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First of all, why 'Isle of Man?

General agreement is that it translates as mountainous or hilly land, with its roots Pictish rather than Gaelic. Early names of the Island, given by some historians include Mona (with a short 'o') by Caesar in 54 B.C.; Monapia by Pliny in 23 A.D.; Manaan and Manand from Irish annals in 1084 A.D. to 1496 A.D. and Mön or Maon from Scandinavian annals in 1240 A.D.

The area known as the Sheading of Rushen is the seat of the earliest Qualtroughs. Rushen's boundaries are Glenfaba Sheading to the north, Middle Sheading to the east with the sea the boundary south and west.

(Sheading, believed derived from the pre-Norse Gaelic or six, was an administrative term, the island being apportioned into six sections for governing. As well as sheadings, the island was sectioned into 17 parishes, each having a patron saint from which it got its name.)

Rushen can translate as 'wood' or 'peninsula' the latter being the more likely from its geography.

The parishes of Arbory and Malew crop up in our history. Arbory at one time was known as Kirk Carbery a version, perhaps, of one of the two saints it was named for St Cairpre and St Columba. This parish is famous for its Periwinkle Fair, held on Shrove Tuesday, specialties of the day being periwinkles - of course! -and gingerbread.

Malew, writes J.J. Kneen, takes its identity from confusing the names of two saints in the beginning of the 15th century -St Lua and St Lupus or Melua (and no wonder). It is the largest parish in Rushen and is famous for its historical and architectural sites which include Castle Rushen in Castletown - or, as the Manx will have it, Balley Cashtal.

Here are a few other place-names, with broad translations, which may be of interest:-

Ballabeg: Beg, Begson or Little's farm.

Ballacregeen: Cregeen's farm. 

Ballafesson: MacPherson's farm. 

Ballagawne: Gawne or Gavin's farm. (In 1511 record of a Henry McGawne) 

Ballakillowey: McGillowey's farm. (The prefix 'mac' was dropped when Balla was used.) 

Ballakilpheric: The farm of Patrick's church. (This little church has disappeared. See Cronk e Dooney) 

Ballawhetstone: Whetstone's farm. Also called church farm because of its proximity to the church at Malew. 

Dayre Gawne: Mac Gawne's road. 

Castletown: English translation of the Manx Balley Cashtal. 

Colby: Kolli's farm. Records of 1703 show two farms, Colby Moar and Colby Beg - Big and Little Colby. Colby now applies to the village. 

Cronk e Dooney: Hill of the church. This was the church which also gave its name to Ballakilpheric. Legend says this was the first church St Patrick erected on the Island. Doonagh also means Sunday or Lord's Day. It is believed St Patrick chose the Lord's Day to mark out the foundations of his churches 

Cronk Moar: Big hill; the area is also called Cronk y Feeagh translated as hill of the raven. 

Eairystane: Various spellings include Earysteen and Aristyne.It's a hybrid, stemming from Mac Thorstein, Thorstein being a common Norse name. Now Costain. 

Kione ny Goggan: The headland of the clefts or chasms, an area now a tourist attraction. Sometimes called Noggin Head in English in the belief that Goggan was a measure of capacity similar to the English noggin. 

Kione y Spaainey: See under Spanish Head. 

Port Erin: Believed to be associated with the Gaelic name for Ireland but also called by the Manx 'Lord's port' or 'Iron port' 

Port St Mary: English translation of the Gaelic Keeill Moirrey 

Spanish Head: There's a stubbornly-held belief that ships of the Spanish Armada were wrecked here. A map-maker of 1610, called Speed, named the headland Spaloret, believed to be misplaced on the map for Spalerick and misspelt

Strandhall: Part of the Kentraugh estate, it translates as strandend, possibly a version of the Scandinavian words Standall and Standhali.

So there it is, some indication of our roots from just one of our multi-sided heritage of living.

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