Monday, 20 April 2015

The Mer-Folk of Calgary Bay

Calgary Bay on Mull was reputedly a favourite haunt of the mer-folk. In 'The Legends of the Inner Hebrides' (1964) Swire tells that Island girls not infrequently married mermen, just as their brothers might wed a mermaid, and the marriages were quite frequently happy. When the mer-folk became mortal they had to shed their tail, and one of these tails was found by an adventurous boy in Calgary Bay and he tried it on, fitting it with a belt of oarweed, and off he went to sea. He soon discovered that there is more to swimming than borrowing a tail, and he was sinking for the third time when he felt a pair of hands holding him up and found himself in the arms of a mermaid who slipped him into the curl of her tail and carried him safely to shore, then swam away taking the spare tail with her. 

Swire tells that the mer-folk were generally kindly and would protect mortals from the little people if they sought their help, as below the high-water mark a fairy could not dare touch a mortal. They would also reward a mortal greatly if one chanced upon a merbaby and was kind to it. However if the human harmed the baby then they would be drowned or cursed.

Mull also contained another type of mer-folk according to Swire, the fallen angels who were spirits of fire and air, for their misdeeds condemned them to live in the sea lest they corrupt others. A Mull man once found and tried to wear a mer-folk's tail but it was too tight at the waist so he slit it down one side as if gutting a fish. A terrible scream was heard and he found himself enveloped in flames. No one could approach to help him as so great was the heat, so he was burnt to death. He had found the temporarily discarded tail of one of the fallen angels and they had fire in their veins instead of blood it was said. If one was wounded it was well known they would bleed fire and burn to death. In cutting the tail, the man had wounded the spirit and let lose the fire, burning both himself and the original owner.
 A tail diving into the water near Calgary Bay. I wish I could tell you it was a mermaid, but it was a dolphin, still a wonderful sight though!
Calgary Bay

Below you can explore Calgary Bay by clicking and dragging on the Google Viewer below, let me know if you spot any mer-folk!

View Larger Map

Sources & Further Information
Legends of the Inner Hebrides, Swire
Sea Enchantress: The Tale of the Mermaid and Her Kin, Benwell and Waugh

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