Sunday, September 30, 2012

Nepali Fundraiser Whets the Appetite of Diners at St James Church

The Friends of St James Church in Dalby work hard to raise funds for charity, but with an autumnal chill  in the air and a chance to taste the food of Nepal this proved, for some, irresistible.

Sold out before the ink was dry on the tickets, the old schoolroom was stuffed as a Nepali ravioli, with the prospect of a three course meal whetting diners appetites and the opportunity to learn more about the work of the Pahar Trust within this land-locked region.

With the distinctive Nepali flag decorating the tables, some of the country’s artefacts exhibited around the hall and the aroma of cooking filling the room, the scene oozed with conviviality. Our supper was prepared by Dolma Sherpa, a native of Nepal and her husband Tony Parr who live in Kirk Michael, where they also arrange exciting treks and expeditions to the Himalaya in association with Budget Adventure Treks and Expeditions of Kathmandu.

Feeding the hungry masses was a huge logistical exercise, and as Dolma quietly and diligently got on with the job in hand she was ably assisted by a network of hard working helpers who passed a variety of freshly made starters amongst the tables which included spicy chick peas, peanuts and the aforementioned Nepali ravioli, generously stuffed with assorted meat. This was followed by a choice of main course with steamed rice suitable for both carnivores and vegetarians and a distinctive rice and coconut pudding for dessert. Washed down with fresh lemon soda and the distinctive taste of spiced Nepali tea, Dolma and her hard working team were now able to sit back and enjoy the rest of the evening, as they handed over to Howard Green of the Pahar Trust.

Set up as a charity in order to raise funds to build schools for the children of Nepal and with Howard Green as its Chairman, the Pahar Trust is currently based in Onchan, although its work is well known across the Island.

We dallied over the sensorial delights of the Nepali menu but Howard’s talk about the charity’s work quickly opened our eyes to the rigors of daily life in Nepal which bears little resemblance to our own. We were charmed by the scenic landscape and the legions of smiling children, but saddened by the devastation of natural disasters and the lack of facilities which we take for granted.

Despite this the inhabitants of the mountain region appear to be at peace with themselves, and likely could teach those of us in the west a thing or two about living within our means and how to resist a sometimes misplaced value in consumerism.

Howard’s work in Nepal is greatly appreciated by its people who ask for little, but cheerfully emerge from their homes to help build much needed new schools for the region where the value of education is seen as an important asset for the future.

Many brightly coloured hand-made artefacts from Nepal were bought by diners at the event followed by a raffle with prizes generously donated by local businesses based in the west of the Island.

Proceeds from the evening will be divided between the Pahar Trust, Hospice Isle of Man and St James Church as they continue with restoration and refurbishment of the main building.

Valerie Caine
© September 2012

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Official Press Release

Media Release

President of Tynwald welcomes NAMA vice-president

The President of Tynwald, the Hon Clare Christian MLC, welcomed the vice-president of the North American Manx Association (NAMA) Mrs Kelly McCarthy to the Legislative Buildings on Thursday September 20th 2012.

The daughter of Manx cultural champion Dollin Kelly Mrs McCarthy was brought up in Port St Mary, is a former Castle Rushen High School student and now resides in Alexandria, Virginia.  

Mrs McCarthy’s trip to the Isle of Man was twofold; to visit family and friends and to meet with Madam President to hold early discussions regarding Tynwald Day 2014 when a NAMA delegation will be attending the ceremony and celebrations at St John’s while in the Island for the NAMA Homecoming Convention. The association is also hoping to hold its board meeting within the precincts of Tynwald.

Madam President, who gave the keynote speech at the 51st NAMA convention in Wisconsin in August this year, said: ‘After the warm reception I received during my visit to the United States I was pleased to be able to welcome Mrs McCarthy to the Legislative Buildings in anticipation of the NAMA delegation’s visit to the Island for Tynwald Day 2014.

‘July 5th is a memorable date in the Manx calendar and, in 2014, it will be an exceptionally important date for Mrs McCarthy for it is the day when she will become the President of the North American Manx Association.  I am therefore delighted that we shall not only have the opportunity to share our national day celebrations with our visitors from North America but also to congratulate Mrs McCarthy on her new role as head of an association dedicated to preserving Manx culture and raising awareness of the Isle of Man.’


For further information contact:
Jonathan King
Deputy Clerk of Tynwald
Legislative Buildings
Tel: 01624 686303

September 25 2012 

Celebrating the Legacy of Mona Douglas in Music and Song

It’s now twenty five years since the death of Mona Douglas, but her memory lives on with the resurgence of interest in Manx culture which was greatly influenced by the determination and enthusiasm of this forthright individual.

In response to this poignant anniversary a special concert has been organised at the Centenary Centre in Peel which will bring together many of the people who were either influenced by the work of Mona Douglas, or knew her personally.

Appropriately entitled ‘Mona’s Isle’, the idea for a themed evening of music, song and dance was inspired by a similar idea undertaken for the celebrated English folk music collector Cecil Sharp, and will be an opportunity to show how valuable her influence was, and still is, on the Isle of Man.

Mona Douglas lived much of her life in the country district of Ballaragh, a rural enclave situated above the north east coast of the Island, where she worked on the family farm and held down a job as rural librarian. Despite her undeniable fondness for the Isle of Man, Mona did venture away from these shores to live in Ireland, Wales and London, where she came into contact with many prominent individuals who influenced her direction within the cultural movement.

There’s no doubt that this petite, feisty and arguably self-motivated individual was the catalyst for the rebirth of Manx culture, working tirelessly against the tide of public opinion which saw little value in what she was doing.

Mona was a prolific writer, collector of traditional music, song and dance and a fluent speaker of the Manx language, infusing the youngsters who joined the youth movement ‘Aeglagh Vannin’, with an awareness of cultural identity. Her greatest achievement, however, was the revival of the local Inter-Celtic festival Yn Chruinnaght which remains an established feature of the Manx summer calendar.

The evening will feature a host of Island talent to be recorded both on CD and DVD, and will include both Manx Gaelic choirs and The Mona Douglas Project which will focus on gifted individuals who will set a selection of Mona’s poems to music and create songs to accompany some of her tunes. An exhibition of memorabilia about her life and work will be on display in the Atholl Room.

A Centenary Centre production in association with the Manx Heritage Foundation, this celebration of Mona’s life will commence at 7.30pm on the 22nd September, with free tickets available throughout the Island at the usual outlets.

Meanwhile Ramsey Heritage Trust will host a talk by Annie Kissack about the life of Mona Douglas at Ramsey Town Hall at 7.30pm on the 18th October with a nominal charge of £3 for non-members, which includes refreshments.

Valerie Caine
© August 2012

Message from Lily

I hope that autumn is off to a great start for everyone!
The wheels on my harp case are (miraculously!) still at the moment after a great few weeks in Finland and Eastern Europe.  I had a wonderful time working with my students at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki and performing alongside musicians from Hungary, Italy, Belarus, Latvia, Norway and Lithuania at the GRIEŽYNĖ Folk Festival, which also gave me the chance to travel through some absolutely beautiful villages in Lithuania.  You can see some photos from the festival on my Facebook page,
I’m also delighted to be joining the Canadian/Irish/Scottish band “The Outside Track” as “guest harpist” for their upcoming tour of Ireland and Canada.  The tour schedule is below and I hope that some of you can make it to hear us!
3 October: Dolan’s with “The Outside Track”. Doors at 8:00 p.m. Limerick City, Ireland.
5 October: Cork Folk Festival with “The Outside Track”, 10:00 p.m. at An Spailpín Fánach, Cork City, Ireland.
7-11 October: Celtic Colours International Festival with “The Outside Track”. 
Performance schedule is online at
I’ll also be giving a Harp Workshop at the Festival on Monday, October 8th at 10:00 a.m.  See for more information.
In my last news blast I mentioned that I’d be releasing several projects very soon.  I’m very excited that this winter two new CDs will be released as well as another big project….  I’ll be sharing more news about these releases and my upcoming solo performances once I’m back from Canada… !
Stay tuned,

New Illiam Dhone book ~ double click to make it readable

Manx language week - the Cooish

This year's Manx language week - the Cooish - is the annual celebration of language and culture. It will take place from the 7th to 13th of October and is supported by the Manx Heritage Foundation and a number of local businesses providing an excellent opportunity for those involved with Manx to demonstrate the current vibrancy of the language to the rest of the Island community.
The Cooish is made up of a wide-range of activities including lectures, classes and concerts with a number of events likely to be of interest to a wide-range of people.
Sunday, 7th sees the annual Ned Maddrell Lecture which, this year, will be delivered by Dr. Emily McEwan Fujita from Canada who will be talking about the current status of Scottish Gaelic in Nova Scotia. The lecture will take place at St John’s Mill at 2pm and is free.
Presently a Research Fellow in the Department of Anthropology at St Mary’s University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, Dr Fujita is a linguistic anthropologist, specialising in the study of Scottish Gaelic language shift and revitalisation efforts in Scotland. Having received a Ph. D and M.A. in Anthropology from the University of Chicago and a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Illinois, Dr Fujita has conducted ethnographic field research in the Western Isles, Inverness, Edinburgh and Glasgow, but also has a personal interest in Japanese language and culture.
On Friday 12th the Centenary Centre in Peel will host the annual Cooish music Concert which this year will see Mary Macmaster and Donald Hay from Scotland taking to the stage.
Described as 'truly inspirational' (fRoots) and 'moody, meaningful new Scottish music' (Scotland on Sunday), Mary Macmaster and Donald Hay blend Scottish Gaelic vocals, harp and percussion with samples and electronica in a true mix of ancient and modern. They have made two recordings - 'Love and Reason' and 'Hook'. Donald was on the Island a few years ago with the Nuala Kennedy Band and Mary is the well known voice and sound of The Poozies and
Tickets £10/£7 concessions on the door or from the usual Centenary Centre outlets.
Saturday, 13th of October will see a get-together outside the Regent Street Post Office involving information stands and music whilst there will be plenty of opportunities during the week for those unfamiliar with the language to find out more about this fantastic cultural asset.
For more information about the Manx language and the Cooish then contact Adrian Cain, the Manx Language Development Officer for the Manx Heritage Foundation on 451098 or at  and at twitter @greinneyder. More information about the festival is available online:

Sorry about the break, I was on the Island and elsewhere.

I was visiting the Isle of Man to start setting up some things for the 2014 Convention in the Isle of Man. and was fortunate enough to be invited for a tour of Tynwald by no other than our great friend, Madame President of Tynwald, the Right Honorable Clare Christian. On the left is Marie Lambden, the Third Clerk of Tynwald who is very kindly assisting us with some of our Tynwald plans for 2014.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The ultimate weight-loss regime

As Chris Allix approached his 60th birthday his doctor told him to "lose a little weight".
His response? "I thought why not kayak to Monaco?"
Speaking from his kayak near Cannes, in the French Riviera, the Isle of Man company director is now six stone lighter and just days away from completing his 2,000-mile journey.
"If you are going to lose some weight you may as well have an adventure," he said
"I was nearly 20 stone when I saw the doctor and last time I weighed myself I was around 14. I think the doctor will be happy."
When Mr Allix came up with the idea, everyone, including his partner Catherine, thought he was mad - but it just made him more determined.
"I used to canoe when I was younger," he said. "So the next step was to seek the help of an expert and get a training regime."
Chris Allix and Keirron TastaghThe epic journey began at the Point of Ayre in the Isle of Man in June
Keirron Tastagh, of Adventurous Experiences, said: "I received the phone call from Chris and he told me his idea.
"I thought it was ambitious but brilliant. It is one thing to come up with an idea like that but another to see it through.

Start Quote

It was never going to be a speed challenge, more a test of endurance and it has been life changing”
Chris Allix
"We spent 12 months on his fitness and skills and I watched his confidence grow.
"He is one of the most determined people I have ever met and it is remarkable to see what he has gone on to achieve.
"Kayaking to Monaco has to be the ultimate weight-loss regime."
Mr Allix began his journey from the Point of Ayre on 26 June and was joined on the first leg to Whitehaven in Cumbria by Mr Tastagh.
He celebrated his 60th birthday this week and said: "I had a number of emotions on the first leg but it was mainly excitement. It was great to have Keirron with me."
From Cumbria he navigated his way to Dover via a network of canals and rivers.
His journey was interrupted however when he was refused permission to enter French waters.
Chris AllixMr Allix has battled with weather, tiredness and fatigue throughout his journey
In the end, under escort, he paddled half-way across the Channel to the French border but was not allowed to complete the crossing and so had to resume the kayak challenge after arriving in France by ferry.
His partner Catherine said: "He has had so many hurdles and difficulties to overcome and he keeps on surprising us all.
"We are all incredibly proud of him and what he has achieved."
'Time to think'
Mr Allix is currently working his way to Monaco along canals and rivers in France and is hoping to time his arrival for the opening day of the Monaco Yacht Show on Wednesday, 19 September, 78 days after he set off.
"It's been an immense adventure so far and the target is in sight," he said.
"It was never going to be a speed challenge, more a test of endurance and it has been life changing.
"It has been incredible going for miles without seeing a building, let alone a village. There has been plenty of time to think."
So far Mr Allix has raised thousands of pounds for five charities - the Isle of Man-based Sailing for the Disabled, Namaste Children's House in Nepal, the ICM Charitable Trust, the Outward Bound Trust in Monaco and the UK-based Encompass Trust.
Chris AllixThe final stop on the trip is the Monaco Yacht Show