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Manx Charm – Ghaw Ving

by Bernadette Weyde
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Between Fleshwick Bay and Bradda Head there is a ‘Castle’ Rock, called Cashtal Rackley, or Reckley, and at its outside is a cave, Ghaw Ving, so named on account of the echo that it produces. I have no doubt that it has been a place where the old Manx repeated charms. When an infant was sick, and the thinking was it would die, they used to go to the Ghaw Ving for it and repeat:

“Ghaw ving, Ghaw ving,
Cur jeed yn troo!
Va’n lhiannoo ching jea
As bee eh ny share jiu.”

 

“Ghaw ving, Ghaw ving,
Put off the envy!
The child was sick yesterday,
And it will be better today.”

There is a similar account from the old fishing village of Runswick, in the North Riding of Yorkshire, near Whitby. There one of the Hobs is still said to haunt a cave, called the Hobcave. Anxious and superstitious mothers brought their ailing little ones and as they stood at the mouth of the caves, cried:

“Hob, my bairn’s gettent kinkcough,
Takkt off, takkt off!”

It is evidently of Norse origin. The Manx ‘cughtagh’ is an evil spirit “whose abode was in caves by the sea and whose voice was the coughing and whispering of the wavelets.” It seems that the Manx charm was addressed to this cughtagh.

In Irish Gaelic ‘cogair’ = to whisper, listen, and ‘coig’ = a secret, mystery, council, advice.


(source: Manx Notes & Queries, edited by Charles Roeder (1904); photograph is of unknown source)

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