Monday, April 30, 2012

We few, we happy few

Bill & Kelly McCarthy (2nd Vice President)  with Manxie (seated) and Jim Kneale (right), President of GWAMS and 3rd Vice President of NAMA

To all you Greater Area Manx PIKERS who couldn't make the Celtic festival in Southern Maryland may we just say that it was a super event and lots of people visited the Manx stand stoically manned by Jim Kneale. The haggis puffs were delicious and it didn't rain until the very end!

Guilty thief relents

Six hundred pounds of charity money which was stolen on the Isle of Man has been anonymously returned.  The cash had been collected for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) by friends and family of Michael "Mick" Kneale, a 2nd Cox at Port St Mary RNLI.
He had asked for donations rather than gifts for his 60th birthday, but the money was stolen from his van outside Port St Mary boathouse last Monday. However, the cash was found in the boathouse letterbox on Saturday.
Mr Kneale, who had appealed for the money to be returned, said: "It was most unlikely. We had asked people to return it obviously, but the chances of it seemed very remote.
"I was staggered to see the envelope still there so I looked at it and the contents seemed to be complete. I told the police and they allowed us to keep the money, which is all present and correct, and they have taken the envelope away for fingerprint checking."

Friday, April 27, 2012

Manannan lowered the mantle of fog to hide the island from other kings

Flag-waving pupils at Manor Park School give a Manx welcome truly fit for a Prince.
Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, braved unseasonably torrential rain during their visit to the island yesterday (Thursday) as part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee tour to mark the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty’s accession.
In the morning, the Prince of Wales and Camilla visited the National Sports Centre, where they watched young people taking part in an outdoor cycle race, before meeting World Champion cyclist Peter Kennaugh and members of the Team Royal London 360 Isle of Man Cycling Club.
Their Royal Highnesses then headed to Peel, where they saw the replica Viking longship ‘Vital Spark’ and officially launched the redevelopment of the Isle of Man Food Park. IOMToday

Titanic: Behind the Legend

As the sinking of the Titanic continues to grip the world’s consciousness in its centennial year, people on the Isle of Man also proved to be avid followers of this tragic story, as a capacity audience filled the Manx Museum Lecture Theatre to hear invited speaker William Blair, Head of Human History, National Museums Northern Ireland, speak about the subject and to speculate on an heretofore little known possible link to the Isle of Man.

William Blair is the exhibition curator of the Titanica Exhibition at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, and the main thrust of his lecture was directed towards enlightening his audience about how Titanic came into being, the huge contribution its construction made to the city of Belfast and inviting his listeners to re-evaluate their views of some of the main characters in the story.

The powerful synergy between the two shipping lines Cunard and the White Star Line was to end in disaster, but such an outcome was far from the minds of those who fell under the irresistible lure of competition and victory.  Some of the key players were introduced to the audience so that we might have a better understanding of their motivation behind the project, but an eye-opener for some was just how important the shipbuilders Harland and Wolff was, and still is, to Belfast and that almost everything that ultimately formed the Titanic was created on site, with a resident workforce of approximately 15,000 people.

One of the key features of the Edwardian period was the brutal class distinction that marked everyone, but was perhaps felt most strongly by the lower classes. It’s difficult for us to appreciate the social divides which existed at that time from our twenty first century perspective, but this was brought in to sharp focus with the image of a row of simple toast racks used to demonstrate the elegance, or otherwise, of a basic item between passengers travelling in third, second and first class; although conditions in third class were quite comfortable, with the menu on Titanic proving most acceptable.

There was also a passing nod towards the ships Olympic and Britannic, equally proud vessels within the fleet, but easily forgotten in the light of the tragedy.

Time was precious and William Blair’s exploration of the topic drew on just a handful of relevant points which encouraged his audience’s awareness, perhaps satisfied the so-called ‘Titanoraks’ and more likely opened up far more questions than he answered.

An all too short question and answer session provided a brief opportunity to explore the subject further, but it was at this point that a question raised by a member of the audience brought another possible link to the Isle of Man. It was suggested that Titanic’s sea trials may have brought the vessel towards the Island, but as our speaker couldn’t shed any further light on this tantalising nugget of information, the questioner left without any further details. Perhaps somebody reading this may know more.

In the meantime if you would like to know more about the extraordinary life of Charles Joughin, Chief Baker and Titanic survivor, and a descendant of a family based on the Isle of Man, my article about this remarkable man will be published in a forthcoming edition of the Island’s lifestyle magazine Manx Life.

Valerie Caine, © April 2012

Charlie Joughin, Titanic's chief baker, said that he had been standing near the stern when the ship went under, but he reported none of the signs of a high-angle break. No suction, no big splash, and no roller-coaster ride to the surface. He said he swam away from the ship without even getting his hair wet. Unlike in the Cameron film, there was no huge wave reported from any of the lifeboats when the stern went under. One survivor reported slipping into the water, turning around, and discovering the ship had disappeared. "He was in the water 50 feet from the ship, he heard a 'shloop,' and it was gone," says Long. "That's not what a person would remember if 25,000 tons of steel fell nearby." From

Top Gear presenter loses legal battle

Jeremy Clarkson has lost a legal battle in a dispute over public access to a path near his Isle of Man home.
The Top Gear presenter and his wife, Frances, claimed having a public path so close to their lighthouse property breached their human rights.
A court judgement in the Isle of Man on 26 April ruled against the claim.
Deemster David Doyle came down in favour of the "rights and freedoms" of the general public to walk in the Langness area.
The ruling said that although everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, the footpath would remain in place as recommended in a recent public inquiry.  More...

Friday, April 20, 2012

Food Park!

The Department of Economic Development and the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture (DEFA) have announced the creation of 55 new full-time and seasonal jobs within DEFA’s recently-established Isle of Man Food Park.

The jobs, largely in scallop processing companies, are accessible to all and require no special training or qualifications.  Full training will be made available to all recruits.

While the majority of the jobs will be based in Peel, there will be 10-15 jobs available at Carrick Bay Seafoods in Port St Mary.  All the jobs offer a performance-based rewards system as well as paid holiday and protective clothing.

The Isle of Man has a thriving scallop export industry supporting around 150 jobs at sea and 200 on land.  96% of the £8m of products are exported, largely to France, Spain and Italy.

Additionally, in a new collaboration between the food companies, the Food Park and the Department of Economic Development, a package of measures has been put in place to target those on the Island seeking work and to support them through the early days of employment.

Laurence Skelly MHK, Political Member for the Department of Economic Development with responsibility for Manufacturing said:

‘DEFA’s Isle of Man Food Park is an example of how Government departments can work together to not only help to grow the economy, but maximise the impact that it has on the Island. This is great news for Peel and Port St Mary and for the Isle of Man as a whole.’

Phil Gawne MHK, Minister for the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture said:

‘It is testament to the resilience of the Manx fish processing industry that it is winning new export markets even in these difficult times .These new jobs are very welcome and can make a real contribution to the Manx economy. DEFA’s creation of the Isle of Man Food Park as a centre of excellence for our food industry demonstrates the Government’s commitment to supporting this industry.’

Billy Caley, Managing Director of Isle of Man Seafoods said:

‘We are benefiting now from three years of relentless investment and pursuit of quality markets for our product. The Isle of Man has a premium product, caught in pristine waters and processed in line with the standards required by our supermarket customers.  The jobs that we have available will repay that investment, not only to the company, but will boost the economy of the Island.’

There will be an opportunity for those interested in finding out more about the jobs on offer to visit the Food Park. Interested parties can visit between 9.00am and 11.00am on Wednesday 2nd May. Further information is available from DEFA’s Seafood Development Officer, Alastair Hamilton on 375515

Lily performing in Takoma Park

I just finished up an incredibly exciting project in Dublin and I’ll be able to share it with all of you this coming autumn! =) For now, I have to keep details under wraps but I’ve covered reggae, Japanese, Irish, rock n’roll, orchestral and Nick Drake-esque territory over the past week. Steam is still wafting from my fingers!  It was so much fun!
Other exciting news is that this Saturday I’m giving a concert for the Institute of Musical Traditions Concert Series in the D.C. area and will then head to NYC to give two concerts.  I’ve put the details below and really hope I’ll see some of you!
21 April: Institute of Musical Traditions Performance. Takoma Park Community Center. 7:30 PM, 7500 Maple Avenue, Takoma Park, MD. For info please ring +1 301-754-361.
 27 April: The American Folk Art Museum. 2 Lincoln Square (Columbus Avenue at 66th Street), New York City, USA. For more information please ring +1 212 595 9533.
30 April: Rockwood Music Hall. 9:00 PM, 196 Allen Street New York, NY 10002. For more information please ring +1 212 477 4155.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Unveiling of Memorial Plaque to the Victims of ‘Combined Operations’

More than 100 people gathered at the site of the crash of the B17 at Glen Chass on the anniversary of its final journey for a poignant service of dedication and unveiling of a memorial plaque to those who perished. A number of people walked down to the site, but due to the rough terrain many took the opportunity of being driven to the isolated spot by a tractor and trailer.

Welcomed by the Rev. Shirley Bench, a Methodist Minister based in the south of the Island but originally from the USA, she proceeded with an opening prayer as a strong wind tugged fiercely at the American flag on a bright and sunny, but cold day. This was followed by a short address and a brief outline of the crash history by Professor Lydon and a formal reading of the victims’ names by Assistant Air Attaché to the UK Lt Col. Ahmed of the US Air Force.

It was an emotional moment for the pilot’s sister Joie and her niece Annie Lydon as they unveiled a plaque to the memory of those who died, crafted by local man Richard Kinley, speaking of their gratitude to the Manx people for their support and encouragement in their quest to find out the truth behind the tragedy and arrange a permanent memorial to those who died.

Lt Col. Ahmed then proceeded to lay a wreath at the newly unveiled memorial with closing prayers conducted by the Rev. Shirley Bench followed by the playing of TAPS by members of Rushen Silver Band.

Following the formal presentation everyone was invited for light refreshments at the nearby Howe Methodist Chapel with an opportunity to chat with the pilot’s relatives, look at information and photographs provided by the Manx Aviation Preservation Society and exchange memories with local people who had personal experience of the tragedy.

Valerie Caine
© April 2012

Monday, April 16, 2012

Nothing to do with NAMA!

Indulge me, I'm trying to show my father what our boat looks like and I can't get the photo to email properly. So I'm sharing it through this blog. And the Manx connection ~ well, my father is Manx and the boat will be named in honor of T.E. Brown and my dad's performances of Brown's greatest narrative poem. Her name is Betsy Lee.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Robin Gibb in coma

Singer Robin Gibb, the Manx-born founding member of the disco-era hit machine the Bee Gees, is in a coma after contracting pneumonia, his official website said Saturday. 

A spokesman for the 62-year-old, who has been battling cancer, was not immediately available to comment on reports in the British media that Gibb had been surrounded by close family in a London hospital and may have only days to live.
"Sadly the reports are true that Robin has contracted pneumonia and is in a coma," a statement on said. We are all hoping and praying that he will pull through."
The website has crashed under the pressure of international interest.

An unnamed family friend told the Sun newspaper: "He has kept so positive and always believed he could beat this. Sadly, it looks like he has developed pneumonia, which is very bad in his situation." The tabloid said that Gibb's wife Dwina, sons Spencer and Robin-John, daughter Melissa and brother Barry were keeping a bedside vigil.

In February, Gibb announced he had made a "spectacular" recovery from cancer, but in late March he underwent further surgery on his intestines. He was forced to cancel all engagements, including the world premiere earlier this month of his first classical work, co-written with Robin-John, called "The Titanic Requiem".

Read more:
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Charles and Camilla to visit Isle of Man

This was their Christmas card photo!
Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall will visit the Isle of Man later this month.

The royal couple will make an official trip to the British island on April 26, which is part of a series of regional visits around the British Isles to mark Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee.

It will be the Prince of Wales' third official visit to the Isle of Man, with the most recent being for the Tynwald Day Ceremony in 2000, while it will be Camilla's first time to the island.

During their trip they will be visiting Peel and the National Sports Centre in capital Douglas.
As well as visiting the UK, the royal family are also celebrating Her Majesty's 60 years on the throne with international visits.

Charles and Camilla will spend time in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, while Prince William and his wife Duchess Catherine will undertake their second overseas tour with a trip to Malaysia, Singapore, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu in September.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Washington Area Manx members!

Customers who have purchased or rated books by Honora Finkelstein might like to know that Walk-In is now available.  You can order yours for just $11.66 ($3.29 off the list price) by following the link below.
Susan Smily 
List Price:$14.95
You Save:$3.29 (22%)
Other Versions and Languages
Kindle Edition (Kindle eBook)

Commemoration of World War II Tragedy at Glen Chass

Combined Operations in Flight
As memories of World War II fade a little with the passage of time, one tragedy in the south of the Island will be commemorated at the site of the accident in a special ceremony on the anniversary of this cataclysmic event which took place on the 14th April, 1945.

Combined Operations (Collins Liersch)
The B17 American Air Force bomber known as ‘Combined Operations’ was flying from Thurleigh near Bedford en-route to Langford Lodge in Northern Ireland, carrying five crew members and six passengers heading for a holiday. They also carried a number of rationed food items that would be traded for Irish whisky for the mess hall bar.

Emily Rae

Combined Operations - Howard Lecompte
Because of poor weather conditions the pilot, Lt Robert Vieille, was advised to fly at an altitude of 5,000 feet when approaching the Isle of Man, although it was common practice for aircraft to descend for visual contact with the Island before turning north towards Ireland. Descending to an altitude of 350 feet the Isle of Man was immediately ahead of him rather than to the right and attempting to steer the aircraft away from collision Lt Vieille struck the ground with all four engines running, skidded thirty five yards, crashed into a stone wall and dramatically burst into flames. Local residents ran to their aid, but were prevented from helping by exploding ammunition. There were no survivors.

Their bodies were returned to Thurleigh prior to burial in the US Military Cemetery at Madingley, three of whom were later repatriated to the US.

Relatives of the deceased have come together in recent years in an effort to raise awareness of those who died away from the battlefield, just three weeks before V E Day.

Emily Rae
Sandy and Ann Lydon (the pilot’s niece) have been a driving force behind this push for better recognition of the people involved in this tragedy and have previously visited the crash site, their long held wish to place a commemorative marker near the site to honour those who died. The baton was picked up locally by Rushen Commissioner Adrian Tinkler who has now organised a special tribute on the anniversary of the accident, with the unveiling of a simple black, granite slab close to the scene of the disaster.

A number of local people who witnessed the tragedy, together with relatives of those who died, will be at the event along with Lt Col L. Najeeb Ahmed of the US Air Force (Assistant Air Attaché to the UK) with his wife and son. Everyone is welcome to the unveiling at 2.00pm which will be followed by refreshments at the nearby Howe Methodist Chapel, where those involved will be able to exchange memories and stories and further strengthen the bonds between our two nations.

Combined Operations - Robert Vieille (pilot)
(With thanks to Sandy and Ann Lydon, Ivor Ramsden, Steven Poole and Rushen Commissioners)

Valerie Caine © April 2012 (Courtesy of Manx Tails)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Diamond Jubilee

A Manx Viking longship will take part in a Royal Flotilla on the River Thames to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty The Queen. The participation of the boat and crew from the Isle of Man in the Thames Pageant on Sunday June 3 is one of the ways the Island is marking the Jubilee this year. 

The Island’s Diamond Jubilee commemorations include:
  • National Service of Thanksgiving at St German’s Cathedral, Peel – 3pm Sunday May 20
  • Viking longship taking part in Thames Pageant – Sunday June 3
  • Lighting of Isle of Man Government Jubilee Beacon, the Green at St John's – Monday June 4
  • Additional bank holiday Friday July 6 (the day after Tynwald Day)
  • Presentation of Jubilee stamps and coin to school children
  • Gift to Her Majesty of 60 Tynwald Rose bushes

Monday, April 9, 2012

Gem shaped coin celebrates Queen's Diamond Jubilee

The Treasury of the Government of the Isle of Man have launched (5th April) a very special and first for the numismatic community, that of two diamond shaped coins which mark the 60th year of reign or Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.
Produced by the Pobjoy Mint in the UK, these special coins are exceptionally unique as the silver version of one half ounce and gold 1/10th ounce have been produced in the shape of a Diamond gem stone to mark this once-in-a-lifetime royal achievement.  The reverse design of the silver coin features the Royal Cypher, which includes St. Edward’s Crown, the crown that was placed upon Her Majesty’s head at the Coronation in 1953. In the middle of the crown, a cut and polished diamond has been inset
The reverse design of the gold version, a 1/10th ounce, (round shape pictured) features an image of Her Majesty at her Coronation shown with the Crown Jewels, including the Royal Sceptre and Orb. A genuine diamond has been inset at the very top of the Queen’s sceptre which she is portrayed holding.
The coins are presented in a stunning black framed ‘window’ box which enables viewing from both sides. In honor of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, both coins depict a unique double effigy that has been produced especially for this year showing a portrait of Her Majesty as she appears on current coins alongside a portrait as she appeared on the coins at the start of her Reign.
The .999 fine silver coin is struck to proof quality with a weight of 15.5 grams and measurements of 37.2 / 27.2 mm. A mintage of 2,012 pieces has been authorized. The pure .999 fine gold coin is also struck to proof quality and has a weight of 3.1 grams and a diameter of 17.9 mm. The mintage for the 1/10th ounce gold edition is limited to 2,012 pieces. The diamond shaped gold version has measurements of 15.1 / 20.6 mm. with a limited mintage of 1,952 pieces.
For more information on these and other coins produced by the Pobjoy Mint, please visit their website at:

Letter from Lily Neil

How beautiful it is that Spring has arrived!
Oh to be on the road now that April's here!
I just returned from Madrid, where I recorded music for an upcoming CD to be entitled, "Donde nace la Luz" (Where the Light Begins). The recording session was a great exercise for my fingers - polyrhythmic, lever-changing, chromatic acrobatics on thirty strings!!! I enjoyed it thoroughly! The CD will feature new music by Carlos Cano, of Cuba, and Hernán Milla, of Spain, with lyrics from the poetry of Aldo Mendez. It will be released several months down the road, in late autumn and I'll keep you all posted about it ;)
Travelling over the last week was an experience... for anyone interested, my left thumb and right eye are still intact and, when I can make light of them, those stories will come to a gig near you! ;) I'd like to thank Lucia, Joe, Kelly, Hernán and his family, Elisa and the Huovinen family, Tracy and Carlos for all of their kindness and hospitality during my travels.
In a day I'm heading to Dublin to work on a top-secret project (Lily007 - more on that soon!) and am giving a recital there at St. Ann's Church on Dawson Street. It's free so please pass on the word about it to all of your friends in Dublin. After that I'm giving masterclasses to students at the University of Limerick... so it'll be a normal couple of weeks of work for me as I take my harp on planes, cars, trains, boats, bicycles... etc.!
After Ireland I'll come to the States to give several performances, which are listed below. You’ll see that I’m also giving a Harp Workshop for the Washington, D.C. Area Folk Harp Society, which may be of interest to those of you who play the harp. 
I really hope to see some of you that my concerts and I look forward to sharing new music with you all! Following my visit to the U.S. I'll head back to Finland to record my cello/harp CD with Vesa Norilo, so there's a lot of action and excitement ahead...
Hope to see you at one of my upcoming shows!
16 April: St. Ann's. 1:15 PM Dawson Street, Dublin 2, Ireland.
20 April: Workshop for the Washington, D.C. Area Folk Harp Society. 6:00 PM- 8:00 PM in Sligo Creek, MD. Please ring 301 412 8590 if you are interested in attending.
21 April: Institute of Musical Traditions Performance. Takoma Park Community Center. 7:30 PM, 7500 Maple Avenue, Takoma Park, MD. Please ring +1 301 754 3611 for more information.
27 April: The American Folk Art Museum. 2 Lincoln Square (Columbus Avenue at 66th Street), New York City, USA. For more information please ring +1 212 595 9533.
30 April: Rockwood Music Hall. 9:00 PM, 196 Allen Street New York, NY 10002. For more information please ring +1 212 477 4155.

Manx Musicians to Challenge Pan Celtic Song Contest

The 41st International Pan Celtic Festival will be hosted for the first time by the residents of the historic town of Carlow, promising the best of food, music, singing and entertainment.

Situated on the River Barrow and nestling in the south-east of the Irish Republic, Carlow at one time played a major role in Irish history, but may yet prove to be an important musical milestone for the Isle of Man.
The Pan Celtic Festival is held just after Easter, providing an opportunity for representatives of each of the Celtic nations to gather together in a spirit of mutual harmony. It’s a strongly competitive festival, unlike many of its cultural siblings, where Manx representatives have been ploughing a steady, musical furrow in recent years.

Dominated by music, song and dance, a busy schedule of events, both in and around the town, will hold special significance for the Isle of Man this year as Margaid Bird of Ramsey will take over as President of the festival.

One of the highlights will be the Pan Celtic International Song Contest featuring an uncommon mixture of Celtic rock, folk, traditional and pop music from each nation. Despite its size the Isle of Man has provided a serious challenge of late in this competition and only failed to secure the top prize in 2011 by one point!

This year newly formed quartet ‘Mooinjerey’ hopes to prove that the Island can go one better and claim that elusive prize after selection during the local competition ‘Arrane son Mannin’ held at Peel Golf Club, with prize money awarded by the Manx Heritage Foundation. Performing their new composition ‘Cowrey ny Croshey’ (Sign of the Cross) at the Pan Celtic Festival with financial support from the Isle of Man Arts Council, this tightly knit group consists of Laura and David Rowles (co-writers of the song entry and part of last year’s group), Ruth Keggin vocalist and musician with ‘Nish as Rish’ who walked away with the prestigious top prize from the celebrated Lorient Festival and Russell Cowin, better known for his musical links with ‘King Chiaullee’ who were also past winners at Lorient. The song ‘Cowrey ny Croshey’, translated by Manx language expert Bob Carswell, focuses on both the beauty and spirituality of the Island’s distinctive Manx crosses scattered liberally across the Island, and questions what we may leave behind for future generations.

Local delegate for the Pan Celtic Festival, Fiona McArdle, will also be supported by members of northern based Manx Gaelic choir ‘Cliogaree Twoaie’ who will be making themselves heard at some of the many competitions and functions during a packed programme of events.

Also joining them will be local dynamic duo ‘Strengyn’ (Strings) who have been growing rapidly in popularity with their synergistic combination of musical genres and unashamed enthusiasm for their music.

Valerie Caine
© April 2012

(Courtesy of Manx Tails)