Friday, September 2, 2011

Who Was Cressy Dodd?


What remains of Marine Parade in Peel where Cressy used to live.

 An appeal has gone out from Manx cultural field worker, Stephen Miller, for information concerning an unrecognised Manx song collector by the name of Cressy Maud Dodd, thought to be born on the 10th December, 1887, in the parish of German to David Dodd and Lizzie Crellin, or Cringle. Little is known about her life, but Stephen hopes to re-awaken readers’ memories in the hope that they will be able to throw more light on the subject.

At the age of 13 Cressy (her given name) was known to be living with other members of her family at 54 Marine Parade in Peel, from information supplied on the 1901 census return.

Stephen has few details about Cressy, but correspondence between the young woman and Manx cultural activist Sophia Morrison in 1910 reveals Cressy’s forgetfulness in forwarding a song, or jig, which languished at the bottom of her box.

However, he does know that Cressy had been collecting from a Mr. Moore in Patrick, which Stephen believes to be Joseph Patrick Moore 1845 – 1928. Typically both a farmer and a fisherman, Moore was a speaker of both Manx and English and lived in the house next to Knockaloe Mooar Primitive Methodist Chapel. Referred to in the preface of Morrison’s ‘Manx Fairy Tales’, Moore was also noted for his rendition of a traditional song never before published, at a supper given by the Friends of the Manx Language Society in the Palace Restaurant in 1913. It was hoped to publish this song in a future edition of the publication ‘Mannin’.

It is known that Cressy collected four songs (likely only the tunes) which were ‘The Wind that Shakes the Barley’ (two renditions although the first was the one he sang the most), an untitled lullaby which begins ‘Where’s Your Father, diddle-dum, diddle-dum’ and another untitled piece that would appear to be a skit about a man who set fire to another’s haystacks!

By 1911 Cressy was living in Small Heath, Birmingham, where she worked as a certified assistant teacher for Birmingham Council. At this time she also attended classes  which focused on Irish and Scottish traditional dancing, but was evidently homesick for the Isle of Man. Correspondence between Cressy and Sophia Morrison reveals that she sent a present of ‘Manx Knobs’ to Birmingham which were favourably received.

If anyone believes they may have further details about the life of Cressy Dodd please contact Stephen Miller on chiollagh@googlemail.com

Valerie Caine
© August 2011 

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