Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Paying the rent

Midsummer approaches, so I thought it would be good to throw down a few bits and pieces for it. I've just started Charles MacQuarrie's The Waves of Manannán (again...) so I figured I'd skip to the relevant bits about paying the rents to him (Manannán, that is) at midsummer (most traditions of which appear to be duplicates of Bealltainn, to be fair). I found an excerpt from a sixteenth century poem that mentions the rents, which I've copied up:

Dy neaishtagh shin agh rish my skeayll,If you would listen to my story,
As dy ving lhieu ayns Chant;I will pronounce my chant;
Myr share dy voddyms lesh my Veeal,As best I can; I will, with my mouth
Yinnin diu geill dán ellan Sheeant.Give you notice of the enchanted Island.
Quoi yn chied er ee row rieau ee,Who he was that had it first,
Ny kys eisht myr haghyr da;And then what happened to him;
Ny kys hug Parick ayn Creestiaght,And now St. Patrick brought in Christianity,
Ny kys myr haink ee gys Stanlaa.And how it came to Stanley.
Mannanan beg va mac y Leirr,Little Mannanan was son of Leirr,
Shen yn chied er ec row rieau ee;He was the first that ever had it;
Agh myr share oddym's cur-my-ner,But as I can best conceive
Cea row eh hene agh an-chreestee.He himself was a heathen.
Cha nee lesh e Chliwe ren eh ee reayllIt was not with his sword he kept it,
Cha nee lesh e Hideyn, ny lesh e vhow; Neither with arrows or bow;
Agh tra aikagh eh lhuingys troailt But when he would see ships sailing,
Oallagh eh ee my geayrt lesh kay.He would cover it round with fog.
Yinnagh eh doinney ny hassoo er brooghe,He would set a man, standing on a hill,
Er-lhieu shen hene dy beagh ayn keead;Appear as if he were a hundred;
As shen myr dreill Mannanan keole,And thus did wild Mannanan protect
Yn Ellan shoh'n-ayn lesh Cosney bwoid. That island with all its booty.
Yn mayll deeck dagh unnane ass e cheer,The rent each landholder paid to him was
Va bart dy leaogher ghlass dagh bleiu;A bundle of coarse meadow grass yearly;
As eisht shen orroo d'eeck myr keesh,And that, as their yearly tax,
Trooid magh ny cheery dagh oie-lhoine.They paid to him each midsummer eve.
Paart ragh lesh y leaogher seose,Some would carry the grass up
Gyn yn slieau mooar ta heose Barool;To the great mountain up at Barool;
Paart elley aagagh yn leoagher wass,Others would leave the grass below,
Ec Mannanan erskyn Keamool.With Mannanan's self above Keamool.
Myr shen eisht ren adsyn beaghey,Thus then did they live;
O er-lhiam pene dy by-veg nyn Geesh;O, I think their tribute very small,
Gyn kiarail as gyn imnea, Without care and without anxiety,
Ny doggyr dy lhiggey er nyn skeeys.Or hard labour to cause weariness.
Eisht haink ayn Parick nyn meayn,Then came Patrick into the midst of them;
She dooinney-noo, véh lane dy artue,He was a saint, and full of virtue;
Dimman eh Mannanan er y tonnHe banished Mannanan on the wave,
As e grogh vooinjer dy lieh-chiart.And his evil servants all dispersed.

The original is here (page 26 onwards, although I've followed MacQuarrie's capitalisations of certain words in Manx - see page 292-293). He notes that other translators give the meadow grass as 'rushes', which I do think makes a bit more sense, and Moore agrees with this, commenting:
"As regards Man, however, we have no definite information about the observance of this day from tradition, except that there was a fair, which still continues; and from written sources there is only preserved a letter written, in 1636, by Bishop Parr to Archbishop Neile, in which he states that on St. John Baptist's day he found the people in a chapel dedicated to that Saint "in the practice of gross superstitions," which he caused "to be cried down," and, in the place of them, "appointed Divine services and sermons." We can only wish that the good Bishop had informed us what these "gross superstitions" were. We have already seen (Chapter I.) that Manannan received his tribute of rushes on this day, and it is curious that the pathway leading up to the chapel is still covered with rushes supplied by a small farm close by, which is held on the tenure of doing this service."
MacQuarrie also agrees - "Rushes would seem an appropriate offering to Manannán in light of his connections with salt and fresh water in that they tend to grow on the banks of, or actually within, lakes and streams." (p294) And so does Sophia Morrison in Manx Fairie Tales (1911).

So rushes it is, it seems.

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