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A shape shifter, the Buggane's natural look is described as "...covered with a mane of coarse, black hair; it had eyes like torches, and glittering sharp tusks."
The most famous story recounts a Buggane who found himself an inadvertent stowaway on a ship bound for Ireland. Determined to return to Ellen Vannin he caused a storm and guided the ship towards the rocky coast of Contrary Head. His plan was interdicted through the intervention of St. Trinian. Invoked by the captain with a promise to build a chapel in his honor, the saint guided the ship safely into Peel Harbor. Incensed, the buggane screamed, "St. Trinian should never have a whole church in Ellan Vannin." When the chapel came to be built, three times the local people put a roof on, and three times the buggane tore it off.
As magical creatures, bugganes were known to be unable to cross water or stand on hallowed ground.
Bugganes were occasionally called upon by the fairies to punish people that had offended them. The buggane of Glen Meay would have pitched a lazy housewife into a waterfall for putting off baking until after sunset, had she not cut loose the strings of her apron to escape. The buggane from Gob-na-Scuit was known for tearing the thatch off the hay-stacks, puffing the smoke down chimneys, and pushing sheep over the edge of the brooghs (a steep bank or grassy cliff).
Finn MacColl and the Buggane
In Manx legend, the Irish giant Fionn mac Cumhaill (Finn MacCool), crossed over to Mann and settled near Cregneash. The buggane from Barrule came to do battle, but Finn did not want to fight. Fionn's wife, Oonagh, disguised Fionn as a baby and tucked him in a cradle. When the buggane saw the size of the 'baby', he thought that its father, Finn, must be a giant among giants, and so he left. They eventually met near Kirk Christ Rushen, and fought from sunrise to sunset. Finn had one foot in the Big Sound, and so made the Channel between the Calf of Mann and Kitterland, and the other foot was in the Little Sound, and so he made the narrow Channel between Kitterland and the island. The Buggane was standing at Port Erin. He came off victorious and slashed Finn awful, so that he had to run to Ireland. Finn could walk on the sea, but the Buggane could not, so he tore out a tooth and threw it at Finn. It hit him on the back of the head, and then it fell into the sea and became what is now called Chicken Rock. Finn turned round and roared a mighty curse, "My seven swearings of a curse on it! says he. "Let it lie there for a vexation to the sons of men while water runs and grass grows I" And so it has. (The Irish version of the story has Finn's adversary a giant from Scotland).
In popular culture
- Bushys (Mount Murray Brewing) of Douglas, Isle of Man brews a light brown English bitter called "Bushy's Buggane".
- Stories from the Isle of Man: The Buggane of St. Trinian's, featured in Season 6 (8 August 1969) of the BBC children's television series Jackanory.
- In The Last Apprentice series by Joseph Delaney, a buggane features prominently in the seventh book, Rise of the Huntress.
- Buggane is featured in the fantasy novel The Road To Fero City by Morat, in which he is imprisoned for vandalizing churches.
- Morrison, Sophia. Manx Fairy Tales, David Nutt, London, 1911
- Callow, Edward. "The Buggane's Vow", The Phynodderre and Other Legends of the Isle of Man, J. Dean and Son, London, 1882
- Morrison, Sophia. "Buggane ny Hushtey, the Buggane-of-the-Water: A Manx Folktale", Folklore, Vol. 34, No. 4 (Dec. 31, 1923), pp. 349-351 JSTOR 1256555
- "Old Nance and The Buggane", Feegan's, IOM
- "Bushy's Buggane", Ratebeer.com
Attribution, Scanned and proofed at sacredspiral.com, by Eliza Yetter, April, 2005. Additional proofing and formatting at sacred-texts.com, by John Bruno Hare.