Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Help Manx Farmers!

“In light of the recent heavy snow across the UK and the Isle of Man, we’re (the band "Barrule") giving you the chance to download a free copy of the Manx traditional song ‘Ny Kirree fo Niaghtey’ (‘Sheep Under the Snow’), and donate money towards the Isle of Man Farmers Benevolent Trust.”
For more info on how to donate and receive the track, CLICK HERE.

Ny Kirree fo Niaghtey (Traditional Manx)

Sheep Under the Snow
An 18th Century ballad, Ny Kirree fo Niaghtey (‘The Sheep Under the Snow’) records an incident much like the disaster currently affecting Manx farmers, as they fight to rescue their sheep and cattle from the heavy snows that have hit the island this week.

We have just recorded this very song, with Greg Joughin singing, for our debut album and for a limited time we are offering it as a free download here.

All we ask is that you donate an amount of your choosing and all proceeds will go to the Agricultural Benevolent Trust to support the farmers through a difficult and distressing period. In addition we’ll also be donating 25% of CD sales made between Monday 25th March and Friday 12th April.

Graham Crowe, Chairman of the IOM Agricultural Benevolent Trust said:
“I would like to wish Barrule all the very best with their new album, and we are delighted that it’s launch is also being used to raise some funds for the trust. All the work we do is very discreet and conducted in completely confidential manner, but we are very happy to be associated with events that can raise our profile at a time like this on the fund raising side”.

Donations are made via PayPal using the button below:

If you want to go further and take direct action to help farmers, they are looking for volunteers to help free cattle that is still trapped in the snow. For more information contact the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture by calling (01624) 685844

Translation of the original Manx lyrics:
After winter of snow and spring-tide of frost
The old sheep were dead and the small lambs alive
The men of Lonan rose up and they went forthwith
In Barrule’s hollow they found the sheep dead

Oh! get up shepherds, and to the hill go ye
For the sheep deep as ever are under the snow

The men of Lonan rose up and of Kirk-Christ too
They found the little sheep in Agneash hollow
This said Nicholas Raby and he at home sick
“Beneath the snow are the sheep in Braid-farrane-fing”

The wethers in the front the rams in the midst
The ewes heavy with lamb coming after them
This said Nicholas Raby going up on the loft
“Be my seven blessings on my two thousand sheep

I’ve one sheep for Christmas and two for Easter
And two or three others for the time of death
I have sheep in the hollow and goats on Slieau-rea
Wild sheep in Coan-ny-chistey that will never come home”

Lyrics translated by A.W. Moore (1853-1909)

Ny Kirree Fo Niaghtey

The ancient ballad ‘Ny Kirree Fo Niaghtey’ (Sheep under the Snow) was thought very highly of by some Manx people, and although recording a tragic episode of Island life, historically it ran a very close second to ‘Mylecharaine’ with its beautiful and expressive tune touching the hearts of many.

Over time there have been many versions of the song, but the core of the tale remains the same, recounting the heart-breaking but reportedly true story of the loss of innumerable sheep during an unexpected blizzard in the parish of Lonan during the late seventeenth century.  Farmers were obliged to rely on local knowledge when it came to forecasting, but could easily be caught out by sudden changes in the weather.

This heartfelt lament is an emotional outpouring of despair, but the variance in detail, depending on which version you read, does cause confusion over the name of the farmer, the date of the tragedy, when the ballad was written and by whom. How many sheep died we’ll never know, but some versions report that as many as two thousand sheep belonging to Raby Farm met their deaths. The farmer was reported to have taken to his bed owing to ill health and unable to attend to his sheep during that fateful blizzard. But who was the unfortunate farmer? Some versions of the song refer to him as ‘Qualtrough Raby’ (said to most likely be William Qualtrough of Raby Farm c.1660 – c.1685) but others say it was ‘Nicholas Raby’ (William’s nephew Nicholas Kelly c.1695 – 1783) who later did live at Raby Farm. It was the custom to refer to farmers by the name of their farm.

First published in ‘Mona Melodies’ by John Barrow in 1820 (the son of Charles Barrow who was uncle to the novelist Charles Dickens and organist at St George’s Church in Douglas) he fled to the Isle of Man to escape prosecution. A long list of subscribers included the names of John Dickens (the novelist’s father) and other members of the Barrow family.

Celtic scholar and linguist George Broderick believes that the farmer referred to in the song must have been William Qualtrough. The song itself is said to derive from the late seventeenth, or early eighteenth centuries, which would predate Nicholas Kelly’s time at the farm, but not that of William, the last of the Qualtroughs to hold the estate.

Oral tradition, however, needs to be treated with some caution, which may have been the view of William Harrison who edited ‘Mona Miscellany’ in 1869 who noted that there were several variations of the song.

William Kennish’s recollections also give further tantalising glimpses into this oft repeated tale. He tells of the long probing-poles used by the shepherds in their desperate search, and the round ‘breathing holes’ formed by the heat of the animals’ breath as they lay trapped in the snow. This had a dual purpose affording ventilation for the sheep and attracting the scent of the dog. The tradition remarked on here relates how the fated Nicholas Kelly was the owner of Baljean, Raby and Graanane estates in the parish of Lonan, a Member of the House of Keys and also the Captain of the Parish.

Kelly did not know how many sheep were in his flocks as they were known only by their shepherds’ marks, but here we have some extraordinary additional information with reference to Kelly. A woman of the parish swore that Kelly had robbed her one night and he was taken to Castle Rushen to be tried for his crime. However, Kelly vociferously defended his corner, locating witnesses who confirmed that Kelly was enjoying the hospitality of a public house in Laxey at the time of the assault. The Deemster questioned how they could be so confident without a watch, or clock, but they responded that it was high-water. Later it was discovered that two Irishmen, apprehended in the area of Ballig in Kirk Michael, were guilty of the crime and duly executed. Unfortunately Kelly’s defence costs were so great that he was forced to sell one of his estates to defray the cost, but in a curious twist of fate the purchaser’s daughter married Kelly’s son and the estates were later re-joined.

Well known Manx cultural field worker, Mona Douglas, collected an interesting oral account in 1929 from John Matt Mylchreest, living in the parish of Lonan. A shepherd crofter, he had his own remarkable story to tell of living with his sister, Christian, on a small croft known as ‘Thalloo Hogg’. Despite losing an arm in an accident whilst working on the construction of the Snaefell Mountain Railway, Mylchreest remained active and took care of himself until well into his eighties after his sister died. He was said to be a great storyteller with a number of songs and dances in his repertoire. He had worked for most of his life around Raby and for a time at Laggan Agneash, a croft at the foot of Snaefell. Mylchreest was well acquainted with the places referred to in the song and told how it was ‘made on’ Nicholas Colcheragh (a colloquial pronunciation of Qualtrough) before the Murrays (the Dukes of Atholl) came to Mann, by a young man living in Raby who was a wonderful singer and fiddler. It was said that after the great storm and the loss of his flock Raby also died.

By 1896, however, in A. W. Moore’s ‘Manx Ballads & Music’ the story has been transformed and according to the Rev. John Quine, Vicar of Lonan, the song was composed as Nicholas Kelly lay in Castle Rushen accused of murdering ‘a couple of old people who had a stocking’ living on the slope of Snaefell. Upon the real murderers being discovered he was released without charge.

In that same year ‘Manx National Songs’ arranged by W. H. Gill promoted yet another version which indicated that all of the sheep were dead. A melodramatic flourish of the Victorian pen perhaps in spite of other versions suggesting that some did indeed survive.

The song has stimulated others to bring the story to a wider audience, including adjudicator Dr James Lyon at the 1909 Manx Music Festival who used his own arrangement of ‘Ny Kirree Fo Niaghtey’ as part of a test for Manx Senior Choirs.

‘Ny Kirree Fo Niaghtey’ also caught the imagination of Annie G. Gilchrist who highlighted the ballad in the ‘Journal of the Folk Song Society’ in 1926. Although it was thought to be unknown outside of the Island, Gilchrist spotted its kinship with two neighbouring Scottish tunes which dealt with the vagaries of shepherds and their flocks. Gilchrist pondered on the likelihood that various forms of a tune were derived from a common original and used for various pastoral ballads current in Scotland and possibly the Isle of Man in the eighteenth century.

Centuries have passed since the song ‘Ny Kirree Fo Niaghtey’ first became popular, but its appeal remains and despite its plaintive story is loved by many people both on and off the Island, but whether we will ever truly find the origins of this sad tale may lie with the diligence of future researchers and academics.

Valerie Caine
© March 2013

(Courtesy of Manx Life – winter issue 2012)

Cleveland Hotel, Ohio 1949 -- NAMA Meeting

Cleveland Hotel, Ohio 1949, Harry Kneale, Mrs Carl Garrett, T.R.Radcliffe, John Nicholl, J.J.Kelly, kneeling= Mrs Lucille Fricke, & Mrs J.J.Kelly.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Massachusetts dancing team launch fundraiser to get to the Isle of Man. Please help!

And Sometimes Y, a Manx dancing team, is trying to visit the Isle of Man to connect with the culture and bring new dances back home.
    A Bit of Background
    And Sometimes Y Manx, Morris & Sword is a youth folk dance team based in the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts. ASY performs dances from many traditions and cultures, but are most noted for our Manx dancing, a Celtic tradition from the Isle of Man. Manx dancing is a very old form of folk dance traditionally associated with the celebration of fertility, agriculture, and the earth. These dances have been kept alive for centuries, but were not danced by anyone in North America until the Manx groupPerree Bane taught them to ASY's teacher David Nixon in 2009 and 2010. 
    Normal Goings-On
    Members of ASY spend the fall and winter months preparing the dances for May 1st, when we participate in the tradition of dancing up the sun and continue on to perform at various cultural festivals. We then begin a series of local tours, bringing these dances to small and large audiences alike. We have attended a number of ales, which are gatherings of Morris and folk dancers, including the Harvest Ale in the Pioneer Valley, the Ginger Ale in Boston, and the Marlboro Ale in Marlboro, VT. At these events, we perform dances for free to crowds of onlookers, bringing them into the many years of traditional spring celebrations.
    The Goal
    The Isle of Man is an incredibly culturally rich place, teeming with history of all sorts. We have begun fundraising to take a 10-day cultural exchange visit there in the beginning of July 2013, if all works out. While on the island, we will learn dances directly from the people who have been keeping them alive, attend traditional Tynwald Day celebrations, explore the countryside, and hopefully perform our own renditions of Manx dances. We hope to make this trip the beginning of an ongoing cultural exchange, so that the traditions and dances can continue to be brought over to North America by future members of And Sometimes Y and connections can be more fully established.
    The Fundraiser Thus Far
    While it is a very significant part, Kickstarter is only a portion of ASY's fundraiser. Some other ways we have been raising money include:
    • Working as the kitchen and cleanup crew for a local Burns Night dinner
    • Beginning a quilt raffle for a quilt that will be sewn by team member Rose and her mother Mary
    • A wonderfully successful benefit contra called by David Kaynor on February 22nd, which brought in $1500! 
    • A planned benefit Manx-themed dinner, complete with dancing
    • A performance at a local high school's Cultural Festival, which allowed us to introduce Manx dances to a community we rarely interact with

    ASY was also recently featured on the front page of the local Daily Hampshire Gazette, and in the Greenfield Recorder, Amherst Bulletin, and a few other papers. A link to the article can be found here and here.

    Risks and challengesLearn about accountability on Kickstarter

    And Sometimes Y's Kickstarter goal is only a portion of the expenses that are expected for the trip. If our project is successfully funded for $10,000, we can send a set of six dancers and one musician to the Isle of Man. However, we’d like to send as many dancers as possible, and six is a tiny fraction of our nearly twenty-person team. If we surpass our goal and make it to $20,000, we can send the entire team and bring back many more dances.
    We are estimating approximately $2,300 per person for the 10-day trip, and are constantly trying to come up with more ideas for fundraising. If there are not enough funds available for an entire side of dancers and a musician to go the summer of 2013, there is potential for the trip to be pushed back a year. However, the aim is to travel this coming summer, and ASY is working to make that a reality.
    After the funds are successfully raised and this project funded, there are all sorts of logistical details that need to be ironed out. Buying plane tickets, booking campsites, solidifying plans with Manx contacts, acquiring transportation, etc. However, ASY is lucky enough to have a teacher who has been to the Isle of Man in the past and can help them through these decisions. Our greatest challenge will be to organize the materials, so that an accurate and thorough record of dances can be collected and preserved. We expect to transcribe dances and use video to create a lasting record, so that we may practice and perform them in the United States.

    Parts of the island remain cut off this morning after Friday’s snowfall.

    The north and west of the island have been worst hit.
    The Manx Electricity Authority has teams of workers trying to ease problems after hundreds of people were cut off.
    The Department of Infrastructure has also been battling against the elements.
    A statement from the department reads: ‘The department made good progress today in some difficult conditions.
    ‘Teams managed to reopened a single track into Kirk Michael from the north but have not broken through from the south on the coast road again. Unfortunately, it is likely to be many days before we will get through on the Cronk-y-Voddy where there are snow drifts of 10ft in places.
    ‘Teams with heavy plant managed to get access to several people in need for the emergency service but we are still trying to get through to some others in particularly inaccessible areas..
    ‘Glen Maye, Dalby, Cronk-y-Voddy and Kirk Michael remain effectively cut off, many still without power.’
    Today the DoI is continuing to work in these areas, plus Ballamodha, Braaid and Foxdale.
    The statement continues: ‘We will also continue to dig our way up to the Creg-ny-Baa where we are just over halfway up the straight.’
    The DoI is today going to move into some of the worst-affected estates in north and west Douglas and Onchan.
    ‘We will also seek to ensure that light timing are adjusted at strategic junctions to help the rush hour flow of traffic on Monday through the limit routes into Douglas.’
    The MEA said: ‘Extreme weather conditions on the Isle of Man over the past 36 hours have imposed significant stresses on the electricity overhead line system – causing the most widespread damage since the storms of January 2005.
    ‘However, the system has demonstrated a high degree of resilience so far, and in combination with MEA’s experienced response teams across the organisation, supplies to almost 99 per cent of customers have been maintained.
    ‘Our priorities remain the safety and welfare of our customers. However, some customers may be off supply beyond the weekend. At this point in time, we are focussing our efforts to restore the higher voltage systems which will hasten our overall restoration times.’
    In a statement issued just before 8am, the authority said its current estimate for recovery times (based on weather conditions which appear to have stabilised) were as follows:
    12-24 hours: Eairystane, Dalby to Waterfall Hotel
    48 hours: Barregarrow, Jurby Church, Sartfield, Fleshwick
    72 Hours and beyond: Ballacallin Hotel – Lhag, Cronk-y-Voddy, Glen Helen, Ballaholly to Ballcrye, areas of Abbeylands
    An MEA spokesman said; ‘We have successfully restored some supplies. This is of course no consolation to approximately 600 of our customers currently off supply. We apologise for the inconvenience caused and would also like to thank these customers for their understanding and patience whilst our teams battle against severe conditions to restore normal operations.’
    The MEA urged customers to safeguard themselves and check on vulnerable neighbours.
    The MEA’s customer support team’s phone number is 687687.
    The spokesman added: ‘Our teams are working around the clock but we have been hampered by restricted access to some parts of the island. We would like to thank the assistance we have received from our colleagues in the Department of Infrastructure, emergency services, Civil Defence and the local community.’
    Phil King, the MEA’s chief executive, said: ‘I am very proud of the efforts of the entire MEA team, who continue to work in difficult conditions to ensure customers supplies are restored as soon as practicably possible.’
    The snowfall has led to problems for farmers, especially those with new-born lambs.
    Scores are feared dead because of the low temperatures and the amount of snow that’s fallen.
    The Steam Packet’s services are back to normal after disruption caused by stormy weather.

    Sunday, March 24, 2013

    Snow! Snow! Snow!

    Up to 500 homes on the Isle of Man are without power for a second day after "extreme weather" caused damage to the island's electricity network. Around 700 properties were cut off after snow fell on Friday, a Manx Electricity Authority (MEA) spokesman said.

    He said there had been more overnight faults due to "ongoing severe weather" in Fleshwick, Scard and Earystane.

    MEA aimed "to get the majority back on supply over the weekend", he added. "We are deploying all of our available resource to assess and repair the major damage to our network in those areas of the island affected by this extreme weather," he said.
    Some Steam Packet sailings have also been affected by the weather. All Saturday sailings between Douglas and Liverpool have been cancelled, though those between Heysham and Douglas are running as normal.

    The Co-op (Manx Co-operative Society) chartered a Hercules carrier aircraft to fly in stock for its stores.

    Friday, March 22, 2013

    Put on Your Dancing Shoes and Head for ‘Shennaghys Jiu’ in Ramsey

    Local traditional festival Shennaghys Jiu has long been rooted in the northern town of Ramsey, where it has remained true to its original concept of encouraging young musicians to join together in a non-competitive environment.  It has proved to be a winning combination but this year organisers have changed the format to give dance a higher profile.

    With a colourful mix of local and visiting groups, Shennaghys Jiu (22 – 25 March) promises to be an exciting weekend of Celtic music, song and dance, showcasing some of the up and coming young entertainers bursting with unbridled enthusiasm and new ideas.

    From modest beginnings Shennaghys Jiu has hosted a wide range of talent, and this year will welcome four groups from the surrounding regions who will be giving a flavour of their own traditions. The aptly named Highly Flung includes former members of the Christine Wilson Highland Dancers from Edinburgh; taught by former world champion dancer Christine Wilson they have performed in countries as far apart as Holland, Switzerland and Australia.  Kerry Dances Ireland is an exciting, action-packed, high-kicking entertaining Irish dance show featuring some of the finest exponents of music, song and dance. As the name suggests they are based in the south west of Ireland and promise to effortlessly blend youth and experience with a deeply rooted faith in the Irish tradition. Meanwhile The Brim combines the talents of Cornish musicians Jamie Toms and Alan Pengelly who met through their local music scene, and promises an eclectic mix of both contemporary and traditional Cornish music.

    Local groups will include Scammylt, Bee er dty Hwoaie, Ballacottier School, Share na Veg, Grass Roots and the Mollag Band with a weekend bursting with workshops, concerts and ceilidhs and a lively bands’ night to close the festival.

    Further details available from the festival’s website.

    Valerie Caine © March 2013

    Monday, March 18, 2013

    Nice work if you can get it!

    The worker's basic salary for the public sector job is just over £25,000, ($37,500) but including overtime it clocks to well over £50k,($75,000) according to reports. Bus cleaners get $78,000, while a local government minister is raking in just above that at £56,733. ($85,000)
    The pay rate was revealed as the Manx government plans to streamline services and bring half of its workforce under a single employing authority.

    Chief Minister Allan Bell said: "I feel strongly that the structure we have at the moment is not fit for purpose."  The salary of the workers are an example of settlements agreed between management and unions when public sector finances were in better order.


    Wednesday, March 13, 2013

    Can anyone name this spot?

    Clue: There used to be an hotel at the top of the steps!

    Tuesday, March 12, 2013

    Isle of Man Stamps – Celebrating the Island’s Front-Line Services

    Two of the Island’s front-line services have been celebrated by the Isle of Man Post Office recently with two stamp issues reflecting some of the work undertaken by both the Isle of Man Constabulary and the local Fire and Rescue Service.

    Stamps issued for the Isle of Man Constabulary illustrate the history of the Island’s police force since its formation in 1863, focusing on a number of changes since its inception 150 years ago. Charged with protecting the Island’s residents from crime in its many forms, the local police force has passed some important milestones over the years, notably a pay increase for all ranks implemented in 1947, the establishment of an Island Police Federation, introduction of the Island’s first canine recruit during the 1960s and the appointment of its first police woman in 1967. In addition the Isle of Man Constabulary has just appointed its first Manx Chief Constable, Gary Roberts.

    Meanwhile the work of the Isle of Man Fire and Rescue Service has been show-cased in a miniature stamp sheet, revealing the changing aspects of a modern-day service. Traditionally seen as a singular fire-fighting role, it’s clear that their position within the community has changed considerably since the service’s inception in 1965.

    This mini sheet reveals the new challenges experienced by local teams, including chemical incidents, road traffic collisions, mountain rescue, community safety and of course fire-fighting.

    However, prevention, protection and response have now become an integral aspect of the Island’s fire-fighting teams, with these three core objectives now at the fore-front of their daily work.

    Valerie Caine
    © March 2013

    Friday, March 8, 2013