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.: Rats and Longtails
RatsThe Manx gaelic language of the Isle of Man is unusual because for a thousand years it had no letter M.

In the early days of Christianisation, the letter was considered unlucky because it was number 13 in the alphabet and the more religious and superstitious types felt that made it ungodly.

In recent times, the letter has been reinstated, but this was part of the reason the Isle of Man was named Ellan Vannin rather than Mannin for so long.

Another popular superstition is the refusal by Manx people to say the word “rat”. This came about in the 1600s after the Duke of Athol, Sir Methadonia Athol, was due to be awarded a knighthood.

He travelled to England to receive his honour from Queen Elizabeth I and returned in triumph.

Sir Methadonia left his ship anchored in Douglas Bay and clambered into a boat to be ferried to shore by the crew.

As he drew near, it became apparent most of the population of the Island had gathered to greet him, and he stood on the prow of the boat, waving vigorously.

Disaster struck as he stepped from the boat to the landing jetty, when he inadvertently trod on a rat which bit his foot.

Yelping in pain, he stumbled, tripped, and fell face-first into a barrel which was waiting to be taken to the ship.

He broke his nose, and, under ancient Manx law, no man with a facial disfigurement was allowed to be a ruling member of the nobility. Sir Methadonia was forced to step down and hand the Dukedom to his eldest son Tastingio.

From that day forward, it’s been considered unlucky for any person to say the word “rat” in the Isle of Man. Upon hearing the word uttered, it’s customary to tug a forelock, knock on wood and whistle.

Instead, you can say "longtail" or "skippo".

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Written at 16:06 by G
1 comments | links to this post

"Intriguing. I love the rat fact - I remember reading somewhere that in Gaelic culture, physical disfigurement prevented taking on leadership positions. Isn't there a myth about a maimed man who's hand was replaced with a silver one to go around this rule? I might be wrong, but it sounds familiar."

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