In Scotland, the mermaid is called muir-òigh or maighdeann-mhara. She is the same as the general depiction of a mermaid — a sea creature, half fish half woman, with long disheveled hair, which she sits on the rocks by the shore to comb at night. She has been known to put off the fish coverings of her lower limbs. Any one who finds it can by hiding it detain her from ever returning to the sea again. A common story in the Highlands, as also in Ireland, is that a person so detained her for many years, married her, and had a family by her. One of the family members told her of the pretty thing she had found, and the mermaid took possession of it and returned to the sea.

A native of Eilean-Anabuich, a village in North Harris, reputedly caught a mermaid on a rock, and to procure her release, she granted him his three wishes. He became a skillful herb doctor, who could cure the king's evil and other diseases ordinarily incurable, a prophet, and, in his own estimation, a singer with a remarkable voice. Another mermaid was caught by a man in Skye, who kept her for a year.

A mermaid may pursue ships and can be dangerous. Sailors would throw empty barrels overboard and while she was busy examining these they made their escape.



  • Campbell, J.G. (1900). Superstitions of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Glascow: James MacLehose and Sons, pp. 201-202.