Spring is well underway and there are more and more flowers coming into bloom. On the hedgerows we will see found Germander speedwell – Foillean, Common chickweed – Flig, Greater stitchwort – Lieen ny Ferrish (Fairies net), Dog violet – Lus ny cree, Sweet violet – Blaa villish, Alexanders – Ollyssyn, Hogweed – Farrane, Red deadnettle – Undaagagh yiarg, Herb Robert (one of the Cranesbill’s) – Crouw yiarg, Lady’s smock – Lus y Boaldyn and Primrose – Sumark. Primroses are interesting, if you look in the centre of the flowers, you will notice that some have a stalk with a round ball like end, this is called ‘pin eye’ and others have what appears to be small long yellow sausages shapes, this is called ‘thrum eye’. The Manks name for the Hogweed, Farranes, is pronounced like friends without the ‘d’. Many older people seem to know this name, although ‘Arradan’ is an alternate Manks name and it is supposed to be the ‘North’ name for it.
In the woodlands, Wood-sorrel – Bee Cooaig (Cuckoo food), Wood anemone – Lus ny geayee and Blue bell – Gleiy vuc should all be in flower. I will discuss Blue bells more fully next month, also in the woods, the Sticky buds should be out on the Horse chestnut – Billey castan. The blossom will be appearing on the Blackthorn – Drine airn, let’s hope for good weather when the blossom is out, so that there are plenty of Sloes – Airnyn this back-end, for Sloe gin!!
Swallow – Gollan geayee, House martin – Gollan thie and Sand martin – Gollan gheinnee (Fork of the wind, house and sand respectively) will all arrive this month, the swallow in particular is being affected by the move to convert many of the old barns where they nest into accommodation. There is not a lot of spring cereals sown these days, but those that are will be showing the bruit/brewit (the green shoots showing through) by now.
The last day of April is known as Oie Voaldyn, May eve. This night was very important to the old people, a cross of Mountain ash twigs, Crosh Cuirn would be made to hang above the door for luck. Two twigs would be bound together using sheep’s wool to make a cross shape. The twigs had to be broken and not cut and the wool had to be collected off gorse and briars and not from barbed wire, no part of the cross was to touch metal! Another tradition was to collect the flowers from Kingcup (Marsh marigold) – Blughtyn and have these in the house for May Day – Laa Boaldyn. A final piece of folklore is the story that if you collect a piece of Slender St John’s wort – Lus y choilg, lay it on the ground and stramp on it, a fairy horse will appear and you can ride about on it until morning.