Monday, February 24, 2014

Manks Concert is a Sell-Out!

Ny Fennee
A recent Manks concert organised by the Isle of Man branch of the Celtic Congress at the Centenary Centre in Peel proved a sell-out, as people from across the Island joined together to enjoy a cross-generational evening of entertainment.

It was a night of music, song, dance and poetry with well-known Manx speaker, Bob Carswell, acting as compére.

 Northern based traditional dance group Ny Fennee kicked off proceedings, followed later by a selection of versatile singers which included Marlene Hendy (past winner of the Traditional Song Class at the Pan Celtic Festival), Ruth Keggin (debut CD now available) and contributions from Manx Gaelic choir Caarjyn Cooidjagh, with music by Tree Cassyn and Scammylt.

Poetry readings with a Manx flavour provided a cross-section of sobriety and humour with contributions from brothers John and Philip Kennaugh, and a rare opportunity to hear an old master at work. At 98 years old Laurence Kermode remains unfazed by the sight of a full house, and without a script in sight was able to hold the audience in the palm of his hand with a command that belies his years.
Laurence Kermode

The second half of the evening was dominated by the Michael Players with their final showing of the popular dialect play The Dumb Cake. It was the last performance, before retirement, of lead actors Ann Corlett and Win Callister, who were presented with a bouquet of flowers at the close of the play.

Spokesperson for the Manx branch of the Celtic Congress, Roy Kennaugh, remarked, “Besides the objective to raise funds, it was a great opportunity to bring together a variety of quality acts for a very enjoyable evening.”

Proceeds of the concert will be used to help finance travel and accommodation costs for musicians and a speaker to represent the Isle of Man at the International Celtic Congress in Cardiff later this year.

Valerie Caine

 © February 2014 (inc photos)

Saturday, February 22, 2014

IOM Stamps - Trench Art of World War I

Isle of Man Stamps and Coins have joined with the Royal British Legion to commemorate the centenary of World War I with a miniature sheet featuring what has become known as Trench Art; which will form part of a four-year thematic series.

This unusual form of creativity originated during World War I in response to a series of contests sponsored by the popular French magazine Le Pays de France for the best pieces of work in this genre. The words Trench Art were coined to describe a wide variety of largely anonymous souvenirs fashioned from the detritus of war, or from pieces of military equipment by a variety of artisans.

The image used within the miniature sheet is taken from a German Christmas card designed and produced in 1917 at the Knockaloe Internment Camp, situated on the west coast of the Isle of Man.

It’s taken from the collection of Jane Kimball, a world renowned author and collector of Trench Art, who is based in the USA.

She commented, “In commemoration of the centenary of the Great War, this is a forthcoming set issued by the Isle of Man Stamps and Coins department of the Isle of Man Post Office. It showcases a selection of objects made in the craft shops in German internee camps at Douglas and Knockaloe on the Isle of Man and some Trench Art pieces made in areas where Manxmen fought during the war. I was very happy to be able to share images of some pieces from my collection of Isle of Man internee art so others may enjoy them.”

In the accompanying information sheet she explores the origins of Trench Art and the imaginative uses of waste materials during warfare; the most popular being spent shell casings decorated with flowers and reminders of specific battles or areas.

The General Manager of Isle of Man Stamps and Coins, Maxine Cannon, said, “We were delighted that we were given the opportunity to work with an avid collector of such rare and relevant items. Trench Art is a fascinating movement, often overlooked, and it’s amazing what they have created with items like these. We are delighted to work together with Jane who has such an extensive collection and expertise in an area like this. We think the stamp is a great success.”

Valerie Caine

© February 2014

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Manx Gaelic Version of The Gruffalo's Child

Although at one time there was little in the way of written material in Manx Gaelic, this has changed dramatically in recent years as the language continues to flourish and demand for material in assorted genre increases.

Neen y Ghruffalo (The Gruffalo’s Child) comes hot on the heels of the recent release of Yn Ghruffalo (The Gruffalo), the classic children’s picture book written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler, which has captured the attention of children all over the world.

The project has been made possible by Culture Vannin together with the financial support of
Lloyds TSB, and includes a CD of the story narrated by Annie Kissack.

Island Director and Head of Banking Operations, Peter Reid, commented, “The publication of the Manx Gaelic version of Neen y Ghruffalo (The Gruffalo’s Child) is something Lloyds TSB is very proud to have supported. It’s further illustration that the language community is vibrant and that the language has a really bright future.”

Translated by Natalie Nic Shim and edited by Chris Sheard, the book is available at many Island bookshops priced at £6.99.

Valerie Caine

© February 2014

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Total government spending in the Isle of Man equates to £10,892 per year for every man, woman and child in the island.

This figure includes:
£3,226 per head on benefits including the state pension, Income Support and Child Benefit.
£609 per head on social care, comprising £232 on children’s services and £377 on adult services.
£2,120 per head on health services, including £266 each on providing free or subsidised prescriptions, and £168 each on treating Manx patients in the United Kingdom.
£1,072 on education, including £141 on university fees.
£348 on the police, fire and prison services and on other parts of the Department of Home Affairs.
181 on supporting agriculture, fisheries and forestry and the wildlife park.
£66 on waste management, (in addition a further £127 is raised via local authorities or private companies) and £74 on Local Authority housing deficiencies.
£106 per head on public transport and heritage railways.
£45 on sports and arts, including subsidising local swimming pools and £21 on entertainment.
£61 per head on the ports (with a further £124 per head raised in charges), £2 per head on the highways (in addition to the £164 per head collected via Vehicle Duty and registrations), and £82 per head on drainage and operation of the sewerage system.
£740 per head on former government employees’ pensions, of which around £179 comes from current employees’ contributions.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

IOM Stamps - Red Arrows Celebrate 50th Display Season

The Red Arrows are well known across the world as the public face of the Royal Air Force and are very popular on the Isle of Man, thrilling thousands of spectators with their speed, agility and precision.

In celebration of their 50th display season, Isle of Man Stamps will be releasing six stamps in a special anniversary pack in honour of the Red Arrows team, which is a core part of the Royal Air Force, employing pilots with previous combat experience.

The Red Arrows have performed 4,500 displays in fifty five countries and are depicted on these Manx stamps in their signature formations, including their trademark ‘diamond nine’

Maxine Cannon, General Manager of Isle of Man Stamps and Coins, said, “The stamps look fantastic and frame the images of the planes perfectly. We are delighted to be able to help the Red Arrows celebrate their landmark fiftieth display season with this commemorative set and to be able to add these to our portfolio of stamp collections.”

Created in association with the Ministry of Defence, they offer high definition photography, with vibrant images and a high quality finish to create a fitting celebration of the Red Arrows team.

Leader of the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, Squadron Leader Jim Turner, commented, “The stamps beautifully capture the images of the jets, the sky and the countless audiences who have enjoyed the displays, performed by the team around the world.” 

Valerie Caine

© February 2014 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Launch of Culture Vannin Takes Place at the Villa Marina

The Manx Heritage Foundation has been a pioneering force behind a number of cultural projects on the Isle of Man since its inception by Act of Tynwald in 1982, but as we celebrate Island of Culture during 2014 the organisation has been inspired to re-launch itself as Culture Vannin.

Reflecting a new, inspirational era for Manx culture, through development, education and
grant assistance, Culture Vannin recognises the importance of culture in our daily lives, as a community, a nation and also internationally.

The Chairman of Culture Vannin, the Hon. Phil Gawne MHK, commented, “Our culture is key to who we are. It guides us in the way that we relate to each other within our communities and in projecting an image of ourselves internationally. A vibrant and dynamic living culture has at its heart what we have to say and how we want to say it, it is how we

choose to define our world. It is about the stories and images that shape our strong sense of belonging, no matter where we once started. Culture Vannin builds on a strong legacy of grant giving and development work which has been at the forefront of publishing on aspects of Manx culture, custom-made educational resources for our schools, Manx language, music and dance. Culture Vannin takes our culture forward in creative, innovative ways. We invite you to join us on that journey.”

Culture Vannin is already involved with an extensive list of projects during 2014, including assignments with Manx Gaelic, music and dance and working with the Archibald Knox Society to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the internationally famous Manx designer’s birth.

A speech by the Chairman of Culture Vannin, the Hon. Phil Gawne MHK, got the launch underway followed by a short documentary film highlighting some of the projects which they have been involved with, or promoted.

As part of the celebrations, the Chairman of Culture Vannin also presented the annual cultural award, the Reih Bleeaney Vanannan (Manannan’s Choice of the Year), to Clare Kilgallon of Onchan who has been an outstanding contributor to Manx culture for many years.

This was followed by members of the Kilgallon family who demonstrated a selection of Manx music and dance to an invited audience.

A new website also displays an extensive archive of video footage, photographs and oral history interviews, together with a wide range of useful information.  

Valerie Caine

© February 2014

Help Barrule Win Spiral Earth Award

Local power trad trio Barrule are asking for your help in their quest to win an award in the Best Debut Album category on the UK’s Spiral Earth roots music website.

“This is where we need your help”, said Bouzouki player Adam Rhodes. “Being a public vote we need as many people as possible to give a couple of minutes of their time to vote online. It would be fantastic if the Manx public could get behind us with this. Wouldn’t it be great to have a Manx band winning this award during the Island of Culture year?”

Although the public vote doesn’t close until midnight on the 5th March, members of Barrule are keen for members of the public to click on the link and help them win this prestigious award.

Adam continued, “The voting process is very simple, but it does involve email verification to dissuade multiple voting. Simply visit the website and enter your email address, then select Barrule in the ‘Debut’ category. Once finished you will receive an email containing a link, just click that to verify your vote and it’s all done!”

Have a look at their promotional video:-

Valerie Caine

© February 2014

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Guernsey Language Commissioner Learns More About Manx Language Success Story

The revival of interest in the Manx language has been an undoubted success, and during recent years a growing international awareness has led to an increasing number of individuals and delegations visiting the Isle of Man to discover the key to its success.

Our latest visitor was Deputy Darren Duquemin, a member of the States of Guernsey, Chairman of the Guernsey Language Commission and a member of the Island’s Culture and Leisure Department.

Deputy Duquemin commented, “The Guernsey Language Commission is in its infancy and my visit was an effort to learn from what is widely accepted in the minority language community as the Manx success story. They say imitation is the greatest form of flattery and I can tell you that the Guernsey Language Commission is heading in the right direction from the outset.”

His visit to the Isle of Man included meeting with students, teachers and businessmen located at the forefront of the Manx Gaelic revival, where he was clearly impressed with the work undertaken over the past few years.
Deputy Darren Duquemin with the Head of Bunscoill Ghaelgagh Julie Matthews

Deputy Duquemin continued, “I am very grateful to Adrian Cain from Culture Vannin for organising a timetable for my visit and to all of those people who I met, from politicians to teachers to adult learners and school children, who are all so clearly passionate about their Island’s own language.  I saw for myself that Manx is a huge part of your Island’s culture and now, it is up to me and my team to use what I have learned on my trip to ensure that Guernesiais is a huge part of our Island’s culture too.”

Albeit a flying visit, Deputy Duquemin was able to experience a wide range of Manx language events, including conversational classes at Noa Bakehouse in Douglas, and a lunchtime class at Lloyds TSB; together with visits to the Mooinjer Veggey nursery in Ballasalla and Bunscoill Ghaelgagh in St John’s.

Manx Language Development Officer for Culture Vannin, Adrian Cain, remarked, “The visit demonstrated just how strong the revival has been here whilst it continues to reflect well on the Isle of Man that we are seen as a pioneer by many other small jurisdictions that have similar issues regarding minority languages.”

Adrian Cain can be contacted at:-

07624 451098

Valerie Caine

© February 2014 

Caarjyn as Fenee (Friends and Heroes) DVD

The thought provoking Friends and Heroes series, originally produced in 2007, has become a worldwide hit in recent years, introducing a whole host of memorable characters. It’s an award-winning animated adventure story set in AD69 which focuses on Macky and his friends as they fight for justice against the Roman Empire. An inspired use of animation, each episode (almost half an hour in length) also shares stories of heroes from the Bible, which the main characters use to give them strength and wisdom as they are challenged by incidents in their daily lives.

Although initially produced in English, it soon became obvious that there was an appetite for this production elsewhere and subsequently Friends and Heroes was rapidly translated into ten languages within a two year period.

But a new market emerged closer to home when it was suggested that the series could be translated into Manx Gaelic, with recording and editing by Paul Rogers, translation by Bob Carswell RBV and an extensive number of speakers of all ages. Rebranded as Caarjyn as Fenee, this fast moving animation has proved to be a great addition to the growing library of things in Manx, which has developed organically alongside the demand for additional material.

A drama with moments of both sobriety and humour, this superb production is likely to have an appeal for both children and adults, and can double as either a fun way of learning Manx, or purely as a leisure activity. Both Manx and English sub-titles available.

With assistance from the Manx Heritage Foundation, The Gaelic Broadcasting Committee and Manx Radio, it’s available from priced at £20.

Valerie Caine

© February 2014

(Courtesy of Manx Tails)

Monday, February 10, 2014

Second Manx Language App Now Available

After the success of the first Manx Language App, Learn Manx, produced by Culture Vannin (formerly the Manx Heritage Foundation) with financial support from the local mobile phone business Sure (Isle of Man), a second App, Manx Songs and Rhymes, is now available to download on Google Play and the iStore.

It’s promoted as an ideal introduction to the Manx language and is based on the popular booklet and CD produced a few years ago entitled Roie Mygeart, by the Manx Gaelic nursery organisation Mooinjer Veggey.

Financed by Culture Vannin and the Gaelic Broadcasting Committee, it’s a free inter-active song book of 34 songs and rhymes in Manx Gaelic using karaoke style text, audio and English translation. A dictionary of key words and sayings is voiced by a number of young Manx language speakers, with an introduction to numbers also available.

Adrian Cain, Manx Language Officer for Culture Vannin, commented, “This is another example of just how dynamic and cutting edge the language movement is at present. Hopefully, this App will introduce a whole new group of people, young and old, to the language”.

Valerie Caine

© February 2014 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

IOM Stamps - Winter Flora on the Isle of Man

Despite the greyness of winter, splashes of colour can be found if you know where to look, which has inspired the Isle of Man Post Office to release its first miniature sheet of the year, based on the theme of winter flora.

Island based artist, Catherine James, has created a colourful, buoyant view of the Island’s countryside, focusing on rose-hips, holly berries, fir cones, hellebores and frost-lined ivy leaves.

Coming from a large family, Catherine soon graduated towards the woods and fields surrounding her childhood home in the parish of Santon, where she found plenty of inspiration for her artwork.

Catherine mused on how bleak Manx winters can be. Manannan’s mist can sometimes make it difficult to see further than the bottom of the garden, but equally it can simply be cold and wet!

She recalled, “I remember waking up on many a winter’s morning to windows limned with frost patterns (before central heating) a magical transformation with the sight of hoar frost-edged leaves, rusty bracken, teasels and sea holly all set against a backdrop of winter lace trees with the glowing colours of rose-hips in the hedges.

Catherine also recalled the beauty of bright, red holly berries with their shining spiked leaves and ivy bowers bearing beautifully aligned fruits that display vibrant colours throughout the cold season.

The days may still be edged with a winter hue, but Catherine’s artwork is sure to lift the hearts of everyone as we await the arrival of spring, with its promise of warmth and sunshine.

Catherine concluded, “I felt very privileged to be asked to design the stamps for the miniature sheet. There is so much beautiful flora in the winter and it’s lovely to highlight this in the stamps. Yes, a Manx winter can be cold and dark, but it can be incredibly beautiful. Seeing my artwork in its final form as a miniature sheet is very rewarding indeed”.

Valerie Caine

© February 2014

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Launch of Ruth Keggin's Debut CD

With Manx singers and musicians creating a growing awareness of local traditional music across the globe, Island vocalist Ruth Keggin has stepped into the spotlight, bringing with her a passion for both the language and the music, and also the launch of her debut album this month.

Sheear (Westward) is a live studio recording featuring an eclectic mix of both traditional and
Ruth Keggin (Courtesy of Phil Kneen)
contemporary Manx Gaelic songs, arranged in a fresh and imaginative format.

BBC Radio 3 folk music presenter Mary Ann Kennedy remarked, “Ruth Keggin is the pure and passionate Gaelic voice of the Manx musical renaissance. Sheear is a thing of beauty which makes the circle of British folk music tradition whole.”

Ruth (who also plays piano and flute) is joined on the album by guitarist David Pearce and double-bassist Vanessa McWilliam, gifted Irish flautist and sean-nós singer Eoghan Ó Ceannabháin and talented Manx fiddle player Tom Callister.

Ruth’s debut album will be launched at the Centenary Centre in Peel with musical support from local trio Tree Cassyn (Isla Callister, Doona Lambden and Paul Rogers), Irish singer
Vanessa McWilliam, Ruth Keggin and David Pearce
(Courtesy of Phil Kneen) 
Eoghan Ó Ceannabháin and multi-instrumentalist David Kilgallon.

Starting at 7.30pm on Saturday 15th February, tickets are currently on sale from Celtic Gold, Shakti Man, Thompson Travel, Peter Norris Music and Culture Vannin (Manx Heritage Foundation) priced at £7.50, or £10 on the night.

Ruth’s album launch will be swiftly followed by a short tour of Ireland with her group, including a spot in Whelan’s (a lively and renowned music venue in the heart of Dublin) and a joint gig with Scottish Gaelic supergroup Dàimh at Cultúrlann, a focal point for Belfast’s emerging Gaeltacht Quarter.

Valerie Caine

© February 2014

Crown Dependency Leaders meet in Isle of Man

From left to right: Allan Bell, Deputy Peter Harwood and Senator Ian Gorst will meet on Thursday

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The chief ministers from the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands will meet in Douglas later, the Manx government has announced.
It is the latest in a number of trilateral meetings between the leaders of the Crown Dependencies.
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Manx chief minister Allan Bell MHK said the meetings were "vitally important".
"During a period of major external changes affecting the Crown Dependencies it is vitally important that we keep talking to each other and work together wherever possible," he said.
All three island have been affected in recent times by the global movement towards increased tax transparency, with all three signing up to deals with the US and UK.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Did the bet pay off?

The Isle of Man Government has taken a further step towards exploring the opportunities for generation of offshore wind and tidal energy and is now inviting expressions of interest from parties seeking to develop offshore energy production in Isle of Man territorial seas. 

The Manx Government wants to harness the green potential of the island's unique position to attract a new era of clean energy generation and export 10 times as much low-carbon electricity to the UK as the entire island consumes in a year.

And a decision 20 years ago to surrender its share of UK's fossil fuel revenues in return for its territorial waters looks like a multi-million pound wager that is destined to pay off.

A gamble that may have appeared madness at the height of the scramble for oil and gas now looks a remarkable crystal-ball policy call as the independent crown dependency prepares to lease off small areas of its seabed for massive returns.

The agreement in July 1991 ended a 25-year deal that saw the Manx Exchequer receive a share of the royalties and rentals from oil and gas exploration from the whole of the UK continental shelf. The Isle of Man had previously agreed to shrink its territorial waters from 12 to three nautical miles and give up any interest it had in oil and gas exploration and production in the Morecambe Bay area.

With the reversal of the 1966 accord, the island now controls around 4,000 square kilometres of territorial waters, which the drive to low-carbon, sustainable power generation has boosted in value to an estimated £8 million per square kilometre over 25 years .

An environmental report suggested the Isle of Man currently has the capacity to utilise several hundred square kilometres of seabed, which still has the potential to provide a huge return on investment.

Minister for Economic Development John Shimmin commented: “The opportunities for the Isle of Man in renewable energy are significant. For example, we estimate that leasing parts of the seabed within our waters to an offshore wind farm developer would generate several millions of pounds of income per year for the Isle of Man Government.
“The potential return to the Isle of Man from large offshore wind farms could be worth £5M per year from leasing the seabed in our territorial sea.
“All the infrastructure costs involved in building and installing the wind farms would be borne by the developer, not the Isle of Man Government.

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