Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Recalling Eamon de Valera's Visit to the Isle of Man

As commemorations for the centenary of the Easter Rising continue apace in the Irish Republic, it's an appropriate time to reflect upon the Island's links with one of the most important men of the insurrection, Éamon de Valera.

Although he had never visited the Isle of Man, Éamon de Valera was approached in 1938 by his honour Deemster Farrant, Mrs K. Kelly and Miss Mona Douglas, together with representatives of other Celtic nations, on the question of whether financial assistance might be forthcoming from the Irish government in relation to the furtherance of Celtic culture.

But in 1947 Éamon de Valera did make a brief, informal visit to these Island shores as part of a short cruise on the former Royal Navy fisheries protection vessel Macha which was on sea trials, taking in the Western Isles and the Outer Hebrides.

Skippered by Captain F. M. White, the vessel drew alongside the Victoria Pier in Douglas, in glorious sunshine, to be met by the Lieutenant Governor Sir Geoffrey and Lady Bromet, Captain J. M. Cain ADC, the Mayor of Douglas and other dignitaries. However, his visit seemingly aroused little interest amongst the thousands of holiday makers, who were more intent, perhaps, on enjoying the summer weather.

Accompanied by his son, Rúaidhrí, and officials, Éamon de Valera and his party made a courtesy visit to Douglas Town Hall, before heading to Government House for lunch. Afterwards, they toured the Island by car, visiting places of interest and having tea at the Manx Museum. He also attended St Mary's Roman Catholic Church in Douglas before his departure.

Although brief, Éamon de Valera's visit proved to be fortuitous for the Isle of Man, securing a vital link between the few remaining Manx Gaelic speakers and revivalists of recent times.

Stopping off at Harry Kelly's cottage in Cregneash, both Éamon de Valera and the celebrated Manx speaker, Ned Maddrell, spoke together in their native tongue without difficulty. This prompted an offer to send the Irish Folklore Commission's newly acquired and fully equipped recording van to the Island, so as to record the last native speakers of Manx Gaelic.

During the following year, Irish folk collector, Kevin Danaher, arrived in Douglas, after an adventurous journey on a cattle boat from Dublin, to begin his quest; although not before his van was thoroughly hosed down at the Manx Museum.

But another, more intriguing story, linking Éamon de Valera to the Isle of Man involves the Island's cultural champion, Mona Douglas, who was staying in the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin during the War of Independence. The story recounted how a party of Black and Tans, searching for Éamon de Valera, raided the hotel, but were apparently unable to locate their prey, as he was safely hidden in a wardrobe in Mona's room!

Valerie Caine
© June 2016

(Courtesy of Manx Tails)

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Manx National Heritage Plans New Military History Gallery

Manx National Heritage, the national heritage agency for the Isle of Man, is in the early stages of planning a new gallery at the Manx Museum, examining the role armed conflict has played in the history of the Island and the response of Manx people to it. 
The gallery will build upon the success of 2014’s temporary exhibition ‘This Terrible Ordeal’, which covered all aspects of the First World War, and aims to examine what armed service and conflict has meant for Manx people from the 1700s to the present day.  
In preparation for planning the new gallery, curators from Manx National Heritage would like to hear from people on the Isle of Man who have been affected by armed conflict in recent years.
Matthew Richardson, Manx National Heritage Curator of Social History commented:
“We are seeking to examine all aspects of warfare and military service in the past 250 years, including those who have gone willingly or unwillingly to war, those who have been bystanders, and indeed those who have opposed conflict.  Our collections are strong in terms of the years up to the Second World War, but there are always new stories to tell. 
We are especially interested in hearing from Manx people who served in Korea, the Falklands, Northern Ireland, the Gulf or Afghanistan, and who may have memories or memorabilia which they wish to share with a wider audience. We would also be interested to hear from those who have been affected by conflict in other ways, or who have protested against it”.
Through the support of its Friends organisation, Manx National Heritage was recently able to acquire the medal awarded to Trafalgar hero John Cowle, who lost his arm in the famous naval battle in 1805. Five such medals were awarded to Manx sailors, who played an important part in the battle, but Cowle’s is the only one now known to survive.
Matthew continued:
“John Cowle’s story will figure prominently in the new gallery. Manx seafarers were greatly prized by the Royal Navy, and many were swept up by the infamous press gangs. John Cowle suffered what we would term today a life-changing injury, but he overcame this, and lived a successful life for many years afterwards. Injury and disability will be one of the themes running throughout each era we cover”.
One of the most poignant items to be displayed in the new gallery however will undoubtedly be the simple wooden cross from the battlefield grave of Private Thomas Corlett, who was killed in action near the Belgian city of Ypres 1917.
If you have a story to tell or an object you would like to see on display, contact Matthew Richardson at the Manx Museum on 01624 648053 or email
Image caption:
Medal awarded to Trafalgar hero John Cowle (Images 2016-00060Medal003 and 005 – medal front and reverse)
Manx flag from the Gulf War – an example of artefacts of interest from recent conflict
For further information, please contact:
Lynsey Clague
Communications Manager
Manx National Heritage, Eiraght Ashoonagh Vannin
Manx Museum, Douglas, Isle of Man, IM1 3LY
Telephone: +44 (0) 1624 648032

Monday, June 27, 2016

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Exhibition Highlights History of St Patrick's Church Jurby

 With the imminent handover of St Patrick's Church, Jurby, to The Friends of Jurby Church, a recent exhibition at the venue highlighted the ecclesiastical building's long and varied history.

A prominent feature of the northern plain, the building is an important aspect of parish life, which is reflected in the work done by Sandra Kerrison for the publication Isle of Man History at Jurby Church.

As well as raising funds for The Friends of Jurby Church, this well presented booklet provides an informative overview of both the building and the surrounding area; leading to a greater understanding of both the landscape and its people.

The exhibition itself explored topics in more detail, with an opportunity to learn more about subjects such as local industry, Norse influence in the area, early Christianity, details of men from the parish who fought in both World Wars and the role of the church itself in the neighbourhood.

The building will now be centred upon a new community based initiative, focusing on exhibitions, concerts, family history and realising its potential as a tourist attraction, but retaining an ecclesiastical link with occasional services, weddings and funerals.
If you would like further information about joining the Friends of Jurby Church, please contact Sandra Kerrison:

Post: Ballacrye Farm, Sandygate, Jurby IM7 3BS
In Person: Leave details in the folder on the table at the church

Valerie Caine
© June 2016

(Courtesy of the North Western Chronicle)


Friday, June 24, 2016

Ruth Keggin to Launch New Album

Manx Gaelic vocalist, Ruth Keggin, will be sharing her success in the music industry with the launch of her second album, Turrys (Journey) as part of two concerts this weekend.

Following on from her critically acclaimed debut, solo album Sheear (Westward) in 2014, Ruth has performed live sessions on both BBC Radio 3 and BBC Radio Scotland, as well as at the British Museum in London and at high profile festivals such as Glasgow based Celtic Connections and the European favourite, Festival Interceltique de Lorient in Brittany.

Together with her band, Ruth has also performed in joint concerts with major players in the folk world, including Scottish Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis, Irish vocalist Mary Black and the band Dàimh.

Ruth will be marking the launch of her latest album with two concerts, initially at Noa Bakehouse on the 24 June, followed by a second at the Centenary Centre in Peel on the 25 June; both starting at 8.00pm. Children are welcome at both concerts, but strict licensing laws prohibit them from Noa Bakehouse after 9.00pm.

As well as Ruth Keggin and her full band, support will be provided by talented, local fiddle player, Isla Callister (who will shortly be relocating to Glasgow where she will study traditional music at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland), ubiquitous multi-instrumentalist David Kilgallon and expressive sean-nós singer and musician Eoghan Ó Ceannabháin, who also features in Ruth's own band.

The live studio recording of her current album highlights an eclectic mix of traditional, contemporary and original songs and melodies, arranged in a fresh and imaginative way; including a mixture of vocals, flutes, guitar, double bass and concertina. It can be pre-ordered either through Ruth's dedicated website, or by using iTunes.

Tickets for the concerts can be purchased in advance at £8, again from Ruth's website, Celtic Gold, Shakti Man, Peter Norris and Thompson Travel, or £10 on the door. Tickets for the first gig only (in Douglas) will also be available from Noa Bakehouse.

Valerie Caine
© June 2016

(Courtesy of Manx Tails)

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Convention Day! Here's the 53rd NAMA Convention Schedule 2016

See you in Annapolis!

Thursday 23rd June 2016:
1pm: NAMA Convention Registration desk opens. Failt Erriu! Welcome!
2pm - 5pm: Board Meeting in Galway B Meeting Room (Board Only)

3pm: O'Callaghan Hotel room check-in begins
Evening: Informal dinner and fellowship in the hotel pub or nearby restaurants. An impromptu musical event in the O’Callaghan’s bar is anticipated!

Friday 24th June 2016:
10:45 am - 1:00 pm: Check-in for optional Woodwind Schooner cruise along dock at Annapolis Waterfront Hotel, 80 Compromise Street at right side of Spa Creek (Ego Alley).  Allow 17-minutes walking time.  Talk to NAMA check-in staff about taking our bus. Light snacks and full bar service available on board. Collect your ticket at check-in.
12:15 - 2 pm: Check in for optional Scenic Severn River cruise at Susan Campbell Park at the Annapolis City Dock, 1 Dock St. at left side of Spa Creek (Ego Alley).  Allow 17-minutes walking time.  Talk to NAMA check-in staff about taking our bus. Light snacks and full bar service available on board. Collect your ticket at check-in.
Lunch: Suggested get-together at Pusser's Caribbean Grille, the Marriott Hotel, 80 Compromise Street. That’s along the dock at the right side of the “Ego Alley” inlet. (Unhosted)
Afternoon on your own to explore the waterfront and historical areas of Annapolis
7:30 pm Buffet Dinner and General Meeting at O'Callaghan Annapolis Hotel in the Galway A & B rooms. The Convention photo will be taken during this event.

Saturday 25th June 2016:
10-12: Optional Historical Tour of Naval Academy starting at Visitor Center, 52 King George St.  Allow 18-minutes walking time and 15-minutes security screening. NOTE: To enter the base you will need a valid photo ID. A state-issued driver’s license works unless you are from Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri or Washington State, in which case bring a passport, or your DoD ID, or the Minnesota REAL ID-compliant driver’s license.
12.00: Optional lunch at Naval Academy’s Drydock Restaurant.
1:00 to 5.00pm: Manx Workshops at O'Callaghan Hotel Galway A and B Meeting Room, See page ? for details
6:30 pm  Presidential Dinner and Awards at The O'Callaghan Annapolis Hotel in the Galway A & B rooms.
The invocation and a remembrance of members passed will be given by our Chaplain, the Rev. Canon Stephen Schaitberger before the meal.
Guest talk: Dr. Ellen Lawler will introduce us to 18th-century Manx emigrant, Henry Callister, an important colonial naturalist who settled on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
North American Manx Association Youth Award: The Dinner will include the 2016 North American Manx Association Youth Award presented on behalf of the Isle of Man Department of Education to Nicole Wozny for her contribution to the body of Manx history encapsulated in our motto “To Preserve "Whate'er is left to us of ancient heritage." Nicole projected an historic collection of Magic Lantern glass slides dating back to Victorian times and photographed them for posterity. The collection was donated by Myrra Johnson, in memory of her father, Walter J. Stevenson, to the Manx Museum during the 2014 Convention. A letter from Myrra will be read aloud.
The Presentation of the slate of 2016-2018 North American Manx Association Officers will occur during dinner.
Honored Guests at our Convention Dinner include:
Dr. Ellen Lawler, Guest Speaker, Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Salisbury University, Maryland.
Leslie Hanson, President of the World Manx Association
and Honorary Vice-President of the North American Manx Association

Sunday 26th June 2016:
Morning: Public worship services for Catholics and Protestants acknowledging visitors from the North American Manx Association will be held at the United States Naval Academy Main Chapel at 9.30am and 11.00am respectively.  Enter at Gate 3 at Maryland and Hanover Street.  Allow 17 minutes to walk, and 15 minutes for security screening.  Bring compliant photo ID or passport.  Other church service details are included in the program.
RAFFLES: In recognition of our geographic catchment area, the Greater Washington Area Manx Society has put together three baskets celebrating the cultures of Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. To remember our heritage there is also a Manx raffle basket. The raffle will be drawn during our Saturday Dinner. Tickets will be available from Check-in and throughout the event. $5 per ticket or five for $20.