Monday, July 27, 2015

Exciting New Island Degree Course in History and Heritage

Beginning in September 2015, this exciting course is a BA (Hons) in History and Heritage, subject to validation by the University of Chester, offered on a full-time (3 years) or a part-time (6 years) basis, with access to extensive online resources; including eBooks and eJournals.

An honours degree in history and heritage can open the door to a wide range of jobs in a variety of employment sectors, including the media, the civil service, tourism and heritage, business marketing, or law and education, together with some highly prized transferable employment skills.

The Island is abundantly blessed with many layers of unique history and heritage, which, if you scratch below the surface, reveals a rich seam of learning and a fantastic opportunity to discover more about how the Isle of Man evolved across the centuries, its often varied influences and learn more about how this can benefit us in a contemporary setting.

The new degree  course, however, offers a comprehensive programme which will focus on a wider remit of British, European and world history, developing historical research skills and learning about the role of heritage in representing the past.

But students will also be able to broaden their horizons by studying the heritage industry from an international perspective, and get a feel for what it's like to work in this arena on a contemporary level. During their second year, students will also be able to take advantage of a six-week work placement, or undertake a specific research project.

Studying on the Island also brings many advantages, including some fabulous resources, a strong sense of its own history and a growing heritage industry. Home-based students will also have the opportunity to learn from those directly involved in history and heritage on a local level, the chance to connect with potential future employers, benefit from academic support and become part of the college's broad HE Community.

Entry requirements will be 240 UCAS points, although applications are also welcome from mature students who will be considered on the basis of previous experience and/or professional qualifications. Students may also be eligible for an Isle of Man Government Student Award which will pay all fees for the degree programme.

Application forms can be downloaded from

Further details about the Student Awards Scheme available from

All other enquiries should be directed to the H. E. Administrator at the Isle of Man College on 01624 648278 or at .

Valerie Caine
© July 2015

(Courtesy of Manx Tails)

Friday, July 24, 2015

Manx Representatives Head for International Celtic Congress in Ireland

This year's International Celtic Congress is being held at Rosscarbery in County Cork, Ireland, bringing together representatives from each of the Celtic countries, including the Isle of Man.
Phil Gawne

Centred at the Celtic Ross Hotel, the week-long conference includes excursions, an International Celtic Concert, informal sessions and a ceili night, together with a series of lectures on the theme of 'What is National Freedom?' Phil Gawne MHK will present a paper for the Isle of Man, whilst Annie Kissack will represent Manx music. Further highlights will be a series of films, a workshop dedicated to Irish songs and the International Celtic Congress dinner.

The town of Rosscarbery has a rich heritage, but in recent times has witnessed unprecedented growth, primarily in the holiday accommodation sector, which swells the standard population during the summer months.

Rosscarbery is the location for St Fachtna's, the smallest cathedral in Ireland and the size of a typical parish church; which has parallels with our own St German's Cathedral.

Annie Kissack
But there's a stronger connection with the name of the town, which is a mutation of the Irish Ros Ó gCairbre which translates into Cairbre's Wood.

According to the Manx scholar J. J. Kneen, the parish of Arbory is dedicated to two saints, St Cairpre of Coleraine and St Columba. This dual dedication persisted, with the parish bearing the name of Cairbre or Cairpre and the parish church Columba, resulting in Kirk Carbery becoming Kirk Arbory.

The first Celtic Congress (under the title of the Pan-Celtic Congress) was held in Abergavenny, Wales, in 1838, and organised only every thirty years or so until the end of the nineteenth century, when meetings were regularised.

However, the first Celtic Congress in its present form convened in 1917 at Birkenhead, on the invitation of the National Union of Welsh Societies, as part of the National Eisteddfod. On this occasion there was a representative from the Celtic Society of Paris, as well as those from the six Celtic nations.

Preparations are well under way for next year's International Celtic Congress which will be held on the Isle of Man.

Valerie Caine
© July 2015

(Courtesy of Manx Tails)

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Peel Hosts a Successful Yn Chruinnaght Inter-Celtic Festival

The annual Inter-Celtic festival, Yn Chruinnaght, brought colour and vibrancy to Peel during five days of music, song and dance, as visiting groups and artistes joined with local performers to provide entertainment at various venues throughout the town.

It was a great location for a varied programme, which was largely focused around the hub of the fishing port, kicking off with a concert in St German's Cathedral before heading down to a popular gig at The Creek.

Peel Methodist Church has also become a favourite acoustic setting for afternoon concerts, which this year featured a selection of singers and musicians, including a number of rising stars from the ranks of the Island's younger performers.

Out at Peel Golf Club, the award-winning Mischa Macpherson hosted a Scottish singing workshop, which was followed later by a rousing ceili, with music provided by visiting Breton and Cornish groups and the inimitable Calor Gas Ceili Band in their final performance, after thirty six years on the Manx circuit.

Meanwhile a discussion about Celtic languages took place at the Methodist Guild Room, a Cornish dance workshop at the Centenary Centre  and the Corrin Hall provided a venue for a popular craft fair, which included a range of artistic talent and a varied use of local items.

And for those wishing to try something a little different, specialist carver Sharon Littley was on hand during two workshops over the weekend to help talented individuals carve their own Welsh lovespoons.

Music sessions, one of the mainstays of the festival, took place at The Royal and at The Highwayman.

But probably the most successful events were at the Centenary Centre, with two sell-out concerts featuring the phenomenal folk band Flook with support from Greg Joughin and local duo Strengyn, followed by the magnificent premiere of The Gathering, written by David Kilgallon and commissioned by Yn Chruinnaght; with a powerful finale by Breton duo Landat-Moisson.

Other events involving Island musicians and dancers were held at The Institute in Laxey and at the Villa Marina in Douglas.

The festival concluded with an energetic display of Manx dancing by local groups and a musical interlude from some of our up and coming musicians from the Bree Supergroup outside the House of Manannan in glorious sunshine.

Valerie Caine
© July 2015

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Minnesota Manx Newsletter

The Isle of Man has never looked more beautiful than in the backdrop to these striking photographs of cleverly-balanced stones.

Adrian Gray, a world leader in the art of stone balancing, has been hard at work scanning the island in search of the best locations to put his honed skills to the test, with photographer Mikael Buck on hand to record the unbelievable results.

Gray takes his inspiration from his stunning natural environment and studies each stone carefully to fully understand weight distribution and how the shapes will fit together before building his monuments.

He was asked to create the sculptures after the Isle of Man's government noticed his talent on Channel 4's Grand Designs.

See more of his beautiful designs here. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Appeal for donations to St Paul's Church in Market Square, Ramsey

Hello, Greetings from the Isle of Man. I was at the World Manx Society Dinner last Saturday, the Government Garden Party on the Sunday afternoon and then at Tynwald Day Ceremony in the heavy rain on Monday 7th July.

I am writing to ask if you would be willing to put the below appeal in your newsletter. We are looking for Manx people who might have a link with Ramsey and might be willing to make a donation towards the tower fund at St Paul's Church in Market Square, Ramsey.

I am planning to be in Chicago at the beginning of october and am already in touch with Margaret Martinson and have arranged to have dinner with her on friday 2nd october.  
I don't know how many members you have in Chicago, but I would love to meet you all.  I am a rehearsal Queen Elizabeth II for the BBC and would be willing to tell you about this.  I have attached a photo.

It does occur to me that, if by any chance anyone would like to make a donation to our tower fund, the total amount could be presented to me during my visit and then I could take the money back to the isle of man. This would save transfering the individual cheques through the banks. I am the treasurer of the church and could give an official receipt. I see that John Prendergast is the Treasurer of the your Society 

I look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes

An Appeal to Anyone With Links to Ramsey 
St Paul’s Church is a key feature of the Ramsey landscape fronting on to the Market Place and looking out over the harbour. The tower at the Church has been in danger of collapsing and the congregation has worked incredibly hard to raise over £40,000 to carry out works to replace rotting wooden beams with new steel ones and thus stabilize the structure. However, they now need to raise a further £50,000 to carry out repairs to the roof and structure to stop the water ingress that has been causing the damage. This is a huge challenge and in addition to continuing the fundraising efforts the church is also appealing to anyone with links to the church or the town for donations towards the cost of completing this project.

If you are able to support this fundraising appeal, cheques can be made out to St Paul’s Church and sent to: Miss Ella Slack, The Treasurer of St Paul's Church, 7 Royal CourtQueens Promenade, Ramsey IM8 1EP. If you would like to obtain further information about this project before making a decision about whether or not to support it please email and the Vicar or one of the Church Wardens will be happy to respond to any queries. If you are on Facebook, why not visit St Paul’s at

Manx Musician Heads for Hebridean Celtic Festival

(Courtesy of Adam Rhodes first left)
As the twentieth annual Hebcelt Festival gets into full swing, local traditional musician, Adam Rhodes, will be heading to the Isle of Lewis as part of the highly successful Welsh band Jamie Smith's Mabon.

The popular festival, which has clinched an international reputation as a showcase for both Celtic performers and those influenced by the genre, has attracted a spectacular line-up of more than twenty performers, including Shooglenifty, Salsa Celtica and Karen Matheson of Capercaillie.

This multi-award winning event is held in the grounds of Lews Castle in Stornoway, on the picturesque Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, where visitors from around the world can soak up the atmosphere and experience a different way of life.

Dr Alasdair Allan, MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Outer Hebrides) and the Minister for Scotland's Languages, has praised the HebCelt organisers for using the festival as a venue to promote the Gaelic tongue. He said, "This is another fine example of the good work being done by HebCelt to promote Gaelic to a large audience. It means the language will be prominent during the festival and will encourage people, even those not familiar with the language, to see and hear it being used in everyday situations. That kind of exposure and experience is vital to Gaelic's sustainability. Hearing Gaelic being spoken and used in traditional and contemporary songs at the festival, adds to the character and appeal of HebCelt."

Jamie Smith's Mabon is known to many as Wales' finest purveyors of original Inter Celtic music, bursting into life in 1999, with their exploration of dynamic, traditional Welsh and Celtic dance music.

These days their output is largely based on Jamie Smith's own compositions, influenced by both traditional music and contemporary Celtic artists.

Adam, who plays bouzouki, was latterly a member of the Manx based band King Chiaullee, but now a familiar face in a new line-up called Mec Lir.

Valerie Caine

© July 2015

Monday, July 13, 2015

Isle of Man Stamps & Coins - Manx Buses

Entitled All Aboard Please! Manx Buses Part Two, this particular presentation has been issued in addition to a previous release in 1999, and features a selection of nostalgic images highlighting vehicles used by both Douglas Corporation and Road Services fleets, which later amalgamated under the banner of Isle of Man National Transport during 1976.

These wonderfully evocative pictures depict vehicles used on the Island during the 1930s and 1940s and have been especially commissioned by local artist Peter Hearsey to mark the fortieth anniversary of Isle of Man Transport.

A renowned automotive history artist, Peter Hearsey studied at Kingston Upon Hull College of Art 1960 - 1964, but after working in London for many years within the spheres of advertising, visualisation and illustration, moved to the Isle of Man in 1977. He has used a modern style for this work, with each vehicle highlighted in a creative SPOT UV varnish to create a luminous finish.

Local author and transport historian, Richard Davis, who provided the accompanying text, commented, "I am delighted to see the results of our work on this project. Peter has produced a series of fantastic images which perfectly capture Manx buses of the 1930s and 1940s, and Isle of Man Post Office can be very proud of their latest stamp issue."

Some of the stamps feature the fondly remembered Douglas Corporation Transport yellow buses posing at the capital's railway station, on Prospect Hill in Douglas and at the now demolished Omnibus Depot.

In addition, the distinctive red Isle of Man Road Services vehicles are shown leaving Ballasalla, together with two illustrations in Ramsey, at the bus station and outside the Town Hall.

General Manager of Isle of Man Stamps and Coins, Maxine Cannon, said, "We are delighted to present this fantastic set of stamps, which strikingly capture the Island's rich transport heritage, using illustrations by local artist Peter Hearsey and text from well-known local author and transport historian Richard Davis. This issue, which ties in with the forthcoming Isle of Man Transport's fortieth anniversary in 2016, would make the perfect addition to any bus enthusiast, or stamp collector."

Valerie Caine

© July 2015

Yn Chruinnaght Snaps Up Award Winning Band for Festival

The Island's biggest annual Inter-Celtic festival, Yn Chruinnaght, will return to Peel later this month, with a line-up of performers reflecting all that's best about music, song and dance from the Celtic Diaspora, with fringe events in Ramsey, Laxey and Douglas.

A coup for this year's festival is securing the Anglo-Irish band Flook, described as possessing a rare blend of fiery technical brilliance, delicate ensemble interaction and a bold, adventurous musical imagination, at the Centenary Centre in Peel.

But another major star is Scottish harpist and Gaelic Singer of the Year Mischa Macpherson, who will be headlining a special concert at St German's Cathedral with support from Bulgarian piper and singer duo, Vladimir and Ivelina, together with the creative trumpet and organ Manx duo Chronicles. Mischa will also lead a Puirt-à-beul singing workshop.

Another highlight will be the premiere of a specially commissioned composition by local musician David Kilgallon entitled The Gathering; the English translation of Yn Chruinnaght. Sponsored by the Malcolm Scott Dickinson Trust, this new work will encompass the music, dance and languages of all the Celtic nations represented at Yn Chruinnaght, with each one taking part in its performance. It will also be performed later in the year at a prestigious gala concert at the Festival Interceltique Lorient in Brittany.

Festival organisers will also be welcoming back the outstanding traditional fest noz singer Lors Landat and virtuoso accordionist Thomas Moission, who will leading the popular Breton dancing during the ceili and performing in concert later in the week.

But for something a little different, why not try your hand at making a Celtic love spoon? Skilled craftswoman Sharon Littley from Wales will be sharing her secrets of how to make these decoratively carved, romantic gifts, which originated in the sixteenth century. She will lead two workshops during the final weekend of the festival at £30 for a four hour session. Places are limited but need to be booked directly at or phone 695787.

Her work will be complemented by a one-day Artisan Craft Fair, which will include artists and craftspeople such as Bruno Cavellec, Nicola Dixon, Collette Gambell, Kate Jerry, In with the Old, Out with the New, Apple Orphanage and a selection of live music.

Mischa Macpherson Trio
A Rising Stars concert will feature a range of up and coming talent and dance lovers will get the chance to watch displays by a number of local groups, together with representatives from Cornwall and Bulgaria.

Tickets for all events are available from the Yn Chruinnaght website, or from Celtic Gold, Peter Norris Music, Shakti Man and Thompson Travel. A special festival pass, securing admission to all events, is available online only at £40.

The festival is supported by Culture Vannin, the Isle of Man Arts Council, Manx Telecom and the Malcolm Scott Dickinson Trust.

Festival mobile number 302200, with full programme details at

(Photo of Mischa Macpherson Trio courtesy of Louise Bichan)

Valerie Caine
© July 2015

(Courtesy of Manx Tails)

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Newly Commissioned Composition to Premiere at Yn Chruinnaght Inter-Celtic Festival

Thanks to the Malcolm Scott Dickinson Trust, a recently commissioned work celebrating Celtic music, song, language and dance, will be premiered at the Island's annual inter-Celtic festival Yn Chruinnaght later this month at the Centenary Centre in Peel.

Composed by local musician, David Kilgallon, and entitled The Gathering (English translation of Yn Chruinnaght) this innovative piece incorporates a series of movements and sections which will feature a number of talented singers, musicians and speakers from six Celtic nations.

For its premiere, the ensemble will include visiting musicians Lors Landat (vocals) and Thomas Moisson (accordion) from Brittany, Rachel Hair (harp) from Scotland and Cas Davey (dance), Lauren Chandler (vocals and dance) and Lowenna Hosken (dance from Cornwall.

Manx performers will be David Kilgallon (keyboard), Matt Creer (percussion), Malcolm Stitt (bouzouki), Tom Callister (fiddle), Ruth Keggin (vocals), Gilno Carswell (clarinet), Russell Gilmour (trumpet), Grainne Joughin, Ali Carroon and John Kilgallon (dancers).

It has been composed in such a way that it can be performed readily by a flexible ensemble at festivals and events around the world, which will be demonstrated at the forthcoming Festival Interceltique de Lorient in Brittany next month.

It will be performed as the finale of one of the gala nights at the festival which attracts 800,000 visitors over a ten day period. David's composition will express how partnership and solidarity will be at the heart of the presentation at this year's festival by Cornwall and the Isle of Man, who have been given the joint role of honoured nations.

Paul Rogers will join the commission in Lorient with spoken Manx, Irish and Welsh, with Jamie Smith (accordion), Adam Rhodes (bouzouki) and Greg Barry (percussion) completing the line-up.

David says: “It is an honour to have been supported by the Malcolm Scott Dickinson Trust, and for the opportunity to bring this commission to Yn Chruinnaght & Festival Interceltique de Lorient for the Year of the Isle of Man and Cornwall. The piece explores the rich cultural intrigue within the Isle of Man and hopefully captures the spirit of the Manx appetite for embracing Celtic music, dance, language & culture whenever they touch our shores”.

Tickets for the concert featuring the Manx premiere, with additional sets from renowned Breton duo Landat-Moisson with visiting Cornish dancers and singers, are available online at or from the usual outlets – Celtic Gold (Peel), Shakti Man (Ramsey), Peter Norris Music (Douglas) and Thompson Travel (Port Erin).

Valerie Caine
© July 2015

(Photo courtesy of Phil Kneen)

Monday, July 6, 2015

Manx Singer to Compete at Welsh Eisteddfod

Local singer, Michelle Jamieson, will represent the Isle of Man at the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod later this week, which attracts competitors from an international field as well as those much closer to home.

Instigated by the people of Llangollen and Wrexham, the first event was held in 1947, and despite some worries it was an unmitigated success.

Placido Domingo's first professional performance in the UK in 1965 was at the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, and in 1955 Luciano Pavarotti competed with his father and others from their home town of Modena, in the male voice choir competition.

Seventeen year old Michelle from Port St Mary, has already made a name for herself on the Isle of Man as a songstress, but also performs with the Douglas Choral Union, Taylorian Productions, the Manx Operatic Society and the National Youth Theatre.

Michelle, a student at Castle Rushen High School, will perform unaccompanied in the folk class with the powerful Manx song Fin as Oshin (Fin and Oshin) followed by Yllagh Ushlagh (Watery Cry) accompanied by Laura Rowles who also worked on the arrangement.

But in the musical theatre class Michelle will perform Your Daddy's Son from Ragtime and Whatever Happened to My Part from Spamalot.

The final round of the competitions will take place at the Royal International Pavilion and will be filmed by the Welsh TV channel S4C, where Michelle will present Gimme Gimme from Thoroughly Modern Millie, if she's successful in the preliminary rounds.

She will also be performing as part of the quartet Shen Scoill, who won the Best New Song at the Pan-Celtic Festival in County Derry in Ireland during 2014.

Sponsorship for Michelle's visit to Llangollen Eisteddfod has been provided by Culture Vannin.

Valerie Caine

© July 2015

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Vikings of Mann Set Up Camp for Tynwald Day

As part of the celebrations for Tynwald Day the Vikings of Mann set up camp in the nearby Cooill y Ree (Nook of the King) in the village of St John's, giving members of the public the opportunity to learn more about the daily lives of the Vikings and experience what life was like for the Norse invaders.

Nestling amongst the trees in a variety of tents, members of the local group took on the roles of warriors, craft workers and home makers, but were on hand to discuss aspects of their daily lives, whether it be questions about weapons, clothes, or the food which they ate.

The encampment was open over a two day period, to allow the public a more relaxed opportunity to absorb what the Vikings of Mann had on offer, which included living history displays, story-telling and a revealing insight into habits of combat.

Although the history books may dwell on the darker side of Viking history, their skills and expertise were also evident in their craftwork, which became an important aspect of their day-to-day survival and for trading purposes.

Suitably attired in Viking dress for the occasion, members of the group were on hand to answer a variety of questions from the public, with children encouraged to learn more about the period which gave the Island a variety of place names, a new chapter in Manx history and its own government.

Valerie Caine
© July 2015

Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express Translated into Manx Gaelic

As Manx Gaelic publications become increasingly available, long-time speaker and scholar of the language, Joan Caine, has now completed her translation of the classic Agatha Christie detective novel Murder on the Orient Express.

Published by Caarjyn ny Gaelgey (Friends of the Manx Language), the famous story centres on a group of passengers on the luxurious Orient Express in a snow storm, together with a murder victim and the observant Belgian detective Hercule Poirot.

The underlying plot was based on the true-life abduction of Charles Augustus Lindbergh, the eldest son of aviator Charles Lindbergh, the setting chosen because of Christie's long professed admiration of the Orient Express.

Christie was painstaking in her notes about the journey, which she made in 1928, with several fans following in her footsteps; double-checking her descriptions.

First published in 1933 as a serialisation in The Saturday Evening Post, under the title of Murder on the Calais Coach, it was transferred into a novel the following year.

There have been several adaptations into film, TV and radio, with the best known of these the award-winning 1974 film featuring an all-star cast led by Albert Finney as Poirot.

Latterly, the detective story became a PC game and a graphic novel.

The Manx Gaelic version retails at £15 and is available by emailing

Valerie Caine
© June 2015

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Isle of Man Stamps & Coins - 50th Anniversary of the Curraghs Wildlife Park

In celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Curraghs Wildlife Park, Isle of Man Stamps and Coins has released a new set of stamps and other collectable items, which depict some of the endangered species which have successfully bred during the park's long history.

Set in a natural wetland habitat, the Curraghs Wildlife Park, together with the surrounding area has been designated a RAMSAR site (a wetland of great importance) and is a member of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquaria (BIAZA) and the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA); participating in breeding programmes as part of a worldwide effort to manage populations of captive endangered species.

During the past fifty years the Curraghs Wildlife Park has successfully bred a number of endangered birds and animals, several of which feature in the collection issued by Isle of Man Stamps and Coins; including fishing cats, red pandas, Humboldt penguins, Waldrapp ibis and Rodrigues fruit bats.

Isle of Man Stamps and Coins General Manager, Maxine Cannon, said "We are delighted with the stamps and other collectables which showcase many of the rare endangered species in the park - they would make the perfect gift for young philatelists and animal lovers. Collaborating with so many local photographers within the Isle of Man Photographic Society has also been a great way to promote the important conservation work that has been taking place at the park over the last half century."

This special set of stamps, postcards, first day covers and presentation packs highlight work done by members of the Isle of Man Photographic Society, with accompanying details of each animal or bird from the Curraghs Wildlife Park.

Tina Jauncey, Duty Manager at the Curraghs Wildlife Park, commented, "Curraghs Wildlife Park is proud to collaborate with Isle of Man Post Office on its fiftieth anniversary to present a set of stamps that beautifully depict some of the world's most endangered species kept within the park, images courtesy of the Isle of Man Photographic Society. The stamps will be officially launched on 3 July and to celebrate this momentous occasion, admission to the park on the anniversary day will be half price and a whole host of other celebrations are also planned for the weekend."

The presentation packs also remember the late Patricia Harvey of the Isle of Man Photographic Society,  wildlife park photographer and loyal supporter of the Curraghs Wildlife Park.

Valerie Caine

© July 2015

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Local Girl Clinches Role in New British Folk Project

Local girl, Cinzia Yates, has recently secured the role of full-time research associate for an innovative project entitled Digital Folk.

It's a two-year AHRC-funded research project which examines the ways in which participants in folk art use digital resources. The project is led by Dr Simon Keegan-Phipps at the University of Sheffield, in collaboration with the University of Westminster and the English Folk Dance and Song Society.

Cinzia graduated last year with a PHD in Ethnomusicology from Cardiff University, with a dissertation entitled Excavating Notes: The Archaeology of Cannon Formation in Manx Music.

She was formerly Manx Music Resource Co-ordinator for the Manx Heritage Foundation (now renamed Culture Vannin) and was instrumental in developing the Manx Music Database.

Although the project is concerned with activities in England, Cinzia is keen to ensure that all aspects of folk activity taking place in England are represented; including Cornwall and Manx music and dance.

She's already discovered a dance group called Lizzie Dripping based in Sheffield who perform the well-known Manx dance Eunysagh Vona.

Valerie Caine
© June 2015