The Buggane of St Trinians
St Trinian’s church is the ruined shell of a 14th Century building standing at the foot of Mount Greeba on the Isle of Man. The chapel was the haunt of a Buggane: a fearsome creature of Manx folklore that appears in a number of folktales from the island.
There was a chapel at this location from at least the 12thC, the ruin being part of a later building from the 14thC. The church was an offshoot St Ninians Priory at Whithorn in Southern Scotland, which was a major centre of early Christianity.
According to the tale the Buggane had his home in the mountain and was annoyed when the church was built – no doubt a threat to his supernatural hold over the area. Enraged by the sound of the bells the creature tore the roof from the building. On the day the third replacement roof was erected a young Taylor named Timothy agreed to a wager to finish a pair of breeches within the church, even though it was known that the Buggane would appear to tear the roof off once more.
The Taylor managed to keep his nerve as the Buggane rose slowly from the ground limb by grotesque limb, until the creature was almost ready to pounce and tear him to pieces. The Taylor just managed to put the last stitches in the fabric and jumped from the window as the Buggane tore the third roof from the walls. He managed to reach the safety of Marown Church with the Buggane hot on his heels. The creature was so furious that he missed his prize, that it tore off its own head and threw it over the church wall where it burst at the Taylor’s feet. Needless to say the Buggane was never seen again. The destruction and relocation of churches by the fairy races is a common enough folklore motif.
In this version the Buggane has a mane of course black hair, sharp tusks, eyes like flaming torches with a wide red mouth, with black wrinkled skin sharp claws and cloven feet.
According to Katherine Briggs the story is the same as the highland story of the haunted church at Bewley, the similarity being the gradual emergence of a creature from the ground limb by limb.