Ballaugh Heritage Trust

Treisht Eiraght Valley Ny Loghey

‘Down the Dolley’ 1


Part I

Mrs D. Dobby, 1995

 An informal but informed account, as far as very limited printed records and memories will allow, of the Dollagh Green in earlier days.

In 1376 spelled Dufloch, in 1648, Dowloch, and in 1793, Dollagh, as the name suggests it was part of the big black lakes which made a large part of the lowlands of the north of the Island. How these lakes were formed should be asked of a geologist, but it seems that after the great ice Age, as the glacier coming down from then north melted, it left a silt of gravel, sand and clay. As the climate got milder, sub-arctic grass began to grow which, with other debris, eventually turned into peat and formed the bogs of the curragh in which, not far from the Dollagh Green, the bones of the Great Elk were found. Much of this has now been drained into the Killane River after being dug and dried out, leaving land fit for cultivation, such as now forms the Dollagh Moar Quarterland. The Dollagh green itself has only an inch or two of topsoil, over a bed of shale and slate.

Although it is hardly mentioned in print, the Dollagh Green was an important part of the original Ballaugh which centred around the Old Church St Mary de Ballaugh at the Cronk,, and the old school near the dwelling called Ballacoraige, once a farmhouse. In Miss Ann Harrison’s account of Ballaugh’s ecclesiastical history written in 1982, she mentioned that Rector Stowell, then living in the Old Rectory, noted in his visiting list of 1814, ‘Old Ballacoilley at the Dolee’, confirming the village name fore the Green, on which was held the Fair celebrating the Assumption of the Virgin Mary on August 15th, but changed to August 26th after the adoption of the Gregorian calendar, in Manx ‘Laa’l Moirrey Toshee’.

On it, too, flax was dried after being steeped, perhaps in water from the Ballaugh River, on the western side of the Green. Flax was a crop cultivated extensively in the 17th and 18th centuries. It was a cottage industry, not only grown locally, but spun and woven in cottages, where the ‘web’ or ‘check’ was made into women’s dresses, ‘linsey’ aprons and linings, and into men’s shirts. The coarser weaves, called ‘barragh’, provided bed-linen. Even today hand-woven sheets are probably still in use, as it was very strong and long-lasting. It was also material from which sails were made for the herring fishing fleet, and even twisted for rope. Most farms had a ‘dub’ at the roadside for steeping flax, and it was left in wills by the pound.

The fields around the Dollagh Green and elsewhere must have looked so colourful with the clear blue of the flax flowers (Linum unitatissimum), scattered with red poppies (Papaver Rhoes) and the yellow of corn marigold (Chrysanthemum segetum). Even as late as the 1980s the odd flax flower could be seen growing in a neglected field near the Curragh.

Beside the Green runs the Ballaugh River, rather a grand name for it now, as it is really no more than a stream but, in the past, when it filled the pool at Ballaugh Shore, where fishing boats used to berth, it must have been deeper and faster flowing, having been used in water-mills on its way down the Glen. Nor, perhaps, did it dry up for three or four months during the summer, as it does now, much to the detriment of the sewage farm downstream from the Green. Before this time, access to Ballacoilley farm was by ford and by a slab of slate acting as a bridge for those on foot. The sturdy Manx ponies, before the coming of cars and lorries, pulled wheel-less sledge carts along the lanes. Later, a conventional bridge was built, with wooden rails up which, on each side, grew an old-style rose and the climbing white variety, possible the Trailing Rose, Roas arvensis. On the banks grew wild cherry trees (Prunus avium), brambles, gorse and all manner of vegetation, preventing the banks from subsiding as they have done since 1990. Every year, mallard ducks came up-river to nest and rear their young, either on the banks or, for two or three years, in the corner between the porch and the wall of Dollafg Cottage, and on two other occasions, under a bush right beside the main road. The bed of the river is lined with flat stones, possibly part of the detritus washed down from the hills or left behind by the glacier.

Between the river and the Cronk road was the parish pinfold, 26 feet almost 8 metres) square , with a drystone wall over 6 feet (2 metres) high and about 15 inches (38 cms) thick. Every parish on the Island had at least one pinfold, kept by the Moar (or key-holder), a coroner, or some other worthy person, and maintained in good repair by members of the treens under the direction of the Captain of the Parish. Strays of all kinds were kept in the pinfold until claimed by the owner, when a charge was levied, the first recorded being a penny for each foot! By the nineteenth century this had risen to 9d (just over 3p) for sheep, 1/6d (7½p) for a horse and 2/6d (12½p) for cattle. Peter Clague’s paper on pinfold given in the December 1940 edition of The Journal of the Manx Museum, Vol. 4, No. 63, gives full details of other Island pinfolds.

The need for pinfolds declined in the early 20th century as farmers built higher walls and fences and presumably when communication by telephone made reporting of strays feasible. In any case, by mid-century all that remained of the Dollagh pinfold were twoo sides of the wall showing how beautifully built they were of dry stone construction with no cement, giving nesting places in the crevices to pied wagtails which ran up and down on the top of the wall. Below, on the east side, one of the occupants of the cottages had planted a bed of flowers, with roses climbing up the wall, a beautiful addition to the Green seen from the road. In one corner of the pinfold, near the river, stood a ‘tholtan’ called Barney’s house. It is not recorded who he was, but he was possibly on the of the Moars, or keeper of the keys of the pinfold.

Close to the pinfold, and partially dismantled by him, lived Douglas Burgess, in a cottage at one time roofed with corrugated iron and rented by a series of families, but possible owned by Burgess’ sister Freda. Before her death, he lived with her and her friends, Nell Edwards, in the big farm, Ballacoilley, between the river and the ‘brooghs’ behind. In ‘Dougie’s’ time, the river regularly flooded and entered his cottage by what was then the front door, soaking the several layers of carpets which covered the floor of his living-room, all of which had to be sent to the dry-cleaners afterwards. When he had some renovations done, he blocked it up and had a new front door, or rather side door, made next to the garage he had built inside the wall. To give access to further extensions at the back of the cottage in the 1990s, he demolished more of the pinfold wall adjoining Barney’s house. He was popular with Ballaugh Commissioners because he cut the grass on the rest of the Green between his cottage nad the road, although behind it, and the bordering the river, it was allowed to remain as meadowland, where poppies and ox-eye daisies grew.

On the south-east of the Green stood a row of cottages, probably all single-storeyed and thatch-roofed, though a third, (now called Ballacoilley Cottage, in 1837 was called ‘Jinny’s House’ and probably pre-dating the other two) was replaced by a two-storey building in which a large family of Callisters was brought up, the last remaining of whom, Clara, died in 1970 in Cronk Ruagh Hospital. In her day, the front door was at what is now the back, facing southeast, with a gate opening to the main Cronk road. To the right of the door, where sewage works were built, probably on the site of the old earth closet, a water closet was installed. A stone wall divided her small front garden from the field the Corletts owned, and up it she grew roses, and under her windows agapanthas flourished. Indoors there was running water to her kitchen sink, with a window overlooking the Green, and her tiny back garden with a foot-high fence enclosing her cottage flowers. On the Green beyond grew gorse bushes on which she dried her washing. The Callister family were devoted to Ballaugh Church, the ‘new’ church, Johnny the father (1850-1925) being sexton with his wife Jinny and daughter Clara its regular cleaners. Jinny, like most old ladies of her generation, wore voluminous clothes and a sunbonnet and was very superstitious. When cleaning the church with Clara, she adopted the brass ‘chandeliers’, which she pulled down with her walking stick to a height convenient foro her to fill the several oil lamps and polish each lamp glass and their flame-coloured globes. She then pushed the ‘chandeliers’ back to their correct height.

Clara, like so many Manx people, was musical and a valued member of the church choir and for her long service, claimed a certain seat on which no-one else was allowed to sit.

Immediately after Clara’s death, her nephew and executor, Mr Ellis, put the house up for sale and it was snapped up by Roxana Mcgregor of Ballacoilley, for the manager of her property at Druidale, at a price of £4,000. She made alterations to the interior to provide a modern kitchen and changed the front to the back, bringing the ‘loo’ indoors. Soon after the improvements were finished, the manager left and from then on she rented the house to a series of unusual tenants, until she left Ballaugh to live in Foxdale, when she sold it to an elegant ‘comeover’, an artist and interior decorator, who transformed the inside of the house to a very upmarket Homes and Gardens property with dark-green walls and ceiling, white woodwork, a four-poster bed and other antique furniture. Here she lived as a semi-recluse except for her weekly visits to the One-Stop shop, always immaculately dressed, in furs in winter, with a bun-on-the-top-of-the-head hairstyle, not a hair out of place, and with diamonds in her rings and brooches. She worked in her studio, facing the Green upstairs, and professed not to hear the doorbell so that she could only be contacted by phone. What used to be Clara’s front gate was blocked, built up with stone and with a pointed top, so that it was nicknamed ‘The R.I.P. House’.

Before many years, she sold it and it reverted to its old way of life – being let for short periods to a miscellany of tenants, after the owners had re-decorated to their own sophisticated taste, they being the originators and owners of the Mitzi Bell empire. However, after only a year, it again changed hands, and was completely redecorated – bright red ceiling this time – not occupied by the owner, but again rented. The stories of the occupiers since Clara’s death would fill a book on their own – all so varied and intriguing.

Part 2

Reports of Events

The Manx House Dr Catriona Mackie, Centre for Manx Studies, 27th April, 2010
With the increasing prosperity of the Island in the 19th and early-20th centuries, many settlements in the upland areas were abandoned. At the same time, some of the small houses in the lowland areas were replaced or changed beyond recognition. It is these ruined buildings that Catriona has been studying, in parallel with her work on the black houses of the Outer Hebrides.

We were guided through a variety of building materials and styles, mostly dependent on the locality. Because of the need to use cheap and accessible materials, much has disappeared with time. Thatch and timber have rotted away and leaving only traces that archaeologists can identify. Other small houses were simply coated with clay, which had to be renewed on a regular basis. However, stone survives and we were treated to a series of pictures of chimneys and ovens, giving a vivid insight into the way people survived in the past.

Talks such as these give us new ways of looking at buildings when we are out and about in the countryside. FB

Manx Gardens past and present, Valerie Cottle, 31st August, 2010
Everyone familiar with Larch Garrad’s book on The Manx Garden will be aware of the comparative richness of historic and modern gardens on the Island. In spite of the title of the 1st edition being nominated as the oddest book title of the year by The Sunday Times many years ago (the writer believed we are simply a bare rock somewhere in the British Isles), there’s a great deal of interest to be found in private gardens, many of which are never open for public viewing.

The first part of the talk concentrated on vanished gardens: those of Ronaldsway House, Bishopscourt and the Nunnery. The slides burst into colour when we reached gardens of the present day. Valerie’s photographs are a treat in themselves, but it was her commentary on the development of the gardens that was illuminating, and an inspiration for those of us who try to aspire to these standards. FB

Peel and the great war, 1914-1918 Pat Skillicorn 19th October, 2010
Pat began by talking about her family connections with the Ballaugh and Michael area. She showed us a Ballaugh school photograph from sometime in the early 1920’s. In it is shown the teacher, Miss Gawne who died in 1975. Pat wondered if anyone remembered her?  Also shown in the photograph was Pat’s mother, Millicent Skillicorn, who at one time lived at Dove’s Hill. (The story of Pat’s family is contained in her wonderful book Wave to your Daddy – see page 111 for the photograph). Pat is still interested to hear any family stories anyone may have about Millicent and her brother Clifford who worked for the Wade family up Ballaugh Glen and Harry, who apparently disappeared after an incident involving a widow and a bicycle? Pat moved on to talk about the Great War using various types of source material. The letters of Catherine Isobel Craine from Ballacoraige Cottage to her family in Liverpool ‘provides an insight into the thoughts of a woman who, unlike us, did not know what was going to happen next’. The Peel City Guardian was another source of information. In it were reports of the public’s attitudes and fears, British patriotism, reports of spies, including a suspicious looking duck, escaped internees, and U-boat activity off the Isle of Man.

Food shortages and the rising price of bread brought political activity and reform when the government were forced to subsidise bread. When they tried to withdraw the subsidy, the people responded with a strike, organised by the Workers Union. Lord Raglan was shocked by the response but had to give in and continue the subsidy. Unfortunately, the subsidy would have to be paid for and the Keys were forced to introduce income tax for the first time. Pat went on to talk about how the end of the war was reported and concluded by talking about the impact on the Manx population as shown by the 120 men form the west who never returned home. Sarah Christian

Under the Spotlight: Ballaugh as seen through the archives Wendy Thirkettle, 16th November, 2010
Few listeners could have realised just how much Ballaugh-based material is sitting in the MNH archives. Wendy Thirkettle, MNH archivist, offered a glimpse of the rich sources, ranging from parish registers, through correspondence and diaries, photographs, reminiscences and the Folk-Life Survey. Some of the material, such as extracts from Mrs Dobbie’s work, will be familiar to readers of the Newsletter, but Wendy gave us tantalising glimpses of other sources. Catherine Craine’s diary mentioned in last month’s talk) was written during the first weeks of the First World War and described the levels of patriotism that peaked during a concert in the newly-built Hall. It was startling to realise that volunteers were at the Front within 10 days.

Letters are another good source of information. The Stowell/Gill collection comprise eleven boxes of letters, sermons and poetry, papers that were generated by the family members of Revd Hugh Stowell,a 19th-century Rector of Ballaugh. Envelopes were a late introduction. In the 1830s it was still common practice to fold and seal the letter itself. We were shown an example of such a letter, written by Elizabeth Gill, the Rector’s daughter. As an economy measure, she had first used the notepaper conventionally, then turning the paper 90 degrees to continue across her original text. It is remarkably difficult to read, though no doubt familiarity would have made it easier.

By next Spring, much of this information will be available in digital form in the new iMuseum. While this will simplify some aspects of research, it will perhaps remove the serendipitous discoveries. FB

On behalf of members of the Trust, Chairman Ffynlo Craine gave our warmest thanks to all the speakers in this year’s programme.

A.W. Moore, Dr Robert Fyson 12 January, 2011
Following the publication of his very readable book, The Anglo-Manxman: A life of A. W. Moore, Robert Fyson treated us to a review of some of the events of the man who brought so much of Manx history, folklore and music to the Manx readership in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. As is so often the case, the public image of A. W. Moore is of a revered figure, an elder statesman, dignified and in formal attire, and Speaker of the House of Keys.

There was much more to him, however. A keen sportsman, particularly fond of cycling, he enjoyed exploring the Island, as well as much further afield. He regularly visited London, and spent many holidays on the Continent. He was also a businessman, but is best remembered now for his meticulous research which resulted in the two-volume History of the Isle of Man, The vocabulary of the Anglo-Manx Dialect (co-authored with Sophia Morrison and Edmund Goodwin), Manx Worthies, Folklore of the Isle of Man, and many others books. And all this achieved in a life of only 57 years.

A. W. Moore was one of the outstanding Manxmen of the late 1800s. Robert Fyson’s book is a fitting account of an important figure in the Manx cultural revival.

AGM and Memories of Manx Radio Charles Webster and Roger Watterson
15 March, 2011
The story of Manx Radio has been well documented. Broadcasting began in June 1964, long before commercial radio became part of everyday life in Britain.. The programmes came from a caravan parked on a hilltop in Onchan, near to the capital Douglas. The single cramped studio was linked to the transmitting mast which was just outside the door. Being situated on a headland and exposed to high winds the station was prone in those days to needles skidding off records and the occasional bout of staff sickness from the rocking motion!

Both the speakers have had long associations with the station, and their reminiscences gave a glimpse into the extraordinary circumstances that the producers and presenters could encounter. We were treated to often hilarious tales of the unexpected, including long treks in wintry conditions to repair the transmitter on the top of Snaefell. A truly memorable evening!

Church Recording on the Isle of Man, including Ballaugh Parish Church
Pat McClure 12 April, 2011
For the past 10 years, a close-knit band of volunteers has been steadily working to record the contents of some of the Manx churches. So far, these have included St Thomas’s, St. Sanctain’s Santan, the Royal Chapel of St. John’s, St. Mary’s, Ballure in Ramsey and St. Bridget’s Chapel at The Nunnery. The audience listened attentively as Pat described the painstaking work compiling records of memorials, metalwork, stonework, woodwork, textiles, paintings, library, windows and miscellaneous items within churches. She explained how members of the group have worked together using their individual life talents that have proved useful n this highly-detailed work. On the Isle of Man copies of Church Records are given to the church concerned, to Manx National Heritage, which acts as the local National Monument Records Centre and Diocesan Registry, to the Victoria and Albert Museum, and to the Council for the Care of Churches. Manx National Heritage owns the copyright for Manx Records, which can be accessed in the library at the Manx Museum under access number MS 11165.

On the the completion of the present work in Douglas, the group will be moving north to Ballaugh, where they will spend time in both churches. There are occasionally finds of unexpected treasures. In Ballure Chapel, a small cupboard in the organ case revealed a manuscript containing hymns and other liturgical music that had been sung by the choir at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. Some exquisite needlecraft has also been identified.

The work is discovering and recording some of the previously unknown treasures of our Manx churches. We await the results from Ballaugh with great interest!

Laxey Mine Railway, Andrew Scarffe 10 May, 2011
On the 10th May, 23 of our number enjoyed a talk and slide show given by Mr Andrew Scarffe, an enthusiastic member of Laxey and Lonan Heritage Trust and keen gricer (railway enthusiast). He is also author of books ‘The Great Laxey Mine’ and more recently ‘The Story of Laxey Flour’.

Firstly, Andrew gave us some background on the Heritage Trust and the work they have done in restoring the Lady Evelyn wheel, opening their shop premises, developing the Laxey Mines Trail and new projects such as the restoration of the Working men’s club and conservation of Manx Electric railway rail vans in conjunction with the Isle of Man Post Office.

Andrew went on to give some background on the Laxey mine (mining started in Laxey in 1780) and the geology of the Glen Mooar valley. He had a great command of the facts and figures. For example, at one time the mine produced 11,000 tonnes of zinc,which was 50% of British output. The Dumbell’s shaft at 2,100 feet in depth is deeper than Snaefell is high.

Describing the acquisition of the Ant and the Bee, and the restoration of parts of the railway, Andrew entertained us with the epic tale illustrated with appropriate images. He described the story of the project including; fund raising, sponsorship, sourcing, restoring and later repairing the engines, gaining planning permission, health and safety issues, negotiation with government bodies and the commissioners, recruitment of volunteers and obtaining insurance. The audience were flabbergasted at the sheer hard work and dedication of these enthusiasts.

Andrew invited us all down to Laxey during the summer to have a ride on the railway and help keep this wonderful attraction open.

Some Recent Publications

The Anglo-Manxman: a life of A W Moore Robert Fyson

A. W. Moore remains, a century after his death, the outstanding historian of the Island. His History of the Isle of Man (1900) in two volumes is still the standard work to which all subsequent historians must refer, a monument of late Victorian scholarship. Elected to the House of Keys in 1885, Moore became Speaker in 1898, and in the early years of the 20th century led the Keys’ struggle for constitutional reform in the face of the intransigent diehard Governor, Lord Raglan.

ISBN 978-0-9562064-2-8 176 pages (Manx Heritage Foundation, 2009)

Isaac Barrow: his life and legacy Michael Hoy

This new biography of Bishop Barrow shows that he was the Isle of Man’s first great social reformer and even today, over 400 years later, young people in the Island and in the Vale of Clwyd in Wales still benefit from the education charities he endowed. He survived the tumultuous times of the English Civil War, was appointed both Bishop and Governor of the Isle of Man soon after the execution of William Christian. He re-ordered the Island’s laws, strengthened the quality and welfare of the clergy, improved communications and the regulation of commerce, provided elementary education for every child, and endowed grammar and academic schools.

ISBN 978-0-9562064-6-6 136pages (Manx Heritage Foundation, 2010)

Ree ny Marrey: Songs of the Isle of Man Fenella Bazin

Traditional songs with words in English and Manx, simply arranged for piano. Chosen and arranged by Fenella Bazin with new illustrations by Juan Moore.

ISBN 978-0-9562064-0-4 100 pages (Manx Heritage Foundation, first published 1994, revised edition, 2009)

Thomas Cubbin and the Wreck of the Serica Valerie Cottle

High on the south wall of Old Kirk Braddan is a memorial tablet recounting the death of young children in a shipwreck on the shores of Madagascar in 1868. Valerie Cottle takes this as the starting point for her book. It includes Cubbin’s own account of this disastrous voyage, with its heartbreaking outcome, and subsequent adventures. An exciting read!

ISBN 978-0-956 2064-9-7 136 pages (Manx Heritage Foundation, 2011)

Nature Reserves in Ballaugh

The Manx Wildlife Trust is a charity set up in 1973 with the aim of making the Island richer in wildlife. One of the ways in which it achieves this is through the management of its nature reserves.

There are presently 20 sites, covering 255 acres, which vary in size from just under an acre, to almost 70 acres. A variety of habitats are represented including  sand-dune, wetland, moorland, woodland and wildflower rich meadows. The sites are scattered around the Island, although almost half are within three miles of Ballaugh. Four sites actually lie within the parish of Ballaugh and perhaps the best well-known of these is Close Sartfield.

Close Sartfield was acquired by the Trust in 1987. Most of the fields had been farmed up until the early 1980s but then received no management for three or four years. In this short time, scrub, mainly willow and gorse, had invaded many of the fields to varying degrees. Most of the fields were quite species poor. Work began on clearing scrub and returning some of the fields to open meadows whilst others were left to develop into curragh and woodland. Once the site had been fenced, grazing was introduced and the combination of a late summer cut for hay, followed by winter grazing with sheep, soon created flower rich meadows. This management regime continues to this day and Close Sartfield is well known for its wonderful display of orchids in June.

One of the biggest projects was the conversion of 5 acres of gorse into 5 acres of wildflower meadow. I am reliably informed that by 1989 the gorse was about 7ft high and occupied around 75% of the field. The gorse was flailed and the field rotovated and then over 100 round bales were brought to the field and unrolled. The bales were of green hay, the vegetation having been cut on the donor fields and baled almost immediately. The idea was that as the hay dried on our field, seeds would fall to the ground and provide wildflowers. The hay was turned on a number of occasions and then re-baled and the bales carted off site. This was a fairly new idea at the time and had only ever been tried on small experimental plots so everyone was quite surprised when it actually worked and worked so well. Very soon we had over 100 flowering plants including 6 species of orchid.

A boardwalk was constructed along the edge of one of the main orchid meadows which allows people who have difficulty walking or who are in wheelchairs the opportunity to see the wildflowers. Wheelchair access is possible down to a hide with views over a recently reinstated bog and up to the Ballaugh hills. Public access is permitted all year round from the car park to the hide. A path is created around the site in June and this is maintained until the hay is cut. There is an interpretation board on site and a leaflet giving further details about Close Sartfield is available from the Trust shop in Peel.

Adder's tongue fern

Adder's tongue fern

Close Umpson is the smallest of the Ballaugh sites at just under 2 acres and was purchased in 1995. The main interest at this site is a small fern called adder’s-tongue (see above) which appears in early spring but is soon hidden as other plants get going. Management of this site is fairly limited because it is so wet and inaccessible and this is one reason why the site is not open to the public.

Glen Dhoo will be known to many readers lying as it does up Ballaugh Glen. The site covers just over 24 acres some of which is tree covered but the majority is open upland meadows. However, most of these meadows have been encroached upon by bracken and gorse to varying degrees.

It is thought the tholtan was occupied until the late nineteenth century and the maps from this time show that most of the fields were arable. Since the Trust took over management the boundary of the reserve has been made stockproof and internal fencing has created two grazing blocks. The aim is to return the majority of the meadows to grassland by cutting the gorse down and grubbing out the roots: spraying and cutting bracken and using livestock to trample regrowth as well as graze.

Glen Dhoo has occupied a lot of time and effort but great progress has been made and the variety of wildflowers to be seen has increased greatly since management began.

The fourth site is Goshen, which at 42 acres is the second largest site managed by the Trust. The reserve is comprised of ten wildflower meadows and two areas of curragh/developing woodland. Seven of the meadows are managed by a late cut in the summer for hay, followed by autumn/winter grazing with sheep. They have a profusion of wildflowers in the summer including many orchids. Two of the meadows are cut for hay but are not grazed as this was the management already in place when the meadows were purchased. Management of the remaining meadow is undertaken by wallabies!  Goshen is not open to the public.

By far the best way to see the reserves and learn about the work required to maintain them is to become a practical volunteer. Almost all the work on the reserves is undertaken by me and a fantastic band of volunteers (see Midweek Muckers) who come out every week throughout the year. For further information on becoming a volunteer please contact the Trust Office – 844432.

Part of my job as Reserves Officer is to write management plans for the reserves, outlining the interest of the site and how it will be managed. I am always very keen to learn about the past management of our sites and especially interested in any old photographs. If you think you may have some useful insights then please contact me at the Trust Office.

Tricia Sayle, Reserves Officer, Manx Wildlife Trust


The Manx Wildlife Trust has Reserves right across the Island. There are important areas in Ballaugh, including Close Sartfield, Goshen and Close Humpson. Every week, in all weathers right through the year, members of a committed body of volunteers launch themselves enthusiastically into a wide range of jobs: cutting back undergrowth, cleaning out ditches and maintaining hedges. Tricia Sayle, Reserves Manager, brings us a report.

Following the success of many Christmas parties I decided to organise a summer party for the volunteers. Everyone was really keen on the idea, especially when I suggested that if we had enough people we could have cricket match and so it was that Saturday 6th August saw the first Midweek Muckers’ Midsummer Merriment.

The preceding Thursday and Friday saw feverish activity as the cricket pitch, boules green and croquet lawn were prepared.

Saturday dawned cloudy and rather damp but the weather came good just as the guests started to arrive and after a little warm-up on the croquet lawn the cricket match got underway.

There was an international flavour to proceedings with visitors from Staffordshire, Yorkshire, Ireland and even Bulgaria! Teams were selected as the Wallabies, captained by Rob Kennan, and the Harriers, captained by Tony Kennan. Both teams had an even mix of those who were cricket devotees and those who hadn’t a clue what was going on.

The Wallabies went in to bat first and scored a very respectable 79 runs. With hunger pangs developing it was decided that the Harriers would go in to bat before tea as we might run out of light. The Wallabies proved marginally better at fielding that they did at batting but despite this the Harriers clearly had some hidden talent amongst their ranks and scored 80 runs with the last pair at the wicket. Surprisingly, neither side managed to lose the ball in the undergrowth!

After a fantastic ‘tea’ the trophy was awarded to the captain of the Harriers. Tony took the trophy home but, as it was a dressed up Mucker’s plastic tea cup, it had to be back by Thursday! The evening drew to a close as the stragglers inaccurately threw boules as the light failed.

Plans are already underway for next year’s party. It’s just a shame we have to wait a whole year!

The Centenary Concerts


The village hall was the brainchild of Rector Thomas Redfearn Kneale. Ramsey-born, Revd Kneale (1858-1935) graduated from Cambridge with a mathematics degree. After a short spell teaching in Epsom, he married in Birmingham in 1884, and returned to the Island as Headmaster of Ramsey Grammar School. His church career took him to St Jude’s and Rushen, before settling in Ballaugh in 1897. With a talent for games and music, he was a physically powerful man with a strong personality.

The hall was packed to Celebrate a Century on the evening of Saturday 25 September to mark the 100th birthday of the Village Hall.  Plans had been afoot for months. An early decision by the Heritage Trust Committee was that the evening would reflect the abundant talent from the parish and should cover a wide age range. The result was a splendid array of acts.

Chairman was Edgar Cowin, CP. Ballaugh

Chairman was Edgar Cowin, CP. Ballaugh

First on were the Brownies and Guides, who were also celebrating a a century of guiding,. They were joined by the Sunday School choir and, under the able direction of Mrs Elaine Fenton, they provided an entertaining start to the evening.  Recitations have always been an important element in a Manx evening. Mrs Win Callister and Edgar Cowin performed popular Manx dialect poems, including extracts from T. E. Brown. Punctuating theevening were extracts from Joy Ling’s newly-published book about the early days of the Hall. Read by the Rector, we learned that the weather could be just as bad a hundred years ago as it is now, and that the Hall was described as the finest in the Island.

Representing the Village School was the talented Manx Music Group, directed by Dr Chloe Woolley, Manx Music Specialist with the Manx Heritage Foundation. These young musicians meet once a week after school. Their instrumental and vocal arrangements were excellent, particularly as we learned that some of the members had only joined the group a couple of weeks before the beginning of term.

Philip Colvin, a former pupil of the school and Principal Euphonium of Ramsey Town Band, performed popular items from 20th-century stage musicals, and amazed the audience with the beautiful sound that a skilled player can produce from an instrument not usually recognised as a soloist. Ballaugh Quire, conducted by Fenella Bazin, took to the stage with three items from their repertoire: ‘Sing Alleluia to the Lord’ by Norman L. Warren, ‘All in the April Evening’ by Katherine Tynan/Hugh S. Roberton and T. H. Ingham’s ‘Watchman’. Mrs Marilyn Cannell’s entertaining version of ‘As I was going’ was received with great enjoyment. The choir then rounded off the evening’s concert with the ‘Manx Vesper Hymn’, a long-time favourite with the singers, and were then joined by the whole audience in a rousing chorus of ‘Ellan Vannin’.

A delicious and abundant traditional Manx Tay was then served by the hard-working team under the leadership of committee member Sarah Christian. Sandwiches, scones, bun-loaf and delicious cakes were produced from the tiny kitchen as if by magic.

Warmest thanks to all concerned in making the evening such a success. It was a memorable celebration of the centenary of the Village Hall.

Photograph by David Radcliffe

The First World War

Eighteen men are listed on the War Memorial at Ballaugh Church; there is another memorial near Ballaugh Bridge, but this has no names on it. Who were these men? Where and when did they die and what was their connection to Ballaugh?

The aim of this piece is to inform, particularly the children of the village. Every year we remember the fallen, but can imagining their lives help us to get a better understanding of the impact that the 1914-18 war had on a little village like Ballaugh? Click on this link to read about these men who gave their lives a century ago: OUR BALLAUGH BOYS IN THE GREAT WAR.

This information might help relatives of these men who are looking into their family history:
John James Boyde
Robert Alfred Boyde
Robert Nelson Boyde
Charles Alfred Cannell
Charles Henry Lace Clague
Charles Henry Cleator
John James Corkish
Ernest Corlett
Thomas Sayle Corlett
Ernest Corkill
Thomas Faragher
Thomas Patrick Finn
George William Kermode
Harold Robertson Kissack
William Alfred Kneale
David Lawrence
Robert Vondy Wade
William Wade

What’s On

The Opening of the Goods Shed

On May Day, come and have a look around the newly renovated shed and enjoy a “Hog Roast”. Official opening at 3.30pm, food from 4pm.
Monday 5th May 2pm-6pm and later

Walking the Line: Guided walk

The launch of the guided walk leaflet written by Bill Quine — friend of, and native of, Ballaugh.
This walk of approximately 3½ miles (on the flat) will explore the railway line between the village, Orrisdale and Bollyn Jairg Road.
Tuesday 24th June at 7.30pm: Meet at the Goods Shed

Who cared and where: Assistance for older people 100 years ago

Sarah Christian
Who could older people turn to on the Island when they were in need? This talk touches on family based care, the Poor Law Guardians, the poor house and Ballamona Hospital.
Tuesday 22nd July at 7.30pm, in the Bowling Club

The sinking of the Lusitania

Dr. Jennifer Kewley-Draskau
The Loss of the Lusitania: The tragic fate of the world’s greatest liner altered the course of history: Manx passenger aboard the stricken vessel, Miss Violet James, described the tragedy, and Manx fishermen (two of them from Jurby) played  a heroic part in the rescue.
Tuesday 23rd September at 7.30pm in the Bowling Club

Ballaugh’s got Culture

The committee hopes you will join with us in a weekend of events the celebrate 2014 Island of Culture. The goods shed will be open and a concert and other events are planned.
Weekend of 4th October

Fun Quiz

Bring a plate, a tipple and a raffle prize and join in our fun quiz for all the family. Guests welcome.
Saturday 22nd November at 7.30pm in the Bowling Club

‘Down the Dolley’ 2


Part II

Mrs D. Dobby, 1995

An informal but informed account, as far as very limited printed
records and memories will allow, of the Dollagh Green in earlier days.

Now we move to the single-storey cottages with their two-feet thick walls, which have kept their Manx shape at the front facing the Green but which have had extensions built to the back and side. These were originally thatched roofed (now slate tiles) and were rented and occupied probably by farm workers employed by the Dollagh Beg farmer to the south, as were the occupants of a line of cottages (now tholtans) on the other side of the river, on a line with Dollagh Cottage and Riverside Cottage on the Green.

In Dollagh Cottage lived Jemmy Kerruish (1845-1925) who was Jinny Callister’s brother, and his wife Margaret (1841-1903). By the 1920s this family had dwindled to ‘Nellie’, a personality of the ‘Dolley’, who was ‘Auntie Nellie’ not only to her nieces and nephews, but to everyone else on the Dollagh Green.

Deeds of Dollagh Cottage date back to 1883 when one Thomas Craine of Dollagh Moar, yeoman, bought the property from John Cowley, butcher of Peel, the Dollagh Green then being described as the Dollagh Easement. In 1889 part of this land was called the Parish Pinfold in the transaction, which transferred ‘the lands and premises, part of the Quarterland of Dollagh Moar’ to John Kelly and his wife. After this, the land and properties, described variously as Dollagh Beg, Claddagh, Slate Mountain, Voasts Meadow, Faie Rob and Dollagh Green, passed between the Killips, Quayles and Corletts until 1961, when Thomas Killip sold it to Evelyn Corlett of Ramsey (not to be confused with Dorothy Mabel Coreltt of Douglass who, in 1963, sold the field behind Dollagh Cottage to Charles Cowin). Dollagh Cottage itself was named and described as being bounded to the north by the Dollagh Green and included a garden, Barney’s House, a tholtan, and another garden which is where the Dollagh Cottage garage now stands.

In 1962, Evelyn Corlett sold all this property and land to Mary Jervis Hamblin of Kneen’s cottage and bungalow, the Cronk, Ballaugh. In 1964, Mary Jervis having died, Elsie Hamblin sold the land and property, this time excluding the tholtan, Barney’s House, to Marjorie Winifred Bushell of Kirk Michael for £800, who then added an extension at the back to provide two more rooms, a bathroom and a sunroom, together with a piece of land which she bought from Charles Cowin for a garden and access to the main road.

When this was finished, in 1966, she sold it to Gilbert Henry Grocott for £3,250. When he died in 1969, his widow sold it to Ernest Henry George Dobby for £4,250 who, in turn, added an extension containing a sitting room and a second bathroom. From the front the modernisation has not altered the proportion of the building although, o course, in the up-grading of Manx cottages the windows are changed and a porch added. In the case of the Dollagh Cottage, unfortunately the walls were covered with grey peeble-dash by Mrs Bushell, which is out of keeping with other dwellings around the Green. It is also unusual in having the front door at one end, next to the two-storey house next door, instead of between the usual two rooms, with the chimney of the chiollagh in the middle. Mrs Bushell also added a garage, in what was called ‘the garden’, beside which is now a giant holly tree, up which grows a white rose right to the top, some 30 feet, which flowers prolifically every year.

Another resident listed in 1890 as living on the Dollagh Green was Mrs Margaret Corlett, described as an egg-dealer and midwife, and who was know as ‘Mayh Miller’. The hens, it was said, laid their eggs in the pinfold. Her daughter, Mrs Mary Caine (1850-1925) continued with the midwifery and was known to everyone as ‘Mary the Miller’. She was noted for ‘popping’ a clove into her mouth before she set out to ‘fortify’ herself. Old time Manx ‘sick nurses’ also used to eat onions and take some with them as a disinfectant when called to an infectious case.

Next door, adjoining Dollagh Cottage to the west, is Riverside Cottage, also added to but in this case by a single room addition, distorting the Manx proportions of the building. In front and to the west, between the cottage and the river, is a narrow strip of the original garden, to which is now added a large piece of land the title of which is uncertain. In the Dollagh Cottage deeds it was attributed to the Callisters, although Mr Ellis said that there was nothing in their deeds to justify this.

However, the most interesting part of the property is that the thie veg now used as a coal shed, is in full view of the Green though, before the Pinfold wall was demolished, there was more privacy. It is strangely positioned in front of the cottage instead of, as is usual, at the back.

This brings up the question of how the thie veg would have been emptied. The usual method before the advent of piped water was for a hole in the wooden seat (or two, or three!) with the excrement just dropping on the ground, from which is was shovelled, periodically, on to a midden, scattered with lime and then covered with a layer of earth which, when big enough, was taken away in a barrow and spread over the garden.

Across, on the other side of the Green, stills stands almost in its original appearance, Brookside Cottage, first mentioned in the deeds in 160, when it was sold by William Kelly to John Teare and Thomas Craine, the house and land being described as part of the ‘Dhoullagh Moar’ Quarterland.Teare died in 1887, as also did Craine for whom, ‘he being illegitimate’, John Kelly was appointed Trustee. The property was sold in 1908 to Florence Sophie Brooke who, in 1955, sold it to a tram driver from Bispham, Blackpool for £700, described it as ‘a parcel of land in the Quarterland of Dollaugh Moar, with dwelling house called Brookside and “cottage” bordered to the north by land owned by Herbert Edwin Burgess, and to the south, by the Dollagh Easement’. This cottage is now a garage but, small as it is, was once lived in by a family who rented it, together with a garden on to which a barn-style door opened. This is now preserved and looked after as a beautiful cottage-style garden, wwith an apple tree in the centre until recently.

Laura, Lady Buchan

Laura, Lady Buchan, was the eldest daughter of Col. Mark Wilkes, and grand-daughter of Rev. Jas. Wilkes. She gave the silver communion service to Ballaugh New Church. This account of her life appears in Manx Worthies, compiled by A. W. Moore, and first published in 1901 .

LAURA, LADY BUCHAN, née WILKS (b. 1797, d. 1888), the eldest daughter of Col. Wilks by his first wife, will be chiefly remembered on account of her interview with the Emperor Napoleon just after his arrival in St. Helena.

She was then evidently a remarkably beautiful girl. Indeed, when the writer saw her at her house in Portland Place, London, some years before her death, she still had the remains of great beauty.

Our knowledge of the interview is mainly derived from an article in Blackwood’s Magazine, of January, 1834, entitled, ‘ Reminiscences of Napoleon Bonaparte. It was written by a lady2 who was staying with Col. and Mrs. Wilks at the time, and who, by special request of Mrs. Wilks, accompanied her daughter when she (Miss Wilks) and Col. Wilks called on Napoleon.

I was delighted,’ she writes, ‘to chaperone so elegant, amiable, and beautiful a young lady, and felt proud that Napoleon should see so perfect a specimen of my fair countrywomen. Miss WILKS was then in the first bloom of youth, and her whole demeanour, agreeability, and elegant, modest appearance, conspired to render her the most charming and admirable person I ever before or have since met with in all my peregrinations in Europe, Asia, and Africa, for the space of thirty years’.

She then proceeds to describe their departure from Government – or Plantation House, as it was called – in a huge vehicle drawn by six bullocks driven by three men.3 After some hours going across the most dangerous narrow roads, or rather paths, sharp turnings and precipitous horrors beneath, enough to terrify the stoutest heart, and turn giddy the strongest head,’ they arrived at Longwood.

They found Napoleon ‘fully dressed and standing to receive Governor Wilks with etiquette.’ He was ‘arrayed in a green coat, with all his stars, orders, and ribbons – silk stockings, small shoes with gold buckles, and a chapeau-bras under his arm.’ His secretary and interpreter, Count Las Cases, stood by his side. The governor then presented his daughter to Bonaparte, who, ‘looking at her with a pleasing smile, addressed her in these words : ‘I have long heard from various quarters of the superior elegance and beauty of Miss Wilks ; but now I am convinced from my own eyes that the report has scarcely done her sufficient justice.4 Saying this, he bowed to her politely.’ From another source,5 we gather that Napoleon also said : ‘ You must be very glad to leave the island;’ to which she replied, ‘ Oh I no, sire, I am very sorry to go away,’ to which Napoleon very naturally answered : ‘ Oh! mademoiselle, I wish I could change places with you.’ He then presented her with a bracelet.

Some years after her arrival in England she married General Sir John Buchan, K.C.B., whom she survived. She was a considerable landowner in the Isle of Man, having succeeded to her father’s properties of Kirby, Castleward, &c.

1 Kindly copied by Mr. Frowde.

2 Her name is not given

3 The writer explains that on account of ‘ the steep precipitous roads . . . to proceed in a carriage drawn by horses would be dreadfully dangerous, nay almost impossible.’

4 O’Meara, in his ‘ Napoleon at St. Helena,’ gives the date of this interview as April 21, 1816, saying that it took place just before Col. Wilks left for England in the Savannah. In describing it, he uses the following words: ‘He (Napoleon) was highly pleased with Miss Wilks (a highly accomplished and elegant young lady), and gallantly told her that ‘she exceeded the description which had been given of her to him.’

5 A note in the Isle of Man Times of May, 1888. The writer of it refers to the article in ‘Blackwood,’ but does not say where he got his further information from.