There’s this peculiar little creature from folklore that caught my fancy. He goes by two names. Yet no-one can disagree that he’s quite gross. Grogoch or Phynnodderee is the name of this Faery. The folklore attached to his origins is quite sad… still, it’s no excuse to be grody!
Definition of Grody.
Grogochs were originally half human, half-fairy aborigines who came from Kintyre in Scotland to settle in Ireland. The grogoch, well-known throughout north Antrim, Rathlin Island and parts of Donegal, may also to be found on the Isle of Man, where they are called ‘phynnodderee’. Resembling a very small elderly man, though covered in coarse, dense reddish hair or fur, he wears no clothes, but sports a variety of twigs and dirt from his travels. Grogochs are not noted for their personal hygiene: there are no records of any female grogochs.
He has the power of invisibility and will often only allow certain trusted people to observe him. A very sociable being, the grogoch. He may even attach himself to certain individuals and help them with their planting and harvesting or with domestic chores – for no payment other than a jug of cream.
Which obviously makes him sound like quite a household catch.
I searched “Irish story creatures” which led me to a lovely site.Under the heading, “Creatures,” I discovered the grogoch, a half-fairy, half-little troll of a man who runs around naked, covered only by thick, coarse, reddish hair. Who also never washes and reeks.
I want one. I hear Glade Plug-Insâ are pretty good. And I’ll provide plenty of cream. Plenty.
He is more commonly known by his other name that almost sounds like fiddle-dee-dee. *grin*
Fenodyree (also phynodderee, phynnodderee, fynnoderee or fenoderee) (pronunciation: fŭn-ṓ-đŭr-ĭ or fŭn-ṓđ-rĭ; funótheree; etymology: Manx: fynney “hair, fur” + Manx: oashyree “stockings” (Cregeen’s dict.; Rhys suggests influenced by a cognate of Swedish: fjun “down”)) is sometimes used as a proper name and sometimes as the name of a class of beings, the latter of which is a hairy little creature, a sort of sprite or fairy (Manx: ferrishyn) in the folklore around the Isle of Man.
He can be a helpful creature (see examples), comparable to the Scottish brownie, performing arduous tasks, such as transporting great blocks of white stone (marble?) too heavy for men to lift or, clipping the grass from the meadow with stupendous speed. For his talent in the latter skill, he has earned the nickname yn foldyr gastey or “the nimble mower”, and is sung in a Manx ballad by that very title.
He is covered with copious body hair, particularly around the legs, and is glossed as being a “satyr“, though smaller in stature. He frolicks thus without wearing any clothing. In fact, when a gift of clothing was made to him, he recited a strain in Manx stating that caps and so forth are nothing but discomfort, and it caused him to balefully depart from the area (see #Stone mover example of the tale). In one version of the tale, the clothing was not good enough and the fenodyree left in a huff; in another, it transpired that the brownie believed clothing unhealthy and a cause of disease so, again, left in a huff.
It seems that a bit of leftover food was all he asked in recompense. In a ballad recited by a woman, it is told that “His was the wizard hand that toil’d / At midnight’s witching hour / That gather’d the sheep from the coming storm”, and all he required were “scattered sheafs” and “cream-bowl” left on the meal table. Besides herding animals as just mentioned, reaping and threshing may be added to the list of chores he performs.
Fallen fairy knight (Origin)
One tale alleges the Phynnodderee was once a fairy (sing. Manx: ferrish; pl. ferrishyn), a Knight of the Fairy Court, whose was changed into a grotesque satyr-like appearance as punishment for falling in love with a human girl, and thus skipping out on the royal high festivities of the harvest (Rehollys vooar yn ouyr, lit. “Great Harvest Moonlight”), held by his own kind at Glen Rushen.
There is an anecdote regarding a round meadow in the parish of Marown, that there once was a Phynnodderee who was wont to cut and gather the meadow grass (with the scythe), until a farmer criticized the job for not mowing the grass close enough to ground. The hairy one abandoned the work for the farmer to labor over for himself, and “went after him stubbing up the roots so fast that it was with difficulty the farmer escaped having his legs cut off by the angry sprite”. No one afterwards could succeed in mowing this meadow till a knight devised the way to start in the middle and cut around in circular pattern.
[the Hairy-one]. A Manx spirit, similar to the Scotch “brownie,” and German “kobold.” He is said to be an outlawed fairy, and the offence was this: He absented himself without leave from Fairy-court on the great levée-day of the Harvest-moon, being in the glen of Rushen, dancing with a pretty Manx maid whom he was courting.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
He is very kind and obliging to the people, sometimes driving home the sheep, or cutting and gathering the hay, if he sees a storm coming on. On one of these occasions, a farmer having expressed his displeasure with him for not having cut the grass close enough to the ground, he let him cut it himself the next year; but he went after him stubbing up the roots so fast, that it was with difficulty that the farmer could escape having his legs cut off. For several years no one would venture to mow that meadow; at length a soldier undertook it, and by beginning in the centre of the field, and cutting round, as if on the edge of a circle, keeping one eye on the scythe, and looking out for the Phynnodderee with the other, he succeeded in cutting the grass in safety.
“There has not been a merry world Since the Phynnodderee lost his ground.”
This useful little old gentleman, with his hairy coat, was a fallen fairy, who was banished from his brethren in Fairy Land for having paid his addresses to a pretty Manx maid, and deserting the Fairy court during the harvest moon, to dance with his earthly love in the merry glen of Rushen. He is doomed to remain in the Isle till the end of time; and many are the stories related by the Manx peasantry of his prodigious strength. Having performed one of his wonderful feats, a gentleman, wishing to recompense him, caused a few articles of clothing to be laid down for him in his usual haunts, when, on perceiving them, he lifted them up one by one, saying-
Cap for the head; alas! poor head
Coat for the back; alas! poor back;
Breeches for the breech; alas! poor breech
If these be all thine, thine cannot be
The merry glen of Rushen.”
Bayrn dán chione, dy doogh dán chione
Cooat dán dreeym, dy doogh dán dreeym
Breechyn dán toyn, dy doogh dán toyn;
Agh my she lhiat ooilley, shoh cha vel lhiat
Glion reagh Rushen.
Having said so, he departed, and has never been heard of since! His resemblance was that of the “Lubber Fiend” of Milton, and the Scottish “Brownie.”
Grogochs, as featured in my writing and on The Origin of the Fae page.
There are no female Grogochs.
The Grogoch lives in either a cave, a cleft in the landscape or a hollow he evicted a fox or rabbit from.
He resembles a short, old man covered in coarse red fur. He’s really grody – his hygiene leaves much to be desired. Spare twigs and leaves can always be found on his person (though this could be a good thing while he gardens?).
Thanks to the thick fur covering his body, the Grogoch is quite impervious to extreme temperatures of either end of the spectrum.
Once they bond with a magic user (Druid, Witch, Warlock, what-have-you), they are extremely loyal.
It is unclear what kind of magic they practice.
In the newest instalment of Tales of the Onyx Labyrinth, Creature of Dissent, a Grogoch causes a stir.
“A scream stopped the Elf from answering.
Daphne immediately placed herself between the source and the princess.
The Elves scurried away from whatever had caused one of their own to freak out.
Something the size of a Dwarf but covered with coarse red fur made its way into the chamber proper. His face was withered. An earthy smell came from him. Despite his obvious grodiness, he looked upon the immaculate Elves with hope and wonder. They recoiled.”
– Creature of Dissent, Tales of the Onyx Labyrinth, Ronel Janse van Vuuren
I hope you enjoy reading the fifth tale in the series. Comments can be left here or on Wattpad – I always appreciate feedback. Do you like the word “grody”? The Grogoch has such a sad origin story – can you think of others?
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