Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Visit the WOSAT Arts Festival for an Exciting Creative Experience!

The highly successful WOSAT Arts Festival will be returning to the west of the Island this year during the early May Bank Holiday weekend, with an exciting platform with which to promote both artists and the visual arts on the Isle of Man.

Organised by The Creative Network, last year's event recorded excellent visitor numbers, which has prompted the group to include additional ideas and widen the creative experience for both artists and visitors.

It's a great opportunity for the public to gain an insight into the world of art, as local artists unlock the doors of their work areas, or demonstrate their individual skills at selected venues, including St German's Cathedral, the Corrin Hall (together with a cross-section of artisan stalls) and the House of Manannan in Peel and The Isle Gallery in St John's. This will include artist and college lecturer Juan Moore and his students from the Isle of Man College, as well as some of the more familiar names from the Island's art scene.

But artwork could pop up almost anywhere in Peel during the weekend, with shop windows transformed into display areas, small scale, temporary installation art projects and some secret street art created by the mysterious Manxy!

A maritime themed exhibition at The Isle Gallery will coincide with the centennial commemoration of the sinking of the Lusitania, as will a specially created sand sculpture of the passenger liner on the beach at Peel (pending funding) by international artists Darren Jackson and Stephanie Quayle.

Families are also encouraged  to bring their children to the event, where there will be a range of age related activities available at most of the venues and selected artists' studios.

Art is, by its very nature, pluralistic, which has allowed the inclusion of new ideas this year, such as a series of time-based media films and readings by The Poetry Society in the form of a 'poetry bomb' at the House of Manannan and in concert with the early music group Hartes Ease at the Corrin Hall.

The newly emerging WOSAT music scene will also include an evening of traditional Manx music followed by a ceili in the marquee at Marine Parade; tickets priced at £8.00.

Entrance to the studios, demonstrations and exhibition venues will be by purchase of a £2.00 wrist band, with an optional trail guide (including map, artist profiles, events and other information) also available at £2.00. Children under the age of sixteen will be admitted to art venues free of charge.

It's hoped to develop the festival into an annual tourist attraction with organisers seeking sponsorship for a range of projects.

The three day event will be opened at the House of Manannan by Tim Crookall MHK, Minister for the Department of Education and Children, at 10.00am on Saturday the 2 May.

Valerie Caine
© May 2015

(Courtesy of Manx Tails)

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

History in Heels - Follow in the footsteps of the women who made Mann

History in Heels is now in full swing at seven Manx National Heritage locations. The yearlong women’s history project takes a fresh and surprising approach to some of the remarkable Isle of Man women and their personal histories through pop-up displays and events at seven venues around the Island - the Manx Museum, House of Manannan, Castle Rushen, The Old House of Keys, The Old Grammar School, Cregneash and The Grove.
History in Heels lets you follow in the footsteps of the women who made Mann beginning with the Pagan Lady to prisoners and a Civil War Countess at Castle Rushen to the era of Miss Isle of Man and the bathing beauties. Other themes covered are Political Women and Women Interned.
Co-curator of History in Heels, Jude Dicken said;
“History in Heels has already made an impression at our sites and there has been great interest in the stories, many which have never been told before. The project has encouraged people to reappraise the locations as the stories of the women associated with them have really brought them to life. Many of the stories are told in the words of the women themselves, and some are told in the very location they happened.

We have also been sharing stories via social media and remarkably when I posted the story of two sisters transported from Castle Rushen in 1823 – Jane Cowell and Margaret Quayle - onto our Facebook page, an ancestor now living in Australia identified the sisters as her great-great-great-great-great aunts.  History in Heels truly went global thanks to #historyinheels. We also have special History in Heels events throughout 2015.”

The next History in Heels event ‘Vintage Hair: The Queen of Mann’ takes place at the iMuseum in Douglas on Thursday 30 April, 10am – 12noon. The event sees the Isle of Man College’s Hair and Beauty Department recreate the glamour of the bathing beauty in their annual live styling challenge. Visitors are invited to come along and watch the students style their models and chat to them about how they achieve the vintage look.

Tickets are also now on sale for talks by Dr Avril Maddrell on ‘To the ends of the earth (and home again): The hidden histories of women geographers’ on Saturday 23 May and Rebecca Shawcross’ ‘The Shoe Must Go On!’ on the evening of Friday 26 June. Rebecca who is a Shoe Curator and author of Shoes: An Illustrated History will also lead an interactive workshop the following day exploring the history of the shoe, changing styles and the origins of the heel, with the rare opportunity to see shoes from the national collections.

For more details and to buy tickets visit or visit the Manx Museum Gallery Shop.

In time for TT week, the visual exhibition ‘Fast Women’ will open in the temporary gallery at the Manx Museum on Saturday 30 May. Celebrating women in Manx motorsport, this entirely visual exhibition will display images from the early trail blazers to the modern day heroines and supporters.

History in Heels proudly marks the centenary of the National Federation of Women’s institutes. A pop up for the Isle of Man WI is on display at the House of Manannan with an interactive WI display also coming soon. Standard admission charges to venues apply and please check site opening times before you visit.

We’ll be sharing more women’s stories on our Facebook page or join the Twitter conversation @manxheritage #historyinheels.

1.    Albert Moule, TT and MGP rider, on stage with the beauty contestants, Villa Marina, Douglas, 1940s
2.    Women Geographer Cuchlaine  King fieldwork Iceland 1953
3.    Rebecca Shawcross charts the history of shoes

Monday, April 27, 2015

Peel Commissioners to Commemorate the Centenary of the Sinking of the Lusitania

Crew members of the Wanderer receiving their medals on Tynwald Day
Peel Town Commissioners have organised a day of events to commemorate the centenary of the sinking of the Lusitania, which will reflect not only upon the  loss of life, but the selfless contribution of the crew of the Peel fishing boat The Wanderer, who were first on the scene and saved many people from the doomed passenger liner.

The luxurious RMS Lusitania was launched by Cunard in 1906, held the coveted Blue Riband, and was briefly the world's largest passenger ship, but crossing from New York to Liverpool in 1915, she was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat, resulting in the deaths of 1,198 passengers and crew; including four from the Isle of Man.

She sank off the Old Head of Kinsale in Ireland in just eighteen minutes, but it was to be two hours before rescuers heading from the mainland reached the scene. Fortunately the twenty ton Peel lugger was fishing a few miles off Kinsale, with 800 mackerel already on board, when Thomas Woods, steering the vessel, noticed the Lusitania listing.

The skipper of The Wanderer, William Ball, is reported to have said to Woods 'Go for her, be British' and undeterred by enemy submarines they bravely headed for the ill-fated liner.

They hauled on board 160 men, women and children, including a two month old baby; but others clung desperately to the sides of the vessel, pleading for help.

Memorial Plaque at Weatherglass Corner in Peel
Towing two lifeboats besides, they sailed towards the Old Head of Kinsale with the benefit of fine weather and a calm sea, offering survivors comforts from their own stores.

Two miles from land The Wanderer was intercepted by the Flying Fish (an Admiralty tug) which delivered the survivors to Queenstown (latterly renamed Cobh) and docked to a hero's welcome. In the meantime The Wanderer, now forgotten, returned to the site of the disaster, but found no further survivors.

Their bravery was recognised by the Manchester Manx Society which arranged for a special medal to be presented to each member of the crew by the Lieutenant Governor, Lord Raglan, on Tynwald Day 1915.

On Sunday 3 May a service of commemoration will be led by Bishop Robert Paterson at the RNLI station in Peel at mid-day, with His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor, Adam Wood, in attendance. After which a flotilla of craft, led by Peel lifeboat, will sail behind the breakwater strewing poppies in remembrance; a lone piper accompanying them from the breakwater.

Weatherglass Corner in Peel
This will be followed at 3.30pm by a lecture at the Centenary Centre presented by Manx National Heritage. During the evening there will be a buffet dinner with entertainment by The Shenanigans Banned at 7.00pm inside a marquee on the former swimming pool site at Marine Parade; tickets priced at £20. Surplus funds after expenses will be donated to Peel lifeboat.

Tickets for both the evening event and the lecture available from Peel Town Hall during office hours.
In addition, a service to remember the sinking of the Lusitania and the role of the Wanderer will be held on the anniversary of the disaster at the cathedral in Peel at 2.00pm on the 7 May, 2015.

Valerie Caine
© April 2015

(Courtesy of Manx Tails)

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Two Man Art Exhibition in Peel Hailed a Success

A recent two man art exhibition held in the historical Sailors' Shelter on East Quay in Peel, was hailed as a resounding success.

Given a new lease of life since its recent renovation, the Sailors' shelter now provides facilities for meetings, exhibitions and other gatherings.

Situated at the heart of the sea-faring community, the weekend art exhibition displayed work by local residents Vic Bates and Peter Leadley, who are both active members of the Western (IOM) Photographic Society.

They both have a liking for seascapes and maritime themes which reflected the general theme of the exhibition, interspersed with paintings of landscape, pencil drawings and motorspsort photography.

Their use of colour brought to life the alternating moods of the west coast, with many of the exhibits available for purchase.

Also on show was a selection of verse by the Manx poet Josephine Kermode (aka Cushag), with an opportunity to purchase one of the remaining copies of Peel - A Slice of Time, compiled by Vic Bates and Bill Quine.

The exhibition was organised by Peel Heritage Trust.

For further information about hiring the building contact Bill Quine on 844938.

Valerie Caine
© April 2015

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A Wallaby Walk in the Curragh

The expanding group of wild red-necked wallabies in the northern Curragh have long been a source of fascination, since their celebrated escape from the nearby Wildlife Park during the 1970s. But with the help of the Manx Wildlife Trust visitors were able to catch a glimpse of some of these shy animals and learn more about this extraordinary piece of landscape.

Leader of the Wallaby Walk was Biodiversity Education Officer Dawn Dickens, who led a small group of enthusiasts in their hunt for the elusive wallabies.

During the Ice Age, the area now known as the Curragh was covered by sheets of ice, which left a depression at the bottom of the northern hills that ultimately formed an area of wetland.

As time progressed the land was used for grazing animals and to grow hay, one of the few successful crops suited to the area.

In the middle ages the land was deliberately enclosed and referred to as an 'Intack' (a term first used about 1520 from 'In-taken' or land 'taken into' cultivation) which in the Curragh corresponded to damp meadows.

The locality became a valuable resource for peat, which the parish of Kirk Michael is reported to have used widely, but once the practice of peat cutting declined the redundant ditches filled with water, resulting in the formation of bogs.

Plans for the area have waxed and waned over many years, including a failed attempt by the Isle of Man Government to grow New Zealand flax for paper manufacture in the 1930s.

During the 1950s they also elected to drain the Curragh to encourage farming, but ultimately decided that this idea was uneconomical.

The Curragh is home to a rich and varied biodiversity, including willow, bog myrtle, six species of orchid (including the Heath Spotted Orchid) and Sphagnum Moss, the latter responsible for the high levels of peat mentioned previously.

In 2006 a total of 193 hectares became a designated RAMSAR site, as part of the  international treaty for the conservation and sustainable utilisation of wetlands.

Normally associated with Tasmania and the land mass of south-eastern Australia, the red-necked wallabies who made their bid for escape some decades ago found their rural setting conducive to their needs and bred successfully.

Although living mainly around the Curragh, there have been sightings as far away as the Braaid and Silverdale, but with no predators on the Island it's estimated that there's a colony of approximately 120 wallabies on the Isle of Man; with numbers steadily growing.

A young wallaby (known as a 'joey') is the size of a human thumb at birth, but continues to live and grow inside its mother's pouch for about nine months, after which it will remain with her until ready to leave its sanctuary at the age of one and a half.

Feeding on grass and plants and able to move at a top speed of 40mph, a group of wallabies is affectionately referred to as 'a mob'.

Members of the group were fortunate enough to experience two sightings, as well as learning more about the landscape's ecology and history.

For further information contact the Manx Wildlife Trust.

Valerie Caine
 © April 2015

Monday, April 20, 2015

R.I.P. Past-President Don Quayle

Don passed away on April 17th. He was 84. He was a former President of NAMA and (I think) oversaw the Convention in Williamsburg. Maybe someone who was around at the time could help us with a recollection of his time as President. Certainly, Don was an enthusiastic Manxman and was proud of his heritage. Don leaves behind a massive extended family and our sympathies go out to all of them.

We will include a more detailed obituary following his Memorial Service on June 14th. But of now, here is the tribute paid by NPR. Don was its first president.

The first president of National Public Radio has died. Don Quayle was 84 years old. He had a long career in public broadcasting — both television and radio. NPR's Susan Stamberg reflects on his impact.

Don Quayle gave me my first radio job. It was the early '60s and he was head of the Educational Radio Network — the precursor of NPR — a skinny little network of 12 East Coast stations that developed a daily drive-time news show. He hired me to help produce it. When this national network arose, he was an obvious choice to run it.

Don was principled, decent and astute. In the euphoric tumult of our first years, he navigated the choppy seas of building a public radio system. He knew NPR had to serve you, our listeners, above the competing needs of stations, boards and funders.

Putting the network's first program, All Things Considered, on the air in 1971, he presided over a dedicated and scrappy staff, and always said his job was to build a structure in which creative people could flourish.

Today's NPR goes far beyond the structure that Don worked to establish from 1970 to 1973. It's now grown to 900-plus member stations — a giant leap from the original handful. And All Things Considered is the first of many programs NPR now produces. But the systems and sensibility he put in place (and yes, even some of the people) continue to flourish, thanks to his initial guidance.

Five years ago, Utah State University, his alma mater, presented Don with an honorary doctorate of humane letters for his "significant contributions" to public broadcasting. He was as thrilled about that as he was when he first saw the snazzy new Washington, D.C., headquarters in which we now work.

He was warm and kind in his enthusiasms. At the heart of them, in addition to his family, was his belief in the work you hear, here, every day.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Manx titles in top positions on Kindle Select

Finlo and the Fairy Kings – A Manx Fairytale -  is currently No 1 on the Kindle Select chart below and still free via kindle select or for $1.99 . Another Manx book "Manx Shearwater" by Ruth Hurt hit No 25 last week. It is a romantic comedy set in the Isle of Man amid the local sailing scene and uses the TT races as a backdrop. $1.50 or free on Kindle unlimited.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Ramsey - A Collection of Images Through the Years

Nostalgia is a popular subject for many Manx book collectors, but if you’re linked in any way to the northern town of Ramsey there’s an extra reason to dip into this new publication which focuses on some fascinating aspects of the area.

First settled by the Vikings three thousand years ago, Ramsey became known as the capital of the north, and within these pages you’ll find a selection of thought-provoking photographs of the town in its hey-day.

Inevitably this includes many industries associated with the harbour area, but the book also acknowledges other important milestones linked to the town, such as the Ellan Vannin tragedy, internment during World War II, the creation of Radio Caroline, and the establishment of Ramsey Cottage Hospital.

A collaboration between Miles Cowsill and Ramsey based writer Sue Woolley, this was published in response to several requests to produce an historical ‘picture book’ of the town, but although it gives a rewarding insight into the area’s history, it was never meant to be a detailed account of the locality.

Nonetheless it charts some of the many changes which the town has experienced and illustrates its importance as a busy, commercial centre, with some priceless nuggets of information and a skilful choice of photography, supplemented by some stunning colour images by Tony Lloyd-Davies.

Available at many bookshops and outlets across the Island, it’s priced at £14.95.

Valerie Caine
© April 2015

(Courtesy of Manx Life)

Monday, April 13, 2015

Barrule Launch Their Latest CD at the Centenary Centre in Peel

Adam Rhodes
Fans of Manx trad power trio Barrule were out in force at the Centenary Centre in Peel to celebrate the Island launch of their latest CD Manannan's Cloak, a sequel to their award-winning eponymous debut album released in 2013.
David Kilgallon

It was a sell-out gig which attracted many fans who were already familiar with the trio's original style of music, which, along with other Manx singers and musicians, has pushed the Isle of Man into the spotlight in recent years.

The all male line-up soon had the audience under their spell with a range of Manx traditional tunes and contemporary compositions, with the first half given over to a selection of material from their new album.

Greg Joughin
Ignited by Barrule's creative interpretation of some well-known favourites, a receptive audience was more than ready for the second half of the concert which concentrated on songs and tunes from their first album.

Busy travelling the world, this was a rare appearance on the Isle of Man, which closed with a well deserved standing ovation for the band, after a stunning performance which left members of the audience pleading for more.

Jamie Smith
They were joined on stage by local singer Greg Joughin and musician David Kilgallon, who also feature on the new album, (which will be released nationally during May) together with GrĂ¡inne Joughin and Ali Carroon who performed a selection of Manx jigs for an appreciative audience.

During the interval (which included home-made cakes by GrĂ¡inne) there was an opportunity to buy their new album, personalised merchandise and, hot off the press, the Barrule tune book, a valuable addition for anyone interested in playing Manx music.

Tom Callister
But nurturing and developing a CD can be a costly business, which is why Barrule has initiated the Kickstarter project, in order to raise funding for the final stage of the album, together with its promotion and publicity.

This is a great opportunity to help Barrule in their quest to bring Manx music to a wider audience, and in return for  your donation there's some fabulous goodies on offer, including the new album before it goes on general release.

The project is only live until the 27 April, so why not take advantage of this new initiative and grab a bargain?

Further details available on Barrule's website, along with dates of their forthcoming gigs, including an appearance at La Grande Rencontre festival in Montreal, Canada at the beginning of May.

Valerie Caine
 © April 2015

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Manx Competitors Head for the Legenderry Pan Celtic Festival

The 44th Pan Celtic Festival will be staged in the city of Derry in Northern Ireland for a second successive year this month, which will include a return visit by the Manx quartet Shenn Scoill to contest their unprecedented win in the Pan Celtic International Song Contest last year.

Shenn Scoill (Manx Gaelic for Old School) proved to be a consistent winner at the local event, Arrane son Mannin, held earlier this year at the Masonic Hall in Douglas, when they clinched first place with My Lomarcan dy Feer (I'm Truly Alone). Composed by group members Laura and Dave Rowles, it relates the tragic, but true story, of a Manxman who went off smuggling the day before his wedding. They were joined on stage by Michelle Jamieson (lead vocals) and Fraser Grant (guitar) and hope to bring the trophy home from Ireland for a second time.

Awarded £300 by Culture Vannin, Shenn Scoill will face challenges from musicians representing the other Celtic countries as they battle for the top prize of €1,500.

Additionally, the Pan-Celtic Award for a New Song in Traditional Style was awarded to Sharon Christian for her composition Arrane Cadlee (Lullaby), performed by Clare Kilgallon, and the Pan-Celtic Award for a New song in Traditional Style (runner-up) awarded to Liz Marshall for her composition Mainshter Frank. Inspired by a boat built in Ramsey in 1894 (Master Frank), it was performed by Marlene Hendy and the Kilgallon siblings.

The festival itself is a great opportunity to celebrate the rich, cultural links which tie the Celtic nations together, drawing musicians, singers and dancers to a family-friendly event, which traditionally takes place just after Easter.

Local group Mec Lir will also be heading over to Ireland to take part in events towards the end of the festival, with their fresh, up-beat performance of Manx music sure to earn them some Irish fans.

With the assistance of the Isle of Man Arts Council, performers journeying from the Island will be kept busy during the Pan Celtic Festival with concerts, ceilis and a variety of competitions which will cover the main areas of music, song and dance. But there'll also be an opportunity to become involved in workshops, street entertainment, sporting events and a special religious service.

Dominating the north-western landscape of Ireland, astride the waters of the Foyle, the 6th century city of Derry has been affectionately described as an undiscovered gem, attracting an ever increasing international audience.

Derry, designated the first UK City of Culture during 2013, can claim to have the only completely walled city in both Ireland and the British Isles, but it's also known for its friendliness and hospitality; together with a range of names such as Londonderry, Doire and nowadays 'Legenderry'.

Valerie Caine
© April 2015

(Courtesy of Manx Tails)

Two Man Art Exhibition Coming Up in Peel

As the Sailors' Shelter on East Quay in Peel takes on board a new lease of life, a two man art exhibition taking place later this month will provide an opportunity to study the work of two local artists.

Peter Leadley is a keen amateur artist who works mainly in watercolours, with a penchant for marine seascapes, capturing the 'men-of-war' and clipper ships of bygone days, Peter also paints local landscapes. He's an active member of the Isle of Man Art Society, exhibiting regularly at their annual Easter exhibition, but has recently embarked on a new challenge. Having picked up a digital SLR camera, Peter is keen to capture the moods of the Manx landscape in a new way.

Although Vic Bates is well known for his work producing maps and motorsport photographs for publication, he also enjoys painting. Working in all types of medium, he harbours a preference for oils and watercolour. Living close to the quayside, Vic's paintings naturally lean towards sailing vessels and the sea.

Both Peter and Vic are members of the Western (Isle of Man) Photographic Society.

The Sailors' Shelter opened its doors in 1877, acting as a refuge for boat crews when bad weather prevented them from leaving port. For an advance payment of one shilling per quarter, members would be provided with warmth and shelter whilst whiling away the time in conversation, or playing games.

It was the then High Bailiff of Peel who first proposed the idea, and with the support of local people who attended several fundraising events, the building was erected within 34 days.

The shelter also doubled as an amenity hall for art classes, parties and lectures.

The exhibition has been organised by Peel Heritage Trust, who contributed to the building's recent renovation, to celebrate the work and commitment of the Sailors' Shelter Committee in their quest to refurbish this historic building.

It's intended that the newly refurbished Sailors' Shelter will host exhibitions and meetings for local clubs and organisations in the future.

The two man art exhibition will be open for viewing 10.30am - 4.00pm on East Quay (opposite Fenella Bridge) on the 17 - 19 April.

Admission is free.

Valerie Caine

© April 2015

Monday, April 6, 2015

UK to scan passports when LEAVING the country

Islanders heading out of the UK are being urged to allow themselves more time for their journeys after Easter. Manx Radio
Passport checks on passengers leaving Britain are being introduced from 8 April and could result in new queues at airports, ferry ports and Eurotunnel.
The introduction of exit checks, said to be the biggest change to border controls for 20 years, aims to identify people who have overstayed their visa.
It will mean every passenger - with the exception of school groups and those on private planes and boats - will in future have their travel documents checked and scanned on a computer when they leave the UK.
The Island's Director of Ports Anne Reynolds has this advice for local residents heading abroad via the UK: