Fairy Bridge (Isle of Man)
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Fairy Bridge on the A5 road.
|Location||A5 road, Isle of Man|
Fairy Bridge, Isle of Man (Manx: Ballalona - Glen Farm ) is a small bridge over the Santon Burn in the Isle of Man, located on the primary A5 Port Erin to Douglas road, at grid reference 305720, on the parish boundary between Santon and Malew (and also the boundary between the sheadings of Middle and Rushen).
A superstition is to greet the fairies (an English term for the Mooinjer Veggey ("Little People"); historically never called fairies or ferrish by the Manx and not of similar disposition to the English fairies) when crossing the Fairy Bridge; it is considered unlucky not to greet them.
From the 1950s it was reportedly the custom to advise a visitor of the myth on the journey south from Douglas or north from the airport. This was timed so that one was required to say "Good morning Fairies!" just as the teller and his guest(s) crossed the Fairy Bridge. This would subsequently be repeated by the same or other tellers, leaving visitors perplexed as to the tellers' beliefs.
Buses passing the Fairy Bridge make an automatic announcement before passing the bridge saying Please serve the Manx tradition, and say Hi Fairies as we cross the Fairy Bridge.
Like many local superstitions on the Isle of Man, the Fairy Bridge myth is changing with the influx of new residents. It has always been a whimsical practice, never taken too seriously by residents, despite food writer A.A. Gill's repetition in London newspaper "The Times" of an urban myth that taxi drivers will stop if the passenger does not greet the fairies.
Motorcycle racers and spectators at the annual TT and Manx Grand Prix races tend to take the ritual seriously, in most cases making a point of visiting the bridge before setting up for practice and the races. In an example of confirmation bias, mishaps and crashes are readily attributed to the fairies' displeasure; likewise lucky escapes.
It has been suggested that the location was on the boundaries of the land of the nearby Rushen Abbey, and the greeting is a folk memory of crossing oneself at the sight of the crucifix marking the boundary of the monastery's land. This superstition may possibly have arisen at this location during the 19th century in response to the large number of tourists visiting the Island.
Alternative Fairy Bridge
The now commonly known '"Real" Fairy Bridge', shown as the "Fairy Bridge" on old Ordnance Survey maps, is located in the parish of Braddan across the Middle River near the footpath from Oakhill to Kewaigue.
- Place Names of The Isle of Man – Da Ny Manninee Dooie. Volume Five, Sheading of Rushen (Kirk Malew with Castletown and Ballasalla), Kirk Arbory page 110 Kirk Malew by George Broderick (1999) Manx Place Names Study, Max Niemeyer Verlag Tϋbingen ISBN 3-484-40138-9 (Gesamtwerk) 3-484-10132-X Druck: Das Weihert-Druck GmbH Darmstadt, Eiband: Siegfried Geiger, Ammerbuch "FAIRY BRIDGE OS1870 4585 SC3071 ONB 1957. A small bridge just south of Ballaglonna bridge. A tourist attraction. Original bridge in the vicinity, but crossing the Santan Burn from earlier abbeyland of Malew into king's land in Santan"
- Place Names of The Isle of Man – Da Ny Manninee Dooie. Volume Five Sheading of Rushen (Kirk Malew with Castletown and Ballasalla), Kirk Arbory ) page 40 Kirk Malew by George Broderick (1999) Manx Place Names Study, Max Niemeyer Verlag Tϋbingen ISBN 3-484-40138-9 (Gesamtwerk) 3-484-10132-X Druck: Das Weihert-Druck GmbH Darmstadt, Eiband: Siegfried Geiger, Ammerbuch 'glen farm' Mx balley glionney, G. gleann, viz baile gleanna
- The Rolling Stones at the Fairy Bridge, August 1964 Memories of our summer season heyday
- BBC Isle of Man/Ellan Vannin History Do you believe? Ariane Barua 4 August 2009