Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Praying the Keeills Week Celebrates Saints and their Keeills

Maughold Churchyard
One of the more unusual events on the Manx calendar is the annual Praying the Keeills Week, which incorporates visits to a number of ancient, holy sites across the Island with other events during the week.

Now in its tenth year, their chosen theme for 2015 is Saints and their Keeills, which begins and finishes with a challenging full day walk, taking in some of the Island's beautiful scenery.

The historical keeill (Manx Gaelic: church, kirk) is a Christian chapel built during the 8th - 12th century, some rarely larger than three metres by five metres internally.

Although the earliest examples were built of earth sods, others were more substantial, both in size and substance, being made of stone. It's thought there may have been approximately two hundred keeills throughout the Island, of which only about thirty five survive; albeit just their remains.
Lag ny Keeilley

Keeills served a number of functions, incorporating family chapels, wayside shrines, places of retreat and hermitage,  with a walled graveyard sometimes surrounding the building and a well nearby.

A selection of memorial crosses and other decorated stones discovered during excavations of the keeills are on display at some of the Island's parish churches.

Praying the Keeills Week has adopted the idea of prayer and meditation, which were important to those who historically worshipped at these sites; describing them as 'thin places' where they could draw closer to God.

Praying the Keeills Week is organised by a number of local churches and offers an opportunity to step aside from the busyness of life and perhaps rediscover lost ideals.

Lag ny Keeilley
Their first event will be a Service of Welcome at Glen Maye Chapel before heading towards the now deserted mining community of Glen Rushen, with other visits to keeill sites at Union Mills, Jurby, Scarlett to Balladoole in the south of the Island and Lonan in the east.

Other outings scheduled for the week include an illustrated talk about Manx Saints, a 'saints-themed' coach trip and an opportunity to visit both the old and new St German's Cathedral.

All are welcome at any of the scheduled events (see their website for details) although the coach trip will need to be booked in advance.

Valerie Caine

© May 2015

Monday, May 18, 2015

Tallis Consort Bids Farewell to Musical Director at Spring Concert

Tallis Consort's recent spring concerts, held at St Paul's Church, Ramsey, and St Mary's Church in Douglas, were dedicated to the memory of former MHK Charles Cain, one of the founding members of the early music group and until recent times its Musical Director.

The first half included a selection of choral music from many composers living between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries, including William Byrd, J. S. Bach and the group's eponymous inspiration Thomas Tallis.

After a short interval, their varied programme continued but with compositions interlinked with more modern choices from the nineteenth to the late twentieth centuries; including Edmund Rubbra, Ralph Vaughan Williams and contemporary British composer James MacMillan.

The evening concerts were designed to incorporate both a sacred and secular content, moving from the period of Lent and Easter to Madrigals and folk songs, using compositions from the Tudor period up to modern times.

These two concerts marked a series of changes for Tallis Consort, with the death of Charles Cain and the retirement of Brian Head as current Musical Director.

His successor will be Dr Peter Litman, the Director of Music at St German's Cathedral in Peel.

Canon Philip Gillespie of St Mary's Church in Douglas, who has generously supported Tallis Consort over a number of years, will also soon be leaving these shores to continue his ministry in Rome.

Gifts were presented to Brian and his wife by members of Tallis Consort and Canon Gillespie.

Collections from the concerts will be donated to the Nepalese Disaster Fund.

Valerie Caine
© May 2015

Friday, May 15, 2015

Nish as Rish Return from Successful Norwegian Tour

With groups on the Manx traditional music scene continuing to strengthen their ties with other countries, five-piece collective Nish as Rish has recently returned from a successful trip to Norway.

Nish as Rish was formed during 2009 whilst members of the group were busy studying at the University of York, including two musicians from the Isle of Man; Ruth Keggin (voice, flute and whistles) and Karl Kramer (mandolin, guitar and bodhran).

Both Manx and other Celtic traditional music and song form a large part of their repertoire, together with a selection of wider ranging personal compositions.

The group has performed in a variety of venues and festivals throughout the UK and Europe, winning the coveted Trophée Loic Raison at the Festival Interceltique de Lorient in 2011.

But in April Nish as Rish toured the picturesque Lofoten Islands for two weeks at the invitation of DKS (Den kulturelle skolesekken - the cultural schoolbag) to perform in concert for sixth form students across the archipelago.

Their tour was arranged as part of a national initiative by the Norwegian government, with a view to bringing professional musicians and visual artists into schools.

Nish as Rish also performed in a number of public concerts in conjunction with their educational tour, which were warmly received.

But initially a question mark hung over their first performance when Ruth's luggage (including warm clothing and her whistles) was lost on their journey to the Arctic Circle, and the neck of Vanessa's double bass snapped clean off in the hold of the airplane!

Fortunately SAS Airlines and a local instrument maker saved the day on both counts, with their first gig, in the port of Stamsund, earning them a standing ovation.

You can see photos of the group's Arctic adventures (as well as up and coming plans for recording and gigs) on their social media sites.

Twitter: @nishasrish
Facebook: Nish-As-Rish

Valerie Caine
© May 2015

(Courtesy of Manx Tails)

Sunday, May 10, 2015

WOSAT 2015 Brightens Up a Wet Bank Holiday Weekend!

WOSAT (Western Open Studio Art Trail) 2015 brightened up a wet bank holiday weekend, with its focus set firmly on the creative abilities of some of the many talented individuals who live and work the length and breadth of the Isle of Man.

Now in its fourth year, the affectionately named WOSAT lies solely in the west of the Island, capitalising on locations throughout the area, including some of the outlying villages and assorted venues in Peel.

Officially opened by the Minister for Education and Children and representative for Peel, Tim Crookall MHK, at the House of Manannan, visitors were able to wander at their leisure, sampling a host of artists with individual tastes and new ideas.

Private studios and exhibitions were opened to the public, and together with demonstrations and workshops, there was an opportunity to buy a selection of Manx work at a number of outlets associated with the festival, including a craft market at the Corrin Hall.

In a departure from its usual format, the long weekend included a night of music, song and dance in a marquee on the old swimming pool site at Marine Parade, and an evening with Hartes Ease.

Local early music group, Hartes Ease, performed a selection of music and song for a May evening, in a production entitled All In a Garden Green at the Corrin Hall in Peel, interspersed with verse from members of the Isle of Man Poetry Society and a guest appearance by talented local harpist Mera Royle.

Valerie Caine
© May 2015

Friday, May 8, 2015

Come and Celebrate the Island's Milling Heritage at Kentraugh Mill

National Mills Weekend is an annual festival organised to celebrate the UK's milling heritage, but there's also a great opportunity to experience the fascination of a working mill here on the Isle of Man.

Rarely open to the public, Kentraugh Mill is owned by Canon John Sheen and his wife Elizabeth, who inherited the building from her father, Mr R. M. Nuttall. The miller's house was bought by Mr Nuttall in 1965, but he was astonished to discover that the now derelict mill (which he thought was a garage) was part of the deal.

The three storey building was lovingly restored over the course of the next five years, as Mr Nuttall pieced together its fascinating history.

Powered by a now dilapidated waterwheel, Kentraugh Mill was owned by the Qualtrough family for many years, and is thought to have been in use since the early sixteenth century.

It's believed that the mill was largely rebuilt about 1832 (or earlier) when the current machinery was installed, replacing a largely wooden construction.

Kentraugh Mill left the hands of the Qualtrough family in 1904, when the building was sold to a nearby miller, John Woods of Ballabeg. The mill continued to function until 1943 when the door was locked for the final time, remaining untouched for over twenty years.

Visitors can avail themselves of the opportunity to join an extensive tour of the mill and see the machinery in action before heading across to the remains of the miller's store room; which was once the site of the first Primitive Methodist Chapel on the Island in 1825. It's now known as the Chapel Garden.

A weekend of unashamed nostalgia, the annual Open Days are co-ordinated by the Mills Section of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, who will once again be organising the successful Mills in Art Competition; with prizes on offer for both art and photography.

The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings was founded by William Morris in 1877, followed by the Mills Section, designed specifically to protect and promote windmills and watermills in 1931. The National Mills Weekend was first organised in 1984, and is recognised as part of a European festival of milling heritage during the month of May.

Entrance to Kentraugh Mill is free, but donations are invited for the United Society - Anglicans in World Mission, whose Chief Executive, Janette O'Neill, will be on the Island that weekend. 

Visitors are reminded that they tour the mill at their own risk.

Kentraugh Mill (just up the road at the side of the Shore Hotel) will be open 10.00am - 5.00pm on the 9 May and 11.00am - 5.00pm on the 10 May.

Further enquiries to Elizabeth Sheen on 832406.

Valerie Caine
© May 2015

(Courtesy of Manx Tails)

Manx National Heritage launches new pin pass for visiting TT fans

Manx National Heritage has launched a new Isle of Man TT Races pin badge for visiting bike fans. The limited edition collectors badge, an official TT Races product, has been produced by Isle of Man based Motorsport Merchandise who manage many of the TT’s licenced products. 

The enamel badge, which costs £10, will allow visitors free admission to all the Manx National Heritage sites including the House of Manannan, Castle Rushen, Laxey Wheel and Peel Castle. It features the official TT logo as well as Manx National Heritage’s logo and the words Manx National Heritage in English and Manx, ‘Eiraght Ashoonagh Vannin’, around the circumference.

The pass can be used for the duration of both the TT Races, which runs from Saturday 30th May to Friday 12th June and the Isle of Man Festival of Motorcycling, which includes the Classic TT, from Saturday 22nd August to Friday 4th September. It can be purchased online and will be available from selected Manx National Heritage retail outlets and the TT Grandstand.

This year’s TT themed activities from Manx National Heritage includes the ‘Ulster’s TT Heroes’ exhibition at the House of Manannan in Peel, celebrating Northern Ireland’s greatest TT riders. The Manx Museum in Douglas will be featuring a visual exhibition, entitled ‘Fast Women’, celebrating women in Manx Motorsport and will also have a number of TT items on display including John McGuinness’s TT winning Honda Superbike from 2009 to 2013 and Carl Fogarty’s Yamaha OW01 that he raced in the 1992 Senior TT. The museum will also be hosting talks by David Hailwood, Mike Hailwood’s son, who will provide commentary to footage of his father’s racing career.

Edmund Southworth, Director, Manx National Heritage, commented:
“The TT is inextricably linked to the Isle of Man’s heritage and culture and we have a number of TT themed events, activities and displays along with our comprehensive selection of sites and venues. We want our visitors to not only enjoy the spectacular racing on offer but also to go home with a greater understanding of the history and culture of the Island as a whole.”

He continued:
“We hope that this initiative gives people a taster of the broader appeal of the Island and, as well as making a contribution to its ongoing conservation, encourages them to return and enjoy everything that the Island has to offer outside of the established motorsport events.”

        ENDS –

For further information, please contact;
Simon Crellin, Heritage Communications Manager
(01624) 648032)

Thursday, May 7, 2015

100 Years on - The Lusitania Remembered

100 years ago today, 1200 people were murdered by the German Navy when a U-boat sank the RMS Lusitania, a civilian cruise liner just off southern Ireland. Today's Chicago Tribune ran the article above which mentions Henry Harrison, a Manxman in Chicago, who was headed back to the island to attend his parents' deathbeds. 

The quote below is from a post on the Facebook page, 'Manx Nostalgia.'

Peel fishing vessel the 'Wanderer' and its crew did something very special this day 100 years ago. It was the first rescue boat to reach the Lusitania, torpedoed off the Old Head of Kinsale by a U-boat on 7 May 1915.

The Manchester Manx Society had a special medal struck for each member of the crew - this was one awarded to Thomas Woods: 
Here's the start also of an article from the 'Peel City Guardian' of 15 May 1915.

You can read more about the Lusitania and the Manx people aboard by visiting Explore Newspapers: