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Gef: The Talking Mongoose / The Dalby Spook

sherbetbizarre

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Robbrent

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The Isle of Man is quite a mysterious place (as well as being quite beautiful) I put it down to its liminal position in-between the Celtic and Anglo Saxon worlds it's neither here nor there
 

dannycheveaux1

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Swifty

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It seems the Isle Of Man are losing the faith ..

agef001.jpg
 

Kondoru

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From the way my friend in Peel was talking, the IOMs civilisation has collapsed entirely and there is just ruins left, thought over by motorcycle gangs and mutated cats.
 

EnolaGaia

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I can't find a related news article about this online searching under Isle Of Man Examiner. I wonder if the newsagent owner is just having a laugh?.

How old is that photo? :thought:
 

BS3

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I've just been reminded that this is one of my favourite Fortean things ever.

I think it's fairly obvious where the "mongoose" came from, with the Irvings being a classic 'status inconsistent' family (educated and intelligent people who had almost by chance ended up living a very isolated and tedious life as farmers). But I think for sheer strangeness my favourite theory is the idea suggested by one researcher that the mongoose was an actual animal that had become possessed by a sort of detached part of Mr Irving's personality.
 

Kondoru

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Reading about Architecture on the IOM, and one odd note, that seems relevant to this tale.

The landscape is peppered with ruins; known as Tholtans, the Manx may abandon a building, but as a rule they do not demolish, leaving them for the fairies. (or future developers).
 

BS3

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Reading back through this thread, it's funny to see how this was once one of those historic bits of Forteana that you really had to search hard to find information on, but where we've since had some decent work on it made available (followed almost inevitably by the usual deluge of poor quality writeups on commercial websites by non-Fortean writers desperate for 'content'). So I'd guess Gef is probably more widely known now than he has been at any time since the 30s.

It was only after the publication of Christopher Josiffe's excellent book on the Dalby Spook that I realised that, rather than the Irvings being a family with no prior links to the IoM before moving there from Liverpool, Margaret was in fact originally a local girl. This strikes me as being possibly important.

It seems apparent that at least one of the family was in some way responsible for Gef's 'creation' but the real question is whether it was Voirrey, Voirrey and her mother, or whether they were all in on it at some level.
 

catseye

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Was it really an obscure bit of Forteana though? I grew up knowing about Gef, my mum had been fascinated by it as a girl (she was born 1932) having grown up hearing stories about it which she passed down to me. Apart from that, she wasn't generally one for Fortean subjects. So it was known about in the wider population, even back then. Although I'd guess that the war kind of displaced such stories.
 

BS3

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Was it really an obscure bit of Forteana though? I grew up knowing about Gef, my mum had been fascinated by it as a girl (she was born 1932) having grown up hearing stories about it which she passed down to me. Apart from that, she wasn't generally one for Fortean subjects. So it was known about in the wider population, even back then. Although I'd guess that the war kind of displaced such stories.

Well, I think by the 1960s (or so) it had gone back to being an obscure curiosity - I suppose partly as there was nowhere for the story to go and partly due to the War. I always think of it as having more in common with the post Great War boom in spiritualism and being part of that general cultural environment, although far stranger in some ways.

I think the talking animal aspect of it probably stuck in people's minds, even if it was, really, more of a voice associated with a (rarely seen) animal.
 

BS3

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Towards the start of this thread a link was posted to a site containing some transcriptions of early local newspaper reports of the Spook. The link doesn't work now but luckily the site has been archived.

These articles are extremely useful as context , particularly the letter from a Mr W. Teare which seems to be the origin of the idea of the animal as specifically a mongoose (and which is probably also the source of the "neighbouring farmer releasing mongooses 20 years earlier" thing).
 

BS3

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Another useful bit of context is the first couple of chapters of The Haunting of Cashen's Gap, which are available online. This includes some useful background information about exactly how and why an essentially "suburban" middle class family ended up subsistence farming at Doarlish Cashen as well as other snippets, such as the fact the house's famous matchboard panelling was installed by Mr Irving himself with the assistance of a German POW carpenter.

I've only just realised that one of the reasons this case always interested me - perhaps much more so than the rather irritating, mildly abusive Spook itself - is that the Irvings' situation has some parallels to my own upbringing. This was also in an isolated, unmodernised farmhouse, where we'd ended up largely through circumstances rather than choice. I think I perceive some familar feelings of boredom and alienation in there somewhere.
 

Mouldy13

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By coincidence I am enjoying this marvellous YouTube video on three of Saki's stories, featuring of course Gef's literary cousin Sredni Vashtar.


Sredni Vashtar went forth,
His thoughts were red thoughts and his teeth were white.
His enemies called for peace but he brought them death,
Sredni Vashtar the Beautiful.
 

EnolaGaia

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Towards the start of this thread a link was posted to a site containing some transcriptions of early local newspaper reports of the Spook. The link doesn't work now but luckily the site has been archived. ...

FWIW ... I've made an editorial pass through this thread, flagging / updating / removing dead links.
 
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BS3

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Another interesting snippet is that the name "Voirrey" (Mary) is strictly only the form in the vocative grammatical case that you'd use if you were addressing them, or in the genitive case. In the nominative case it would be "Moirrey", much like you'd expect for a name that is the equivalent of "Mary". This sort of stuff happens with the name in Irish and Welsh too
 

catseye

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Another interesting snippet is that the name "Voirrey" (Mary) is strictly only the form in the vocative grammatical case that you'd use if you were addressing them, or in the genitive case. In the nominative case it would be "Moirrey", much like you'd expect for a name that is the equivalent of "Mary". This sort of stuff happens with the name in Irish and Welsh too
Doesn't it mean 'bitter', or something similar, in Manx? Bit of a label to give a child....
 

BS3

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Doesn't it mean 'bitter', or something similar, in Manx? Bit of a label to give a child....

Not sure - the Manx Society dictionary (thanks, Google Books) lists "bitter" as "garg" (similar to Irish "géar" I suppose) and has "Moirrey" as "a proper name, Mary".

"Moirrey" should be pronounced [mur'ə], according to Kneen's "Personal Names of the Isle of Man". So, "Murra", or something like that.
 
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BS3

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Incidentally I have found a brief, tantalising reference to Voirrey / Moirrey being tracked down and interviewed at length (in the late 50s or '60s) by someone from the Manchester Phsychical Research Society, and continuing to maintain the truth of events. This seems to be separate to the better known interview with her carried out by W McGraw in 1970.
 

EnolaGaia

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Incidentally I have found a brief, tantalising reference to Voirrey / Moirrey being tracked down and interviewed at length (in the late 50s or '60s) by someone from the Manchester Phsychical Research Society, and continuing to maintain the truth of events. This seems to be separate to the better known interview with her carried out by W McGraw in 1970.

Are you referring to the mention of David Cohen having visited and interviewed Voirrey on page 127 in:

No Common Task: The Autobiography of a Ghost-hunter
By Peter Underwood
... ?

David Cohen had sought out and interviewed at length Voirrey Irving, the only surviving member of the Isle of Man family involved in the controversial Talking Mongoose case, and Voirrey, more than a quarter-century later, retracted nothing, and still insisted that the family had indeed been afflicted by a mongoose-like animal that manifested and spoke.
https://books.google.com/books?id=U... voirrey "Psychical Research Society"&f=false
 

EnolaGaia

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According to this Magonia Review article about Harry Price:

Cohen was clearly an interesting character who conducted a number of investigations, which were only reported on as lectures to the society. Most his material was binned by his family after his death, which seems to be all too common in this field.
SOURCE: https://pelicanist.blogspot.com/2017/04/paying-price.html
 

BS3

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That's the one. A great shame if none of this stuff has been recorded, but it seems to be a common enough fate for Fortean research materials given the low cultural value attached to them.
 
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