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The Fairies’ Banquet

by Bernadette Weyde

The last sod-house on the Island is said to have been one which stood on Skyhill and was inhabited by a family named Ribbat (Redpath); it was built on the spot “where the oldest farm on the North used to be.” Miss Douglas’s nurse had it from her own father that “the fairies used to have a regular city just about there, and ones had seen it all lit up at night when they would be passing.”

The same tradition in greater detail, as heard about twenty-five years ago, I will give in Miss Douglas’s own words.

“Johnny Callow, an old grave-digger of Lezayre, often used to tell me when I was small about a man who was crossing Skyhill one night, and was ‘took’ and lost his way.

At last he saw a great house before him, bigger than Ballakillingan, all lighted up and the door open, and ones going in and out. He never thought where he was or what it would be, but went on towards it, and inside there were scores of grand ladies and gentlemen in silks and satins and velvet, and all the tables and chairs and dishes were of gold and silver, shining fit to blind you, and there was mortal grand food and drink all set out ready. He walked right in, but none of the ones that was there seemed to see him, so he thought he would take shelter and watch them for a bit, and he did, sitting all quiet in a corner. But he was tired coming in off the mountains after his day’s work, and before long he went to sleep, and when he woke up in the morning, house and people and all was gone, and he was lying in the fern up on top of Skyall (Skyhill).

I don’t remember whether Johnny said he had eaten of their food or not.” Most likely not, or he would have been drawn into their world, for a while at least.”

(source: A Second Manx Scrapbook by WW Gill (1932); artwork ‘The Fairies’ Banquet by John Anster Fitzgerald)

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