Manx Fairy Tales: The Tall Man of Ballacurry

Manx Fairy Tales: The Tall Man of Ballacurry

Tom Craine was going home at midnight from Bradda mine to his home at Colby. The road was lonely and he met no person, but the full moon was shining and it was as light as day. As he began to pass under the trees that grow round the house at Ballacurry, a little dog appeared suddenly from the black shadow at the roadside and followed at his heels.

He whistled to it, but as he turned his head to look at it, it ran on in front of him, and for a minute he did not see it. When he came in sight of it again, he was terrified to see that it had grown larger - as big as a goat - and it grew bigger and bigger till it was the size of a donkey! It galloped before him and disappeared round the bend of the road where the gate of Ballacurry is.

When Tom came to the gate he saw a very tall, thin man leaning on it, with his arms folded on the top of it. The beast was not there. As Tom reached the gate the tall thin man turned and walked up the long path that leads to the house. When he got to the door he turned again and walked back down the path towards Tom.

By the bright moonlight Tom saw the lace ruffle round his neck, the satin of his knee breeches, the silk of his stockings, and the shining buckles on his shoes -the dress of bygone days. His face was white and dreadful. As Tom looked he was all at once taken with terror, and ran off as hard as he could go down the road to Colby.

He had not gone far when he met two of his friends, Ben Mylechreest and Bill Teare. He told them what he had seen, and they made fun of him and would not believe that he had seen any such thing. They said they would go back with him to the gate, so they all three turned back. When the got to the gate they saw the big man, as tall as two men, walking up the path with his back towards them. As before, when he reached the door, he turned -

What they saw they never told any man!

They took to their heels; all three; and ran till they could run no longer. They were trembling from head to foot and the sweat pouring from them. They were too terrified to go home, so they turned in with Tom and they slept, all three, in one bed.

Source:  Sophia Morrison - Manx Fairy Tales, London 1911