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The Witch of Glen Rushen

by Bernadette Weyde

There is a story, sir, of a witch that lived in Glen Rushen on the Isle of Man. She could command the wind to blow so sudden as to dismast the vessels sailing on the coast. She also would command the gobbags (dog-fish) to eat and destroy the fishermen’s nets.

She often used to go about in the form of a hare and a great many had tried to shoot her, and often chased her with dogs, but no one could hurt her nor any greyhound catch her in running.

But there was a young gentleman out with his gun one morning pretty early, and the game birds very scarce, but at last he started a very fine hare and he fired at it, but the gun only gave a little crack, and the hare did not run away, but turned round and looked at him, so by that he thought it was a witch.

He had silver buttons in his wristbands and he pulled them out as fast as he could and loaded the gun again, putting in the silver buttons for shot.

He went towards the hare but she seemed to feel no alarm, so he took aim and fired. He saw that he had hit the hare, but she went away limping, and he gave chase expecting to catch her, but he could only keep her in sight, until she got in the house.

When he came to the house he went in and saw nobody. Then he went to the ‘cuillee lhie‘ (bedroom), and the old witch was in bed, and seemed as if she was dying. He lifted up the bed clothes and the bed was all over in blood – she was wounded in the thigh.

It appears she did not live very long after that, for the people said she was not seen in the form of a hare again.

(source Manx Notes & Queries, 1904; artwork ‘Free Spirit’ by Eleanor Ludgate)

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