Moddey dhoo

"Black dog." The famous spectral hound sighted at Peel Castle, Douglas, on the Isle of Man, where it used to stand guard. The dog, a shaggy black spaniel, would enter the guard room as soon as the candles were lit and lay down before the fire, and leave at day-break. It terrified both the inhabitants of the castle as well as those who sought to attack it. While the dog was present, the soldiers forbore all oaths and profane talk. One soldier, with drunken bravado, ventured out alone, and lost his speech and died three days later. The Moddey dhoo was never seen afterwards.

The legend of the hound is thus told by George Waldron:

"They say that an apparition, called in their language the Moddey dhoo, in the shape of a large black spaniel with curled shaggy hair, was used to haunt Peel Castle, and has been frequently seen in every room, but particularly in the guard-chamber, where, as soon as the candles were lighted, it came and lay down before the fire in presence of all the soldiers, who at length, by being so much accustomed to the sight of it, lost great part of the terror they were seized with at its first appearance. They still, however, retained a certain awe, believing it to be an evil spirit which waited to do them hurt, and for that reason forbore swearing and all profane discourse while in its company. But though they endured the shock of such a guest when all together, none cared to be left alone with it. It being the custom, therefore, for one of the soldiers to lock the gates of the Castle at a certain hour, and carry the keys to the captain, to whose apartment the way led through the church, they agreed among themselves that whoever was to succeed, the ensuing night, his fellow on this errand, should accompany him that went first, and by this means no man would be exposed singly to the danger; for the Moddey dhoo was always seen to come out from that passage at the close of day, and return to it as soon as the morning dawned, which made them look upon this place as its peculiar residence.

One night a fellow being drunk, and by the strength of his liquor rendered more daring than ordinary, laughed at the simplicity of his companions; and though it was not his turn to go with the keys, would needs take that office to testify his courage. All the soldiers endeavoured to dissuade him; but the more they said the more resolute he seemed, and swore that he desired nothing more than that the Moddey dhoo would follow him as it had done the others, for he would try whether it was dog or devil. After having talked in a very reprobate manner for some time, he snatched up the keys and went out of the guard-room. In some time after his departure a noise was heard; but nobody had the boldness to see what occasioned it, till the adventurer returning they demanded the knowledge of him; but loud and noisy as he had been at leaving them, he was now become sober and silent enough; for he was never heard to speak more; and though all the time he lived, which was three days, he was entreated by all who came near him either to speak, or, if he could not do that, to make some signs by which they might understand what had happened to him, yet nothing intelligible could be got from him, only that by the distortion of his limbs and: features it might be guessed that he died in agonies greater than is common in a natural death.

The Moddey dhoo was however never seen afterwards, nor would any one attempt to go through that passage; for which reason it was closed up and another way made. This accident I heard attested by several, but especially by an old soldier, who assured me that he had seen the Moddey dhoo oftener than he had hairs on his head."

The dog's presence was also believed to foretell storms and shipwrecks.

See also fairy dog.



  • Cumming, J.G. (1861). A guide to the Isle of Man. London: Edward Stanford, pp. 119-120.
  • Wright, J. (1903). The English dialect dictionary. Vol. 4. London: H. Frowde.