Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Our gift displayed at Peel Cathedral!

Dear Kelly

Hope that you and your family had a good Christmas - I thought members of the NAMA might like to see a photograph of their gift of Christmas decoration as it is displayed in the Cathedral - we don’t tend to have a Christmas tree in the Cathedral so have displayed it on the flowers in front of the altar - as you can see it matches our Christmas theme perfectly.

Wishing you and your family and friends and all members of the NAMA a blessed 2015

Kind regards


Val Garrett
Fundraising Campaign Manager
Cathedral Isle of Man
Cathedral Close
Peel, Isle of Man

T (01624) 844830 /  (07624) 316001


Mollag Ghennal Hits the Right Note!

The mighty Mollag Ghennal, organised by members of the popular Mollag Band, is guaranteed to be one of the highlights of the festive calendar and this year proved no exception.

It's a great opportunity to sample some of the best the Island has to offer on the Manx music scene, and to be at the forefront of some of the revolutionary changes within the folk genre.

With tickets rarer than hens' teeth, those lucky enough to be at the party were greeted by the St German Handbell Ringers before being led gently into the main event which was opened by a select number of singers from the Manx Gaelic choir Caarjyn Cooidjagh, who sang a selection of songs in French, English and Manx.

This was swiftly followed by Island based Scottish guitarist Malcolm Stitt and local soloist Ruth Keggin (accompanied by multi-instrumentalist David Kilgallon), who presented their own style and individuality to an appreciative audience.

With a substantial supper on the horizon, it was time to raise the volume and up the beat with well-known Manx bands Skeeal and Strengyn who were both joined on stage by several other local musicians.

But the music just kept on rolling as Manx trad power trio Barrule altered the tempo to reflect their own melodic brand, before the Mollag Band themselves took to the stage to present some of their best known songs and introduce a new one based on the poem Betsy Lee; in tribute to the Manx poet T. E. Brown. Finally new group Mec Lir soon got dancers to their feet in response to a unique fusion of Manx folk and pop music, which brought another successful evening to a storming conclusion.

Valerie Caine
© December 2014

Friday, December 26, 2014

Traditionalists Undeterred by Poor Weather on St Stephen's Day

Undeterred by poor weather, many people gathered at various venues across the Island to perform Hunt the Wren, which still forms part of the St Stephen's Day (Boxing Day) celebrations on the Isle of Man.

Singers, musicians and dancers dusted down their wren poles and braved the rain to continue this long held Manx tradition and collect money for a number of local charities.

This was followed by the annual game of Cammag, once celebrated as a widespread national sport on the Isle of Man, but nowadays only played on the old fair field at Tynwald Hill in the village of St John's. With similarities to hockey, hurling and shinty, the game is played  with a cammag (hooked stick) and a ball (crick) made with cork or wood and covered in cloth, or leather. Not a game for the faint-hearted, both sides (representing the north and south of the Island) have an unlimited number of players of both sexes and play a game of three halves, each of twenty minutes duration. The term 'cammag leg' historically described  a lame person. Despite its Island wide popularity the game lost favour with the introduction of football around the turn of the twentieth century.
Hardy players and spectators headed later for the Tynwald Inn,  to shake off the relentless rain and enjoy a lively music session with some of the Island's best known traditional musicians.

Valerie Caine
© December 2014  (inc. photos)                                                                                                                        

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Knockaloe Exhibition at the Leece Museum in Peel

With its proximity to the site of the former Knockaloe Internment Camp at Patrick, the Leece Museum in Peel is an ideal location for a temporary exhibition which seeks to bring a flavour of what it was like for the thousands of internees who were incarcerated on the site during World War I.

The Leece Museum, situated in the old courthouse on the East Quay, already has a number of selected items about this historical site on permanent display, including an assortment of intricate bone carvings sculpted by the internees.

But this has now been supplemented by the personal archive belonging to Stephen Hall, who has built up a collection of material exploring the many facets of camp life, including sport, intellectual pursuits, theatre and craftwork, as the internees made use of their time at the facility.

Situated on the first floor of the Leece Museum, there's a host of photographs, leaflets, programmes and assorted items, with an interesting map of the camp detailing just how extensive the site was in reality.

A century later, many of Stephen's artefacts provoke not only a feeling of nostalgia but a deeper realisation of what life was like for those who were forcibly removed from their homes and families, to a windswept Island in the middle of the Irish Sea.

Eventually closed in 1919, Knockaloe Internment Camp is still remembered by many people and is a subject of study by scholars both off and on the Island, despite little evidence of its existence nowadays on the site itself.

Stephen's collection is on long-term loan to the Leece Museum until May 2015.

Now on winter opening times, check their website for details; entry free, donations welcome.

Valerie Caine
© December 2014

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

UPDATE: Celtic MTL 2015 and Burns' Night

Hello to all

We are very pleased to announce that Celtic MTL 2015 is almost at full capacity! We officially only have 4 spots left for this show and we have successfully filled 2 building at Concordia university! Yes indeed this is very exciting! So if you wish to be a part of this large scale event, we are literally almost out of space and we can guarantee that they will be gone before the holidays. 

We also wanted to inform you all of our next upcoming event to be held on January 25th, 2015. We will be hosting a Robbie Burns Night in the West Island (western part of Montreal's island), at Calistoga Grill. One of our big prizes that we will be raffling off that evening will be 2 tickets return from Montreal to Dublin, Ireland thanks to our friends at Air Transat! You will find attached the poster with the details and here is the link to the Facebook event page:

This is a very important even for us and the charity that it will be supporting, the Federation of Quebec Alzheimer's Societies. We hope to see some of you there. 

On a final note, we will be sending out the allocations of your tables to you after the holidays letting you know where you will be locate and in which building for May 2015. Once again we ask all of you to share and assist in advertising for this event after the holidays. We understand that the Month of March is a very busy season for some of you, but the May event has become something more than just an event, it has become an identity of who were are and where we come from and it is very important for everybody to know that we are here. This show belongs to all of you and each and everyone of you in attendance plays a crucial role in making this something to remember and in hopes, to continue on a yearly basis. 

We at the MCS wish you all a safe and Happy holiday season and let's make 2015 a year to remember!

Merry Christmas!

The MCS team.

Société Celte de Montréal / Montreal Celtic Society
Partage du Patrimoine et de la Culture Celtique à tous, d'Unir les Communautés Celtique
Sharing Celtic Heritage & Culture with All, Uniting the Celtic Communities
Burns 2015.pdf

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Gale force winds forecast for the Irish Sea have forced the cancellation of ferries from Isle of Man to the UK.

The Isle of Man Met Office has predicted winds could reach gale force nine overnight reaching 50mph (80km/h).
The Steam Packet Company has cancelled the evening sailing between Douglas and Heysham at 19:45 (GMT) on Tuesday.
A spokesman said three services between Douglas and Heysham, scheduled for 10 December, have also been cancelled because of the weather.
They include the 02:15 GMT from Heysham to Douglas, the 08:45 return journey to Heysham and the 14:15 sailing from the Isle of Man.
A decision about the 19:45 service between Douglas and Heysham on Wednesday is expected to be made a few hours before the scheduled sailing time.
Passengers are advised to contact the Steam Packet Company for more information.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Mollag Ghennal - A Fun Night Out During the Festive Season!

The mighty Mollag Ghennal is back on the festive list of fun events with a magnificent line-up of musicians to fortify everyone between the Christmas holidays and New Year's Eve.

Mollag Band
Following the usual format, it's a musical spectacular which attracts a full house, a great atmosphere and the chance to enjoy some outstanding music from the Manx music stable.

Back at the Masonic Hall on Woodbourne Road in Douglas, ticket-holders will be greeted upon arrival by members of the St German Cathedral Handbell Ringers with their Christmas music selection, before settling down for the main event.

Ruth Keggin
There'll be many familiar names but with some new material, including The Mollag Band with samples from their new album and a debut performance of their latest song Betsy Lee; a tribute to the Manx poet T. E. Brown.

They will be joined by Annie Kissack (Musical Director of Manx Gaelic choir Caarjyn Cooidjagh) with her new quintet and fellow local soloist Ruth Keggin (who also has a new CD available) with some surprise guests.

Manx power trad trio Barrule will also be heading back to the Island, hot foot from a special concert in Belgium to commemorate World War I, singing their new song See You Again, written especially for the occasion. Their second album will be available in the New Year.

This year's Mollag Ghennal will be on Sunday 28 December starting at 7.30pm prompt. Tickets priced at £12 (including home-made supper) sell quickly and are available from Shakti Man, Celtic Gold, Thompson Travel and Peter Norris Music.

Valerie Caine
© December 2014

(Courtesy of Manx Tails)

Monday, December 8, 2014

A Year of Manx Gaelic Culture - Adrian Cain

It's a little while since I kept people up to date with what's being going on in the world of Manx Gaelic so I thought I'd wish everyone a quick Nollick Ghennal as Blein vie noa as well as provide a little update on recent events.
We had a film crew from America with us last week. They were here to produce a short documentary for about Manx and how it's a successful example of language revitalisation and, in particular, they were interested in how we use technology to promote and support the language. Check out the following short interview between myself and David Harrison, the linguist heading the team, here.  This is quite a high-profile piece and I'll keep you up-to-date with developments.
Both our video-a-day project and 1000 Manx words in a year challenge are coming to an end soon. They have been hard work but we've received some good feedback with them both. Gura mie eu. We never quite made a 1000 words but I suppose that wasn't really the point! We've still a few lessons to come in our 100 episode podcast for the year too!
Next year will hopefully see the publication of a new course: Manx for Busy People which I hope will be a good introduction to the language. We also aim to put in place over the next year or two a systematic programme for adults wishing to learn some Gaelg.  
We've recently released on our You-tube channel (now with over 500 videos) a new series called Taggloo: Conversational Manx which we believe will be a really useful tool for intermediate and advanced learners. We've a great deal more to come on the film front next year too!
We've published a new Novella in Manx this year: Slane Lhiat, Vabban which was translated by Brian Stowell from the highly successful crime book, Bye,Bye Baby by Alan Guthrie. Two new books have just been finished and should be available soon: Murder on the Orient Express translated by Joan Caine and a bilingual edition of some of the stories from the classic by Nigel Kneale: Tomato Cain and other stories.This has been supported through Island of Culture funding and the book (which if you haven't read you must) should make available to a wider audience the formative work of the author of Quatermass.

Finally, I'd just like to say that we are all very sad to hear of the passing of our board member at Culture Vannin and Knox champion, Liam O'Neill. Our thoughts are with his family.

 Nollick Ghennal from us all at Culture Vannin
Check out our Website and promotional video and remember:
Manx Culture is for life and not just for Christmas  

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Calf of Man Shearwater survey indicates population increasing

Manx shearwaters only come in to land to visit their nests at night (Photo: Manx National Heritage)

This year’s survey indicates the highest number yet of nesting shearwaters on the Calf of Man since the existence of a small colony was confirmed in 2000 by the Manx Bird Atlas. 

Two years after an intensive effort to rid the island of longtails (brown rats), this is welcome news to the Calf Shearwater Recovery Project partners and volunteers who have spent many hours tramping across the island laying and checking bait stations.

Kate Hawkins from Manx National Heritage said;
The Calf aerial view (Photo: Manx National Heritage)
“After all our hard work, it is gratifying to learn that the effort to remove longtails from the Calf appears to be having a discernible effect.”

Surveyors used standard sampling and detection techniques to find out where shearwaters were nesting and estimated that the number of occupied burrows this year was 424, an increase on the 2013 figure of 348. 

Several more years of standardised scientific survey are needed to confirm that the shearwater population is recovering.  Manx National Heritage (MNH), which owns the Calf of Man and bird observatory, points out that it is still too early to say for sure that the trend is upward.

Nor can the project team relax. Although the eradication operation went according to plan and signs of longtails ceased by early December 2012, two positive sightings have since been logged and responded to as part of a long-term biosecurity plan

Kate Hawkins emphasised;
“We must keep up our guard. It is all too easy for these rodents to find their way to the Calf, as this autumn’s discovery of a live rat at Cow Harbour shows. We ask everyone who visits the Calf, particularly boat owners, to be extra vigilant for signs of rodents and to make sure that cargo, fishing equipment etc. is checked for stowaways before setting out for the island.”

The Calf Shearwater Recovery Project was initiated in 2012 with five organisations coming together in partnership to plan and carry out the removal operation on the island. Manx National Heritage was greatly assisted by the Manx Wildlife Trust, Manx BirdLife and the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture, while the Animal and Plant Health Agency’s National Wildlife Management Centre (formerly part of the Food and Environment Research Agency) provided considerable technical and practical help and the Royal Society for the Protection of Bird (RSPB) and Manx National Heritage Trustees contributed substantial financial support.

The aim of the project was to attempt the eradication of longtails on the Calf of Man and provide a safe environment for the sustainable recovery of seabirds, most notably the Manx shearwater, a species which was first named as such from the once huge colony on the island.

Longtails (Rattus norvegicus) are thought to have first arrived on the Calf at the end of the 1700s and shearwater numbers fell away catastrophically after that until they were thought to be extinct on the island. The rodents are widely regarded as predators of ground nesting birds, their eggs and young and many island authorities around the world run campaigns to eradicate them, including most recently in Britain on St Agnes and Gugh in the Isles of Scilly. 

Kate Hawkins said;
“We’ve had a really good go at getting rid of these invasive and destructive rodents and we think that we’ve removed all or almost all of them. A monitoring and mopping up campaign is in progress and it will be some time yet before rat-free status can be announced. Maintaining vigilance and continually reviewing biosecurity measures are key to keeping longtails under control and the shearwaters safe.”

Weather permitting, there will be further monitoring work on the Calf over the winter period. The project team is looking for more volunteers to help with the monitoring tasks and would welcome anyone who is reasonably fit and able to give some time to joining the team on the Calf for about one week at a time in January and February 2015. Anyone interested should contact Manx National Heritage or the Manx Wildlife Trust for further details.

For further information, please contact Kate Hawkins on (01624) 648022 or email

Monday, December 1, 2014

Norwegian-Manx Musical Collaboration Breaks New Ground

David Kilgallon
The Norwegian-Manx Musical Collaboration is just one of the many exciting projects to emerge from the Island based organisation Culture Vannin, but with their debut performance at the Erin Arts Centre in 2013, it was soon obvious that this successful partnership had tapped into something new and exciting.

With an increasing interest in this unique alliance, this year's  sell-out concert was held at the Centenary Centre in Peel, where all of the original musicians gathered to entertain an expectant crowd with their latest material, and update them on the progress of the project.

Drawn slowly and deliberately into the music by Manx Gaelic singer Ruth Keggin, we were treated to a stunning fiddle duet by Manx musicians Tom Callister (Barrule) and David Kilgallon (Chronicles and Mec Lir) who barely drew breath as they stormed through a repertoire which left everyone drooling in admiration.
Tom Callister

But this was just the beginning.

In a departure from their last concert, a small number of traditional dancers from both countries displayed a thought-provoking selection of dances suitable for solo performers and couples.

John Kilgallon and Gráinne Joughin represented the Isle of Man with Manx dances which may already be familiar to some, but we were also introduced to a young Norwegian male dancer, Vertle Springgard, who won the audience with his breathtaking mix of traditional style, athleticism and acrobatic spontaneity.
Margit Myhr

We were given a tantalising glimpse of what the musical collaboration had to offer at the close of the first half of the concert, when the Manx trio were joined on stage by visiting singer Margit Myhr (also the dance partner of Vertle Springgard)  and fiddle player Erlend Apneseth.

Erlend Apneseth
The evening was held together by the lively banter of Tom Callister, as the second half of the programme explored the hidden depths of cultural identity through melodic fusion and the richness of language; including the beautiful sound of the Hardanger fiddle and the hauntingly delicate vocal blend of Ruth and Margit.  

Such a winning partnership brings together the two countries as never before with a clever layering of music and song using both languages in an hypnotic presentation of harmony and friendship.

Ruth Keggin
With music, song and dance workshops to be held at the Philip Christian Centre in Peel the following day, the concert was the culmination of a hectic few days introducing the music to pupils at schools throughout the Island.

But if you missed the concert there's an opportunity to glimpse what was on offer on the manxmusicanddance YouTube channel and purchase the new songs and tunes booklet, with an accompanying demo CD, from Culture Vannin priced at £7.

Valerie Caine
© December 2014