Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Does anyone know about Manxmen in the Civil War?

Hello
My name is John Murray. I am a retired lawyer (Solicitor) and now resident in Douglas, Isle of Man. I have had a longstanding fascination with the "War between the States" and have visited CW battlefield sites regularly since the 1990s. I am a member of the American Civil War Round Table (United Kingdom).
The purpose of this email enquiry is to ascertain if your organization can put me in contact with anyone with knowledge of Manx involvement in the CW. I have been researching Manxmen and the CW for the past three years and have to date located some 50 or so individuals (mostly Manx-born but some of Manx descent) who served with the Blue or the Gray. I have obtained their Compiled Military Service Records from the National Archives in Washington and, in respect of a handful, their Military Pension Files. I have also researched their unit histories to try to piece together their wartime service. (Some of my research has featured on Manx Radio and in the Isle of Man Examiner.) I would like to find out about others, particularly those who served in Confederate forces.
I have had a number of articles published on CW related issues including one on a Manxman who fought for a Pennsylvania regiment and who, after the end of his term of service, returned to the IOM where he is buried.
Any help that you could provide would be most welcome as I am hoping to publish a book on my researches.
Regards.
John Murray

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

DOES ANYONE KNOW DOLLY?

Manx National Heritage is appealing to the public for information about Dolly Evans. Dolly worked for the Gibb Family as a maid at The Grove in Ramsey in the 1930s. There are a few images of her in the National Archives from the Gibbs collection, but very little else is known about her.

MNH is seeking stories for its upcoming women’s history project launching in March 2015. History in Heels will take a fresh approach to some of the remarkable Island women and their stories, not as an exhibition, but as teasing interventions and pop up displays at seven selected MNH sites throughout the year. 

Nicola Tooms, Curator at Manx National Heritage said;
“As part of our History in Heels project we wanted to highlight the story of the Grove, a matriarchal household if ever there was one, with Grannie, Auntie, and the two girls, Janet and Alice Gibb. We know a fair amount about the lives of the Misses Gibbs through the archives we acquired from them but not much is known about another female member of the ‘below stairs’ household, their maid Dolly. As is often the case with the lives of the working class women, her story is less well documented, but we are eager to learn more about her.”

As the community of Ramsey was quite small at the time MNH hopes that there may be some people who still remember her or knew of her. If you can help please contact Nicola Tooms at Manx National Heritage on (01624) 648074 or by email to nicola.tooms@mnh.gov.im.

The History in Heels project proudly celebrates the 65th anniversary of the formation of the Isle of Man Women’s Institute.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

MANX NATIONAL HERITAGE MAKE FINAL PREPARATIONS FOR ‘PEGGY’ MOVE

I wonder if the North American Manx Association members who visited the Nautical Museum will be among the very last to enjoy the guided tour by National Treasure Billy Stowell, that allowed us to see the secret trapdoor being slid away from the seating in the parlor? I'm sure it'll be a very special memory to all of us who did. 


Manx National Heritage, the organisation responsible for protecting and promoting the Isle of Man’s heritage and culture, is making the final preparations to move the ‘Peggy’, the earliest example of a British yacht, and the only surviving shallop*, from her cellar within the Nautical Museum in Castletown. 

The Peggy was ‘rediscovered’ in the 1930’s, entombed in her original boat cellar, where she had lain for over a century since the death of her owner George Quayle.  She was built in 1791 and was fitted with sliding keels, one of only a few with this eighteenth century innovation. 

The boat is currently scheduled to be lifted by cradle and then crane on 28th January. She will be transported to the climate-controlled conservation facility in Douglas that was recently purchased by the Manx Museum and National Trust using their charitable funds.  Once there, the Peggy will be stabilised, examined and conserved. Manx National Heritage will post updates of the project’s progress on its official Facebook page throughout the day.

Christopher Weeks, Objects Conservator, Manx National Heritage, commented:

“Peggy requires urgent conservation work.  The humidity of the new surroundings has to be lowered carefully in order to retard the corrosion of her iron fittings without damaging her timbers.  At the same time preservation work on her painted surfaces will also commence.”

He continued:

“However, this complex conservation project is in its earliest stages. We can’t be specific about exactly what we need to do, or a timescale, until we can properly assess the boat’s condition in a secure environment. The ‘Peggy’ is one of the most important historic artefacts in the British Isles and we are looking to conserve her, create a suitable environment in which to house her and to tell her story for future generations.”

Once Peggy is removed, the Nautical Museum will also undergo partial redevelopment and refurbishment to improve the entrance and shop area with a new ‘Quayle Gallery’ telling more of the personal story of George Quayle and his family as well as the Peggy.

Recent archaeological investigation and archival research has established that the site was home to possibly the earliest slipway in the British Isles, and that Quayle subsequently replaced this with a unique private dock, which acted as a sea lock. Exhibits will include a number of recent finds from the 2014 excavations including a leather pistol holster, a flintlock pistol mechanism, some coconut shell drinking cups and what is believed to be an eighteenth century microscope.

The Nautical Museum will reopen to the public in May 2015 following completion of the improvement works and the gallery refresh.


-ENDS-

Notes to editors:

*A shallop was a light boat used for rowing or sailing in shallow water, typical of the 17th and 18th century

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Michael Heritage Trust Provides Another Winner with Oie'll Verree Concert

The annual Oie'll Verree, held at the Ebenezer Hall in Kirk Michael, lifted the spirits of a packed house, as they enjoyed a concert which conveyed much about Manx rural life, providing humour, musicianship, dance and recitation.

With an extensive programme to get through, compére George Davison skilfully guided the audience through a selection of artistes, with the assistance of Marilyn Cannell at the piano and an army of background helpers.

The event stuck to a tried and tested format, but it soon became apparent that the backbone of this popular event was the commitment of a number of families, who came along to entertain the many people who flocked to the village hall.

Organised by Michael Heritage Trust, the concert was kicked off by the Stout sisters who combined their talents to provide two Manx dancers from Ny Fennee together with some inspirational harp playing.

The family theme was reflected time and again as the audience enjoyed the musical contributions of two brother/sister duets (Tom and Isla Callister/John and Hannah Kaighin) and the local Fields' brothers accompanied by their father.

A natural break during the concert allowed the presentation of the annual award Yn Gligyr, which this year was handed to the Secretary of Michael Heritage Trust, James Kennaugh, by the Chairman of Michael Commissioners John Barron.

Manx recitation too has always been an important part of the Oie'll Verree, which this year was provided by the impressive Aimee Corlett.

With the retirement of the two main stalwarts of Michael Players last year after an unprecedented commitment to the hugely popular dialect plays, it was decided to use two Manx dialect sketches which proved worthy successors.

It was also an opportunity to introduce a number of new actors, including some younger members of the community who showed an exuberant flair for their roles and a positive future for the much loved Manx dialect plays, which at one time were popular at many venues across the Island.

This year's sketches were A Trip in a Double Decker by Miss E. Kneen and Buggane Bait by J.E.Q.Cooil.

At the close of the concert everyone was treated to the usual, tasty home-made supper, provided by local villagers, before heading home, safe in the knowledge that the future of the Oie'll Verree was in good hands.

Valerie Caine
© January 2015

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Celtic Society of Southern Maryland - 2015 Festival

Greetings all:

As is usual for this time of year, we find ourselves with our annual Celtic Festival on the horizon:  the 2015 Celtic Festival is scheduled for April 25th. For those of you who may not have gone through this before, the attached materials should explain everything you need to know about this year's festival. If you know of any other Celtic-related organizations that might want to in participate this year, we'd be happy to hear from them. The same goes for past participants who may have missed hearing from us (letters and e-mails have been known to vanish into thin air; you know how it goes).

Our layout for the clans and organizations should be similar to last year's, but may undergo some changes based on the number of clans and organizations that attend, so be prepared for some possible (but mild) differences; our hope is always to, at the same time, identify the spots that didn't work as well as we planned and make adjustments. This year the spaces should remain the same size as they were in 2014.

Please make sure to have your representatives sign the clan applications, as they double as our "hold harmless" forms. If you have two persons in charge of your tent, please make sure that both persons sign the enclosed clan/organization form, as this directly affects your liability and the Celtic Cup award. Also, if you have interest in purchasing advance tickets, this must be done through the CSSM website; if you have any questions about this, please contact me directly. As always, the rental of a space includes two tickets and one parking pass.

The CSSM is still trying to move our registrations over to an internet method (we're already doing so for dance, piping, and athletic competitors). If this occurs during the application process, I will, of course, let everyone know.

This year, please return your signed application to me by April 1. After that, I cannot guarantee you rental of a tent, table, or chairs.

As usual, we are looking for sponsors for groups to underwrite trophies and awards in the various competitions; we seek sponsors for trophies, for the dancing, clans, piping and band competitions. We have sponsors for the Celtic Cup and living history awards, and we hope others will follow their example in becoming regular event sponsors. Information on the trophies is on the application sheet. If you're interested in larger sponsorship, we have a sponsorship committee that can help you be a higher-level (including corporate) sponsor.

If you have any connections to living history groups, please feel free to mention us to them. We provide a small token stipend as a "thank you"; and don't forget the 4:00 battle.

I am attaching a copy of this letter and the clan application; we will send you an electronic copy of the flyer and the program advertisement application will be sent to you as soon as it's been completed. As always, you can contact me at this e-mail address (davis.cssm@gmail.com).

Should you think something is amiss (haven't heard from me, etc), please e-mail or call me as soon as you can.

The Celtic Society of Southern Maryland, Inc.
Post Office Box 209, Prince Frederick, Maryland  20678
443.404.7319

19 January 2015
Greetings all:
As is usual for this time of year, we find ourselves with our annual Celtic Festival on the horizon:  the 2015 Celtic Festival is scheduled for April 25th. For those of you who may not have gone through this before, the attached materials should explain everything you need to know about this year's festival. If you know of any other Celtic-related organizations that might want to in participate this year, we'd be happy to hear from them. The same goes for past participants who may have missed hearing from us (letters and e-mails have been known to vanish into thin air; you know how it goes).
Our layout for the clans and organizations should be similar to last year's, but may undergo some changes based on the number of clans and organizations that attend, so be prepared for some possible (but mild) differences; our hope is always to, at the same time, identify the spots that didn't work as well as we planned and make adjustments. This year the spaces should remain the same size as they were in 2014.
Please make sure to have your representatives sign the clan applications, as they double as our "hold harmless" forms. If you have two persons in charge of your tent, please make sure that both persons sign the enclosed clan/organization form, as this directly affects your liability and the Celtic Cup award. Also, if you have interest in purchasing advance tickets, this must be done through the CSSM website; if you have any questions about this, please contact me directly. As always, the rental of a space includes two tickets and one parking pass.
The CSSM is still trying to move our registrations over to an internet method (we're already doing so for dance, piping, and athletic competitors). If this occurs during the application process, I will, of course, let everyone know.
This year, please return your signed application to me by April 1. After that, I cannot guarantee you rental of a tent, table, or chairs.
As usual, we are looking for sponsors for groups to underwrite trophies and awards in the various competitions; we seek sponsors for trophies, for the dancing, clans, piping and band competitions. We have sponsors for the Celtic Cup and living history awards, and we hope others will follow their example in becoming regular event sponsors. Information on the trophies is on the application sheet. If you're interested in larger sponsorship, we have a sponsorship committee that can help you be a higher-level (including corporate) sponsor.
If you have any connections to living history groups, please feel free to mention us to them. We provide a small token stipend as a "thank you"; and don't forget the 4:00 battle.
I am attaching a copy of this letter and the clan application; we will send you an electronic copy of the flyer and the program advertisement application will be sent to you as soon as it's been completed. As always, you can contact me at this e-mail address (davis.cssm@gmail.com).
Please note my address and my telephone number below. Should you think something is amiss (haven't heard from me, etc), please e-mail or call me as soon as you can.

Yours,


Geoffrey Davis, Clans Steward

Monday, January 19, 2015

Illiam Dhone Commemoration 2015

This year's annual commemoration at Hango Hill, situated between Derbyhaven and Castletown, attracted a good-sized crowd who gathered to hear a number of speakers in almost perfect weather conditions.

An estimated 100 people assembled into a semi-circle to hear a variety of speakers address the crowd with a passionate discourse, reflecting a number of topics and injecting some of their own observations into current debate.

Proceedings were started by Bernie Moffatt (Celtic League/Mec Vannin) before the crowd heard the two main speakers, Cesar Joughin of Peel who gave the Manx oration and President of the London Manx Society, Alastair Kneale, who gave an independent speech in English.

Local musician, Tom Callister (Barrule/Mec Lir) laid the annual floral tribute at the base of Hango Hill, also known as Mount Strange, before Mark Kermode (Mec Vannin) closed the proceedings with some final comments.
 
At the conclusion of the commemoration there was an opportunity to extend the afternoon by either going to the Glue Pot in Castletown for a pint and a music session, or attending a Service of Commemoration for the life of Illiam Dhone at Malew Parish Church.
 

Valerie Caine
© January 2015  

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Severe gales force cancellation of Steam Packet

Severe gale force winds forecast for the Irish Sea have forced the cancellation of ferry sailings between the Isle of Man and the UK.
Manx ferry operators said Wednesday's scheduled 14:15 GMT journey from Heysham in Lancashire will not sail to the Isle of Man.
The 19:45 service to Heysham from Douglas has also been cancelled along, as has Thursday's 02:15 return sailing.
All passengers have been advised to contact the Steam Packet Company.

Monday, January 12, 2015

MANX NATIONAL HERITAGE LOANS ARTEFACTS FOR MAJOR VIKING VOYAGERS EXHIBITION AT CORNWALL’S NATIONAL MARITIME MUSEUM


Manx National Heritage is loaning some of the Isle of Man’s Viking artefacts for a major exhibition, called Viking Voyagers, at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall. Parts of a Viking sword, glass beads, bronze pins and iron nails from a Viking ship burial are amongst the items that will be loaned from the Manx National collections. 

The exhibition, which opens on the 20th March 2015, features nationally and internationally historically significant items. The two year exhibition aims to show how the Vikings were a maritime culture rather than an ethnic group.  It explores what is behind the popular myth of the bloodthirsty raiders, what it meant to be a Viking and shows how their mastery of maritime technology was the secret to their success. 

Institutional and lending partners include the British Museum, National Museum of Ireland, National Museum of Denmark as well as Manx National Heritage and the exhibition curators have assembled a stunning collection which will show a culture that enjoyed ostentation and hierarchy as well as ritual, religion and the simplicity of family life.   These archaeological finds, which are over 1000 years old, include weaponry, jewellery, household implements, slave chains and coins, showing the global reach of the Vikings and their ships.

Allison Fox, Archaeology Curator, Manx National Heritage, commented:
“Manx National Heritage is pleased to support the National Maritime Museum Cornwall in their forthcoming exhibition, Viking Voyagers.  Many wonderful Viking Age artefacts have been discovered over the years on the Isle of Man through archaeological excavation and metal detecting and thanks to the generosity of the finders and landowners, many have been donated to the National collections.  The Manx Viking artefacts travelling to Falmouth will help tell the story of who the Vikings were and how they managed to colonise such a large swathe of Europe.  The Isle of Man became a central part of Viking territory and subsequently the seat of power to the Kingdom of Man and the Isles and as a result, there is plenty of evidence of the Vikings on the Island.”

Edmund Southworth, Director, Manx National Heritage, commented:
“Viking Age artefacts from the Isle of Man have been displayed most recently at Jorvik, York and the British Museum, London and this latest partnership between the Isle of Man and the National Maritime Museum is an exciting new one between two places with such important maritime heritage. By loaning these treasures from our archive we are not only helping the museum to narrate a more comprehensive story but also creating a marketing opportunity for the Isle of Man, its heritage and culture as well as building strong strategic links with the region.”

Richard Doughty, Director of National Maritime Museum Cornwall says:
“The Museum’s legacy of award winning work has now afforded us the opportunity to access national and international collections, securing loans with major partner Museums such as Manx National Heritage, and offering Cornwall and the South West a unique first in being able to see these items outside of these national and international institutions.”

Viking Voyagers runs from 20 March 2015 to 22 February 2017.

On the subject of Vikings, the Washington Area
Manx Society held its annual 12th Night Potluck this weekend
and were lucky enough to have a member of
The Viking Longship Company come to chase away
the Old Year and bring in the New. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Manx Literature website launched



A new website has been launched dedicated to the literature of the Isle of Man. The site (ManxLiterature.com) makes available 40 books of poetry, fiction and plays, some of which have effectively been inaccessible for 175 years. Created as a legacy from 2014’s Island of Culture, the site is being hailed as perhaps the most significant event ever in the promotion of the Island’s literary heritage.

Although many have heard of Hall Caine and T. E. Brown, it was the lack of awareness that their writings are a part of a wider literature of the Isle of Man that was the inspiration behind this project recently completed. The creator of the website, James Franklin, writes that:
“I was amazed at the gap between how little-known most of Island’s literature is and yet how good it is. Having picked up my first Hall Caine novel years ago, the deeper I delve into it the more I am surprised at how rich and varied Manx literature is in terms of its quality and depth. But sadly nearly all of it was inaccessible. So I created the website to make this rich part of Manx heritage easily available to anyone.”
ManxLiterature.com offers 40 books central to the Island’s literature, organised both by their type (15 books of poetry, 10 novels, 3 collections of short stories and 19 plays) and by author. The 18 authors featured on the site include T. E. Brown, Hall Caine, Cushag and Mona Douglas, but also a Canon of Peel Cathedral, a founding member of the Manx Labour Party, and one of the UK’s leading gardening journalists.

The site was created with the intention of making the Island’s literature as accessible as possible. This was not just a matter of its being free and available, but in a format that was simple, attractive and as easy to use as possible (including for mobile devices and in downloadable formats). All books are available to be viewed as virtual books on the website, as PDF downloads, and in text formats. Extensive information is provided on all authors and books, many of which are the most extensive descriptions anywhere online.

Breesha Maddrell (Chair, Visual Arts, Literature and Film Panel, Island of Culture, 2014) writes:
“The website looks and feels fantastic. It offers a very professional presentation of one of the most important cultural assets of the Isle of Man. Not only does it offer access to something that has been inaccessible for too long, but it does so in a way that reflects its true value. It would be hard to imagine any single project that could be more significant in the promotion of the Island’s literary heritage than this. It is something that we can be proud to hand on as a legacy item from our Island of Culture year.”
As well the Island's best-known works, such as Fo'c's'le Yarns and The Manxman, the website features works depicting: prison breaks from Castle Rushen; rioting in Douglas; debauched Bishops; murder in the Curraghs; witches in Laxey; a donkey possessed by the devil; WWI propaganda plays; drunken husbands asleep in hedges, and much else besides. James Franklin writes:
“In reading our own literature, we are able to better understand what it is to be Manx. The resource of the creative writing from the Isle of Man is undoubtedly one of the richest ways in which to understand not just where we’ve come from or where we are today, but also of where we might want to go in the future. It is a resource that deserves to be mined by so many people in so many ways. If this website is able to help in some way in this, then it is fulfilling its purpose in being a worthy legacy of the Island of Culture year.”

The website is live now at: www.ManxLiterature.com

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Isle of Man in the Great War

To mark the anniversary of the Great War, Pen & Sword have commissioned a brand new series called ‘Your Towns & Cities in the Great War’, examining the impact of the war on over one hundred individual towns and cities across the UK. I wanted to bring your attention to a title that I believe may be of interest to NAMA members, and for which I’ve included a brief description of below.

Isle of Man in the Great War – Caroline Smith
In August 1914, the Isle of Man was in the middle of a very successful summer season.  The tourist industry was crucial to the island, but suddenly holiday-makers left and the Steam Packet vessels that normally brought them were requisitioned.  The future was uncertain for those who relied on the season and their pleas for assistance were ignored.  For some, the cost of living became impossibly high and without the welfare measures that had been brought about in Britain, many faced destitution.  Others however, particularly farmers and those involved with the internment camps, would find war very profitable.  The divisions between rich and poor grew, creating much social disaffection and a bitter battle for reform was fought.  As arguments raged over conscription, taxation, the economy and the housing of enemy aliens, the personalities of the period came to prominence.  The unprecedented scenes of direct action and several dramatic court cases are brought to life in this account of how the island began its path to progress.
The Isle of Man played an important role in World War One, supplying troops and vessels and running special camps for the internment of enemy soldiers. 8,261 men enlisted in the armed forces; 82.3% of the Isle of Man’s male population of military age. Of these, 1,165 gave their lives and 987 were wounded.
The experience of war significantly impacted on the Island, from the initial enthusiasm for sorting out the German Kaiser in time for Christmas 1914, to the gradual realization of the enormity of human sacrifice the families of the Isle were committed to as the war stretched out over the next four years.

Kelly: I checked this and it's on Amazon as a "real" book and on Kindle in digital format. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Hartes Ease Drive the Cold Winter Away

As the New Year celebrations came to a close, members of the early music group Hartes Ease came together in concert at St John's Methodist Church Hall for a successful concert, featuring music and song from the Renaissance period.

Playing viols, recorders and other instruments, their afternoon performance, under the title Drive the Cold Winter Away, proved popular with a capacity audience, who enjoyed an extensive selection from a cross-section of composers from the period

Ranging from rousing melodies to moments of gentle reflection, their recital included light refreshments and an opportunity to mingle with the musicians and find out more about this distinctive style of music.

Monetary contributions from the concert were donated to the Service Users' Network (SUN), a local charity which focuses on helping those who have experienced mental health problems and looks to raise awareness and challenge the stigma associated with mental illness.

A member of SUN also spoke during the concert, revealing more about how the charity, launched in 2002, provides support for those in need.

www.manxsun.im

Valerie Caine
© January 2015

Monday, January 5, 2015

Laxey regeneration funding comes through




In 2013 Tynwald approved funding of £700,000 to refurbish the electric railway, a popular tourist attraction which connects Douglas, Laxey and Ramsey.

A six-month project to "strengthen the heart" of a village on the Isle of Man's east coast is due to start this week. The government-funded Laxey regeneration scheme is expected to be completed by next June.

A government spokesman said the "significant" changes include a new village square and improved pavements. Laxey MHK Steve Rodan said the start of project was the culmination of several years' preparation work.

He added: "Laxey has so much to offer but at present the condition and appearance of the public realm lets it down."This scheme will dramatically improve the centre of the village and will provide a high quality, well-connected focal point."
In 2013, Tynwald approved funding of £700,000 to refurbish the electric railway, a popular tourist attraction which connects Douglas, Laxey and Ramsey.

The Manx government recently confirmed that £500,000 had been made available for regeneration around the Isle of Man with the aim of encouraging civic pride in town and village centres.


BBC Ellan Vannin

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Sell Out Gig for Mec Lir at Noa Bake House

One of the newest Manx bands on the Isle of Man's traditional music scene, Mec Lir (named after a pre-Christian Celtic God) has rapidly developed a loyal following since the launch of their debut recording Not an EP late last year.

The band includes some well-known names from the Island music scene, who have now taken Manx music much further afield, broadening its horizons throughout the UK, Europe, the US and Australia.

Mec Lir has on board David Kilgallon (King Chiaullee/Chronicles), Tom Callister (Barrule), Adam Rhodes (King Chiaullee/Mabon/Barrule) and Scotland's Greg Barry (The Elephant Sessions), who bring a rich combination of talent to a vibrant Island music scene.

With an expanding portfolio and a growing fan base, it was no surprise that their recent festive gig attracted a full house in Douglas, with a collection of tunes from the Celtic catalogue.

Held in the intimate setting of the capital's Noa Bake House (New Bake House), Island based Scottish guitarist Malcolm Stitt (Deaf Shepherd/Boys of the Lough) kicked off the evening event with a selection of solo tunes, before Mec Lir ripped the top off the bottle to release a fast flowing stream of dance music!

Merging some of the typical traditional tunes with a more upbeat style has proved a winner, with dancers eager to step out on the floor but reluctant to sit down again once it's all over.  

Check out some of their music on YouTube or find more information on their website or Facebook page.


Valerie Caine
© January 2015