An Account of the Parish of Marown (1776)
[Yn Lioar Manninagh Vol 2 pp29/31]
AN ACCOUNT OF THE PARISH OF MAROWN (1776.)
Written by John Christian, Vicar, for ‘Thomas Pennant, Antiquary.
(From a MS. belonging to A. W. MOORE, MA.)
The modern name of this parish is Kirk Marown, called in the Manx language, Keil, or Skeerey Rooney, from St. Runius, to whom the church is dedicated.
The parish is of circular form, surrounded by Kirk Braddan, Kirk Santon, Malew, Patrick, German, and Michael, interspersed with hills, and dales, and mountains.
The lands consist of woods, arable, pasture, meadow, and heath on the adjoining commons.
The soil is moorish in some parts of the parish, in others the soil is very good, producing plenty of corn and grass!, and bears a dry summer better than any part of the Isle. There are five mills erected in this parish, four of them are corn mills, and the other is a flax mill.
There are about 120 dwelling-houses in the parish, and its inhabitants near 700.
There are two great roads leading through this parish, one from Douglas to Peel town, and the other from Castletown to Ramsey.
Here are the remains or ruins of eight small chapels, formerly belonging to their respective Treens, each Treen consisting of four quarterlands, or town lands, as they are called in Ireland. These chapels were the first houses of religious worship erected in this parish at the establishment of Christianity, and had each of them a consecrated well, from which they had their water for baptising the children. Some of these wells are, to this day, held in great esteem by the lower class of people for curing disorders, and are frequented by them more through superstition than any real virtue contained in the waters. There is also the remains of a large chapel dedicated to the Holy Trinity, and commonly called St. ‘Trinian. It was built, if you believe tradition, by a Scotchman who escaped a storm at sea, and vowed he would build a church in the first country he would land in. There is a Barony annexed to this chappel, which is now the property of John Quayle; Esq., Clerk of the Rolls.
There is a curious piece of antiquity situated in the south portion of this ; parish, in an enclosure of John James Bacon, Esq., of Newtown. It is composed of some hundreds of stones, most of which are fallen down inwardly and some outwardly, partly covered with gorse, heath, etc., yet the whole seems still to retain its original form, which inclines me to believe it to be the remains of a Druidical Temple. It is in some place near three feet high above the common surface ; the stones which at present stand erect are in number about 24 and are of the natural shape, as if collected from the proper( ?) soil, and carried from a good distance off ; the whole is of a circular form, the upright stones encircle to the inside thereof, with their smooth or flat sides placed inwardly, except two stones fixed at near a yard’s distance from each other, with their smooth sides towards one another, seeming to be the door or entrance thereof : this door stands nearly due south from the centre, the diameter of this circular area is about 12 yards every way. Here are also two walks forming an obtuse angle, the whole being partly encompassed within the angle of these walks, one walk is shorter than the other, the longest is about 32 yards, the shortest about 24, both are nearly of an equal breadth, that is, about nine yards. There is a monument in the mountain close by the road leading from this parish to Kirk Michael, erected to the memory of one Kinry, alias Harrison, who is said to have perished in or near this place. It is related that he was to run for a wager in his shirt only on a snowy night from Kirk Michael to Douglas and back again, but perished here on his return.
The chief manure made use of is lime, which is brought from Douglas by land carriage, after being laid down there by boats from the limestone quarries at Derbyhaven or Scarlett. The farmers in the south division of this parish draw their limestones from Ballavalley [sic Ballasalley], and others improve their lands with marle. The price of the lime, laid down on the spot, is two shillings a barrel.
The land produces wheat, barley, oats, peas, and beans, but oats is what the farmers prefer, which they have in abundance and very good.
In the main river and rivulet are found trouts, eels, salmon in kipper time, and salmon fray. Hares, rabbits, weasels, rats and mice are the wild quadrupeds. Geese, ducks, pidgeons, partridges, grouse, plover, etc., are the chief wildfowl. The migratory birds are the cuckoo, woodcocks, swallows, etc.
The cattle are small in comparison to the English, but their flesh is exceedingly sweet.
This parish is furnished with excellent water.
There is only one river called the black river, that runs through this parish (which divides it nearly into two equal parts), forming a very forkie ( ?forklike) vale near its banks. This river produces a shellfish called Mother of Pearls. They shed their pearls in April ; a good one is generally sold for half-a-crown, and so on in proportion to their value.
This parish also abounds with timber.
A great number of sheep are kept on the mountains and other adjoining commons, and some on good pasture. The mountain sheep that feed on the ling berry and wild grass exceed all these in the fineness of their wool and deliciousness of their flesh.
Diversions are angling, fowling, coursing. Bows and arrows are still in use among the inhabitants, and they have matches annually, parish against parish, at short and long marks. I have often seen a good hand shoot an arrow 400 yards.
This parish is seldom or ever troubled with epidemical disorders (the small-pox excepted) owing to the north-west wind that blows through the rocks at Greeby and Creg-y-Quilham, with such force down the valley formed by this Black river that it disperses all the noxious and stagnant vapours lodged in the atmosphere, and leaves the air pure and healthy, so that this parish may be justly called the Mountpellier of this Isle (note—since January, 1750, I have buried but four persons who have died of fevers.)
The time for hiring manservants is on or after Michaelmas day, and the wages generally given for the year is from £3 to £5. Maid-servants are hired on Lady day or after for the year from 30s. to 50s.