Gef’s Guide to the weird and wonderful of the Isle of Man

Here at Gef we love nothing more than celebrating the weird and wonderful of the Isle of Man, I mean, we’re named after a poltergeist that haunted a family in Dalby for god’s sake. Working with Visit Isle of Man, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most weird and absolutely wonderful places here on our little isle. There are some real gems here, stories behind places we reckon even some hardcore manxies wouldn’t even know. Be sure to check them out, take a pic and tag us in them, especially if you spot a wallaby, those guys are elusive!

Magnetic Hill, Ronague

Ok so, you’re driving down the hill. Park up at the lil stone that reads ‘Magnetic Hill, Ronague’. Pop the car into neutral, release the handbrake and observe. You start rolling uphill. But how? The slope of this gravity hill is actually an optical illusion, although similar sites are often accompanied by claims that magnetic or supernatural forces are at work! 

The ‘real’ Fairy Bridge

The fairy bridge, yes, we’re all familiar with it. Driving down south, off to the airport? Lol, remember that? Saying ‘hi fairies!’ or if you’re manx ‘fastyr mie mooinjer veggey’. Well did you know that’s not the original bridge? Yeah, that’s right, that’s the fairy bridge 2.0. The ‘real’ Fairy Bridge is along Middle River near Kewaigue and is far more magical and beautiful than the new site. If you would like to leave an offering for the fairies, please make sure anything you leave is biodegradable.

Wild Wallabies

The fact we have wallabies living in the wild here is probably one of our favourite weird and wonderful things about the Island. Native to Australia, yet roaming free here on the Isle of Man since a loved up pair of Houdinis made their great escape in the 1970’s from Curragh’s Wildlife Park. Since their escape, they did what they were brought here for and got down to it. There are now believed to be more than 100 of them living within Ballaugh Curraghs- giving the Isle of Man the largest wallaby population in the northern hemisphere! So throw on your wellies, grab your binoculars and head ‘up north’ to the Curraghs for your very own game of ‘Where’s Wally’

Niarbyl Fault

Throwing it back even further than the 1960s to like, 480 million years ago, when two continental crusts collided. One was Avalonia, which England is on and the other was Laurentia, home to North America and Scotland. If you head down to the Niarbyl shore, face out to sea and look right, you can see a diagonal line highlighting the scene of the crash. You can stand with one foot on each continent and literally be in two places at once!

So, if you fancy a trip to North America, Scotland or England this summer but Rona is stopping you, Niarbyl is the place to go to say you’ve been. And there’s no two weeks self-isolation upon your return!

The lost village of West Baldwin

Due to some heavy droughts in recent summers (yes, we have had periods of prolonged sun here on the Island!) This has become a much more well-known thing. The Isle of Man’s very own City of Atlantis came about when three farms were dug up and flooded to make way for Injebreck reservoir. Graves were supposedly excavated and moved to St Luke’s church but most of the farm buildings and outhouses remained. When we get six weeks of sun and a hosepipe ban (which, thanks to climate change, is becoming a much more regular occurrence) be sure to head down to see the exposed bridge – It’s not as dry as it sounds, promise! When looking at it, it’s crazy to think that that thing was built hundreds of years ago, had people walking/riding horses over it and it now spends most of its time underwater, yet it’s still in such good nick. That’s the good old Manx stone engineering for you!

Manx Giant (Arthur Caley)

A vertically gifted fella from Sulby, born in 1824. Back then, the world was one vast, unknowable terrain and this 7 foot 11 inches tall Sulby lad planned to conquer as much of it  – like any self-respecting giant should do. Before he got bored of waiting for the Ginger Pub to exist, leaving behind Sulby to find his fortune in Paris, Arthur apparently worked in the gardens of Rose Garden, Regaby. Here, on one of the gateposts, there’s a big green hand – the fingertips representing his height. The other hand is in the Murrays Motorcycle Museum and his boots live in the basement of the Manx Museum. There are also some really high doorways at the Sulby Glen Hotel that were modified for him and the Manx Museum has a true-to-life sized pic of him – a fair few relics to check out! 

Arthur just bloody well loved being a giant! He marvelled at his magnificence, he embraced it, ran with it and mythologised his own legacy. What a lad.

Icy hands of Castle Street

Castle Street, Peel – the oldest street on the Island and home to haunting hands. As the saying goes- where there is history, there often follows stories from the great beyond. The reports are that people who’ve walked down Castle Street have felt freezing cold hands touching them. 

Rumour has it that these icy hands are said to belong to a pair of ill-behaved school children who still wander the streets and various apartments, chilling people to the bone (and scaring them to their core).

 

 

Vampire grave

Location: Malew Church

Mystery: Grave dating back to the 1850s surrounded by iron stakes, draped with heavy chains and covered with a slate slab.

This is the grave of husband and wife, Mathew and Margaret Hassal. Legend has it that, during Mathew’s wake, he let out ‘an ungodly groan’ – many theories as to why this may be, but those attending were freaked out. So much so that they put chains around the grave to keep the ‘vampire’ from rising again. Apparently, they even drove a stake through the poor fella’s heart before his burial… just in case.

Theory no. 2 is that Mathew committed suicide, which meant he wouldn’t have been allowed a funeral. As a work around, his grave was dug from behind the stone wall so technically he wasn’t buried in the church ground. But that doesn’t explain the chains and stakes?

Either way, it’s still a mystery. Maybe it’s one you could solve? Check it out and let us know if you find anything worth noting!

 

The Buggane of St Trinian’s

The Isle of Man’s very own three little pigs. Well, the huffing and puffing of the wolf is the similarity in this folk tale. The buggane was a powerful fella who ripped the roof of St Trinian’s church.

When the local Manx folk decided to build St Trinian’s church, they deffo didn’t get planning permission which left the buggane fuming and ripping off the first two roofs under the cover of darkness. On the third attempt of reroofing the building, local tailor, Timothy, volunteered as tribute to spend the night in the completed building in order to win a bet. He bet he could not only survive a night there but also make a pair of breeches (old fashioned trousers) while he was at it.

The Buggane rocked up mid stitch and tried to scare the crap out of Timmy. He was unphased and carried on sewing because, deadlines. This enraged the Buggage and, when Timmy had finished his creation, he made a dash for it out the window. The Buggane was fuming, so fuming that he ripped his own head off and threw it at Timmy? V dramatic and maybe where the saying ‘losing your head’ comes from?

Timmy came out of it unscathed and won his wager but no one ever redid the roof? So to this day, it remains, Keeill Vrisht – Broken Church. You can see it in the green meadow under the shadow of rocky Greeba Mountain.

 

King Orry’s Grave 

  • the largest known Megalithic tomb on the Isle of Man

 

If you’re not familiar with the mighty King Orry, he was a mythical figure based on King Godred Crovan, a Viking warrior who created the Kingdom of Mann and the Isles upon his arrival on our rock in 1079.

This fella supposedly introduced the Island’s legal system and his arrival on the island is seen as the starting point of Manx history as we know it. After his death in approx 1095, the Crovan dynasty, his descendants, ruled in Mann and the Isles for almost two centuries. 

You can visit his grave in Laxey, in fact, there are two graves. One is estimated to have been built during Neolithic times around five thousand years ago(!) by farmers as memorials to their ancestors. The other is across the road. It is suggested that the two parts of the graves were connected to form three chambers enclosed by the cairn, but thanks to the Island moving on with the times, clear evidence for this has been complicated by the construction of the modern houses and roads.

If you wanna know more about this legend, be sure to check out his resting place. There are illustrated info boards at the site about King Orry and the history and discovery of this tomb. 

This article is sponsored by the Isle of Man Government.

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