Folklore Friday - The Blue Men of Minch
The Blue Men of Minch (also known as Storm Kelpies) are creatures who inhabit the stretch of water between the northern Outer Hebrides and mainland Scotland. Localised in Minch and the surrounding areas, they look for sailors to drown and stricken boats to sink. Apart from being blue, the Men of Minch are close in appearance to human form, being roughly the same size too. With the power to create storms, they also float sleeping on the surface of the water when the weather is fine. Swimming with their torsos raised out of the sea, the can twist and dive like a porpoise would.
Able to speak, when a group approaches a ship, the chief of the Minch Men may chant a couple of lines of poetry to the master of the vessel, challenging him to complete the verse.
Blue Chief: Man of the black cap what do you say
As your proud ship cleaves the brine?
Skipper: My speedy ship takes the shortest way
And I'll follow you line by line
Blue Chief: My men are eager, my men are ready
To drag you below the waves
Skipper: My ship is speedy, my ship is steady
If it sank, it would wreck your caves.
If the skipper fails
to complete the poetry then the blue men will attempt to overturn the
ship and capsize it.
It is thought that these mythical blue men may have been part of a tribe of 'fallen angels' who split into three. The first of the angels became ground-dwelling fairies, the second evolved to become sea-inhabiting blue men, and the remainder became the 'merry dancers' of the northern lights in the sky.
There are no surviving tales that mention attempts by sailors to kill the demons, however legend has it that there was once the capture of a blue man. When sailors seized a blue man and tied him up on board their ship, they weren't quite sure what they were dealing with. They had caught him when seeing him 'sleeping on the waters'. Shortly after his capture, two fellow blue men gave chase, calling out to each other as they swam towards the ship.
'Duncan will be one, Donald will be two
Will you need another ere you reach the shore?'
Hearing his companions the captured man broke free of his bonds and jumped overboard to join them. He answered,
'Duncan's voice I
hear, Donald too is near
But no need of helpers has strong Ian More'.
This revelation shows that the Blue Men of Minch address each other by names.