Each month, James Franklin, online and educational resources officer at Culture Vannin, looks at a particular place in the island and gives a guide to some of its folklore.
Up the hill behind the Laxey Wheel is the beautiful small community of Agneash, ‘a great place for the fairies’.
Accounts from 100 years ago tell us that Themselves, the mooinjer veggey, were seen as often as rabbits around Agneash.
So many, in fact, that the Agneash people barely took any notice of them.
These mysterious figures were described around Agneash as being ‘like little boys, dressed in red trousers and blue coats.’
Don’t be fooled into thinking that they were cute Lil’ People though – many Agneash tales paint a very different story.
There was the time when a man was caught in the rain at Glen Drink, and so he climbed over the hedge to hide under some trees.
However, finding that it was just as wet there, he tried to get back to the road, but he couldn’t find the way.
The man walked and walked, never leaving the orchard and never finding the hedge.
After hours of this, just as his legs were to about give out from tiredness, he felt himself taken up and rushed on by a great number of people.
On they raced until morning when, as the sun came up, he found himself alone on the bare mountainside.
It was obviously the work of the Lil’ Fellas, but it could have been a lot worse...
The Lil’ Fellas have stolen not just one, but a number of children from homes in and around Agneash, sometimes leaving ‘changelings’ behind in their place. This happened to a mother in Agneash when she went out to the well.
Perhaps she had forgotten to leave the iron tongs from the fire open as a cross over the cot, but when she returned, she found a fairy child in the place of her own baby. Crying awfully, as it would have done forever more, the mother immediately recognised it as a changeling.
So, instead of comforting it, she ignored the child completely and did not go anywhere near the cot. The cries worsened, with no effect, until it became clear to Themselves that the changeling was being neglected. They hastily rushed in to return the true child and take away the changeling.
The mother must have been delighted, just as another set of parents were who luckily interrupted the Lil’ Fellas stealing their child, when they found it unharmed half a mile from their home after leaving it alone for a moment.
The Agneash community can perhaps be glad that the mooinjer veggey are less common today, and maybe they have the church to thank.
One idea of where the name of Glen Drink comes from is that it recalls the dancing of the fairies, as one form of the word for ‘dancing’ in Manx is ‘Rinkey.’ But even this stronghold was undone with the introduction of Methodism.
In the 1820s a Methodist preacher began to hold regular services in a house in the glen, and soon the Lil’ Fellas began to be seen less and less. Within 50 years, there were none to be seen there at all. It might be a small place, but there is certainly a long and strong connection with the fairies at Agneash.
As well as Themselves, there are tales of the phynnodderee, bugganes, a tarroo ushtey, curses, giants and the most haunted place in the whole area. But those tales will have to wait for another time.