We were introduced to the story of the Fynoderee by our interest in the Ramsey Forest Project / Reintroduction of Juniper that has taken place in Glen Auldyn.
This lovely Manx folklore story is set in the very same location as the newly planted Juniper groves.
Of course our interest was further piqued once we found out there was a character in the story called “Kitty Kerruish” with whom we share our unusual Manx surname!
It’s a passionate tale of love and loss and is well worth a read. You will notice that there is a very strong sense of place in the story that appealed to us and on many occasions the nature, flora and fauna of this stunning part of the Isle of Man is referenced – this has provided us with great inspiration for our Gin and hopefully further spirits coming down the line.
The Fynoderee is a mythical creature, half man and half goat…..but he didn’t always look this way….
Are you ‘sipping’ comfortably? Then I’ll begin…
Many years ago…….Kitty Kerruish was a young and beautiful girl who lived with her father in a small cottage surrounded by fuchsia bushes up at the top of Glen Auldyn in the north of the Isle of Man. Her father was a tailor and the men of Ramsey would visit the cottage to have their suits made for them. Even though Kitty’s dad was not considered the best tailor in the world, he still did good trade as the men would happily trudge up the many miles along the gorse lined footpaths from Ramsey in the hope of getting a glance of the beautiful Kitty Kerruish and to even make a play for her hand in marriage. Kitty, however, was devoted to the needs of her father who was frail and in need of her help and always turned away her many suitors with the excuse of being unavailable for marriage while her father was still alive.
One summers evening as Kitty was sitting outside her cottage working on her spinning wheel and awaiting her father’s return from a business trip to Ballaugh, she heard a strange rustling in the undergrowth and then appeared the most beguiling young man she had ever set her eyes upon. Though small in stature, he possessed such a mesmerizing beauty that Kitty quickly realized he could not possibly be of mortal form, rather a member of the fabled fairy folk community of the isle of Man that were known to inhabit the Island at this time before the industrial age (the railway and motor vehicles eventually drove them all away.)
It turned out that this little chap was no ordinary fairy when he introduced himself as “Udereek” Prince of the Elfin kind and proclaimed his undying love for Kitty who he explained he had been watching and lusting after secretly from the bushes for many months. Kitty although taken-aback by this sudden proclamation was entranced by his magical beauty and was powerless to resist his beauteous charms. When Udereek went to kiss her, she fell in to his arms and at the same time fell instantly and hopelessly in love with him.
Now, for fairy kind to fall in love with a mortal girl is completely forbidden by the Fairy Court and for Udereek who held a high position within the fairy court, it was even more important that their love could never be discovered. So, before Kitty’s father could return to the cottage, Udereek quickly vanished, but not before making plans with Kitty to meet up the next evening at dusk under the Blue Rowan Tree nearby. And so it was that Kitty and Udereek would meet every evening under the Blue Rowan Tree for their secret trysts and day-by-day each fell more and more in love with the other.
Weeks went by, until one evening Udereek explained to Kitty that the next night was to be the “Royal Festival of the Harvest Moon” in Glen Rushen and that it was decreed that all Elfin kind were to attend the festivities until the moon had set over South Barrule. Kitty teased Udereek by suggesting that he would have such a good time at the ball that he would forget all about her and would get seduced instead by a beautiful fairy maiden…..Affronted, Udereek insisted that this could never happen and to prove how much Kitty meant to him, he would make his escape from the Harvest festival early after only three hours had passed and would come looking for Kitty as usual under their Blue Rowan Tree.
The next night, fairies form all parts of the Island assembled before the Great King and Queen….Elfin kind, sprites and bugganes came together for a bounteous feast, dancing and much frivolity. Udereek found himself sitting next to a Fairy named Estella at the feast. Estella was widely considered to be the most beautiful of all fairy maidens and possessed ways of seduction and bewitchery that no mortal man could ever resist. Estella was delighted to be seated next to Udereek and was attracted to him for not only his good looks, but his high position within the fairy court. Estella pulled out all the stops to seduce Udereek, but Udereek was immune to her charms, bewitched as he was by his own love for Kitty to whom he remained true. As the feasting part of the evening came to an end and the dancing began, Udereek took his chance to slip away in to the night to find Kitty as he had promised to do.
Estella was mortified and angry that Udereek had so easily resisted her charms – she was confident in her superior beauty and couldn’t understand why her attempts at seduction had been so easily brushed away – this had never happened to her before and she became quickly convinced that his heart must already be taken. Overwhelmed by jealousy and rage, Estella had stalked Udereek as he made his departure from the Harvest ball and unbeknown to him, had followed him on his flight of passion back to Glen Auldyn and the waiting Kitty.
Relieved by the eventual return of her lover, Kitty fell in to Udereek’s loving embrace just as Estella stumbled in to the scene….Consumed by jealousy and bitter hatred by what she had seen and towards Kitty, Estella vowed to have her revenge and quick as lightening she returned to the Harvest Revels where she announced in front of the full fairy court what she had witnessed. Astonished and betrayed by the treachery of Udereek in falling in love with a mortal girl, The King and queen called an immediate halt to the festival and flew straight away to the scene of Udereek’s crime where he was caught in Kitty’s embrace. Udereek was pulled away and instantly sent off for trial. Estella beseeched the king to exact a terrible revenge on Kitty, but the monarch was a fair man and also not immune himself to the obvious charms of Kitty, that he couldn’t bring himself to harm her. Instead he gave her instructions to flee the Isle of Man and decreed that she must be gone from the shores of “Ellan Vannin” before the next full moon, otherwise her fate was in the hands of Estella and he would do nothing to prevent her from having her sweet revenge on Kitty.
Kitty could not bring herself to leave her father or the memories of her passionate love for Udereek. Every evening she would return to their special place under the Blue Rowan and pine for her lost love and dream of his unlikely return. She did not notice the passing of days. One evening as kitty sat in the twilight, the moon rose to its fullest and Estella still consumed by bitter jealousy, gleefully summoned a rising mist from all the poisonous plants in the glen to surround Kitty – slowly and imperceptibly she breathed in the fumes until her fate was sealed and that night Kitty passed away in her bewildered father’s arms.
For Udereek a different and even worse fate was in store. He was formally tried by his peers and condemned to banishment from the fairy community, to remain a lonely wanderer in Ellan Vannin till the crack of doom. His sentence was no sooner pronounced by the king than Uddereek was instantly changed from his beautiful elfin form into a figure resembling a satyr, half boy half billy-goat, from whence he derives his present name of Fynoderee, or HAIRY ONE.
He has remained in the Isle of Man ever since.
Although heartbroken and fallen from grace, the Fynoderree is known for good-naturedly assisting those who he befriends, and many are the tales told of the little fellow’s beneficence. Over the years and by moonlight he has helped farmers to reap and sow, moved stones to assist builders and mended fishermen’s nets on the quayside.
We hope he will be pleased that we are telling his story again and that he may even help us with our foraging and harvesting of the various Gin botanicals.