Home Manx Life Three


by Bernadette Weyde

The numeral ‘three’ has some charm about it. King Cormac wrote a poem on the virtues of the number three. The first ruler of Mann had a gold cup which would break into three pieces if three words of falsehood were uttered by the person who used it. Down to a few years ago it was an old Manx custom to walk three times around the cross in the churchyard, always carrying the coffin in the same direction, following the sun in its course. The Druids worshipped mistletoe, which bears a cluster of three berries. It is a well known fact that a seagull lays three eggs and that it takes three weeks to hatch out its young. In the Old Testament we find that priests were ordered to wear three white tassels on their robes. The Isle of Man was a place of refuge; from earliest days did Persian priests find their way thither. They were in the habit of chanting to the winds for three days. By this means they were able to alter the weather. Even today, Manx people are superstitious over seeing three magpies. In Lonan one can still hear people talk about the month of three milkings; the three coldest winds are known to fishermen; only three nails were permitted when building a boat, the Dhoinney Oaie (Night Man) always calls out three times as a warning. Legends connected with St. Nicholas state that he saved three youths and three maidens from drowning; he did so by using three golden balls. Today these are the signs used by the pawnbroker. The Manx had three legs on their stools as well as their pots and pans. For weddings they blew horns three times to announce the arrival of the bride.


(source: IOM Natural History and Antiquarian Society Proceedings Vol. IV No.III (1937-1939); photo)

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