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Fenodyree (also phynodderee, phynnodderee, fynnoderee or fenoderee) (pronunciation: fŭn-ṓ-đŭr-ĭ or fŭn-ṓđ-rĭ;[1] funótheree;[2] etymology: Manx: fynney "hair, fur" + Manx: oashyree "stockings" (Cregeen's dict.;[3] Rhys suggests influenced by a cognate of Swedish: fjun "down"[4])) is sometimes used as a proper name and sometimes as the name of a class of beings, the latter of which is a hairy little creature, a sort of sprite or fairy (Manx: ferrishyn)[5] in the folklore around the Isle of Man.

He can be a helpful creature (see examples), comparable to the Scottish brownie,[5] performing arduous tasks, such as transporting great blocks of white stone (marble?) too heavy for men to lift or, clipping the grass from the meadow with stupendous speed. For his talent in the latter skill, he has earned the nickname yn foldyr gastey or "the nimble mower",[5] and is sung in a Manx ballad by that very title.[6]

He is covered with copious body hair, particularly around the legs, and is glossed as being a "satyr",[3] though smaller in stature. He frolicks thus without wearing any clothing.[7] In fact, when a gift of clothing was made to him, he recited a strain in Manx stating that caps and so forth are nothing but discomfort, and it caused him to balefully depart from the area (see #Stone mover example of the tale). In one version of the tale, the clothing was not good enough and the fenodyree left in a huff;[citation needed] in another, it transpired that the brownie believed clothing unhealthy and a cause of disease so, again, left in a huff.[citation needed]

It seems that a bit of leftover food was all he asked in recompense. In a ballad recited by a woman, it is told that "His was the wizard hand that toil'd / At midnight's witching hour / That gather'd the sheep from the coming storm", and all he required were "scattered sheafs" and "cream-bowl" left on the meal table.[8] Besides herding animals as just mentioned, reaping and threshing may be added to the list of chores he performs.[citation needed]

Usage and tales[edit]

Fenodyree is in fact the term used for "satyr" in the 1819 Manx version of the Bible (Isaiah 34:14;[3] more modern English versions translate "satyr" as "wild goat").[9]

Fallen fairy knight[edit]

One tale alleges the Phynnodderee was once a fairy (sing. Manx: ferrish; pl. ferrishyn), a Knight of the Fairy Court, whose was changed into a grotesque satyr-like appearance as punishment for falling in love with a human girl, and thus skipping out on the royal high festivities of the harvest (Rehollys vooar yn ouyr, lit. "Great Harvest Moonlight"[10]), held by his own kind at Glen Rushen.[11]

Nimble mower[edit]

There is an anecdote regarding a round meadow in the parish of Marown, that there once was a Phynnodderee who was wont to cut and gather the meadow grass (with the scythe), until a farmer criticized the job for not mowing the grass close enough to ground. The hairy one abandoned the work for the farmer to labor over for himself, and "went after him stubbing up the roots so fast that it was with difficulty the farmer escaped having his legs cut off by the angry sprite". No one afterwards could succeed in mowing this meadow till a knight devised the way to start in the middle and cut around in circular pattern.[12][13]

Stone mover[edit]

Another tale describes how a gentleman wanting to build a large house "a little above the base of Snafield mountain, at a place called Tholt-e-Will or 'Will's Barn' (orig. spelt Sholt-e-will)"[12][14] The quarry of rocks, including an enormous block of white stone for the building of this edifice were at the shore, but to the great surprise of all, were transported in one night by a phynnodderee. But when the gentleman left a set of clothing as recompense, the hairy one declares "Bayrn da'n chone, dy doogh da'n choine. ('Cap for the head, alas, poor head/ Coat for the back, alas, poor back/ Breeches for the breech, alas, poor breech. / If these be all thine, thine cannot be the merry Glen of Rushen'.)" This giving of the gift unwittingly worked as a charm to expel him from the area (thus Campbell says "he was frightened away by a gift of clothes"[15]). So the hairy one departs in a "melancholy wail", declaring that his voice can thenceforth be heard in the whistling winds of the mountains, mourning the loss of his Fairy Bower.[16]

Campbell[15] sees a Scottish analogue in the "Skipness long-haired Gruagach... frightened away by the offer of a coat and a cap". The tale of the Irish phouka recorded by Lady Wilde also carries a merrier version of this motif.

Popular culture[edit]


  1. ^ Rhys 1901, p.288. "with the accent on the second syllable"
  2. ^ Thomas Edward Brown; Max Keith Sutton; Maureen E. Godman; Nicholas L. Shimmin, Fo'c's'le yarnsan uncensored edition of four Manx narratives in verse , p.88n funótheree-o between the vowel in odd and add.
  3. ^ a b c Cregeen 1835, p.130 Dict., "phynnod'deree, s.m. a satyr; Isa. xxxiv. 14. "derived from Fynney (hair or fur) and Oashyr or Oashyree (of stockings or hose).
  4. ^ Rhys 1901,p.288n
  5. ^ a b c Mackillop 1998
  6. ^ Moore 1896, Manx Ballads & Mus., p.xxii, p.70, the ballad "Yn Folder Gastey", tr. p. 71 "The Nimble Mower". The first line in translation runs "The Fenoderee went to the meadow."
  7. ^ Mackillop 1998, "usually portrayed as naked but covered with body hair".
  8. ^ Train 1845, pp.148–9 (collected from Mrs. E. S. Craven Green).
  9. ^ Moore 1891, p.53
  10. ^ Train 1845, p.152 re-hollys vooar yn ouyr "great harvest moonlight".
  11. ^ Moore 1891, p.53, printing a prose and verse tale attrib. to "Mrs. E.S. Craven Green".
  12. ^ a b Train 1845, p.149-
  13. ^ Also repeated in Moore 1891, p.56, and less precisely by Keightley, The Fairy Mythology (1880), p.402
  14. ^ Train 1845, p.149– originally spells it "Sholt-e-will", but Moore 1891 corrects it to Tholt; and Moore, The surnames & place-names of the Isle of Man (1890), 153, gives the following entry: "Soalt (F), 'a barn.' As in Tholt-e-Will, 'Will's Barn.'"
  15. ^ a b Campbell 1860, p.lv
  16. ^ Train 1845, p.150; stanza attributed to Mrs. (E. S.) Craven Green (aforementioned)