A Kirk Bride Well Charm

A Kirk Bride Well Charm

In the rugged matrix of George Quarrie’s uncollected verses lurks a rite used in connection with a Well on Kionlough.

“A young man has been found lying unconscious, and cannot be restored to his senses. At last old Betty from Shellag climbs to the Clagh Vedn (a white boulder on a tumulus near the sea-cliffs), when the moon is at its highest. With the crystal-clear water of a well that never sees the sunlight, she fills her cup to the brim, and turns away to empty it on the ground. This she does three times, muttering to herself each time she fills it, the charms for cadley jiargan or “sleep of the blood.” Then she refills the vessel for the last time, signs a cross over it with her right thumb, and lays lus-ny-çhiolg (St John’s Wort) on the water. She brings the cup to the young man, pours a few drops of the charmed liquid between his lips, and the cure is accomplished.

The name of the well I cannot give, for I know of none on the Clagh Vedn. There is a bushy and boggy hollow lower down, a hundred yards North East of the tumulus, which is fed by water percolating from the hillside.


Note: Betty was from Shellag which is Manx for sallow/salix, a member of the willow family.

(source: W W Gill, A Third Manx Scrapbook (1963); photo http://bit.ly/1cmSxmK)

Bernadette Weyde

Bernadette Weyde

I'm a web designer, amateur historian and keen gardener and I enjoy bringing Manx history, folklore and poetry to a modern audience.


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