The importance attributed to keeping the Manx home-fires burning reappears in the apocryphal “law” believed to regulate squatters on other men’s land.
If, after sufficient materials for four walls and a roof have been collected in readiness, a dwelling-house can be run up between sunset and sunrise, and smoke sent out of the chimney, the house belongs to the man who, with his friends’ help, has built it; but if and when the fire fails to be continuous, the site reverts to the owner of the land. Only the stones of the building then belong to the tenant, who may take them away if he chooses.
A cottage in Ballarragh village, Lonan, now stands empty and unrepaired on account of the uncertainty created by this belief.
(source: A Second Manx Scrapbook by WW Gill (1932); photo)