Saturday, March 31, 2012

Shennaghys Jiu – Hitting the Right Note

The Manx festival ‘Shennaghys Jiu’ has come a long way since its inception in 1998, but continues to provide an opportunity for young musicians and dancers to gather together in a non-competitive environment and enjoy themselves on an informal basis.

Born as a result of a late-night conversation between James Alexander, leader of the Fochabers’ Fiddlers and a couple of Manx dancers, this year’s festival will be held 29 March – 2 April with the generous support of the Manx Heritage Foundation, the Isle of Man Arts Council and other local businesses.

Predominantly based in Ramsey with an occasional event in other parts of the Island, this year’s festival will follow a tried and tested format, bringing a mixture of concerts, music sessions, ceilidhs and workshops to a range of venues. Committed to presenting a varied programme, recent innovations such as the unplugged (acoustic) concert staged in one of the local churches and a popular Bands Night, keep the experience fresh and appealing.

The festival will bring together a range of talented visiting and local musicians from Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. Many of these young people have been involved in the local scene from an early age, showing a natural aptitude for traditional music.

There’s an almost even split between visiting musicians from Ireland and Scotland, with ‘Cairde’ bringing together three young people from Ireland weighted down with accolades, trophies and a whole range of musical instruments. This includes Michael Kerr who has toured both the US and Germany several times with the Savannah Philharmonic Choir, a number of Irish dance shows and the Irish Harp Orchestra.

Meanwhile Kavan Donohue who hails from County Cavan is a confident nineteen-year-old with a whole string of festival successes across the UK, Ireland, Europe and the US and performances on both television and radio. Known to many as ‘Kavan from Cavan’, critics view him as a force to be reckoned with on the traditional music scene. For ‘Shennaghys Jiu’ he will be joined by Cian Ó Ceallaigh and Richard Pyne playing bodhran, banjo and mandolin.

But mighty new trio ‘Baarool’ has a foot firmly in both the Manx and Welsh camps with musicians embracing links with both countries and developing long-held connections within the fabric of their music. It’s an all-male line-up consisting of gifted musicians Jamie Smith, Tom Callister and Adam Rhodes

However, a number of other young, local musicians will feature during the festival, of which many gather in the north of the Island where there is a healthy and buoyant interest in Manx music, song and dance.

‘Shennaghys Jiu’ will also see the launch of a new and exciting children’s book ‘Finlo and the Fairy Kings’ by Ruth Blindell, a fictional account of a Manx adventure at the magical Dhoon Glen.

Valerie Caine © March 2012 (Courtesy of Manx Tails)

Sayle Gallery hosts WWII intern's art exhibition

Artwork by a 91-year-old man who spent two year's in Manx internment camps during the 1940s, is to go on display in the Isle of Man in April. From BBC site

Ernst Eisenmayer from Austria was one of thousands of men and women interned on the Isle of Man during World War II. Most were Jewish refugees who found themselves arrested by the British as enemy aliens in May 1940 after the fall of France. The exhibition at the Sayle gallery will include 100 pieces of his work. It will include portraits of fellow internees and a watercolour of the Central Camp in Douglas. Chairman of the Sayle gallery on Bucks Road, Roger Phillips said: "We are fortunate to have this opportunity to show Eisenmayer, not just as an internee but also as an influential artist of the 20th Century."
'Remembers fondly'Mr Eisenmayer, who now lives in Vienna, was interned in 1940 and held in various camps in the Isle of Man, including Douglas, Onchan and Ramsey.
After his release in August 1941 he moved to London, where he lived and worked, establishing his artistic career as a painter and then a sculptor.
Although Mr Eisenmayer is unable to travel himself, his daughter will be visiting the Isle of Man for the first time during the exhibition.
She said: "I am looking forward to seeing a place which my father remembers fondly and with much humour, despite circumstances as an internee being not exactly luxurious.
"From the rough crossing from Liverpool to the hot summer of 1941, he remembers his life on the Island as being interesting and busy, and he formed life-long friendships with several fellow internees who are recorded in his drawings."
The Art Beyond Exile exhibition will be the first retrospective of his work in the British Isles and opens on the 6 April.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Manx Music in America

Free Shipping during April

I'm celebrating, and you can join me!  The first printing of my
book, "Tailless Tunes" has sold out!!  The second printing, in a spiffy new binding, is now available. 

In honor of this milestone, I'm offering BOTH my book and CD with free shippingduring the month of April.  Simply visit my website, make your selections, and use the coupon code EASTER when checking out. 

Some of you are already enjoying these products.  Now you can order
gifts for your friends, and help me to share Manx music
across North America. 

This offer expires at midnight on April 30.


The Music Lady LLC
PO Box 839
Denville, NJ 07834
Tel. 862-209-4416
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I'll be at Kentucky Music Week June 17-23
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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Villa Marina Arcade and the Mollag Band

The Isle of Man Arts Council recently held their annual lunchtime concerts in the newly refurbished Villa Marina Arcade hoping to tempt workers in the town to come and enjoy some of the many talented musicians in a relaxed and informal setting whilst taking their midday repast. Pictured here the Mollag Band celebrating twenty one years of music making both on and off the Island.

(Photos copyrighted to Valerie Caine)

Jerusalem Lectures Focus on Manx Language Revival

Adrian Cain and Hana Bordin
 The successful revival of Manx Gaelic has attracted much publicity for the Isle of Man during recent years, with students of other languages keen to discover how revivalists have established such a remarkable change in fortune for the Island’s native language.

Although still seen by some as a dead language with no real efficacy in a contemporary setting, there’s clearly another camp who beg to differ, beating a well-trodden path to the door of the Manx Language Development Officer, Adrian Cain, from all corners of the world in pursuit of advice and assistance in the lively arena of language survival.

Hanan Bordin, of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, already had an interest in minority languages before visiting the Isle of Man last year and during his three week stay with members of the Island’s Jewish community broadened his knowledge of Manx Gaelic, by visiting key players involved in the revival of the language.

Bordin’s visit has now resulted in lectures about the Manx language in both Hebrew and Yiddish at the university based on the theme of the current situation of the Island’s native tongue.

Adrian Cain, the Manx Heritage Foundation’s Manx Language Development Officer, commented, “Hanan’s trip to the Island had been fantastic and reinforces the linguistic ties between Manx speakers and other linguistic communities. His enthusiasm for all things Manx was an inspiration to us all and illustrates the international reach that the revival of Manx has had”.

Valerie Caine © March 2012

Raising Awareness of the Manx Bonnag

Retired Foxdale baker Bert Winckle unwittingly set himself a challenge during last year’s Bonnag Championships when he commented on the lack of submissions, and this year was overwhelmed by more than sixty entries for the three categories.

Held annually in the village of Dalby on a remote stretch of scenic western coastline, this year’s competitions reflected a growing interest in a food item that was once a daily event in many Manx households.

Plain, but versatile, the Manx Bonnag lost favour in recent times with the importation of yeast and the desire for a delicate sandwich bread to fortify our daily needs. Along with its feisty Celtic cousin, the soda bread, tasty variations began to appear, and here on the Island we began to add currants (thought to be exotic and referred to colloquially as ‘French berries’) and eventually this evolved into a bun loaf with the addition of other vine-ripened fruits and a few Manx laid eggs. Unlike today there was little variation in the Manx housewife’s cupboard, but it was far from an unhealthy larder, with readily available buttermilk a valuable component of our ancestors’ diet.

Having now captured the attention of a curious public, finding seats for them was another challenge as an eager crowd squeezed into every available nook and cranny in the old schoolroom attached to St James’ Church. A convivial audience settled down for an evening of home-grown entertainment, which included a gently tweaked poem written by former Poet Laureate John Betjeman, a satirical mickey-take of the Island’s MHKs and a distinctly new crop of young entertainers.

The evening is also a vehicle for representatives of the church to present money raised during the previous twelve months to two locally based charities, which were ‘Wish Upon a Dream’ (granting wishes for Island based terminally ill children) and ASK (Action Saves Kids) a Manx charity helping those in poverty stricken India. In addition further funds will be used for the on-going restoration process of St James’ Church, which is now a focal point of village life in Dalby. This year’s chosen recipients will be Hospice Isle of Man and the Pahar Trust which focuses on building schools in Nepal.

Following a sumptuous supper dominated by a variety of home-made cakes the winners of the Bonnag Competition were announced, namely John Teare, Dot Watterson and Amy Keig (children’s competition) who also walked away with the Isle of Man Creamery Trophy as overall winner.

Valerie Caine
© March 2012

Friday, March 23, 2012

Isle of Man makes donation to help unrest in Syria

Anti-government protesters in Deraa (23 March 2011)The Syrian unrest began in the southern city of Deraa in March 2011
The Isle of Man government's overseas aid committee has donated about £25,000 to help international charities working in the Middle East.  BBC
The funds will go to the British Red Cross and Red International, which are working to deliver food and medicine to civilians in Syria.
Thousands of people have died during months of unrest since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.
A government spokesman said: "Almost 4,500 people will benefit from this."
He added: "The money donated by the committee will help the charities provide an ambulance service and provision of life-saving first aid, clinics to provide healthcare for people with chronic conditions, distribution of hygiene kits, and of food, blankets, mattresses and cooking kits."
The committee has also allocated about £40,000 to Oxfam to help 85,000 in a refugee camp in Sudan.
The charity has appealed for help to provide clean water, sanitation facilities and hygiene equipment.