Sunday, August 31, 2014

Pathway to the Sun


This emotionally charged drama, held at the Centenary Centre in Peel, focused on five central characters from the close of World War I up to the beginning of World War II; with some of our top vocalists taking the starring roles - including this year's Cleveland Medal winner Mandy Griffin.

With both music and lyrics written by Patricia Cullen, the opening scene introduced Estelle, a widowed nightclub proprietor, who remained a constant link throughout the production, which played with the audience's emotions on many levels and tugged mercilessly at everyone's heartstrings.

At first glance, the main characters appeared to have more in common with an emerging Europe than the Isle of Man, but the story skilfully unfolded their links through relationship and synchronicity.
 
The drama was neatly defined between London and the Island, as it explored the dynamics between individuals caught up in a vulnerable situation and the fragility of their hopes and dreams.

A feeling of pathos was evident from the opening moments and a heart-wrenching ending, perhaps, almost inevitable.

The play was enhanced by additional background actors, simple, but effective stage props and a small ensemble of musicians, with an impressive performance by all of the leading players, who brought depth and feeling to each role.

Valerie Caine
© August 2014

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

North American Manx Association Scholarships

NAMA presented five scholarships to members under 30 who were attending the Convention on the Isle of Man. How great to see young faces who expressed an interest in their Manx heritage!

Left to right: Kevin Smith, Jenelle Smith, Angus Walsh, Duncan Walsh, Nicole Wozny.

Kevin and Jenelle are from California, Angus and Duncan from California and Nicole is part of the vast Prendergast clan based in Chicago.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Racing in the Manx Grand Prix - A Dream Come True for Manx Girl Ali Foster

Local girl, Ali Foster, will be lining up on the grid in the Newcomers B Class and Supertwin races at this year's Manx Grand Prix, with the realisation that she will finally be fulfilling a lifetime's ambition to race on the TT course.

Originally from Douglas, but now living in Foxdale, Alison comes from a family who've long been involved with motorcycle racing, including her cousins David and Decca Kelly, former winners at the Manx Grand Prix.

Ali withdrew after her first outing at Jurby airfield after experiencing poor weather conditions, but during 2007 her confidence to race returned. She mastered the Race School at Jurby and was soon gaining valuable experience on the regular track days at the Jurby Motodrome.

She made a promising start in her first race during 2010 with the Andreas Racing Association at Jurby and has never looked back.

Ali has ridden motorbikes since she was old enough to get her hands on a licence, and after discarding her 'novice bib' worked diligently towards securing her National Licence, racing at many of the UK circuits such as Mallory Park, Elvington, Aintree and Anglesey.

After competing in the last three championship seasons at Jurby, Ali's most impressive finishes have been fifth place in the 650 championship in 2011 and sixth place in last year's Post Classic Championship on a 400cc machine. But Ali's greatest achievements to date have been two podium places on the completion of the end of season four hour Endurance Race; with a third place in 2010 in partnership with her friend James Ford and a second place in the following year with her cousin, Eddie Venn, and Manx Grand Prix stalwart Kevin Murphy.

Ali's sponsor is long time supporter Hazel Carroon, but many of her friends have also chipped in to see that she gets to the start line for this year's festival.

Everyone has pulled together to make Ali's dream possible, including her mum who kindly donated her own Kawasaki ER6 road bike, which has been rebuilt into a Supertwin by Ali's fiancé Steven Beale.

Steven, a Jaguar technician, who wholeheartedly supports Ali with her quest, was a newcomer at last year's Manx Grand Prix, returning this year to the Senior race on a 600cc machine.

Ali, who will be joined in the Newcomers Race by her cousin and Endurance Race partner Eddie Venn, does, however, remain cautiously optimistic, reminding everyone that her goal is to qualify and finish the race; bringing her mum's bike home safe and sound with a smile on her face!


(Photos courtesy of Vic Bates)

Valerie Caine
© August 2014

(Courtesy of Manx Tails)  

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Royal Manx Agricultural Show 2014

Despite on-going road works and changeable weather conditions, crowds flocked to the Royal Manx Agricultural Show, held at Knockaloe Farm in Patrick, for an extensive programme of events over two days.

With its friendly atmosphere and family based activities, there was something for everyone, together with a wide range of eateries to suit all tastes and lots of interesting ideas for those seeking new hobbies or pastimes.

It was a perfect opportunity to display a cross-section of the rural industries, including the popular beekeepers' tent and the Manx Food Court, which provided an insight into local businesses such as the Apple Orphanage and Laxey Glen Flour Mill.

The meat section, which included both well established outlets and some new contenders, was particularly busy with shoppers.

Craftwork was especially prominent, as was a selection of trade stands and children's entertainment. with competitions for fur and feather, baking and vegetable growers attracting the curiosity seekers.

The main entertainment ring became a focus of attention for animal judging but also drew the crowds for the daring, trick riding stunt show, Gulliver's Carnival, presented by the Stampede Stunt Company and sponsored by Manx Telecom.

Curraghs Wildlife Park had a few treats in store for younger visitors, whilst the ever popular classic cars and vintage machinery kept other generations occupied at the far end of the showfield.

But equal to the surrounding entertainment was the presence of the farm animals submitted for judging, which included an excellent range of cattle, sheep, goats and heavy horses, with an opportunity for the public to come into close contact with some of our countryside companions.

Valerie Caine
© August 2014

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Green Fields of France

Presented as a 'docu-musical tribute', The Green Fields of France was the brainchild of Bill Quine under the umbrella of Peel Heritage Trust, organised to coincide with the centenary commemorations of World War I.

Held over two nights at the Centenary Centre in Peel, it expressed a wide range of emotions; viewing life from the perspective of both those heading for the battlefields and others left behind.

Using music, song and dialogue, the stage production conveyed the true experiences of a small group of Manx soldiers at the Battle of the Somme, using dramatic sound and visual effects to enhance the experience.

Most of the cast took on the persona of someone from the Isle of Man to relate their tale, rather than convey the story of a melded, fictitious character, which made the event more poignant.

Although dedicated to all those who went to fight from the Isle of Man, and indeed to those who belong to the services today, the drama concentrated on the lives of four local men; John T. Quine DCM, John McCauley, Jack Lewney and John Callister.

Other actors explored the lives of those who remained on the Island, including Louisa Quine (wife of John Quine), singing sweetheart Margaret Gelling (grandmother of Arthur Christian - see below), paperboy Alec Maddrell and Peel Clothworkers' School pupil Becky Quayle, who later became a member of  Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service.  

Narrator for the event was a suitably attired James Mylchreest (grandson of the late Brian Mylchreest LVO, OBE, TD, JP and Colonel in Chief of the Manx Regiment) who helped bring the sequence of events to life with a number of local actors, singers and musicians.

Music was provided by violinist Isla Callister, trumpeter Arthur Christian and piper John Struthers from the Ellan Vannin Pipe Band, with some morale boosting songs of the era sung with gusto by a specially organised choir directed by John Elliott.

A commemorative programme explored other links to The Great War and included a Peel Roll of Honour within its centre pages.

Valerie Caine
© August 2014



Conference promises to shed new light on First World War internmen


Rush for dinner at Knockaloe Internment Camp by German Internee, George Kenner.


A special conference organised by the Manx Museum and De Montfort University takes place next month on the subject of First World War internment on the Isle of Man. Marking the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the first German and Austrian civilian prisoners on the Isle of Man in September 1914, the proceedings get underway on Friday 12 September with a public lecture at the Manx Museum by Profession Panikos Panayi, on Knockaloe as a site of imperial internment.

Professor Panayi of De Montfort University has spent many years studying internment and has published widely on the impact of the First World War on German communities in Britain prior to 1914. His latest release, Germans as Minorities during the First World War, was published in July 2014 by Ashgate publishing.

The following day, Saturday 13 September will see a number of academics from Britain, Germany and America gather to present their research into internment in the First World War. Sessions are open to members of the public with an interest in this subject. Finally on Sunday 14th September a tour of the site of Knockaloe Camp will take place, led by Yvonne Cresswell of Manx National Heritage.

MNH Curator Matthew Richardson commented:

“This promises to be a fascinating conference, on one of the lesser known aspects of the First World War. The role of the Isle of Man as an internment centre is one that we are still unravelling almost 100 years later, and new and revealing pieces of information continue to come to light, telling us more about what life was like in the camps of Douglas and Knockaloe for the Germans, Austrians and Turks held here”.

Matthew added:

“We are enormously proud at Manx National Heritage to be hosting the distinguished team of scholars which Professor Panayi has brought together. This is a really unique opportunity for people of the Isle of Man to hear and interact with some of the leading researchers in this field”.  

Full details of the conference programme and how to book can be found on www.manxnationalheritage.im



Thursday, August 14, 2014

Island in the Great War - Try it.

  1. Threshing with steam at Larkhill Farm, Abbeylands, Onchan in 1917; a Clayton Shuttleworth threshing engine (PG 8063/7)

On Sunday 17th August Cregneash will be taking visitors back 100 years to experience what life was like for the Manx people during the First World War. The event is part of the annual action-packed Island at War weekend on the Isle of Man Steam Railway, where the popular 1940s wartime events will centre around Douglas, Castletown and Port Erin stations. On the Sunday visitors can take bus service number 28 from the events at Port Erin to Cregneash to experience life 30 years earlier.

Helen Ashcroft, Site Manager at Cregneash says;
“To mark the centenary year, and as part of our efforts to tell the Island’s First World War story, we thought this year was a great opportunity to highlight the stories of the farming and fishing community caught up in the national struggle.

The event will have a very different feel to our Second World War events from previous years, and we hope we can encourage visitors to see how this momentous event impacted the Isle of Man”.

Manx agriculture flourished during the war and all surplus produce and livestock were exported to England. Internees were made to work on the farm. And later conscription affected the farming community although appeals were made for skilled workers such as blacksmiths to receive exemption.

In a letter from 1916 John Kermode, President of the Farmer’s Club on the Isle of Man wrote:
‘..young blacksmiths in the Island would do much towards the achievement of victory in their present occupations than if sent to the army, because farmers cannot do their work unless their implements and machines are kept in repair.’
As part of the event, Labyrinth History in Action players will bring these and other First World War stories to life on a walking theatre tour around the village. Tours depart 12:30, 14:30 and 16:30 and are bookable on arrival at Cregneash.

The 
Isle of Man Cadets, 1st Arbory Scouts and Castletown Metropolitan Band will lead a recruitment parade march through the village at 13:30 and 15:30, and the call for volunteers will go out as it would have done in 1914.

Admission tickets are £6 adults, £3 students/ child and can be purchased in advance from the Manx Museum Gallery Shop and www.manxnationalheritage.im. They will also be available at Port Erin Bridson Street and Cregneash on the day of the event. The ticket includes the theatre tours and a free return journey on service bus number 28, departing from Port Erin Bridson Street at 12:00, 13:00, 14:20, 15:00 and 16:00.

If visitors have a particular interest in the war at sea, Adrian Corkhill, author of the book “Hostile Sea” will lead a walk on the story of the German U-Boat offensive around the Isle of Man during the First World War. Participants will be guidedaround the coastline near Cregneash and learn about the drama of events 100 years ago when German U-Boats attacked and sank ships within sight of the Isle of Man’s southern coastline. The walk covers the sinking of the SS Downshire in February 1915, HMS Champagne and HMT Waltham in October 1917, and the schooner Tommi in May 1918.
Adrian will lead the walk ‘Hostile Sea – A View from the Coast’ on Saturday 16th or Sunday 17th August at 10:30. Tickets are £6 available from the Manx Museum Gallery Shop and www.manxnationalheritage.im.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Manx cheese flying high on Emirates Airlines


Isle of Man Creamery is flying high after one of its premium cheeses was selected for high-end airline passengers. The Creamery's Vintage Cheddar is appearing on a select British cheese board served to business and first-class passengers on Emirates Airlines flights. 

The inclusion of a Manx cheese is the result of the company's sales partnership with UK-based cheese distributor Bradbury and Son.

The firm, which markets continental and artisanal British cheeses, will create the offering of four dairy delicacies at its Buxton site.
The board will be served on every Emirates flight departing the UK during August and September along with a specially commissioned tasting guide, describing the cheeses' characteristics and provenance.

Isle of Man Creamery Managing Director Findlay Macleod said: "Emirates have searched the market to bring together a cheese selection suitable for a crucial passenger category. They know that this type of consumer enjoys new eating experiences and learning the story behind the products."
He went on: "As an added bonus, it may be an unusual way for the Isle of Man to come to the attention of high net worth individuals!”

North American Manx Association Followers on Facebook will recall our recent 'sightings from Trader Joe's' when this was the Spotlight cheese.  Texas, Virginia, Florida and Illinois all claimed to have it!


Monday, August 11, 2014

World War I - The Isle of Man Post Office commemorates

This specially-struck medallion commemorates the centenary of the outbreak of World War 1, and pays tribute to all the Manx men and women involved in the conflict and affected by the events which took place between 1914 and 1918. It is limited to just 750 pieces and is sure to be a highly prized collectable, as well as a fitting commemoration of this anniversary. The medallion is struck in zinc alloy and plated in a silver-coloured nickel which showcases the outstanding embossed designs on both sides. Measuring 40mm in diameter, it is available in a velvet pouch or presented in a special case. It's just 12.50
https://www.iompost.com/stamps-coins/collection/world-war-1-life-in-the-trenches/world-war-1-commemorative-medallion/#sthash.5YS5tzZc.dpuf


There's more info about the World War I commemorative pieces here: https://www.iompost.com/stamps-coins/collection/world-war-1-life-in-the-trenches/


To commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of World War One, Isle of Man Post Office commissioned a very special collection of stamps remembering the people who lived through 'the war to end all wars'.

Evocative photos from the First World War and the familiar red poppy adorn this important set of six stamps marking 100 years since the outbreak of the 'Great War', and remembering the human cost of the conflict.

*A DONATION OF £2.50 IS GIFTED TO THE ROYAL BRITISH LEGION WITH EVERY PURCHASE OF THE SPECIAL FOLDER PRODUCT*
https://www.iompost.com/stamps-coins/collection/world-war-1-life-in-the-trenches/#sthash.MMRJWckO.dpuf

Friday, August 8, 2014

S'mie lhiam bluckan-coshey, as ta shoh yndyssagh!



The Isle of Man has been chosen as the hosts for the ConIFA Euros 2015 between the 13th and 21st June. We can assure ConIFA that the people of the Isle of Man will provide all the competing International Teams, their Management, Supporters, International Media and of course ConIFA itself with not just a fantastic football tournament but a cultural and heritage experience that will enrich the lives and memories of those in the ConIFA family all promoted through the warmth and generous spirit of the Manx Nation.
Gura mie ayd ConIFA.


See more in this interview. ConIFA Euro 2015 | MT TV | iom news on demand manx.net   http://www.manx.net/tv/mt-tv/watch/65806/conifa-euro-2015

Dark Thoughts – A Journey through the Victorian Imagination at The Grove Museum


A collection of work by artist Peter Davies inspired by the art of Victorian storytelling will be exhibited at The Grove Museum in Ramsey on 24 August – 4 September 2014. The collection of intriguing images inspired by Victorian illustration and architecture will be creatively exhibited amongst the collections, rooms and outbuildings.

Peter Davies is fascinated by visual images of the nineteenth century and the narrative and architecture of this time is reflected in his collages, drawings and paintings. Some of his pieces are small scale while other sizeable ones will be assembled to form very large panels each measuring several square metres.


Peter explains his inspiration for ‘Dark Thoughts’:
The pictures and paraphernalia to be displayed at the Grove have been produced over a period of forty years – and were inspired by a bound collection of the Victorian weekly journal ‘The Graphic’.  The book had lost its covers and was shedding its stitching, but the quality of the drawings and the craftsmanship in the wood-engraved illustrations were so high I put these images to one side to examine closely. 

The engraved drawings reveal much about Victorian life and times. In theatrical settings with dramatic poses and gestural body language, the images reveal how people looked and interacted 150 years ago. Because the collaged images held this spell for me I decided to translate the small black and white images into much larger scale colour studies. The result is a collection of stand-alone images, which are put together to form a series of very large single compositions.

Much of the work on show has not been previously exhibited and I believe that the imaginative proposal from Manx National Heritage to exhibit the work amid the Grove’s permanent collection is inspired. The pictures will have a powerful impact when installed throughout the Victorian house and its outbuildings.’ 

Katie King, Community Engagement Officer for Manx National Heritage added:
Peter approached us earlier this year through our new ‘You Exhibit – Community Exhibition’ proposal scheme. We were delighted when he agreed to exhibit his impressive artwork within the setting of the Grove Museum – certainly an unusual exhibition space. The idea of exploring the Victorian imagination and imagery was intriguing, and we will be encouraging visitors to spot Peter’s artworks amongst The Grove’s collections.

During the installation period we will be asking visitors to the Grove to compose their own Gothic tales to accompany the art, as well as attend storytelling sessions and an opportunity for younger visitors to create their own small-scale decoupage artworks.’

The installation has been timed to coincide with the last two weeks of the Grove’s 2014 opening, as the building is due to close early this year in order for emergency conservation works to be undertaken.

Katie explains:
Anyone who lives in a Victorian house will understand some of the difficulties which maintenance presents. Here at the Grove, the fabric of the roof is now around 170 years old and is beginning to fail. The Grove will close in early September to enable works to take place on the roof, and in the meantime we have taken steps to remove some of the most vulnerable original items from the house to temporary storage, in order to protect them from damage by water ingress. We hope our ‘Dark Thoughts’ installation will give the Grove a sympathetic boost before restoration work commences, and that our visitors will be taken on a journey of the imagination.

To launch the installation Manx Macabre Tours will be leading a Manx Victorian ghost story tour around the Grove Museum and grounds on Sunday 24th August at 8pm. On Thursday 28th August the Family Library will be delivering a Victorian storytelling session at the Grove for families at 2pm.

Dark Thoughts – A Journey through the Victorian Imagination’ will be on display at The Grove Museum, Ramsey from 24 August – 4 September. Standard admission applies, free entry to ACE cardholders kindly supported by Lloyds Bank. For more details about the activities to coincide with the installation please see www.manxnationalheritage.im.
ENDS
Editor Notes:
Peter Davies Biography

Peter Davies was born in Moreton on the Wirral peninsula and studied painting at Wallasey School of Art, later gaining art education qualifications at Birmingham College of Art and Birmingham University.

Throughout a subsequent career in art education, latterly as Principal of Bournemouth and Poole College of Art and Design, Peter continued to produce his own work.

He has exhibited internationally and received a prestigious gold award from the Association of Illustrators. He moved to the Island in April 2013 and lives in Ramsey.

Dry stone walling by Lloyds Bank staff on the Calf of Man

Last month, a team of seven volunteers from Lloyds Bank joined members of Manx Wildlife Trust and Manx National Heritage to lend a helping hand on the Calf of Man. 

Following a boat journey from Port Erin to the Calf and an overnight stay at the Bird Observatory, the Lloyds Bank team set to work restoring dry stone walls on the Island, which is situated south west of the Isle of Man. 

The 618 acre island is a nature reserve and one of 19 accredited bird observatories within Britain and Ireland.  Around 33 species of birds breed on the Calf annually, around 10 of which are sea birds, with estate and ornithological wardens monitoring its population of resident and migrating birds including Manx Shearwaters, a species of European Conservation Concern.

Shaun Murphy, Property Manager for Manx National Heritage co-ordinated the work:

“We are very pleased to have welcomed the team from Lloyds Bank to the Calf.  It is amazing how much work was completed during the short visit and we are very grateful for the support provided by the Lloyds Bank team”.

Peter Reid, Island Director for Lloyds Bank said:

“It was a real privilege for the team at Lloyds Bank to return to the Calf and fascinating to learn the skill of dry stone wall building.  We would recommend other businesses to get involved in supporting Manx National Heritage’s work in the conservation of the Island’s heritage sites and unique landscape.” 

The Calf of Man can be visited by day trip from Port Erin or Port St Mary, with pre-bookable overnight stays available in self-catering accommodation for up to 8 visitors.   Overnight accommodation is priced at £15 per person per night in shared rooms, with guests bringing their own food and sleeping bags.  A limited number of places remain available for the 2014 season. 

Manx National Heritage regularly works with companies seeking an ‘away day’ which offer excellent team building opportunities whilst providing support for MNH’s work across the Isle of Man’s countryside, heritage sites and ancient monuments. 

For further information on undertaking an away day, contributing towards Manx National Heritage’s work or booking an overnight stay on the Calf, contact Manx National Heritage or visit www.manxnationalheritage.im

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Manx Musicians Play at Europe's Biggest Inter-Celtic Festival!

The phenomenally successful Lorient Inter-Celtic Festival will burst into life at the beginning of this month to entertain an audience of almost one million people, with an increased Manx presence and the ever popular Manx pavilion ready to welcome those who pour into the port of Lorient, Brittany.

The Mollag Band
Billed as Europe's largest Celtic festival, with 200 events and 5,000 performers, it's a ten day extravaganza which gives the Isle of Man a perfect opportunity to promote both cultural and business opportunities in a vibrant setting of music, song and dance.

It's been a busy time for Ealee Sheard (peripatetic teacher with the Manx Language Unit) co-ordinating all of the Manx performers and artists as part of her role as official delegate.

Festival Director, Lisardo Lombardia, recently attended the open air sitting of Tynwald as an invited guest of the Isle of Man Government.

For this year's festival, there's a return visit by The Mollag Band, with the timely release of their new EP Afloat - likely to attract the attention of European audiences, and northern based dance group Ny Fennee, with their flair for choreography and eye-catching traditional costume.
 
Ruth Keggin

Manx music is an important element of the Lorient Festival, with a cross-section of some of our most talented musicians heading to Europe, including Manx Gaelic singer Ruth Keggin, who will perform with her trio and in concert with Celtic music legends Julie Fowlis and Mary Black. Ruth will also be joined by fellow members of the exciting Norwegian Manx Project, fiddle maestro Tom Callister, keyboard wizard David Kilgallon and their Norwegian counterparts, Hardanger fiddler Erlend Apneseth and singer Margit Myhr, to bring their unique Celtic/Norse musical fusion to a wider audience.
Newly formed band Mec Lir will also be heading to Brittany, promising something a little more up-beat in tempo, with some well-known faces from the local scene; Tom Callister, Adam Rhodes, David Kilgallon and Greg Barry with a new EP to boot.

Manx blues guitarist, Davy Knowles, will also be there with DAM Productions to record footage for his documentary Island Bound, sponsored by Island of Culture, the Isle of Man Arts Council and Culture Vannin.

But it's not all about music, with Peel based artist Nicola Dixon presenting a selection of work based on both her Celtic and Norse knot work and her distinctive maritime scenes.

Mec Lir
Another bonus for festival goers will be the Manx pavilion, operated by Peter Skelly for Culture Vannin and this year supported by Visit Isle of Man, promoting Manx produce and offering a generous selection of tourism information about the Island to the huge crowds who attend the festival.


(Photos of Mec Lir and Ruth Keggin courtesy of Phil Kneen)

Valerie Caine
© August 2014

(Courtesy of Manx Tails)

Monday, August 4, 2014

Norwegian Exhibition Docks in Peel



A unique exhibition made a short stop-over in Peel earlier this summer as part of an exciting journey christened The Thing Trail 2014.


The exhibition, which was housed on a converted Norwegian fishing boat, MS Nybakk Venner, attracted a large number of visitors interested to learn more about their mission and why they were visiting the Isle of Man.

With partners in Norway, Iceland, the Faroes, Shetland, Orkney, Scotland and the Isle of Man, The Thing Trail is an EU funded three year transnational project instigated to promote the understanding of 'Thing sites', including Tynwald Hill. It is also hoped that this unusual project will help peripheral and remote communities on the northern margins of Europe develop their economic, social and environmental potential.

Visitors to the exhibition, which was free of charge, also had the opportunity of learning more about the vessel's own history as a busy fishing boat based in Norway, before moving on to the fascinating Thing Trail exhibition itself, which gave visitors an insight into this fascinating topic.

Members of the crew were on hand to explain more about their journey and describe some of the artefacts on board, complemented by a continuous film show and a range of literature.

Later in the day Manx National Heritage hosted a free public seminar at the House of Manannan, exploring the connections between Viking 'Thing' sites.

A wide range of topics were discussed by a number of local speakers, closing with a talk by the skipper of MS Nybakk Venner, Hans Haddal.

Following the seminar, President of Tynwald, The Honourable Clare Christian MLC, presented gifts to the crew of MS Nybakk Venner at Tynwald Hill and passed on an official greeting to Gulating in Norway from the Isle of Man.

Gifts were also presented to the crew from representatives of the Isle of Man Ship Registry.

Valerie Caine
© August 2014

Get down to some “Monky Business” at Rushen Abbey

Developing the visitor experience to support family enjoyment of our heritage sites has been a key focus for Manx National Heritage.  Rushen Abbey is the latest heritage site to receive a family friendly touch with its fun “Monky Business” makeover.
New material has been added about the recent history of the site as a twentieth century tourism attraction including as a fruit garden, jam factory and even as the Academy, a 1980s night club which many visitors will remember and a range of family friendly interventions have been introduced across the site under the banner of “Monky Business”.
In undertaking the development, Manx National Heritage set out to ensure the newly refreshed site appealed to families of all shapes and sizes, from new parents to grandparents taking grandchildren on a family day out.  Local school children and resident families were invited to trial the newly refreshed attraction earlier this year.  The physical layout of the site has also been improved with changes to the entrance which highlight the remaining visible Abbey ruins.  Pre-prescribed visit routes have also been removed to ensure that visitors have the flexibility to choose which elements of the site to enjoy. 
Edmund Southworth, Director of Manx National Heritage said:
“The development was in response to independent research conducted a couple of years ago on the barriers to local people enjoying and experiencing our sites.  The research findings were fascinating, particularly for Rushen Abbey where we went on to work with a professional creative company to develop “Monky Business”, which features interactive play equipment and family orientated interpretation across the site.
Further family friendly initiatives across the Island’s heritage sites include the launch of Bee Explorer Bags at Cregneash, hands on play and dressing up in the Exploratorium at the Manx Museum and new family friendly events taking place across the Island’s Heritage sites. 
Get down to some “Monky Business” at Rushen Abbey
We’ve had an interesting reaction to our recent work at Rushen Abbey and its highlighted the way different people can react in different ways.  We aimed for the scheme to deliver a positive and recognisable change in experience for younger visitors to Rushen Abbey, whilst at the same time understanding that different audiences have different motives to visit the Abbey from leisure activities to learning and even pilgrimage to the Island’s most important religious site. 
Recognising the importance of our differing audiences and their motivations to visit, were key considerations in the development. The challenge was continuing to ensure the attraction appealed to existing audiences, whilst also appealing to those who have not previously visited or hadn’t returned for many years. 
We were careful to ensure that we didn’t take anything away from the attraction for those who already enjoyed visiting and have just added a new layer of interpretation specifically targeted at a family audience.  On the whole, we have received excellent feedback.  If you haven’t had the chance to visit, we’d love to welcome you, so please do call in this summer and let us know what you think”.
Situated in Ballasalla, Rushen Abbey was originally gifted by King Olaf I for use as a monastery in 1134.  It became home to the monks of the Sauvinac Order, and was developed as the Isle of Man’s seat of religious power, housing the main body of knowledge and literacy for the Island.  Later the site became a school for girls, a jam factory and a tourist attraction famed for its Strawberry and Cream Tea Dances. 
Rushen Abbey is open daily from 10am to 5pm until 2 September 2014 and 10am to 4pm, 3 September to 2 November 2014.  Admission cost £5 per adult and £2.50 per child, with free entry available to Season Pass Holders and Isle of Man school children with their ACE cards, kindly sponsored by Lloyds Bank.



Saturday, August 2, 2014

St James Church in Dalby Celebrates 175th Anniversary

A number of special events were organised in Dalby this summer to celebrate the 175th anniversary of St James Church, including an exhibition, a special service and in conclusion an anniversary concert.

The popular exhibition, which was held during Manx National Week, provided an extensive opportunity for visitors to find out more about life in Dalby, with a comprehensive array of information and memorabilia.

It was based on the success of a previous exhibition, with additional material spreading throughout the church and overflowing into the schoolroom.

The displays highlighted daily life within the village both past and present, but also provided snapshots of some of the more famous people associated with the area; with a variety of home-made refreshments on offer in true Dalby style.
 
Other celebrations included a special anniversary service, followed a week later by a concert in the church itself, featuring some of the Island's finest singers and musicians, with wine and canapés during the interval.

Valerie Caine
 
© July 2014