Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Ramsey - A Collection of Images Through the Years

Nostalgia is a popular subject for many Manx book collectors, but if you’re linked in any way to the northern town of Ramsey there’s an extra reason to dip into this new publication which focuses on some fascinating aspects of the area.

First settled by the Vikings three thousand years ago, Ramsey became known as the capital of the north, and within these pages you’ll find a selection of thought-provoking photographs of the town in its hey-day.

Inevitably this includes many industries associated with the harbour area, but the book also acknowledges other important milestones linked to the town, such as the Ellan Vannin tragedy, internment during World War II, the creation of Radio Caroline, and the establishment of Ramsey Cottage Hospital.

A collaboration between Miles Cowsill and Ramsey based writer Sue Woolley, this was published in response to several requests to produce an historical ‘picture book’ of the town, but although it gives a rewarding insight into the area’s history, it was never meant to be a detailed account of the locality.

Nonetheless it charts some of the many changes which the town has experienced and illustrates its importance as a busy, commercial centre, with some priceless nuggets of information and a skilful choice of photography, supplemented by some stunning colour images by Tony Lloyd-Davies.

Available at many bookshops and outlets across the Island, it’s priced at £14.95.

Valerie Caine
© April 2015

(Courtesy of Manx Life)

Monday, April 13, 2015

Barrule Launch Their Latest CD at the Centenary Centre in Peel

Adam Rhodes
Fans of Manx trad power trio Barrule were out in force at the Centenary Centre in Peel to celebrate the Island launch of their latest CD Manannan's Cloak, a sequel to their award-winning eponymous debut album released in 2013.
David Kilgallon

It was a sell-out gig which attracted many fans who were already familiar with the trio's original style of music, which, along with other Manx singers and musicians, has pushed the Isle of Man into the spotlight in recent years.

The all male line-up soon had the audience under their spell with a range of Manx traditional tunes and contemporary compositions, with the first half given over to a selection of material from their new album.

Greg Joughin
Ignited by Barrule's creative interpretation of some well-known favourites, a receptive audience was more than ready for the second half of the concert which concentrated on songs and tunes from their first album.

Busy travelling the world, this was a rare appearance on the Isle of Man, which closed with a well deserved standing ovation for the band, after a stunning performance which left members of the audience pleading for more.

Jamie Smith
They were joined on stage by local singer Greg Joughin and musician David Kilgallon, who also feature on the new album, (which will be released nationally during May) together with GrĂ¡inne Joughin and Ali Carroon who performed a selection of Manx jigs for an appreciative audience.

During the interval (which included home-made cakes by GrĂ¡inne) there was an opportunity to buy their new album, personalised merchandise and, hot off the press, the Barrule tune book, a valuable addition for anyone interested in playing Manx music.

Tom Callister
But nurturing and developing a CD can be a costly business, which is why Barrule has initiated the Kickstarter project, in order to raise funding for the final stage of the album, together with its promotion and publicity.

This is a great opportunity to help Barrule in their quest to bring Manx music to a wider audience, and in return for  your donation there's some fabulous goodies on offer, including the new album before it goes on general release.

The project is only live until the 27 April, so why not take advantage of this new initiative and grab a bargain?

Further details available on Barrule's website, along with dates of their forthcoming gigs, including an appearance at La Grande Rencontre festival in Montreal, Canada at the beginning of May.

Valerie Caine
 © April 2015

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Manx Competitors Head for the Legenderry Pan Celtic Festival

The 44th Pan Celtic Festival will be staged in the city of Derry in Northern Ireland for a second successive year this month, which will include a return visit by the Manx quartet Shenn Scoill to contest their unprecedented win in the Pan Celtic International Song Contest last year.

Shenn Scoill (Manx Gaelic for Old School) proved to be a consistent winner at the local event, Arrane son Mannin, held earlier this year at the Masonic Hall in Douglas, when they clinched first place with My Lomarcan dy Feer (I'm Truly Alone). Composed by group members Laura and Dave Rowles, it relates the tragic, but true story, of a Manxman who went off smuggling the day before his wedding. They were joined on stage by Michelle Jamieson (lead vocals) and Fraser Grant (guitar) and hope to bring the trophy home from Ireland for a second time.

Awarded £300 by Culture Vannin, Shenn Scoill will face challenges from musicians representing the other Celtic countries as they battle for the top prize of €1,500.

Additionally, the Pan-Celtic Award for a New Song in Traditional Style was awarded to Sharon Christian for her composition Arrane Cadlee (Lullaby), performed by Clare Kilgallon, and the Pan-Celtic Award for a New song in Traditional Style (runner-up) awarded to Liz Marshall for her composition Mainshter Frank. Inspired by a boat built in Ramsey in 1894 (Master Frank), it was performed by Marlene Hendy and the Kilgallon siblings.

The festival itself is a great opportunity to celebrate the rich, cultural links which tie the Celtic nations together, drawing musicians, singers and dancers to a family-friendly event, which traditionally takes place just after Easter.

Local group Mec Lir will also be heading over to Ireland to take part in events towards the end of the festival, with their fresh, up-beat performance of Manx music sure to earn them some Irish fans.

With the assistance of the Isle of Man Arts Council, performers journeying from the Island will be kept busy during the Pan Celtic Festival with concerts, ceilis and a variety of competitions which will cover the main areas of music, song and dance. But there'll also be an opportunity to become involved in workshops, street entertainment, sporting events and a special religious service.

Dominating the north-western landscape of Ireland, astride the waters of the Foyle, the 6th century city of Derry has been affectionately described as an undiscovered gem, attracting an ever increasing international audience.

Derry, designated the first UK City of Culture during 2013, can claim to have the only completely walled city in both Ireland and the British Isles, but it's also known for its friendliness and hospitality; together with a range of names such as Londonderry, Doire and nowadays 'Legenderry'.

Valerie Caine
© April 2015

(Courtesy of Manx Tails)

Two Man Art Exhibition Coming Up in Peel

As the Sailors' Shelter on East Quay in Peel takes on board a new lease of life, a two man art exhibition taking place later this month will provide an opportunity to study the work of two local artists.

Peter Leadley is a keen amateur artist who works mainly in watercolours, with a penchant for marine seascapes, capturing the 'men-of-war' and clipper ships of bygone days, Peter also paints local landscapes. He's an active member of the Isle of Man Art Society, exhibiting regularly at their annual Easter exhibition, but has recently embarked on a new challenge. Having picked up a digital SLR camera, Peter is keen to capture the moods of the Manx landscape in a new way.

Although Vic Bates is well known for his work producing maps and motorsport photographs for publication, he also enjoys painting. Working in all types of medium, he harbours a preference for oils and watercolour. Living close to the quayside, Vic's paintings naturally lean towards sailing vessels and the sea.

Both Peter and Vic are members of the Western (Isle of Man) Photographic Society.

The Sailors' Shelter opened its doors in 1877, acting as a refuge for boat crews when bad weather prevented them from leaving port. For an advance payment of one shilling per quarter, members would be provided with warmth and shelter whilst whiling away the time in conversation, or playing games.

It was the then High Bailiff of Peel who first proposed the idea, and with the support of local people who attended several fundraising events, the building was erected within 34 days.

The shelter also doubled as an amenity hall for art classes, parties and lectures.

The exhibition has been organised by Peel Heritage Trust, who contributed to the building's recent renovation, to celebrate the work and commitment of the Sailors' Shelter Committee in their quest to refurbish this historic building.

It's intended that the newly refurbished Sailors' Shelter will host exhibitions and meetings for local clubs and organisations in the future.

The two man art exhibition will be open for viewing 10.30am - 4.00pm on East Quay (opposite Fenella Bridge) on the 17 - 19 April.

Admission is free.

Valerie Caine

© April 2015

Monday, April 6, 2015

UK to scan passports when LEAVING the country

Islanders heading out of the UK are being urged to allow themselves more time for their journeys after Easter. Manx Radio
Passport checks on passengers leaving Britain are being introduced from 8 April and could result in new queues at airports, ferry ports and Eurotunnel.
The introduction of exit checks, said to be the biggest change to border controls for 20 years, aims to identify people who have overstayed their visa.
It will mean every passenger - with the exception of school groups and those on private planes and boats - will in future have their travel documents checked and scanned on a computer when they leave the UK.
The Island's Director of Ports Anne Reynolds has this advice for local residents heading abroad via the UK:

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Rush Hour on the Railways Event Over the Easter Weekend

Now that the railway summer season timetable is fully underway, supporters and enthusiasts will have the opportunity to use all three heritage services, including the Snaefell Mountain Railway.

New Go Explore travel cards are now available, featuring both railway and TT images, which offer unlimited travel on all scheduled bus and rail services, with a choice of 1, 3, 5 or 7 days. They can be purchased at any main station, the House of Manannan in Peel, or the Welcome Centre at the Sea Terminal in Douglas.

Alternatively a Go Explore Heritage card allows unlimited travel together with admission to all Manx National Heritage sites for five days.

Both cards provide significant savings on standard bus and rail fares, although half fare is payable on the Hullad Oie/Night Owl services on production of the Go Explore card.

But this weekend there's a special Rush Hour on the Railways event, beginning with an exciting film night at the Manx Museum Lecture Theatre on the 3 April, where there's an opportunity to join the Isle of Man Steam Railway Supporters' Association.

Their first film (full colour shots from the 1950s and 1960s) will provide a nostalgic train journey along the now defunct western line (closed in 1969), which progresses up through the northern plains, terminating at Ramsey; visiting places of interest such as the provincial stations at Kirk Michael, Ballaugh and Sulby.

This will be followed by a recently discovered promotional film of the Manx Electric Railway which will follow the  tracks from Derby Castle, passing through scenic glens and across cliff tops, together with rare photographs from the turn of the twentieth century.

Tickets priced at £7.50 or £3.75 with a valid Go Explore card available from Douglas Railway Station (telephone 697457) or on the door at the Manx Museum. Doors open at 7.00pm for a 7.30pm start.

On Saturday there's a chance to catch the Port Erin Flyer, a non-stop trip on the steam train departing Douglas at 7.00pm. Recreating the Southern Belle of the 1930s, the journey will include a Bar Car and photo opportunities, with a chance to mingle with members of the steam railway's Viking Group of volunteers at the Port Erin Railway Museum; providing historical information and a 'pop-up' cinema in the Royal Carriage which is housed at the museum. Standard fares apply, although Go Explore cards will be accepted.

But on Easter Sunday there's a cracking opportunity to travel northwards on the world's oldest tramcar. Departing Derby Castle at 9.30am, the tram will be accompanied by a number of classic vehicles (photo call at Ramsey Station) which will then continue their journey to the Jurby Motor Museum. Alternatively passengers can travel north on the Leyland PD2 bus for the standard tram fare. Go Explore tickets also accepted.

Anyone with a classic vehicle who would like to join the cavalcade is invited to contact Anji Street by telephoning 697475)

Finally, for the first time on the Isle of Man there will be a limited number of postal covers available bearing a Manx bus postage stamp. These unique covers will be conveyed on the Leyland PD3 bus tour of closed lines (also on the 5 April) collecting, where appropriate, the original ticket marks of all the old stations along the line. Stopping off at Ballaugh, there will be an opportunity to meet local artist Michael Starkey with artwork used in his recent publication Manx Northern Railway Stations; with time to enjoy some entertainment and refreshments provided by Ballaugh Heritage Trust.

Also included during this busy weekend will be tours of the workshop and signal box, the Travelling Post Office on the steam railway and the prospect of Sunday lunch or afternoon tea in the popular Dining Car.

For further details pick up a Rush Hour on the Railways leaflet.

Valerie Caine
© March 2015

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Winners Announced at the Annual World Bonnag Championships!

With Spring almost upon us, the annual World Bonnag Championships took place at St James' Church in Dalby, where a capacity audience gathered to see who would be crowned overall champion.

It was another sell-out event for the busy organisers of this small, but very active church, who provided a warm welcome to everyone as bonnags of all sizes were lined up ready for judging later in the evening.

But first The Wandering Players (Yn Cloiederyn Wandereilys) took centre stage as they presented a rolling programme of poetry, prose, song and readings highlighting periods of Manx history. Using both popular and lesser known stories from the Island's chronicles, they provided a whistle stop journey which gave a definite local flavour to the occasion.

Closing with the much-loved song Ellan Vannin, members of the audience were then treated to an extensive home-made supper whilst Paul Kelly (a baker from Peel) set to his task of judging a large number of bonnags.

His judging was both astute and confident as he cut into each un-yeasted bread, smelling them for that unmistakable aroma of soda and weeding out those that didn't quite make the grade.  

This was followed by local farmer, preacher and Island personality John Kennaugh, who spoke briefly about how money raised at events in Dalby is distributed to worthy causes both on and off the Island.
During 2015 funds will be divided between Dalby Church Restoration Fund, Women’s Aid IoM and the Manx overseas charity Mannin Sponsors Africa, who are working to provide wells for villages in Gambia.

A representative of Mannin Sponsors Africa spoke movingly about how our monetary contributions would assist in the provision of clean drinking water in Gambia, which then prompted John Kennaugh to recite The Pitcher, one of the many poems by Manx poet T. E. Brown.
The evening closed with the presentation of trophies and certificates to the winning bakers by Shoprite representative Rodger Gimbert, and the anticipated auction of all bonnags entered for the competitions; which included a cross-section of currant, plain and gluten-free bread.

Children: Bryce Clague
Gents: Gordon Clague
Women: Colleen Cowin (who also won the Isle of Man Creamery's Buttermilk Trophy as overall champion)
Commercial: Green's Tearoom of St John's

Valerie Caine
© March 2015