Barrule and the myth of Manannan


South Barrule (Barool Jiass in Manx) is the highest ‘mountain’ (a hill really at only 1,585ft) in the south of the Isle of Man. Despite not being that high, on such a small island it is a looming presence in most of the south.  Its colour changes with the light and it often takes on a purplish hue regardless of whether the heather that carpets its slopes is in bloom.


South Barrule from Castletown beach with the drag hunt heading home in the foreground

Often the mountain is shrouded in mist or clouds, but on a fine day both the relatively short hike up from the mountain road or longer walk through Cringle plantation are beautiful, with great views over the south of the island.

Tala and I have been up South Barrule twice since we arrived in September. Once when I was eight months pregnant and then again when baby Wilfred was just over a week old and I had some friends visiting.

Below – our walk up when I was pregnant and Tala doing a lot of posing as well as heather hopping!

South Barrule is also steeped in ancient history and legend. On the summit was an ancient Celtic iron age fort with the remains of approximately 85 huts. Amazing to imagine people living in such bleak conditions.

The celts believed in Manannan Mac Lir,  the ‘lord of the sea’, who resided on the Isle of Man with his stronghold being on top of Barrule. The Isle of Man takes its name from Manannan. According to the legend, when fog rolls in off the sea it is referred to as the ‘cloak of Manannan’, protecting the island from its enemies.

We saw this quite eerily when we started our climb with perfect blue sky weather and then suddenly the fog rolled over when we reach the summit. As we headed down with little visibility the hound leapt up on an outcrop and clearly cut quite a mysterious silhouette. We then passed two dogs who had been put on their leads as the owner wasn’t sure what the feral creature on the rock was! Soon the mists passed and we were rewarded with a glorious golden sunset over Cronk ny Arrey laa.

Another place worth visiting, if you are near South Barrule, is Cringle Reservoir just to the south. It’s a great place to go fishing (with a license) for rainbow trout. Below is my father proudly showing off his catch to the hound.