Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Donations by the public to the Snow Fund have topped £148,000, latest figures reveal.

And of that sum, £139,500 has already been distributed to farmers worst affected by this year’s heavy snowfall.
Appeals for the public to donate cash to the Isle of Man Agricultural Benevolent Trust were made after the island was hit at the end of March by the heaviest snowfall event in 50 years.
The death toll among livestock exceeded 15,000 including 6,800 sheep and 8,300 lambs. Now it has been revealed that the total amount raised so far by public donation to the Snow Fund has now reached £148,864. This has come as a result of contributions from individuals, companies, corporate bodies and organisations including a wide range of fund-raising activities.

Snowfall 2013 from Lily Publications has an amazing collection of photos from the epic snow storm and the aftermath as the island dug out its livestock. Click to purchase and some of the proceeds will go to the fund.

150 years of Manx bobbies

An exhibition is to go on display in the south of the Isle of Man to mark 150 years of the Manx constabulary.
The joint initiative has been arranged by the police and Manx National Heritage (MNH) and is being held at Castle Rushen court house.
The Manx force, which currently employs around 240 staff, was officially formed in September 1863.
MNH curator, Matthew Richardson said it was the beginning of a unified, all-island police service.
He added: "Prior to that there were only a few small police forces around the island, some of which consisted of just one constable."
A spokesman from the Isle of Man constabulary said throughout the exhibition serving and retired officers will be on hand to answer questions from the public.
He added: "Thanks to the book Isle of Man Constabulary by George Turnbull, we are able to provide a wealth of information about the constabulary's development, from law enforcement in the 18th century to present day policing, the first WPC and the formation of the Special Constabulary."

Monday, August 19, 2013

IOM Stamps – Isle of Man Railways

Both the Isle of Man Steam Railway and the Manx Electric Railway became an integral part of the Island’s transport network when they were introduced in the nineteenth century in response to the growing number of visitors, but although those halcyon days are gone and services reduced to a summer schedule, Isle of Man Post has introduced a set of six stamps featuring contemporary Isle of Man Railway posters.

The Isle of Man Steam Railway, which opened its first line from Douglas to Peel in 1873, followed by Port Erin and Ramsey, is celebrating its 140th anniversary this year, with the Manx Electric Railway (formerly Isle of Man Tramways and Electric Power Company) celebrating its 120th anniversary during 2014.

With the Island’s roads in a poor state of repair and visitor numbers increasing, the railways became an important part of the Island’s structure for local too; giving them hitherto unrestricted access to various parts of the Island.

It was also used by children travelling to school, farmers ferrying their cattle to and from the marts in Ramsey and St John’s and the Post Office for carrying parcels and collecting mail from post boxes on route.

As road traffic increased during the 1950s, demand for the railway systems fell and the winter service was eventually withdrawn.

(c) Val Caine

A De-Tailed Account of Manx Cats

Manx cats have long been a source of fascination to both curious onlookers and cat lovers alike, and although now more prevalent in the USA than the Isle of Man, this new book is likely to draw readers from both sides of the Atlantic.

Much has been written about their distinctive characteristics which doggedly link them with the Island, but this inexpensive, little volume would be a purr-fect addition to any bookshelf.

Split into bite-sized morsels devoted to the Manx cat’s history, their contemporary setting and folklore, Sara Goodwins has provided a gently humorous portrayal of this much-loved feline with its untroubled demeanour and curious traits. There’s a selection of anecdotes to whet your appetite and some interesting suggestions as to the possible origin of the singular Manx moggy, not only renowned for its physical attributes, but also as an excellent mouser.

A cat-alogue of useful information, its pages are awash with colourful photos and comical pictures of regional souvenirs, providing an insight into this iconic symbol of the Isle of Man which still holds its appeal in the twenty first century.

Presented to us on innumerable postcards, stamps and mementoes from the once burgeoning visiting industry, the Manx cat has lost none of its attraction, demonstrated recently by a children’s short story competition which attracted several entries, including that of Megan Kneale of St Mary’s RC School in Douglas. Her winning entry entitled Kayt Manninagh has been included in the book.

Available at many Island bookshops - re-tailing at £4.95.

Valerie Caine
© August 2013

(Courtesy of Manx Tails)

Friday, August 16, 2013

Eddie Izzard thanks the Isle of Man for aid to Syrians

Comedian Eddie Izzard has thanked the government and people of the Isle of Man for supporting a project to provide humanitarian relief to families fleeing the war in Syria. (iomtoday)

He recently visited a Syrian refugee camp in northern Iraq in his capacity as a UK ambassador for UNICEF, the world’s largest organisation for children.
UNICEF is working to provide potentially life-saving supplies such as clean water to help prevent dehydration and the spread of disease in the hot and overcrowded conditions.
The charity’s relief efforts received a boost earlier this year thanks to funding from the Isle of Man Government’s international development committee.
The committee, which supports the world’s less developed nations through emergency aid and capacity building programmes, provided £30,000 to UNICEF’s ‘Children’s Crisis in Syria and Surrounding Regions’.
Eddie Izzard travelled to the Domiz refugee camp in northern Iraq to see how UNICEF is using donations from around the world to address the humanitarian crisis.
The camp was intended for 15,000 people, but now 45,000 are crammed within its borders after being forced to abandon their homes, friends and schools. In such packed and sweltering conditions, with temperatures reaching 45C, there is a great risk of dehydration and the outbreak of disease.
In a handwritten letter to the international development committee, Eddie Izzard says: ‘Dear Isle of Man Committee. I have just flown back from Iraq where I was in a refugee camp for families who have been forced to flee from their homes in Syria. These families are now facing many problems, from extreme heat to overcrowding and health.
‘The situation for children is critical. Yet, thanks to funding from supporters such as you, UNICEF is providing water, sanitation, education and a safe place for children to overcome the trauma they’ve experienced. Thank you for your support.’
Phil Gawne MHK, chairman of the international development committee, said Eddie Izzard’s letter highlighted how emergency aid provided by the Isle of Man is helping to make a positive difference to people’s lives.
He added: ‘Given the scale of the humanitarian crisis in Syrian refugee camps it is important that the Isle of Man does what it can to help those who are struggling for the basic necessities of life that many of us take for granted.’

Monday, August 12, 2013

Wartime at Cregneash

Meet the Women’s Land Army

Take a wartime tea dance lesson
Dig for Victory
Experience the harsh realities and the more morale boosting activities of the rural community in World War II. Wartime comes to Cregneash on Saturday 17th and 18th August as part of the Island at War weekend on the Steam Railway.

In Cregneash village meet the Women’s Land Army, watch them at work and have a go at milking a ‘model’ cow, used by Land Girls in training. See Dig for Victory in action, and discover why people on the Home Front were encouraged to transform their private gardens into mini-allotments and pick up some tips to grow your own vegetables. And watch life on the Isle of Man during wartime come to life with mini promenade performances by the History in Action Players.

Escape the misery and austerity of the war and join a wartime tea dance lesson in Church Farm Barn from 2pm to 4pm, or just enjoy the atmosphere with some tea and cake from the wartime canteen. On Sunday The Victory Roll hairdressers brings their pop up 1940s styling salon to the village.

In partnership with St. Peter’s Church you can hear stories about life on the Island during the War and share your own wartime memories. Why not bring along your working crafts, join our craft circle and have a go at rug making? Any rugs and blankets made over the weekend will be donated to charity. Reverend Joe Heaton will be hosting a special WWII themed service on Sunday afternoon at 3.15pm in St. Peter’s Church.

For visitors will a particular interest, join the guided walk around the remains of the WWII radar station on Meayll Hill, at 10am or 12pm, tickets £4. Or continuing the theme of make–do and mend sign up to our Sewing Workshop, at 11am or 1pm, tickets £10 and includes tea and cake. Book in advance at Cregneash, the Manx Museum or call (01624) 834993.

Helen Ashcroft, Cregneash Site Manager said;
“Visitors can expect to see firsthand the lifestyle changes that occurred in rural communities with the onset of war. Working together, maintaining a healthy diet and making best use of every resource was high on the agenda. 

Our event hopes to recapture that overwhelming sense of community and solidarity which shone through even the darkest of days. We will do this by reciting the local history of war with our guided tours and storytelling, sharing the skills and crafts which emerged so that nothing was wasted and by reminding ourselves that ‘it don’t mean a thing if it aint got that swing’ with a fun filled afternoon tea dance and lessons in the barn. Our event hopes to recapture that overwhelming sense of community and solidarity which shone through even the darkest of days. We will do this by reciting the local history of war with our guided tours and storytelling, sharing the skills and crafts which emerged so that nothing was wasted and by reminding ourselves that ‘it don’t mean a thing if it ain't got that swing’ with a fun filled afternoon tea dance and lessons in the barn.”

Friday, August 9, 2013

Manx Musicians to Represent Island at Lorient Festival


The dynamic appeal of the Lorient Inter-Celtic Festival strengthens with each passing year, as it strides confidently into its fourth decade as undisputed champion of the European folk scene.

With 200 events and an astonishing 5,000 performers, this inter-Celtic extravaganza attracts in the region of 800,000 visitors over ten days in celebration of rich and diverse cultures, including the Isle of Man.

The Manx delegation has been organised by Dr Breesha Maddrell, Manx Music Development Officer for the Manx Heritage Foundation, who co-ordinates with the professional festival team based in Lorient to bring some of the best exponents of Manx music, song and dance to the Breton seaport.

Dr Maddrell commented, “This really is a partnership – we work closely with producers linked to DEFA and with officers within the Department of Community Culture and Leisure so that we can showcase the Island’s finest. It’s a great opportunity for us to get noticed, as we are only one of eight nations recognised at the festival. Our musicians, singers and dancers are just brilliant and always receive a warm welcome.”

Acknowledged locally as an opportunity to sell the Isle of Man to a wider audience, Peter Skelly will head the pavilion team of volunteers and chefs as they serve Manx beer, queenies and cheese to tourists, performers and representatives of the media from across Europe, North America and Australia. The pavilion will also act as an important conduit between the Isle of Man and the festival; and as a focal point for anyone who wishes to explore the many aspects of the Island’s unique culture.

The Manx musicians and singers representing the Island at this year’s festival will take with them a whole range of personal influences and a vibrant link to the cultural melting pot of the festival.

As Manx challengers for the coveted TropheƩ de Musique, Scammylt, led by classically trained violin player Katie Lawrence, like to blend influences from rock and jazz into their mix of traditional and original compositions. Accompanied by guitar tutor/composer Mike Reaney and former member of King Chiaullee Russell Cowin on bass and bodhran, they will be promoting their first recording at the festival, featuring artwork by Bruno Cavellec.

Manx Gaelic choir Caarjyn Cooidjagh need little introduction, having represented the Island at many international events performing both traditional and contemporary Manx songs. Presenting award-winning arrangements by their musical director and conductor Annie Kissack, they will also perform secular music in other venues.

They will be joined by multi-instrumentalist and specialist composer David Kilgallon on the organ and world renowned trumpet/cornetto player Russell Gilmour who will explore both the Island’s Celtic and Norse heritage through their music, providing contributions to concerts of sacred music in some of Lorient’s most beautiful churches.

Valerie Caine
© August 2013

(Courtesy of Manx Tails)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

50th Anniversary of the Old Gaffers’ Association Peel Traditional Boat Weekend

The annual Compass Pipelines Peel Traditional Boat Weekend has been extended this year to include the 50th birthday celebrations of the Old Gaffers’ Association, formed in 1963 to promote the Gaff Rig, and promises to be the biggest and best yet.

A Gaffer is a boat with a Gaff Rig (a main sail with four sides) which was largely replaced by the triangular Bermudan Rig in the early twentieth century, and Peel has been designated as the Irish Sea centre for those sailors who are unable to be in Cowes, on the Isle of Wight, for the climax of the celebrations.

Billed as the premier event of the Irish Sea, visitors to the picturesque fishing port will have the chance to glimpse an exciting array of traditional vessels around the quayside; and with record entries this year, organisers are anticipating a packed, vibrant harbour over the weekend 8th – 12th August.

Shore-side activities and entertainment will include food demonstrations, Craft Fair, Farmers’ Market, Manx dancing, street artists and live music.

For the more adventurous there’s a chance to take part in the popular boat building competition on the tongue at East Quay, with an exciting race across the harbour to test their sea-worthiness. And for those who prefer a more relaxed environment there’ll be a number of opportunities to view and photograph the magnificent Parade of Sail during the weekend.

Further details available online. 

Valerie Caine © August 2013  (Courtesy of Manx Tails)