Thursday, January 28, 2010

This man fought for Britain and can no longer visit.

Ian Corlett was a teenage soldier in the Parachute Regiment when he fought in the Far East in the last years of the Second World War.
Decorated with the War Medal, the Defence Medal and General Service Medal, Ian is one of only four surviving members of the Island's Parachute Regiment Association who saw active service in the war.

Now he is going into battle again, after discovering that he may not get travel-health insurance when the reciprocal health agreement between the UK and the Isle of Man ends on March 31.

Until now, he had travelled to England at least once a year to visit relatives and the graves of his late wife Doreen's parents, but fears he could be left stranded as his health will preclude him getting insurance cover.  He said: 'I've tried getting insurance but I can't get it. I've problems with blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol. They won't touch me.'
'After all we've done for the British, this is how we're treated. Our soldiers fought for King and Country, the Steam Packet lost three ships at Dunkirk, our hotels were taken over for internment and we had three air bases here,' he said.
Campaigners fear Ian's experience will be mirrored by hundreds of other people in the Island. Manx servicemen and women, including those currently risking their lives in Afghanistan, could be charged for healthcare in the UK when they leave the Forces as those with military pensions are not exempt from charges.  Here.
See post below for link to 10 Downing Street Petition.

OK Guys, we need to help out here. Got a British Passport? Know anyone that does?

While many Manxies overseas wonder why the island still bothers to cling to the UK, they will surely get riled when they discover that the Manx are now victims of racial discrimination. Currently the UK, in Gordon Brown's attempt to "take them back to their bed and breakfast days", is planning to end the Reciprocal Health Agreement on 1 April. The ending of the agreement means Manx residents travelling to the UK must take out insurance from 1 April in case they fall ill. Island residents will still get free emergency treatment in the UK but any hospital admissions will be billed. And vice versa, with all the consequences for the TT that go with it.

As this letter from a Manxie in the UK explains, this ain't fair.

Trevor Phillips
Equality and Human Rights Commission
3 More London,
Riverside Tooley Street,
London, SE1 RG

Dear Mr. Phillips,

I am writing to draw your attention to the UK government’s decision to end the reciprocal health agreement with the Isle of Man, due to take effect in April 2010 and to ask the Equality and Human Rights Commission to assist in challenging that decision. I am personally affected by this development as I am Manx and, although I am now a UK resident; I have close family including my parents who live on the Isle of Man. The end of the reciprocal health agreement will mean that if my family are visiting me they will not be entitled to free access to the local GP or hospital (apart from A&E) should they become ill while they are in the UK even though we are all British citizens. The UK continues to have reciprocal healthcare agreements with many countries in Europe and beyond whose nationals and residents would be entitled to free healthcare in the UK even though Manx (and Channel Island) British residents would not – this seems to me to be an arbitrary decision.

The effect of the decision will be most keenly felt by the elderly and people with long term illness or disability who may not be able to take out adequate travel insurance to visit their families on the other side of the water. It will also particularly affect people, like me, who are of Manx origin. If you consider the impact of such a decision if it were applied to Scotland of Northern Ireland, you may understand how this will affect the many Manx people who have made their home in the UK and who form a national minority in Britain.

I understand that the Minister, Andy Burnham, has refused to reconsider the decision despite being approached by Members of Tynwald and by the AIRE Centre and in spite of 8460 people (to date) signing an online 10 Downing Street petition to reinstate the health agreement. I believe that the Government has not conducted any kind of equality impact assessment into the likely effect of this decision. I hope that this is an issue that the EHRC can take up with the Department of Health as it will have a detrimental effect on the family life of many UK residents, in particular the most vulnerable who cannot have access to insurance by virtue of age or illness.

Yours sincerely

Debo Sellis
County Councillor
Devon County Council
(Vice Chairman of Health Scrutiny)

If you have a British passport, please consider signing the 10 Downing Street petition here.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Mining Settlements

I pulled this out at random from an article by R.H. Kinvig. What do you think?


Contributed by R. H. KINVIG, M.A.,
Professor of Geography, University of Birmingham,
[extracted from Proc IoMNHASoc vol. 5 no 4 pp436/455 1955. (c) estate of RH Kinvig] 

It has been said that ‘wherever there’s a hole in the ground, there you will find a Laxey or a Foxdale man’, and an illustration of the general truth of this statement has already been given in connection with the former lead mining area in Wisconsin. The skill which many natives of the Island acquired in mining was the result of a long tradition in the working of lead and silver, particularly at Laxey and Foxdale and other centres, and to a lesser extent in iron and copper mining at Maughold and Langness. The migration of these men to various parts of the earth — especially America, Canada and other parts of the British Commonwealth — was the inevitable consequence of the gradual decay of Manx mining during the second half of the nineteenth century coupled with radical changes in agriculture affecting the upland areas where crofting had often been combined with mining.
Some of the most characteristic American mining centres where Manxmen are still found are along the line of the Rockies in Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, and Arizona. It was to such places that many Laxey and Foxdale men began to go in the ‘eighties and ‘nineties of last century, and they could be seen periodically in Douglas with their ten-gallon hats and huge silver watches when returning for a ‘sight home’ from the gold and silver mines of Colorado, and the copper mines of Montana. Colorado at one time attracted many Manxmen, notably in such areas as Cripple Creek, within sight of Pikes Peak, where fabulous amounts of gold were discovered in the 1890’s and for several decades later. Then came the usual decline and many smaller workings ceased during the second World War with the result that most of the surviving Manx miners went to newer mines such as Bisbee in Arizona. The latter is now regarded as one of the continent’s richest copper-producing districts, and its Manx element is sufficiently strong to enable it to have a branch of the North American Manx Association. In the northern Rockies, Montana has been a famous producer of copper for eighty years or so, principally in the Butte area, whose site has earned the description of being ‘the richest hill on earth’ while silver, gold, lead and zinc are also worked. Among the many Manxmen who went there in the earlier years of this century was Wilson Jenkinson, a Foxdale miner, whose great-grandfather came from the English Lake District. After working for a period in Montana he moved to Washington, D.C., and was employed in the United States Government services for many years before his death in the spring of 1854. He devoted much time and thought for the benefit of Manx people in North America, and he was untiring in his efforts on behalf of North American Manx Association membership.
In the Great Lakes region the iron mines of northern Michigan, as at Ishpeming, Marquette and Iron River, have attracted a number of Manx miners, and this fact helps to explain the relatively high position held by that State regarding its membership of the N.A.M.A. Something approaching a quarter of the people recorded are from the mining areas, and about a half of the total are accounted for by the great industrial city of Detroit.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Manx witchcraft and sorcery probed by academic

THE Isle of Man's magical past is being uncovered by a leading authority on ancient and medieval paganism. Professor Ronald Hutton, professor of history at Bristol University, has been researching witchcraft in the Island as part of a book exploring the history of witches throughout the world. Here.

Last week he gave a lecture on the Changing Face of Manx Witchcraft — based on research carried out in the Island — at the Manx Museum, Douglas. Professor Hutton explained his interest in Manx witchcraft, saying: 'In the Middle Ages the Isle of Man had the reputation of being the part of the British Isles most steeped in sorcery. 'In the 17th century it became the only place in the world of the Anglican Communion in which people were burned for witchcraft. 'In the 20th it turned into the world capital of a newly-appeared pagan witch religion.'

Between the Middle Ages and the present day, he said witchcraft passed through seven different forms, and he is keen to find out the reasons for the developments. 'The three biggest changes were, firstly, in the medieval/early modern period people believed witchcraft as something nasty that human beings do to each other,' he said.

'It was using magic to hurt you, either because the person doing it just hates you or because they want to get richer at your expense. It's bad and it's punished. 'In the 19th century the belief changes into seeing witches as probably imaginary people who fly on broomsticks and gather in covens to worship Satan.

'It's an idea that comes in from the continent via Scotland. In the 20th century, witchcraft is a pagan religion which worships the forces of nature. 'This matters most because it's produced a main religion of pagan witchcraft called Wicca.' In the Island, only one person was killed for being a witch.

Professor Hutton said: 'A mother and her son were burnt in Castletown square in 1617. We don't know the details because they don't survive.' While the mother was accused of being a witch, her son was condemned to the same fate by association. 'That was the first and last time people were killed for witchcraft in the Island. It was an immensely traumatic case which divided the Island. After that the Manx never wanted it again.'

In addition, there were two other witchcraft trials in the Island. In 1568, a trial got called off on a technicality and 1594 'the witch' was given a reprieve. The death penalty for witchcraft was abolished by the English Crown in 1736. The last witchcraft trial in England was in 1712. It was1727 in Scotland.

It has often been said that people found guilty of witchcraft were rolled down Slieau Whallian, in St John's, in a barrel. But Professor Hutton said: 'It is a 19th century legend which in turn is a Scottish legend which in turn is a German legend. It never happened. Darn, I always thought that was true. KM

'It first appears in the 1840s. It could be that people weren't allowed to accuse their neighbours of witchcraft any longer so they developed a story of what they would like to do to them instead. 'Or it could be that it's actually a way of saying we should be nicer to people because look at what we used to do to witches when we were bigoted.'

A witchcraft museum was opened at the Witches Mill, in Castletown, in 1951, after it was taken over by Gerald Gardner.

Professor Hutton said Mr Gardner was the first great publicist of Wicca and may have founded the religion himself. He was known to have a coven in the Island. Mr Gardner made the museum a success, even though no one thought the mill was connected with witches. He turned up and started the story.

'He turned what was meant to be a museum about witchcraft into a shop window for his religion. After his death in 1964 the Museum of Witchcraft was inherited by Monique Wilson and her husband, who carried on his work. 'For about 20 years Castletown was one of the world's centres of publicity for Wicca.'

The museum closed in 1973 but Professor Hutton said he thought there would still be Wiccans in the Island. 'I don't know them but it would be nice to think they're still here,' he said. Professor Hutton, who is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and the Society of Antiquaries, is one of the most recognised historians on British television. Last week's lecture was Professor Hutton's third appearance on the museum's winter lecture programme, with previous talks on the English Civil War and Druidism.

Previous blogpost

Monday, January 25, 2010

Time Lords

Watchmaker Roger Smith is working with his mentor Dr George Daniels to create a new series of limited edition timepieces. Mr Smith runs Roger W. Smith watches in Ballaugh making unique handcrafted timepieces. But he owes much of his expertise to Dr Daniels who is regarded as one of the world's leading horologists and was awarded a CBE in the New Year's honours list to add to an MBE he already holds. Mr Smith has announced a collaboration with Mr Daniels for 2010 celebrating 35 years of the Daniels co-axial escapement design with the creation of a new series of Daniels' wristwatches.

These limited edition timepieces will utilise a new English co-axial design created by Dr Daniels and will be executed by Roger Smith using combined workshop facilities which Mr Smith says will make the timepieces direct extensions of this 'great horological master's creative concepts'. Details about the watches will be officially released in the spring of 2010, with first deliveries planned for 2011

Roger W Smith watches now sell for anything up to £51,000 each and are unique products which are designed and manufactured in the Isle of Man.

More here.

Possan Aeglagh - Manx Gaelic Youth Club

The number of children now learning Manx Gaelic, particularly with the continuing success of the Bunscoill Ghaelgagh (Manx Language Primary School) at St. Johns, is growing. But so is the demand for the opportunity to use what they have learned in a social setting.
This has prompted the creation of a new Manx speaking youth club in Peel, specifically to cater for children between the ages of 10 – 14, and is based at Peel Youth Centre. ‘Possan Aeglagh’ offers the opportunity for young Manx speakers to meet each Monday evening after discussions earlier this year identified a need for such an outlet. It is also in line with the Isle of Man curriculum which states pupils should be encouraged to embrace Isle of Man society and Manx culture.

Youth worker in charge of the club is Manx speaker Cathy Clucas who explained the reasons behind the decision to base the club in Peel. A high percentage of young Manx speakers live in the west of the Island, but an evening slot was also available at the Peel Youth Centre on Shore Road.

‘Possan Aeglagh’, however, is open to any young person Island wide who is in the process of learning, or speaking Manx. Depending on the level of interest organisers may be able to broaden the sessions to include a wider age range.

Organisers also hope to establish contact with other Gaelic speaking youth clubs in Ireland and Scotland and in other Celtic countries with a view to organising some exchange visits in the future.

The opening of ‘Possan Aeglagh’ was timed to coincide with the annual ‘Cooish’ festival, which promotes and celebrates all aspects of the Manx language.

Officially opened by Graham Cregeen MHK and member for the Youth and Community Division of the Department of Education, he was joined by pupils from Bunscoill Ghaelgagh who treated an invited audience to a selection of music and song in the Island’s native language.

Valerie Caine © January 2010

Saturday, January 23, 2010

BBC- History of the World

Taking inspiration from the designs on the ancient stone crosses of the Isle of Man, Archibald Knox created innovative and intricate designs which became the hallmark of the internationally renowned Liberty & Co. This Tudric design clock is one of his greatest objects. Knox was a multi-talented and prolific artist, who designed everything from silver tea services and clocks to slate gravestones and grocer’s bank cheques, and became a leading exponent of the British Art Nouveau movement. He worked in a wide variety of media producing numerous metalwork and pottery designs for Liberty, watercolours of the Manx landscape and graphic designs, as well as teaching for several years both in England and the Isle of Man. His work continues to influence and inspire new generations of artists and collectors throughout the world.  BBC

Skeeal CD Launch

Manx traditional band ‘Skeeal’ launched their latest CD ‘Slipway’ at the Masonic Hall in Peel.

Skeeal’s second CD explores many aspects of the band members own lives, not only drawing on personal experience or family reminiscence, but also reaching into their relationships with other people and places.

As a diverse group of singers and musicians not only from the Island, but Wales and Australia (with Scottish influence), each of them brings a different slant to both the songs and music on this CD. ‘Skeeal’ has its own unique sound, an interesting blend of voices and that wonderful combination of contrasting flutes which ensures positive identification.

‘Slipway’ incorporates a rich mixture of established Manx traditional tunes, a selection of newly written material and the integration of tunes and songs from friends and neighbouring countries.

There’s plenty of information about each item on the CD, explaining how and why they were chosen for inclusion, appropriately in both Manx Gaelic and the English language.

Valerie Caine © January 2010

Friday, January 22, 2010

A sad day for the Isle of Man

That was how Speaker Steve Rodan summed up feelings in a grim-faced Tynwald after Chief Minister Tony Brown announced that his meeting with UK Health Secretary Andy Burnham had secured no change of heart over the reciprocal health deal.

Confirmation that the deal would definitely come to an end on April 1 came as no surprise.  But there was anger over the UK Department of Health's claim that it had been a 'positive meeting which had strengthened ties with the Isle of Man'.

'A patronising insult to our intelligence,' was how Mr Rodan described it.

And there was disquiet, too, at the handling of the whole affair by the Manx Government. Peter Karran (Lib Vannin, Onchan) suggested ministers had appeared 'servile' and should have made greater efforts to resolve the situation. More.
American visitors probably travel on their international insurance but this change will have a dramatic effect on UK visitors to the IoM and vice versa.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Manx kippers on menu for Best Breakfast in Britain

MANX kippers are definitely on the menu at a prizewinning Fylde coast bed and breakfast.
The Rooms, in Lytham St Anne's, won a newspaper competition to find the Best Breakfast in Britain, after a travel expert compared its fare with anything a five-star hotel could offer.  Head chef Andy Baker said: 'The secret is in good produce and we have some great suppliers'.
Andy, who also runs the award-winning guest house was adamant: 'Manx kippers are the best!' He added: 'There are several brands available, including some which appear to have been covered in fake tan.

'We always buy boxes of Devereau's kippers because they are absolutely delicious and judging by the clean plates, our customers agree'. 
Tina Canipa, a director at Devereau's Kippers said: 'This is excellent news, we export a few hundred boxes to Fleetwood market every week of the year. 'Unlike the UK, here in the Island it's illegal to add dye or colourant to fish, we start with a good quality herring with a high oil content and smoke them - that's all.'

TT is for real men - MotoGP is for girls....

Loris Capirossi, who’ll be visiting the Isle of Man for the TT races in June this year, says that road racing is for real men and MotoGP is only for girls. ‘Compared to what you guys do, I am really a girl. You are the real men. I am 100% not thinking about ever going road racing,’ quipped Capirex, referring to those who race at the Isle of Man. ‘I hope to be in the Isle of Man during TT week to help celebrate Suzuki's 50 years in road racing, but I will be going round in a car,’ he added.  Here.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

New Manx stamps celebrate Girl Guides

Anyone who knows me knows what a keen and active Girl Scout I am -- but I started life as a Girl Guide, the activity that offered me leadership opportunities, travel and gave me my lifelong interest in self-reliance. So I am really happy to see these stamps from the Isle of Man Post Office celebrating Girl Guides in the Isle of Man.


The Isle of Man Post Office is delighted to celebrate the Centenary of Guiding with this miniature sheet. The Girl Guides Association was officially formed in 1910 with Agnes Baden-Powell (Robert’s sister) as President. The first Isle of Man Guide Company 1st Douglas (St. Matthews) was officially registered on 7th February 1916, followed by the 2nd Douglas (St Georges) and 3rd Douglas on 17th October 1917.
Of the early Companies to be registered the Company with the longest continuous registration is 9th Douglas (St Ninian’s), which has run for eighty years, from January 1930 to the present day, without a break. The lives of many thousands of girls and women on the Island have been influenced by Guiding during the first one hundred years of its remarkable history. Girlguiding Isle of Man is today the largest voluntary youth organisation on the Island, with 1,300 members; girls, young women and adults.
Membership of the Trefoil Guild is open to anyone over the age of 18 who has been or still is a member of Girlguiding UK or the Scout Association.
Date of issue: 18.01.2010

Isle of Man responds to Haiti Earthquake Appeal

Aside from the massive fundraising from the public, the Isle of Man Overseas Aid Committee has responded to an urgent appeal from the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) for the present crisis in Haiti by making a donation of £60,000 to the appeal.The 7.0-magnitude quake, Haiti's worst in two centuries, struck at 1653 local time (2153 GMT) on Tuesday 12th January 2010. The epicentre was just 15km (10 miles) south-west of the densely-populated capital Port-au-Prince and close to the surface.
Although there is, as yet, no accurate assessment of the death toll it is clear that millions of people live in the affected area. Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere, and this will greatly increase the risk that people will suffer or die in the aftermath of a natural disaster.
Communications have been severely disrupted and many roads are blocked with rubble. The funding provided by the DEC will help ensure that survivors get food, clean water, emergency shelter, medical care and other support.
When making the donation George Waft MLC, Chairman of the Overseas Aid Committee, commented:
’The Committee is glad to be able to support the work of the DEC and its member agencies in providing the earthquake survivors with all the humanitarian assistance that they so desperately need.’

Monday, January 18, 2010

Remember the article we ran about the boy coming home from school during WWII?

...well, it was subsequently submitted in the Dr Olive Lamming Memorial Literary Competition, which is administered by the Isle of Man Literary Society and sponsored by the Isle of Man Arts Council.
There are three categories – story, factual article or essay, and a poem in English and cash prizes for each category – the winners receiving £100. AND IT WON!
Well done, Dollin Kelly of Port St. Mary (and my clever old dad)  Read the original here, where it ran on our blog in September.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Filling in Happy Valley

PROGRESS is being made to stabilise the site of a landslide in Port St Mary. At about 6.30pm on Monday there was an explosion of soil from the top of a steep grassy slope that runs from Bay View Road to Chapel beach, known as Happy Valley. Hundreds of tonnes of mud cascaded down the slope and poured on to the lower promenade wall and spilled over on to the beach.

The pavement at the top of Happy Valley collapsed and fears over the safety of 11 properties immediately above led to an evacuation overnight of residents.

A massive 650 tonnes of five-inch stone from Stoney Mountain quarry has been used to stabilise the slip to allow for the underpinning of the colonnade, which is situated at the top of the slope and beneath the edge of Bay View Road. This was completed yesterday afternoon. After that concrete was poured into the cavity underneath Bay View Road. The DoT is to continue work on the site over the weekend.  Businesses are open as usual in the area and pedestrian access is permitted. Story from the inestimable iomtoday

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Celtic Congress Talks – Abdullah Quilliam by Dollin Kelly

The first talk in this season of lectures was given by the General Editor of New Manx Worthies Dollin Kelly, who revealed the bizarre story of Abdullah Quilliam.

His curious audience heard how Quilliam became a very successful solicitor whilst residing in Liverpool where he was remembered for helping the poorest of the community. But Quilliam was forced to flee to Turkey after being struck off the solicitors’ roll in 1908 for falsifying evidence in a divorce case.

Reported to be from a Methodist background Quilliam discovered Islam at the age of 17 and subsequently adopted the name of Abdullah. He is credited with opening the first Mosque in Britain and lives on through the work of the ‘Abdullah Quilliam Society’.

Quilliam led an extraordinary colourful life, and although associated with the Isle of Man his true identity continues to tax the brains of historians and academics. His occasional appearances as Henri Marcel Léon only served to add to the confusion.

Doubt has also been expressed about his Manx heritage with the suggestion that Quilliam took his name from the gravestone of a young child buried in a Liverpool graveyard.

There is little doubt about his academic contributions concerning the Isle of Man and other subjects, and although recalled by some as a charlatan Quilliam was nonetheless an educated man.

He is remembered by Manx people chiefly for his time spent living at Woodland Towers in Onchan and scandalised local society with rumours of multiple marriages and orgies. Dispute continues as to the exact number of wives and children Quilliam actually had during his lifetime. He is reported to have spent time in a property known as ‘Seaview’ in Peel at the end of the nineteenth century. Does anybody know of its location?

Controversy dogged his entire life and followed him into death when he was spotted amongst the mourners of his own funeral in France. Upon opening the coffin it was found to be full of stones.

Later, in 1932, Quilliam/Léon was said to have died following an operation for an enlarged prostate and buried with full Muslim rites at Brookwood Cemetery in Woking, but an element of doubt remains as to the validity of this episode.

An extensive biography is currently being written about the life of Quilliam/Léon, but I don’t envy the author’s gargantuan task in separating the facts from the falsehoods.

Valerie Caine
© January 2010

Want to learn Manx and live in the D.C. Metro area?

Well now you can. Starting at 3pm on February 14th at 1006 Cameron Street, Alexandria, 22314 we'll be holding regular lessons.

Kiarkyl ny Gaelgey is the Manx Gaelic Circle, a study group learning the Manx language in the Washington, D.C., area. The group meets twice a month for a two-hour session in the Old Town district of Alexandria, Va., not far from the King Street Metro station.
Our goal is to learn Manx — a sister language of Irish and Scottish Gaelic — and to have fun in the process. Kiarkyl ny Gaelgey  focuses on conversation Manx, using Bun-choorse Gaelgagh, a textbook with four CDs by Brian Stowell, the online resources of and Manx Radio programs.
The cost of the course is $50 per  student per semester (10 sessions over 5 months), and an additional $25 for the textbook and CDs.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

More about Gef the Talking Mongoose

Back in the 1930s Gef the talking mongoose became a star attraction in the west of the Island, giving the Isle of Man some unusual publicity, and although still remembered for his exploits, has now become a figure of amusement. Gef is rarely a topic of conversation these days, but paranormal expert and presenter of TV’s ‘Most Haunted,’ Phil Whyman, has resurrected this unusual story in the July edition of ‘Chat It’s Fate’ magazine.

The story centred on the Irving family, who had bought a remote and lonely farm above Dalby in 1916 called ‘Cashen’s Gap,’ after James Irving’s job disappeared with the outbreak of the First World War. He was an educated man, but clearly not used to the life of a farmer. Gef, who also became known as ‘The Dalby Spook,’ did not appear immediately, and when he did become part of life at ‘Cashen’s Gap’ was initially associated with Irving’s daughter Voirrey. It was considered that she might be attracting poltergeist activity, particularly as Gef would throw objects around at random, but as both her parents became more involved in the saga it was suggested that this could be either a group hallucination, or simply an elaborate hoax. It was also hinted that Gef could have been a split from James Irving’s personality.

Gef was described as an Indian Mongoose and learned how to speak, recite nursery rhymes, converse in various languages and sing such things as the Manx National Anthem, whilst he resided with the Irving family. Curiously, a number of mongeese had been released in the area some years previously to curb the rabbit population. Initially they confessed to being a little afraid of him, and at first Irving tried to kill Gef using a gun and poison, but got used to his ways and befriended him. Despite being quite athletic, Gef described himself as being an octogenarian, was at times very rude and played tricks regularly.

He is reported to have enjoyed listening to gossip in the neighbouring areas and retelling stories back at the farm, was a fussy eater and even inspired a court case involving the BBC. Gef would shout for ”grubbo”’ when he was hungry and was a definite oddity, described as having front paws like human hands. When he had had enough conversation Gef would cry ”vanished” before disappearing!

His sanctum was to be in Voirrey’s bedroom, and many people believed that she was simply acting as a ventriloquist. Voirrey was inevitably taunted by the other school children, and appears to have carried the spectre of Gef throughout her entire life.

Gef’s antics attracted much attention from the press, both locally and further afield and a large number of visitors. One of the most famous of these was psychic investigator Harry Price, who later wrote a book on the subject entitled ‘The Haunting of Cashen’s Gap’ in collaboration with BBC producer R.S.Lambert.

James Irving obsessively kept diary notes of Gef’s activities, which he passed on to Harry Price, but as Voirrey grew older she tired of her friend who now became almost an embarrassment to her. Paw prints and samples of fur reportedly left by Gef remained inconclusive.

The house, now demolished, was set in a lonely, desolate spot with their nearest neighbours residing some distance away. The farm went into serious decline and there was little money for luxuries. Voirrey, who was born in Peel, spent most of her early life in and around the farm. She would walk into Peel to collect household groceries rather than use the bus to save a few pennies. The Irvings kept a few goats and chickens, and relied heavily on the rabbits which Voirrey, and the family dog Mona, frequently killed for their meals.

‘Cashen’s Gap,’ also known as ‘Doarlish Cashen’ and ‘Creggan Ashen,’ already had a spooky reputation before the Irving family took up residence, and was a house of draughts and little natural light. James Irving decided to keep out the wind by cladding the outside walls in cement render and the inside with wood. Trapping air behind the panelling, the house was now insulated from the cruel winds, but this also meant that the whole house now became a speaking tube and a haunt for Gef the talking mongoose.

Despite being offered large sums of money from America, the Irvings made virtually nothing from Gef’s antics, and eventually, after James Irving’s death, Voirrey’s mother, Margaret, sold ‘Cashen’s Gap’ in 1945. Gef, by this time, had also disappeared.

Although she always refused to talk about this period, Voirrey did give a rare interview in 1970, but insisted her whereabouts be kept a closely guarded secret. She confessed that if she and her mother had had their way no one would ever have known about Gef’s existence, but her father over ruled their decision. However, Voirrey still maintained that Gef did exist, although she now hated him and wished he had left them alone.

After the family’s departure from ‘Cashen’s Gap,’ a weasel like animal was snared and killed in the area of the property, but by all accounts this was not Gef!  No one ever quite got to the bottom of this story, and with Voirrey’s reluctance to speak on the subject, the topic was deposited into a dusty archive and virtually forgotten.

Clearly Phil Whyman also has reservations about Gef’s validity, but as we cannot question the principal characters within this tale, the truth may never be known. But, perhaps as Gef said of himself he was simply just “an extra, extra clever little mongoose.”

Valerie Caine, © June 2008 **** Courtesy of Manx Tails. Photos of the site as it is now and a slate from the house inscribed "Gef".

Oie’ll Verree** at Kirk Michael 2010

The annual concert, held in the delightfully named Ebenezer Hall* in Michael village, proved it could still draw the crowds with the venue packed to capacity at what is now a ticket only event.  Run these days by Michael Heritage Trust this is a traditional part of the Manx calendar upheld for many years by the Misses Cannell whose hymn sheets we were still using to start the evening! 
This was followed by some lively music from local traditional folk band ‘The Reeling Stones’ who are a young and talented set of musicians based mostly in the west of the Island. Richard Corlett, a young man from St Johns, then delighted the audience with two dialect recitations, a long standing favourite at this event. 

In fact the evening was dominated by fresh, young talent including Maxine Smalley, a member of the Manx traditional dancers ‘Ny Fennee’. Dressed in striking full costume, and with little space for manoeuvre, Maxine treated the audience to two solo dances accompanied by musicians from ‘The Reeling Stones’.  This was swiftly followed by two other members of the Corlett family; Amy read another Manx dialect poem followed by Bill who sang two well known numbers from the ‘Manx National Song Book’.  

Roy Kennaugh, who compered the evening also managed to squeeze in a personal choice of poem written by centenarian Norman Barron formerly of Kirk Michael, but now resident in the Corrin Home. But the tone of the evening then changed as comedy duo Simon Clarke and James Radcliffe strode forward. Performing as ‘The Deemsters’ nothing from Manx life escaped their straight faced, but witty delivery, which was lapped up eagerly by an expectant audience. 

As usual the presentation of ‘Yn Gliggyr’ was awarded to someone for their contribution to Manx culture within Kirk Michael, which this year was awarded by Mrs. Pam Naylor to the aforementioned Roy Kennaugh.  Finally came the highlight of the night with the presentation by the Michael Players of the Manx dialect play ‘Courtin’ Times’, with their own hilarious interpretation of how to romantically woo your neighbour successfully into marriage in the depths of the Manx countryside in the days of yesteryear.  

This was swiftly followed by the singing of ‘Arrane Oie Vie’ and the anticipated enjoyment of a sumptuous country supper.

Valerie Caine, © January 2010 Photos: "Courtin Times" and the "The Deemsters" by Valerie as well.

*Ebeneezer means "Stone of Help" and is a common name for chapels of many denominations, particularly Methodists.
**Oie’ll Verree means Eve of Mary and is the Old Christmas Eve -- what we now know as 12th Night. As you can see the Manx are still celebrating in much the same way as we do at the Washington D.C. Manx Society! (OK, you've got more local talent but we're very enthusiastic!)

Eskimo thie veg

I found this on the iomtoday website. Thie Veg means 'little house' in Manx and is a euphemism for the privy.
Note: The sign has been liberated from a local realtor named Black Grace Cowley which is sometimes referred to as Black Lace Knickers.

Ouch! Cav says it was a mistake to put national pride ahead of his career.

Manx Radio has this story:
'Mark Cavendish has categorically ruled himself out of racing for the Island. The news maybe comes as no great surprise, given his presence at the World Road-Race Championships just prior to the Commonwealth Games, but this is the first time the 'Manx Missile' has come out and said he definitely won't be pulling on the three legs jersey. Speaking at Columbia-HTC's media launch for the new season he said: 'I made the mistake of putting national pride ahead of my career in the 2008 Olympics and I'm not going to do that again.'
He could probably have put that better.

'Dalby Spook' mongoose mystery back in the spotlight

THE case of a Manx mystery which made headlines around the world is to reopen more than 70 years after the first claimed sighting.
Speculation has surrounded the case of the Dalby Spook — a talking mongoose called Gef — since a 13-year-old girl is said to have first seen it in 1931.

Now, Christopher Josiffe, a cataloguer at London University's Senate Library, is carrying out new research into the case and he is appealing for Islanders to help uncover the truth. 'I have never been able to decide whether Gef was a hoax, or a genuine — if unexplained — phenomenon,' he said. Much research has already been carried out since the Irving family, living in a cottage at Doarlish Cashen, heard strange sounds coming from behind panelling in the house.

It is claimed James and Margaret Irving's daughter, Voirrey, befriended a creature with yellow fur, bushy tail and flat snout, and which introduced himself as 'Gef, an extra clever mongoose from Delhi'.
Gef could sing as well as talk and, with Voirrey's tuition, his vocabulary grew rapidly. He roamed the area to relate gossip back to the Irvings. He had many traits linked to poltergeists — an uneven temper, was prone to throwing objects at people and made exaggerated claims about his powers.

Reports of Gef ended when the Irvings left Doarish Cashen in 1935. The next owner, a Mr Graham, said he snared and killed a strange-looking animal. More

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Landslide in Port St. Mary - No, not politics, a real one

That's where we used to roll Easter Eggs and hold the Regatta Fancy Dress. Wow!

11 homes were evacuated in Port St Mary last night following a landslide in the Happy Valley area.  The main road into and out of the village was closed from its junction with Victoria Road to its junction with the Bay View Hotel and, as a precaution, 11 properties were evacuated, the occupants initially taken to Port St Mary town hall.

In addition to the Emergency Services staff, personnel from the Department of Transport and the Civil Defence (under the guidance of the Emergency Planning Officer) attended to inspect and assess the land and to co-ordinate the evacuation and safe refuge of property occupants disturbed.
More here.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Solway Harvester - Ten Years On

The BBC has an item here about the Solway Harvester a Kirkcudbright (Scotland) scallop dredger that sank off the Isle of Man on 11 January 2000 in heavy seas with the loss of all its crew. The vessel is still in the Isle of Man. The Manx Government, under Chief Minister Donald Gelling, paid to have the vessel salvaged and the bodies recovered when the Scottish and English governments wouldn't. There will be memorial services today.

A memorial stone marking the loss of the Solway Harvester fishing boat is being sent from Galloway to the Isle of Man.
The carved granite memorial is a gift from the villages of the seven crewmen who died when the Kirkcudbright-based vessel sank in mountainous seas on 11 January.
It has been created from a granite bollard which was used to tie up boats at Isle of Whithorn harbour.
The memorial is to express thanks after the Isle of Man authorities agreed to pay for the salvage of the vessel and the recovery of the men's bodies.

Interesting follow up to the Milntown story

This fascinating piece of family history is from Charles Christian, a Past President of the Washington Manx Society:
It was good to see you and the other Manx folks yesterday.  Your attachment of the Manx scrapbook reminded me of the trip we (about 8 of us led by Russ Woodgates) took to the IOM in July of 1999.  One day we broke off from the group and hiked up Lezayre Road to Milntown Manor, an estate that passed from Christian father to son for twenty generations, say 1400s to 1900s.  We received a tour of the beautiful gardens and grounds, along with the restored mill, by the current tenants, trustees for life.  They said the estate would then become a Manx National Trust Property.  One of the Christian sons, William the ancestor in my line, was given the estate called Ronaldsway in 1637, which was razed and transformed into an aerodrome during World War II.  As I recall this property was down near Castletown on the peninsula running into the Bay called Derby Haven.   During the Cromwell period, this William (Illiam Dhone) Christian was  given control of IOM while the Earl of Derby went to England to help King Charles I.  To preclude the fate that befell Ireland at the hands of Cromwell forces, William handed over IOM to the Cromwell forces, thus saving IOM  from burn and destroy tactics.  However, when the Earl returned he did not take too kindly to William's action and aided a rigged jury into giving him death by firing squad,  King Charles' pardon arrived a few days late, having been delayed in route.  If computers/e-mail had come along sooner, I might be living on the IOM today.  There was, maybe still, a much bigger than life size painting of William in the front entrance of the library in Douglas.  There was also a 29 verse ballad written about him as the martyr.   My ancestor, William's 10th child Patricius, enrolled on May 5, 1665 at the age of 16 in Trinity College at the University of Dublin, later becoming the Prebendary (clergyman) of Lismore, Ireland.  His youngest son, Gillbert with his family immigrated to America in 1726.  More than you ever wanted to know about the Christians.  Charles  

Everyone who has been to the Island will know that Ronaldsway is now our 'International' airport!    

12th Night in Washington

The Greater Washington Manx Society held its 12th Night celebration in Springfield, Va, this year and here are some of the pictures to prove it! As usual we played Pass the Parcel -- and as you can see, it's not just the adults who enjoy it! Here we see some Looneys ripping off the paper concealing the ultimate prize.

Our guests this year were "Three Left Feet" who danced two Manx dances, "Hunt the Wren" and the "Cutting of the Turf' where their numbers were bolstered by our President,  Jim Kneale and his daughter, Megan, who donned the outfits and looked pretty good in them as you can see from Jim's close-up.

We also had our raffle, tickets were picked out by our Governor Emeritus, Avril Quiggin-Shipman who was born on the Isle of Man. New members were welcomed, including another Manx-born American, Kearsley Walsh and her teenage sons Angus and Duncan. (God love them for coming to such a lame event but we kept telling them to "rejoice in their culture" and maybe one day they will!). Counting the Blower kids, that's four legitimate Manx born members in our society. The Christian contingent left the Island in 1648 so we have an interesting range of heritage claims.

It was another successful 12th Night do. Blein Vie Noa everyone.

PS. If you get the fruit bonnag recipe off the NAMA recipes page you won't regret it. Jim baked it and it is scrumptious.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Milntown is the old home of the Christian family from Ramsey. It has had bits added to it over the centuries and is currently in the hands of the Milntown Trust who are restoring it, the collection of cars and motorcycles that the last owners had, and the gardens. The house, tearoom and gardens will open in February. While I was over in December I was able to present them with an artifact from the six-year period before the first world war when it was a school. My grandmother, Kathleen Grange, attended the school and was given this fine, leatherbound, gold-embossed copy of Keats' poems to mark her good work. It is inscribed by one of the Misses Christian. With me in the photo are Dollin Kelly and Esther Richmond (children of Kathleen Grange and my father and aunt) and Charles Guard (right) who is a trustee of Milntown and is doing a great job along with Paul Ogden in restoring the place.

Quest for glory outweighs fears of terrorism

Well, they're braver than I am.  I'd be more worried about getting blown up than the buildings being unfinished. I know that India is trying to shake up its police and anti-terrorist forces but the shambles in Mumbai, where the top cops scarpered during the recent islamic terrorist attack, hardly filled me with confidence. The IoM does well in the Commonwealth Games; it's the largest event we can compete in as a nation, so I can see why the competitors so desperately want to go -- but they need to be reassured that their safety will be taken seriously by the Indian government.

"The Isle of Man still intends to send a team to the Commonwealth Games in Delhi later this year. The Manx Commonwealth Games Association has explained the position in response to a recent article in the Daily Telegraph, which suggested England would pull out of the event due to security concerns.
The clarification has come in an email to Manx Radio from association president Juliet Holt. She confirms there are worries that construction work at some of the venues is behind schedule, following a visit in October. But there will be a further get together in March, when it is expected the situation will have improved considerably.
Ms Holt believes that, with all the information available at the moment, there is no reason why Team Isle of Man should not attend the Delhi Games. The final point she makes is that the management team has the whole squad's safety uppermost in its mind".  Manx Radio

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Celtic Connections Festival Glasgow 2010

Popular local band ‘King Chiaullee’ will be flying the Manx flag for the first time at the prestigious annual ‘Celtic Connections’ festival held in the city of Glasgow later this month, where they will be joined by professional guest musicians and friends Malcolm Stitt, Rachel Hair and Jamie Smith and Manx Gaelic singer Greg Joughin from ‘The Mollag Band’.

It’s a lengthy festival (eighteen days), but this doesn’t put off music lovers attending an incredible 269 events spanning 14 venues across the city of Glasgow. Recognised throughout the world for its quality entertainment covering many genres, the festival will be launched with a torchlight procession through the city centre before the opening concert featuring a 50 strong orchestra.

‘King Chiaullee’ will be playing at the ‘Old Fruit Market’ along with two other bands from Europe’s Celtic territories. ‘Pennoù Skoulm’, said to represent some of the best musicians in Breton music was originally formed in 1982, but disbanded in the early 1990s before reuniting in 2009 to make their second recording. The Galician band ‘Marful’ draw their inspiration from a combination of café jazz, dance hall music from the 1930s -1950s and their own Celtic tradition, creating a Latin tinged sound to their music.

Since being awarded first prize for the best new band of the year at the annual ‘Lorient Inter-Celtic Festival’ in 2008 ‘King Chiaullee’ has continued to make its mark in world music circles, as Manx music becomes better known outside of the Island.

Spokesman for the band David Kilgallon said, “King Chiaullee will be the first Manx band to feature at ‘Celtic Connections’ and it is hoped that our presence at the festival will not only raise the profile of the Island and its culture, but open the door for other Manx acts in the future”.

The invitation to play in Glasgow also provides the band with a unique opportunity to mix with influential agents, festival organisers and media associated with Celtic and world music, bringing valuable publicity to the Isle of Man.

Attracting its audience from around the world ‘Celtic Connections’ is not just simply a folk festival, but more a festival of music bringing together musicians from as far apart as Japan, the Nordic countries and the Balkans. ‘King Chiaullee’ will be rubbing shoulders with the likes of top Galician piper Carlos Nunez, Irish professional band Dervish and Scottish based flautist Nuala Kennedy who performed on the Isle of Man during ‘Yn Chruinnaght’ 2009.

The choice of events is mind boggling and includes late night sessions, concerts, a festival club and a vast array of workshops ranging from Gaelic song, ukulele and samba drumming to gospel music, the Norwegian fiddle and the harmonica blues. But perhaps the most interesting of them all is the opportunity to learn how to blend your own Scotch whisky!

There will be an opportunity to see ‘King Chiaullee’ and their guests perform their Glasgow set at the Centenary Centre, Peel, at a fund raising event later this month (see website for details).

Their visit to ‘Celtic Connections’ has been generously supported by the Isle of Man Arts Council and the Manx Heritage Foundation.

(Courtesy of Manx Tails)

Valerie Caine
© December 2009

Bray Hill

You're probably more used to seeing Bray Hill as a 160mph flash view from a T.T. biker's dashcam but this is what it looked like yesterday morning when the island was carpeted in snow and everything ground to a halt. Except for the hardy souls -- particularly at Noble's Hospital acute care facility -- who braved the elements and walked to work. The Christmas school break has been extended by three days and there is a lot of whinging about getting the kids back to school from frustrated parents who are either running out of child care cover or have just had enough! The Department of Transport pulled out all the stops and got the main roads cleared and basic bus services reinstated. I bet we'll get some fabulous Manx calendar photos next year!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Snow brings island to a standstill

No school, roads are closed, the ferry was delayed awaiting passengers trying to get through to Douglas,  Ramsey Commissioners even suspended refuse collections until the roads clear.

This was taken in Kirk Michael around 8.30am.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Skinny dipping on New Year's Day.

Click here it's a brilliant video that I can't embed here but shows you how bats and how hard the people of the Island are!!  There's ice floating on the water in Port St. Mary harbour. Brrrrrr

Watch the New Year's Day dippers as dozens of hardy souls plunged into the icy waters of the Irish Sea, many in fancy dress costumes including Bugs Bunny, Buzz Lightyear and Elvis. Dippers of all ages in Peel, Laxey, Castletown, Ports St Mary, Gansey and Port Erin raised thousands for a number of Manx charities.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Europe's first non-smoking prison -- driving the inmates to smoke tea!

Apparently the IoM has the lowest recidivism in Europe -- as criminals dread being banged up without a smoke. Even teabogs  have been banned at our non-smoking jail after lags used them in cigarettes instead of brewing up.
Inmates at the Isle of Man Prison now have to make do with tea granules after dozens were caught puffing away on ­teabags in their cells.

The £42million prison, which opened in ­August 2008, is Europe’s only non-smoking jail. Lags (prisoners) are told they have no choice but to give up and are given free nicotine patches and counselling sessions to help them beat their cravings.
But instead of quitting, ingenious inmates poured out the contents of teabags and rolled makeshift ciggies.
“It’s a disgrace and it’s against people’s ­human rights.” said one prisoner. He claimed black ­market ­tobacco was on sale in the jail but cost up to £60 an ounce.

The Manx Martyr

Mannin Aboo lay a wreath at Hango Hill to commemorate the death of  Illiam Dhoon on the anniversary of his execution at that place. See Illiam Cassidy's item below for more details about Brown William.
This report is from Valerie Caine who was there and took the photos:

Annual Commemoration of Illiam Dhone

The annual commemoration of the death of Illiam Dhone (William Christian) in 1663, thought by many to be a Manx martyr,  took place at Hango Hill, Castletown, on the 2nd January, 2010.

Organised by Manx nationalist party Mec Vannin and the Manx branch of the Celtic League, a large crowd of bystanders gathered at the site of his execution to hear speeches in both Manx and English reflecting the thoughts of the Island’s population.

Although bitterly cold, impassioned speeches were made in English by Bernard Moffatt of the Celtic League and in Manx by Mark Kermode of Mec Vannin, including references to the problems facing the Island in view of the imminent axing of the reciprocal health agreement and the unprecedented change of the VAT agreement by the UK.

As the call for Manx independence grows stronger, members of a new Facebook page ‘Mannin Aboo’ (Mannin Forever) joined the onlookers as they watched Lexi Duggan of the group lay a wreath at the site of Illiam Dhone’s execution. Members of ‘Mannin Aboo’ attending the event were asked to wear something red.

As unrest increases nationalist slogans using Manx Gaelic have rapidly appeared in the west of the Island sprayed onto local roads, but the mysterious graffiti artist also left his mark on the walls opposite Hango Hill in time for the ceremony. Both ‘Mannin Aboo’ and the organisers of the commemoration, however, wish to distance themselves from these events.

As the ceremony ended with the singing of the Manx National Anthem some bystanders repaired to one of the pubs in Castletown to enjoy an afternoon music session, whilst others moved on to Malew Church for a commemoration service where Illiam Dhone is buried. The sermon was given by the Rt. Revd. Robert Paterson, Bishop of Sodor and Mann, and the elegy ‘Baase Illiam Dhone’ (The Death of Brown William) sung by Phil Gawne MHK. A wreath was laid at the memorial to Illiam Dhone in the chancel of the church.

Refreshments were later served at the Abbey Church Hall, Ballasalla.

Valerie Caine © January 2010

Saturday, January 2, 2010

St Stephen's Day

Thanks, Illiam, for keeping the blog warm while I was 'over there'. We had a great time and stayed in a fabulous converted barn in Post St. Mary owned by the Cain's (nee Qualtrough). Brilliant! The weather was DRY for all but one day of our trip and we got to visit the new-look Laxey Woolen Mills and the new restaurant at the old Christian residence, Milntown in Ramsey. All great advances and definitely places to visit on the Homecoming in 2014.

So, while my family was entertaining the neighbors with a rendering of The White Boys some more hardy Manx people were playing Cammag at St. John's.

From Wikipedia:
The game of cammag is a Manx team sport. It is similar to the Irish hurling and its related Scottish game of shinty. It used to be the most widespread sport on the Isle of Man, but it ceased to be played around 1900 after the introduction of football, until very recently when it has been somewhat revived.

It involves a stick (cammag) and a ball (crick) with anything between four and hundreds of players. Sometimes whole towns and villages took part, or even played each other. The cammag can be any stick with a bent end, and is similar in design to the caman in Shinty, both unlike the Irish camán, having no blade. The Manx word Cammag as in modern Scottish Gaelic and Irish camán, is derived from the Gaelic root word cam, meaning bent. The crick can be made from cork or wood. A gorse wood cammag, if of suitable size and shape, was a very much treasured possession.[1] Old accounts tell us that it was sometimes covered in cloth or leather to make it less painful to hit.
Cammag season started on Hunt the Wren Day (26 December) and was only played by men (of all ages) during the winter. Corris's Close (now Athol Street) was the chief playing-ground in the town of Peel.

Photo: Valerie Caine

Baase Illiam Dhone: Remembering William Christian

Today is the 347th anniversary of the execution of William Christian, or “Illiam Dhone,” of Ronaldsway, who famously led an uprising that seized control of the island in 1651, during the English Civil War of 1641-1651 between the Royalists and Parliamentarians.

Despite its name, the English Civil War was fought in Scotland and Ireland as well as England and Wales, and Christian's uprising prevented a Parliamentary conquest of the Isle of Man and is credited with preserving the island's unique laws and system of government.

Here's a portrait of Illiam Dhone, which means "Brown-haired William" in Manx.

In 1651, The Isle of Man was ruled by James Stanley, Lord of Mann, Baron Strange and the 7th Earl of Derby. The Manx called him "Yn Stanley Mooar," or "the Great Stanley." Stanley was a Royalist supporter of Charles I, and after that king's execution in 1649, his son, Charles II. William Christian was named receiver general, or treasurer, of the island by Stanley in 1648, and commander of its militia in 1651, shortly before Stanley left to join Charles II in England.

When Stanley was captured after the Battle of Worcester, his wife, the Countess Charlotte, began negotiating with the Parliamentarians for his release. Christian and other Manx leaders, fearing she would sell the country "into the hands of Parliament," seized most of the island's forts. (One statement at the time claimed she proposed selling the Manx people for 2d or 3d a head).

There was more behind the uprising, however. The Manx people were incensed by changes in land-tenure introduced by Stanley, which abolished their ancient rights to their homes. They were angered by the quartering of Stanley's English soldiers in their homes as well.

Christian negotiated with Parliamentary forces, who were allowed to enter the island unopposed in return for recognition of Manx "laws and liberties." Countess Charlotte surrendered in November of 1651, less than a month after her husband had been executed.

And so the Isle of Man's brief engagement in one of the bloodiest wars fought in Britain and Ireland came to an end. Manx institutions such as Tynwald were left in place, land tenure was restored and Christian remained receiver general, becoming governor in 1656.

But his luck turned in 1658 when he was accused by a new English governor of misappropriating funds related to church lands. The charges were not proved, but Christian left the island for England.

After the death of Oliver Cromwell in 1658, Charles II was invited back to England, and after he was officially crowned in 1661 an Act of General Pardon and Indemnity protected Cromwell's supporters from prosecution. Christian returned to the Isle of Man, believing he was protected by the act, but he was arrested by Charles Stanley, the 8th Earl of Derby, and charged with treason not against the king, but against his father, the late, executed Lord of Man.

Christian refused to plead at his trial, which was clearly rigged against him, and sent a letter to the king and his council seeking protection under the Act of Indemnity. The petition did not reach Charles II until after his execution by firing squad on Jan. 2, 1663. Charles later confirmed that the Act of Indemnity — and his rule — did extend to the Isle of Man and restored confiscated property, including the estate of Ronaldsway, to the Christian family.

There is more to this story than the bare bones of it outlined above — conflict between the autocratic Stanleys and the Manx, and perhaps a struggle over land, money and authority among different landholders on the island. That's reflected in the ballad Baase Illiam Dhone, or "Brown William's Death," part of which was written shortly after Christian's execution, according to Manx scholar George Broderick. Here's one verse:

"V'ou laue yesh yn Eearley as sooil yesh y theay,
Shen hug da dty noidyn gatt wheesh dt'oi ayns feah"

"You were the right hand of the Earl and the right eye of the people,
That was what made your enemies rise so much against you in abhorrence."

The song also refers to conflict between "Clein Colcad" (the Calcott "clan" or family) and the Christians or "Clein Christeen." The Calcotts and Christians apparently quarreled and litigated disputes about land in Lezayre, and prominent Calcotts took part in Christian's trial.

The ballad clearly reflects the great estimation in which Illiam Dhone was held by people who believed he fought for their rights to their lands and homes.

You can read more about Illiam Dhone in this article from A.W. Moore's "Manx Worthies" (1901), and in this briefer article on Wikipedia. Records and proceedings related to his trial are available here. An article on the annual commemoration of his death organized by Mec Vannin, the Manx nationalist party, and the Manx branch of the Celtic League may be found here.

For a full analysis of the ballad "Baase Illiam Dhone," see George Broderick's "Some Manx Traditional Songs, Volume Two."

- Illiam