fin as Oshin," as far as can be ascertained, has never been mentioned by anyone since Professor Thorkelin's time, and was entirely lost sight of till discovered by the present writer. It is a fragment of a fine heroic poem, truly Ossianic in charader, and may confidently be pronounced to be the oldest known poetical composition in the Manx language. The Manx ends abruptly, but the conclusion is, probably, as indicated by Deemster Peter John Heywood,* in his interesting letter and notes, which, as well as the poem, have been copied.from the MS. in the British Museum. It is not known by whom the spirited English translation was made. Neither line 10 or the last line in the English version are contained in the Manx. With the exception of lines 9 and 10, which rendered literally are-

"Full three score whelps, and not one less,
With three score old dames to look after them,"

it is fairly close to the original.

A. W. M.

*See "Manx Note Book," NO. 6, P. 84.

"ISLE OF MANN, OCT. 25TH, 1789.


Dear Sir,-

" Several years ago, when the first Edition of the Poem of 'Fingal and Ossian,' by Mr. McPherson appeared, a Revd. Clergyman of my acquaintance* (since deceased), was then at the Bishop's Country Seat in this Isle, engaged with one of the Vicars-Genl in revising and corredirig a translation of the Scriptures into the Manx Language, and telling the Vicar-Genl of that new production,of which he read him some Episodes in the hearing of the Bishop's Gardiner, an old man who was at work near the Door of their Laboratory and listening. He stept in on hearing frequent mention of Fingal and Oshian, & Cuchullin, &c., and told them he knew who could sing a good song about those men, and Cuchullin, and that was his Brother's wife, a very antient woman — on which they sent for the old Dame, who very readily sung them eight or ten verses which my friend immediately took down in writing, and next day on recollection she brought them the rest, and of which he obliged me with a copy. I must own I was much surprised and delighted with the discovery and similarity of the subject to some of Oshian's Poems, vizt., Love, and Warriors, and Hunting, and jealousvs, and the barbarous Vengeance of those heroick Ages, of all which we meet with so many passages in the Poem of Fingal. My friend asked her where she learned the old Song; she said from her mother and grandmother and many morethat they used to sing them at their Work and Wheels. She perfectly remembered the name of Farg-hail, the man with the terrible Eyes and Lhane-jarg, with the bloody red hand. We have a tradition, that Mann for about a century was governed by a Norwegian race of Kings called Orrys. — See note A.

" Cuchullin is stiled King of the Mists ; this must be the Isle of Mann (see the preface to the Manx Statute Book) — and the fabulous story of Mananan hiding the Isle with a Mist, when an Invasion was apprehended — of equal Authority with the Origin of the Roman Empire, in Romulus and Remus, with their Nurse Lupa; or Great Britain founded by Brutus from Troy ; or Ireland peopled by Noah's Daughter, or that of iegypt with men sprung from the mud of the Nile. If such men as Fingal and Oshian, &c., had not existed, how came we in this Isle to know anything about them ? Whoever can solve me this satisfactorily — Erit mihi magnus Apollo!

I am, with very great Esteem and Regard,

MY Dear Sir,

Your greatly obliged Servt,


* The Rev. Philip Moore
§ He died the following February


HIE Fin as Oshin magh dy helg,
*Fal, lai, lo, as fal, lal, la,
Lesh sheshaght trean as meddee elg,
Cha row un deoinney sloo ny keead,
Coshee cha bieau cha row ny lheid,
Lesh feedyn coo eisht hie ad magh,
Trooid slieau as coan dy yannoo cragh,
Quoi daag ad ec y thie agh Orree begt
Cadley dy kinne fo scadoo'n creg !
Slane three feed quallian aeg gyn unnane sloo,

* * *

Lesh three feed cailleeyn dy yeeaghyn moo,
- Dooyrt inneen Fin ayns craid as corree,
" Kys yiow mayd nish cooilleen er Orree ? "
Dooyrt inneen Oshin ; " kiangle mayd ch,
Lesh folt y ching chionn gys y clea,
As chur mayd aile gys y cass cha bean."
Clysht tappee eisht hug Orree ass,
Tra dennee'n smuir roie ass e chiass,
Leo +Mollaght Mynney ad dy stroie,
Va er n'yannoo craid er mac y ree,
Dy farbagh breearrey ry ghrian as eayst,
Dy lesht ad hene as thieyn neesht,
-Hie Orree beg magh dys ny sleityn,
As speih mooar connee er e geayltyn,
Hoght bart mooar trotne hug eh lesh cart,
Hoght kionnanyn currit ayns dagh bart ;
Hoght deiney lheid's sy theihll nish t'ayn,
Cha droggagh bart jeh shoh ny v'ayn
Ayns dagh uinnag hug eh bart as ayns dagh dorrys,
Agh mean y thie mooar hene yrt bart mooar sollys. -
Va Fin as Oshin nish shelg dy chionn,
Lesh ooillev nyn treanee ayns ollish as joan,
Yaagh wooar ren sheeyney ass y glion, neear,
Troggal ayns bodjallyn agglagh myr rere ;
Roie Fin as roie Oshin derrey d'aase Oshin skee,
Agh she Fin mooar hene chum sodjey nish reie;
Eisht dyllee Fin huggey lesh toraa trotne, "
Cha vel faagit ain nish agh tholtanyn lhome,
Quoi ren yrt aseee shoh nagh re Orree beg ? "
Va'r chosney voue chelleerid gys eig fo yn treg,
Raad plooghit lesh vaagh havrn ad magh ery cass.

FIN and Oshin went out to hunt,
*Fal, lal, loo, as fal, lal, la.
With a noble train of men and dogs,
Not less in number than one hundred men,
So swift of foot and keen, none were their like;
With scores of Baudogs fierce they sallied forth,
O'er Hill and Dale, much Havock for to make.
-Whom left they then at home, but youthfull Orree!
Who slept secure beneath the shadowy rock;
Full three score Greyhounds, with their whelps they left,
(With three score lovely maidens, young and fair,)+
As many old dames to attend the young.
Says Fin's fair Daughter, in Disdain and Scorn,
How on young Orree shall we be revenged ?
-Says Oshin's Daughter
Fast to the Harrows we will tie his Hair,
And to his nimble feet, we'll set a train of Fire.
Then up starts Orree, with a nimble Spring;
Feeling his Feet a broiling with the heat.
With Curses direful, vowing to destroy,
Those who presum'd t' affront a King, his Son!
Swearing most bitterly by Sun and Moon.
To burn themselves and all their habitations;
-Then to the Mountain hies he fast away,
His heavy Gorse-hack poized upon his shoulder,
Eight pond'rous Burthens thence he carried off,
And eight large Faggots cram'd in ilka Burthen.
Not eight such Men as in the world are now
Could from the Ground one of these Burthen's raise.
Into each Window, he a Burthen thrust.
Into each Door, a Burthen of the same,
But, the grand blazing Burthen, on the Floor,
Of the great Hall he laid, and set on Fire.
-Meanwhile, our Heroes, Fin and Oshin hight,
They and their hardy men pursued the chase,
Eager, in sweat and dust, all cover'd o'er.
-Vast clouds full floating from the west
Were seen like Billows dreadful, as I ween.
-Then Fin he ran, and Oshin also ran,
Till faint, and out of breath, he sat him down:
But Fin, the hardy chief, still held it out,
Then lift he up his lamentable Voice,
Calling to Oshin, who was far behind,
We've nothing left but rueful, ruin'd walls!
-"This mischief who has done ?
" Who but young Orree,
Who fled, and in a rocky Cavern bid himself,
-Then choak'd with Smoke, they drag him by the heels,
+(And tore him Limb from Limb (they say) with Horses wild.~

*Chorus after every line. +Not in the Manx


+ Orree beg-Young Orree-not from his size, but age;-where there are two of the same family, Father and Son, of the same name, 'the Younger is stiled beg i.e., the lesser. This Orree beg is supposed to have been a Scandinavian prince, prisoner on his parole. with Fingal-and like some modern Gallants, to make love to both the young Ladies at the same time,-and thus they shew their resed tmoll t. He declines the Hunting party, for an opportunity of intrigueing (sic) with one or other of the Ladies. Meantime he falls asleep in a Grotto in the heat of the day-but when he awoke and found the indignity, done him, he resolves, in revenge, to burn Fingal's palace-takes his huge Bill, an instrument like a Hoe, with which they hack and grub up Gorze and Heath, or Ling, &c., for firing-hies him to the Forest, and made up eight large burthens, such as eight modern men could not heave from the ground, and with these he fired the House as above described.

++ Mollaght Mynney, is the bitterest curse in our language, that leaves neither,, Root nor Branch, like the Skeabthoan, the besom of destruction.


Cetera desunt.- But the Catastrophe is said to be that they tore him limb from limb with wild horses. The tearing criminals assunder with Horses fastened to each limb is the punishment in the old statutes of the Isle of Mann to be inflicted on those who should presume to draw a weapon, or strike, or violate the peace within the verge of the Court of Tynwald, or any Court held by the King of Mann, or his Governor.

A.-" And long after St, Patrick disturbed him the said Mananan, and 'put in Christian folks into the said Land to govern all and keep it, and so from Bishop to Bishop they did keep it many years. And then there came a Son of the King of Denmark; he conquered the land, and was the first that was called King Orrie, &c. After him remained Twelve of the Stock, that were called King Orryees insomuch that the last (named Reginald) had no Son but one Daughter, named Mary, to whom the right descended, which Mary was Queen of Mann & Countess of Stratherne, who taking with her all her Charters, fed to the King of England, Edward the 1st in the 20th year of his reign, being in St. John's Tower in Scotland, otherwise called Perthe in Anno Dom., 1202, for Alexander King of Scots arrived at Ranoldsway, near Castletown, and took possession of the land of Mann (See the 'Manx Statute Book, p. 1st. See also the Ancient Chronicle of the Kings of Man in Camden's Brittannia Edition, 1637, which says " 1270, the 7th day of October, a navy set out by Alexander King of Scots arrivea at Rogalaith; and the next morning before Sun rising a Battaile was fought between the people of Man and the Scots in which were slaine of the Manx men 537, whereupon a certain Versifier play'd upon the number-

I decies Xter, et pente duo cecidere.
Mannica gens de te, damna futura cave,'

1, ten times told, X thrice, with five beside and twaine,
Ware future harmes; Tread (sic) of thy Folke Mann were slaine.'

*[ 'Ten I, thrice X, with fiveand two did fall, ye Manx beware of future evil's Call," is the translation given by Munch in his edition of the Chronicle, '.Manx.. Society, Vol. xlii., p 3.- ED.]



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