Friday, April 29, 2011

Passion in the Hill ~ Easter in Peel

PEEL Castle was transformed into Jerusalem on Saturday for a re-enactment of the story of Easter. Here is a photo montage and here is more.
A cast of about 80 took part in Easter on the Hill.
It was watched by 900 people inside the castle and about 300 who watched events unfold from Peel Hill.
One of the organisers Fiona Anderson, said: ‘We were thrilled with how it went.
‘It stopped raining at 2pm just in time to get all the sound equipment set up.’
The story started at the Creg Malin car park at 4pm – from where Jesus (played by Alex Brown, head of the Scripture Union Ministries Trust) rode donkey (Monty) along the promenade to the castle.
About 200 people followed the procession waving palm branches and shouting ‘hosanna’.
The story continued inside the castle, with the audience joining in with the taunts and shouting ‘crucify him’.
Jesus was then crucified on one of three crosses set up on the castle’s half moon battery.
Following the re-enactment, guests enjoyed hot cross buns and hot spiced apple juice.
Easter on the Hill followed on from the success of Christmas on the Hill, which saw thousands flock to St John’s on Christmas Eve to see the nativity story.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Isle of Stamps – Cartoons by Dusty Miller

The late Dusty Miller, commemorated in these stamps, became one of the most influential cartoonists on the Isle of Man and nearly 50 years after his death remains firmly established in the public’s consciousness.
Harold ‘Dusty’ Miller was born in 1898 and although fortunate enough to win a scholarship for a place at the Liverpool School of Art at the age of 13 he was unable to take advantage of it because of financial circumstances. Instead be became a telegram messenger boy for Liverpool Post Office aged 14.
His obvious talent resurfaced during World War I when he designed a Christmas card in 1917 whilst in the trenches, which was adopted by the Postmen’s Federation and sent to postal workers serving in the armed forces. By 1919 Miller had joined the Liverpool City Police and subsequently designed a Police Roll of Honour.
Health problems prompted a move to the Isle of Man with his Manx born wife in 1926 where he took on the role of advertising manager and artist for both the Isle of Man Times and Examiner newspapers. His eye-catching and elaborate cartoons were produced to strict weekly deadlines and were often drawn at home. His impressions of Manx life embraced both people and events, straddling both satire and topical matters. His main body of work fell between 1933 and 1962 capturing the thrust of political and social issues of the time.
Miller was sensitive to public sentiment which influenced his cartoons, although morale-raising and conscience-pricking propaganda also contributed to his artwork. He had an uncanny knack of visually highlighting social problems with cunning accuracy in an immediately recognisable style.
Pronounced physical characteristics were useful to Miller who would deliberately lengthen a long nose, or extend a jutting chin for greater effect. And someone with a habitually lugubrious countenance was apparently ‘simply asking for it’.
Miller’s work using oils and water-colours led to a role as founder chairman of the Isle of Man Art Society in 1953, with his dream of an annual Easter art exhibition becoming a reality ten years later.
Former colleague and founder of Isle of Man Post, Victor Kneale, suggested that Miller, who had produced two stamp designs during his career, would have been an ideal choice to design commercial postage stamps.
Miller, who died in 1964 aged 66, also produced the popular book ‘It’s a Fact’ during the late 1930s containing a series of cartoons depicting important and lesser known facts of Manx history, which was subsequently reissued in 2009.
Valerie Caine © April 2011

From the World Manx Association ~ Message from John Quirk

To mark the centenary of WMA this year, and to coincide with the celebrations during Tynwald week, we're looking to publish a booklet charting the history of the WMA. I'm approaching each of the societies asking if they want to say a few words of congratulations etc to the WMA. Jim Corlett has kindly sent a message over on behalf of NAMA as a whole.

Also, we're running a few pieces from Manx around the globe with particular memories of the WMA, either of the homecomings, or their connections with the WMA. If you, or anyone you know, wants to jot down some memories, please email me  We need these by May 6th.

Finally, as part of the celebrations, the annual WMA dinner is being held at the Sefton Hotel in Douglas on Saturday, July 2. During the night, we're looking at possibility of doing a video link-up with a few of the societies. It will most likely be about 9.30ish GMT (4.30pm ET). Manx Telecom can sort us out at this end, using the video conferencing facilities at the Sefton, but obviously for any society that wanted to get involved, they'd need video conferencing equipment at your end.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Can you help?

The Port St. Mary Commissioners have come across this cup and wonder if anyone knows what is was for. Because the hallmarks suggest the 1930s we have eliminated the cup that "Mrs F. Poulsom, of Southport, whose name, and that of her husband, is so closely connected with the park presented to Castletown, and with the handsome challenge cup annually played for on the Port St. Mary Golf Links" that was mentioned in 1914's Manx Notebook.

It is inscribed "Port St Mary Challenge Cup". Hallmarks indicate that it was assayed in London in 1929/30 and the makers or sponsors mark is that of Robert Pringle & Sons of Clerkenwell Road, London.

So, anyone recognize it?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Down to the Titanic

Tomorrow marks the 99th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, an event so shocking that it still moves us. Here's a story with a Manx theme that links us to the events of that freezing night in a lost era, long, long ago.

Former Irish Garda Sean O’Connell now lives on the Isle of Man with his Manx born wife, but a chance meeting with a man back in his native land inspired Sean to take a once in a lifetime journey in the year 2000 to see the remains of the ill fated vessel Titanic.
Sean set out on a nine day journey from Birkenhead to St John’s in Newfoundland, but it was an onerous start on his voyage of discovery. The vessel was not designed for passengers and his cabin, situated in the bow of the ship, was small and cramped. Worst of all he believed the boat’s skipper took an instant dislike to Sean and his companions.
Upon reaching St John’s Sean found it difficult to adapt to moving around on land, but there was little time to worry about this as he moved on to meet up with the exploration vessel and attend de-briefing sessions both before and after his dive. He also spent time familiarising himself with a model of the Titanic before he descended into the Atlantic Ocean.

Sean was sent down to the wreck of the Titanic, which sits two and a half miles down on the seabed, confined in a nineteen ton submarine. Conditions were not ideal. He was joined by a Russian pilot who spoke no English in a cramped area for three people with at best rudimentary toilet facilities. The ten hour journey held inherent dangers, but fortunately his other companion was wearing his lucky moose head slippers and they made it back to the surface, albeit not without some moments of apprehension.

The Titanic broke in two as she sank, scattering debris across the seabed for some distance, including countless numbers of artefacts wrenched from their owners as they succumbed to the inevitable plan that fate had drawn for them. Disputes continue unabated about whether items from the stricken vessel should be returned to the surface, or remain undisturbed on the seabed as a memorial to those who died.

However, Sean’s expedition brought back some unusual items including a tea boiler and a chandelier which now forms part of an important exhibition. Most of their finds represented the minutiae of daily life such as a woman’s purse and assorted hair accessories, a man’s long lost pipe and a solitary uniform button. One of the most exciting revelations was the recovery of a bag of perfume samples, remarkably still intact and holding on to a powerful scent after all these years at the bottom of the ocean. With the help of historical records Sean discovered that the owner of the samples survived the tragedy and later a Titanic perfume was recreated from the original samples, but cases of wine, boxes of unopened crockery and forlorn suitcases still remain unclaimed on the seabed.

Charles Joughin
Back on the Isle of Man, however, people were more than a little curious to hear about the discovery of a plate belonging to the long established Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, recovered on an earlier expedition. How a piece of crockery from a vessel plying between ports surrounding the Irish Sea came to be with the wreck of the Titanic is a mystery, but we do know that one of the crew members did have a distinct link with the Island. Charles Joughin, although born in Birkenhead, was of Manx descent and became apprenticed in Peel on the Isle of Man at a bakery and general store, situated at 8 Michael Street and owned by a relative John Joughin MHK , and was later employed on the ill-fated ‘Titanic’ as Chief Baker. His actions during the sinking of the vessel brought Joughin unsought fame and recognition and he was later immortalised in film. Joughin (pronounced Jockin) is a distinctive Manx surname which historically was linked to the north of the Island, but has since spread to other parts of the Isle of Man and indeed far beyond its shores. Whether he was tempted to pocket an unconventional souvenir, perhaps during a visit to the Island, we will never know and is little more than conjecture. But we do know that Charles Joughin survived both the sinking of the ‘Titanic’ and the ‘Oregon’ in Boston Harbour, dying of pneumonia in New Jersey in 1956.

Sean was asked to make a return visit to the wreck of the ‘Titanic’, but financially this wasn’t possible, although he carries with him some unique and treasured memories of a trip of a lifetime down to the most famous trans-Atlantic ocean liner in history.

Valerie Caine © April 2011

Monday, April 11, 2011

Island tycoon Trevor Hemmings toasts Grand National win

From the BBC News - Ellan Vannin

Jason Maguire and Trevor HemmingsThe win was Trevor Hemmings' second Grand National victory

Related Stories

Isle of Man millionaire Trevor Hemmings is celebrating a Grand National victory for the second time in six years.
His horse Ballabriggs, ridden by jockey Jason Maguire, came home by two-and-a-quarter lengths in the famous race at Aintree, Liverpool on Saturday.
The 10-year-old was his second winner as his horse Hedgehunter came home first in 2005. The London-born businessman, 75, who grew up in Leyland, Lancashire, owns more than 100 racehorses. The winning horse was trained by Donald McCain, whose father Ginger trained famous national winner Red Rum.
Pier owner
"Donald has done a brilliant job with Ballabriggs and clearly learned plenty from Ginger as they now have five National trophies on their mantelpiece," said Mr Hemmings.
Mr Hemmings, who is also the owner of Preston North End FC, was the person who introduced the Center Parcs holiday complexes to Britain.
He currently owns two of Blackpool's piers and recently sold the North Pier. Last year he sold the resort's famous tower to the local council.

Isle of Man Stamps – Butterfly Collection

The Isle of Man Post Office has featured butterflies associated with the Island on a set of new stamps released this month, using a stunning collection of images reflecting the colour and variety of a number of species that choose the Isle of Man as their home.

Selecting just eight from a total of nineteen species which inhabit the Island these spectacular stamps have been brought vividly to life using the outstanding illustrations of UK based designer Richard Lewington. He has worked previously on artwork for Manx stamps including ‘A Walk in the Ballaugh Curragh’ and ‘Bugs and Bees’ issues. Specialising in illustrating entomological subjects his latest book ‘The Butterflies of Britain and Ireland’ has been described as ‘probably the best butterfly book of them all’ in The Times newspaper (UK). His stunning artwork brings to life the Small Tortoiseshell, the Wall, Common Blue, Dark Green Fritillary, Green Veined White, Comma, Speckled Wood and Red Admiral.

Depicted with their favoured food sources, most of the different species linked to the Isle of Man have been resident on the Island for thousands of years and are either unwilling, or unable, to venture across the Irish Sea. However, some of these beautiful creatures, such as the Painted Lady, migrated from as far away as Morocco to make their home on the Isle of Man, but sadly is unable to survive our winter climate. It has also lately been established that in contrast to other British Islands now losing species the Isle of Man has gained two which now inhabit much of the Island.

Four stamps from this issue also carry the distinctive World Wildlife Fund panda logo to highlight the valuable work done by this organisation.

Valerie Caine © April 2011

Manx Butterflies

It was standing room only in the Atholl Room at the Centenary Centre in Peel for a very popular talk and slide show about Manx butterflies given by Gail Jeffcoate on behalf of the Manx Wildlife Trust.

Red Admiral

Appointed as local co-ordinator for the ‘Butterflies for the New Millennium Project’, Gail was well placed to discuss the varied lives and habits of these delicate creatures, which was accompanied by some stunning photography.
Covering every aspect of their lifecycle she pointed out each species behaviour, their feeding habits and vulnerability to predators.

With a total of 19 different species able to tolerate our climate on the Isle of Man she recounted some of the staggeringly long distances that butterflies are prepared to travel before they settle.

Small tortoiseshell

Not every species makes an appearance each year, but climate change has already made an impact on their lives with the Red Admiral now spending the winter season in the apparently less cold British Isles. They are natural sun worshippers who don’t mind the rain, but dislike the wind.

Comma Butterfly
The Isle of Man is home to a divided population of sedentary and mobile butterflies with various life spans and territories. Their disposition, much like our own, can vary and is not always as good natured as we might believe, with some of the males known to chase off unwanted attention.

Gail advised members of the audience how to attract different species of butterfly into their gardens, providing useful tips about their habits and pointing out their often overlooked intelligence.

Local data about butterflies on the Isle of Man is used for collating distribution maps, which give enthusiasts accurate details of where to locate a specific species and a full pattern of how different types have spread across the Island over a long period of time.

Valerie Caine © April 2011 All photos by Gail Jeffcoate

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Story of Laxey Flour

Written by local man Andrew Scarffe, in association with Laxey Glen Mills Limited and the Laxey and Lonan Heritage Trust, this publication gives us an insight into the workings and history of the last functioning flour mill on the Isle of Man.

Its chequered history is well documented here, revealing details about the establishment of Laxey Glen Mill by Richard Rowe (Captain of the Laxey Mine) in response to the growing population of the area and the company’s struggle to remain at the forefront of the industry.

But this is not simply an interesting volume for the historian and is likely to appeal to those with an engineering background and the curious reader with an appetite for a good story.

Laxey Glen Mill has been gripped by many challenges during its lifetime, not least devastating fires, the decline of its customer base, the escalation of wheat importation and the spectre of government ownership. But the company has always risen to these challenges and currently provides an extensive range of flour to tempt the home baker to buy local goods and help keep the Manx economy buoyant.

Laxey Glen Mill has been part of the community for 150 years which is reflected within the pages of this unique publication, tying in with the fluctuating prosperity of the parish.

It’s often reported that some people have become detached from the reality of food production, but ‘The Story of Laxey Flour’ engages the reader, reacquainting them with a robust survivor of Manx industry.

Priced at £9.99 ‘The Story of Laxey Flour’ is available from bookshops throughout the Island.

(Courtesy of Manx Tails)

Valerie Caine © April 2011

Yesterday was an important day on the Isle of Man. The new Lt Governor was sworn into office in a ceremony held inside the old castle at Castletown. The IOM is a Crown Dependency, with the Queen as Head of State, so a governor has to be resident on the island. The governor's political responsibilities are very limited these days, with much of his work down to attending garden parties and meeting official guests from around the world. But despite the calls from some anti-Royalists and republicans to get rid of the post, most people are pleased to have a governor, and the little bit of pomp and ceremony that goes with it. To see a video of the arrival of the new governor outside the castle, check out  
From the BBCThe Isle of Man's new Lieutenant Governor Adam Wood has met with hundreds of local residents during his first public appearance.
In an official ceremony at Castle Rushen Mr Wood became the island's 29th Crown representative on the island. Mr Wood recently retired from the British Diplomatic Service after a distinguished career in diplomacy and international development. His final post was Africa director at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Festival Season Gets Underway

Celtic youth festival ‘Shennaghys Jiu’ will kick off the local festival season with a number of events based in the northern town of Ramsey.

Running from 8th – 11th April using selected venues throughout the town an acoustic concert will also be held within the historical Royal Chapel adjacent to Tynwald Hill in St John’s.

Involving both visiting and local musicians ‘Shennaghys Jiu’ (Tradition Today) is pleased to have secured the return of champion piper Ben Gibbs, who stunned audiences on a previous visit with his outstanding talent and innovative playing of the Scottish bagpipes.

But this time he is joined by ‘Highly flung’, a folk and dance group originating from Edinburgh. Formerly members of ‘The Christine Wilson Highland Dancers’ they are aged 18-26 and are no strangers to competitive dancing and performance. Taught primarily by former World Champion Highland dancer Christine Wilson, each has been involved with dancing both competitively and as a performer. Members of ‘Highly Flung’ have performed across the world including The Netherlands, Switzerland and Australia, but also on their home turf at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Accompanying musicians have been brought together from Scotland, Cornwall and the Isle of Man.

Towards the end of April the emphasis moves to the stunning landscape of the Dingle Peninsula in the Irish Republic, where the Isle of Man will be represented at the 40th ‘Pan Celtic Festival’ with financial assistance from the Isle of Man Arts Council.

The Dingle Peninsula is recognised as one of the Gaeltacht regions and until recently its rich cultural heritage was somewhat remote from the influences of the modern world. From here it’s possible to sail across to the famous Blasket Islands renowned for their historical, literary output.

Spanning a week of events the ‘Pan Celtic Festival’ retains a strong competitive spirit within the areas of music and dance. Attracting lots of public attention throughout Ireland it’s a perfect opportunity to promote the Isle of Man, by capitalising on the huge media attention that will surround this special 40th anniversary festival.

A packed programme of events ensures a full day of activities ranging from workshops, lectures and classes to ceilidhs, club nights and music sessions to see revellers into the early hours of the morning. Special events include a themed food market, a two day workshop exploring the history of Irish lace and special events for children. There will also be classes dedicated to each Celtic language, with Fiona McArdle teaching some basics of Manx Gaelic. As a special event for the 40th anniversary there will be an Inter-Celtic seminar on 'The Role of Local and Regional Authorities in Developing Minority Language Areas', with Phil Gawne MHK speaking for the Isle of Man.
A small group of friends from the northern based Manx Gaelic choir ‘Cliogaree Twoaie’ will be joining the winners of ‘Arrane son Mannin’, a local heat sponsored by the Manx Heritage Foundation to find a Manx song to represent the Island at the annual Pan Celtic Song Competition.  Local group ‘Ny Jinnyn’ will be heading for the contest with a song entitled ‘Sy Ghrianane’ which tells the story of one family’s anguish as they wait to discover whether their daughter, Vicky, was one of the victims of the horrific Summerland fire in 1973. The song, written by Vicky’s brother, Dave McLean and other members of the group, with translation into Manx by Bob Carswell, did have a happy ending though and will be sung in Ireland by Dave Rowles, backed by other members of ‘Ny Jinnyn’.

If you would like further information about the ‘Pan Celtic Festival’ please contact

(Courtesy of Manx Tails)

Valerie Caine © April 2011

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Bonnag competition attracts 70

THE traditional World Bonnag Making Championships have been held.
More than 70 people attended the annual Spring concert and bonnag making competition held at St James Church in Dalby.
The evening started with the presentation of cheques to the charities supported by the Friends of St James last year, Jonny Teare receiving £500 on behalf of the Peel Lifeboat and Doreen Kaddu receiving £500 on behalf of the overseas charity, Send a Cow.
Judge Bert Winkle testing bonnags
Then representatives for the two charities to be supported this year by the Friends – (which annually raise monies for a couple of charities and at the same time generate monies for the Dalby church’s renovation fund) – Wish upon a Dream and ASK Outreach Trust spoke briefly to the audience introducing their charities. The concert was hosted by John Kennaugh and included guests Olive Dobson, Moira Pain Kenny Bawden and Gareth Moore.
During the interval of a shepherd’s pie supper, coffee and cake, the serious business of judging the bonnag competition began with Bert Winkle, from Foxdale, expertly examining each entry.
The awards went to Vanessa Callin, who won the Margaret Killey Trophy for best women’s entry; the contestant who had posted his bonnag from England was beaten by John Teare winning the Frank Beavis Cup for best men’s entry; and Vicky Beavis won the children’s award; Vanessa Callin won the Isle of Man Creamery Trophy as overall winner.
The bonnags – made using a traditional Manx recipe similar to a scone – were then auctioned to help raise a total of £535 from the event, which will be divided between St James’ Church and Restoration Fund and the two nominated charities for this year.
St James wants to do extensive renovation work on the east wall and window of the building this year to try to stop the water penetration that drives in during easterly gales.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Manx Fudge now available online

Sometimes pictures do speak a thousand words. And all of them "eat me"...

Friday, April 1, 2011

Phurt Le Moirrey

Port St. Mary has a new Community Page on Facebook. It has hundreds of photos from the Commissioner's collection which someone has painstakingly uploaded. What a fantastic resource. I hope all the PSM FB friends will sit down with a computer and their old folk to put some names to the faces and occasions. Just put Port St. Mary - Phurt Le Moirrey into the Search box to access it.