Friday, July 29, 2016


We have finally managed to link up the main North American Manx Association website and the blog.

Please go here for all your North American Manx Association questions!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Chris Killip - Isle of Man Revisited

Currently teaching at Harvard University, internationally famous photographer, Chris Killip, recently returned to the Isle of Man for the opening of a new exhibition of his work at the Manx Museum, and to present a sell out talk about his life and work.
His seminal work The Isle of Man: A Book About the Manx, published in 1980, captured a view of Manx life which was soon to disappear, focusing on a rural community through the lens of a plate camera, and the stark black and white images, with which Chris Killip made an indelible mark in the photographic world.
Born in 1946, whilst his father was landlord of the Highlander Inn at Greeba, Killip freely admits that academia was not for him, but upon moving to Peel, after his father became landlord of the White House, he felt that the town moulded him. He speaks lovingly of his childhood and his fondness for the fishing port.
Having worked briefly at Moore's Kipper Yard and in the Island's hotel industry, Killip travelled to London in order to pursue a career in photography, inspired by an image taken by Henri Cartier-Bresson and bolstered by his earnings as a beach photographer.
He finally secured a job as an assistant in the Chelsea studio of Adrian Flowers (one of the most successful advertising photographers of the day), but it was a visit to the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1969 that proved to be Killip's Damascene moment.
Returning to the Isle of Man in that same year, Killip worked in his father's pub at night and photographed during the day; developing his work in his mother's walk-in linen cupboard. Described elsewhere as 'a dour, unflashy exploration of the photographer's cultural roots', it was this work which became The Isle of Man: A Book About the Manx
During 1975 Killip relocated to England, where his revealing images of the austerity riven north east resulted in the publication of In Flagrante and the Cartier-Bresson Award in 1989.
Later, he was commissioned to photograph the workforce of the Pirelli factory in Derbyshire, before being head-hunted for his role at Harvard University. But for the people of the Isle of Man, his most poignant work is likely to be his initial foray into publishing.
Killip set aside those images for thirty years, but recently re-evaluated them, culminating in the current exhibition and his recent publication Isle of Man Revisited.
Although a number of photographs have been changed and others added, it's clear that Killip has re-awakened a host of memories. They convey many things about the hard-working, rural Manx people of that time - poverty, simplicity, acceptance and, for some, contentment.
Killip (who now lives in the US) has moved on, but so have the people of the Isle of Man, as they strive to balance an older way of life with the influence of a contemporary world.
His exhibition at the Manx Museum offers a welcome opportunity to examine his work on a more personal, emotional level and can be viewed until the 30 July, 2016.
Killip's book, Isle of Man Revisited, is available from the Manx Museum shop and various Island bookshops priced at £40.
Valerie Caine
© July 2016
(Courtesy of Manx Tails)

Friday, July 22, 2016

Rushen Heritage Trust Summer Exhibition

 A recent exhibition organised by members of Rushen Heritage Trust, focusing on the hey-day of tourism in the south of the Island, attracted a large number of visitors to Port Erin; many of whom reminisced about those halcyon days.

Situated in St Catherine's Church Hall, a stone's throw from Port Erin Bay, the organisation's volunteers had brought together a wealth of information and memories describing how visitors entertained themselves in Port Erin, Port St Mary and beyond.

The main thrust of what was on offer revolved around an extensive array of outdoor events, which afforded visitors a range of activities to keep them rooted in the south of the Island.

These were simpler, less complicated times, when they were more inclined to relax in a deckchair on the beach, or challenge a member of the family to a leisurely game of 'pitch and putt'.

Paddling pools and Beach Missions kept the younger generation busy, whilst their elders may be more inclined towards a game of bowls, or a round of golf.

Boating, fishing, bird watching (the feathered variety) and cycling were also great favourites, along with special excursions to the Calf of Man and exciting coach trips to other Island destinations.

The once popular Traie Meanagh open-air baths, situated in what was advertised as one of the sunniest and most sheltered creeks in Port Erin Bay, attracted scores of spectators to watch talented divers perform at the sea water pool.

Both Port Erin and Port St Mary are also remembered for their selection of hotels such as The Belle Vue and the Balqueen, amongst others, and a range of eateries to satisfy hungry visitors; the most well known probably the distinctive Collinson's Cafe, now in private ownership.

Chapel Bay, Happy Valley and Port St Mary Town Hall also figured in the exhibition along with the picturesque Breagle Glen and Bradda Glen.

Valerie Caine
© July 2016

(Courtesy of the Southern Chronicle)

Monday, July 11, 2016

Strongest Ever Line-up for Island's Annual Celtic Festival!

With a strong focus on top quality Celtic music, Peel’s Centenary Centre will be the hub this July for the Island's biggest Celtic festival Yn Chruinnaght (The Gathering); celebrating everything Celtic from music and dance to language and crafts.

The festival programme includes a diverse range of entertainment, including mellow singer-songwriters and fast and fiery dance tunes, with energy, attitude and talent from Dublin’s finest folk miscreants Lynched, Welsh superstars Calan, exceptional Cornish singer-songwriter Kezia and Brittany’s delightful An Tri DipoP.

But in addition to these visiting acts organisers will also welcome an all-important, über-talented line-up of performers from the Manx music and dance scene, including internationally acclaimed Manx singers Christine Collister and Ruth Keggin.

Committed to ensuring that the next generation is fully connected to the Island's rich Celtic heritage, Yn Chruinnaght has teamed up with Sure to provide two mid-festival, sell-out, school concerts in the Centenary Centre. Children are, however, welcome throughout the festival, especially during the popular ceili and the many outdoor events. New for this year will be free sessions suitable for pre-school children and their parents, as well as an after-school ceili for those of primary school age.

Now that the event is firmly based in Peel,  talented Manx artist and illustrator, Alice Quayle, has been commissioned to develop a festival design which celebrates a number of key points related to the town. Alice commented, "The unique selling point of Yn Chruinnaght is that it’s now based in Peel…this means that if you visit you don’t just get music, there’s the seaside, castle, ice cream, kippers, seals, narrow winding streets, pubs, etc. – a whole seaside experience!"

You will be able to see some of Alice's work when she joins other gifted Manx artists and producers for an Artisan Craft Fair in the Corrin Hall, where you can also learn the art of Pictish ribbon interlace and key pattern design in two workshops fronted by Greg Joughin. Advance booking for the workshops is essential – email

And in a ground-breaking innovation this summer, Yn Chruinnaght can be heard on Manx Radio’s AM service on Saturday 16 July for a unique mix of music and discussion, with a refreshing Celtic twist.

But the festival will also feature the usual formal and informal performances (both indoors and outdoors) from the Island’s many talented musicians, singers and dancers including Perree Bane, Ny Fennee and Birlinn Jiarg; together with the current Manx bard Stacey Astill.

Yn Chruinnaght is a not for profit event, supported by Culture Vannin, the Isle of  Man Arts Council, Sure, Mannin Group, Paradise and Gell, Conister Bank and Shoprite.

Tickets available now (including money saving Gig Passes) both online and at the usual Centenary Centre outlets.

For further details visit or phone 302200.

Valerie Caine
© July 2016

(Courtesy of Manx Tails)

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

Save the Date!

Our next Convention will be held June 22-24, 2018 in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.