Thursday, January 28, 2016

Manx National Heritage launch ‘Yn Thie Thooit’

An extraordinary place to stay for self-catering holidays on the Isle of Man.
Manx National Heritage, the organisation responsible for protecting and promoting the Isle of Man’s heritage and culture, has launched a new venture, turning a historic thatched cottage at ‘The Lhen’ into an extraordinary place to stay for self-catering holidays.

‘Yn Thie Thooit’ (the thatched house in Manx), is a registered historic building and one of only 23 examples of thatched buildings remaining on the Isle of Man.

The cottage came into the ownership of Manx National Heritage in 1989, following a generous bequest from the late Catherine Craine Guyler, a Home Economics Teacher at Ramsey Grammar School and former chairwoman in the Isle of Man Federation of the Women’s Institute.  Miss Guyler originally purchased the property for £175 in 1961.

Following Miss Guyler’s bequest, Manx National Heritage utilised the cottage for accommodation for wardens working on the nearby nature reserves at Cronk y Bing and the Ayres.  It recently undertook a complete renovation and refurbishment of the cottage, restoring it to its former glory. 
Following sensitive renovation, Yn Thie Thooit now offers self-catering accommodation for up to two people.  The cottage has been equipped with comfortable furniture, combined with luxurious finishing touches including heated blankets, high quality bedding and a cosy log effect stove.  A welcome pack promoting local Manx produce is provided for guests. 

Yn Thie Thooit is located in a peaceful setting at the Lhen Bridge and enjoys access to the nearby Lhen beach and Cronk y Bing nature reserve. It is ideal for nature lovers, birdwatching and stargazing, whilst also offering an ideal location for walkers and cyclists wishing to explore the North of the Island. 

Lynsey Clague, Heritage Communications Manager for Manx National Heritage said:

“Transforming Yn Thie Thooit into a new destination for self-catering visitors will provide the building with a new lease of life and a sustainable future, with income generated going back towards helping to maintain the upkeep of the cottage and other historic buildings around the Isle of Man”. 

The launch of our new venture is not the first time The Lhen has been promoted as a visitor destination.  Visitors once flocked to The Lhen, which was once famed for homemade bread and cakes served at the former Lhen Bridge Café.    

Yn Thie Thooit is believed to be the Isle of Man’s only thatched holiday cottage available to rent for self-catering holidays.   Neighbouring properties are also popular for self-catering holiday accommodation.

Lynsey went on to say:

“Our aim is not to compete with our neighbours, but to work in partnership, promoting the benefits of staying in this beautiful part of the Isle of Man.  Having grown up in the neighbouring village of Bride, I’m familiar with the tranquillity that the Lhen has to offer.  It’s the perfect location for a peaceful getaway and a location we know our visitors will enjoy”.

Bookings for Yn Thie Thooit will be taken directly by Manx National Heritage, with servicing kindly undertaken by Beth and Steve Martin, who operate nearby Smeale Farm Cottages and heritage farm.  Bookings cost £100 per night autumn and winter (minimum stay 3 nights) or £595 per week in spring and summer. 

Manx National Heritage’s next visitor accommodation project involves the sympathetic restoration of Eary Cushlin, a remote farmhouse on the West Coast of the Island.  Eary Cushlin is one of many historic buildings cared for by Manx National Heritage.  The organisation also operates visitor accommodation at the Calf of Man Bird Observatory, and holds over 3,000 acres of the Island’s coastline and landscape in trust for the nation.  We hold property, archives, artwork, library and museum collections in trust for the nation.  

Find out more and book your stay at

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Manx Winner Chosen for Pan Celtic Festival Song Competition

The annual Arrane son Mannin (Song for Mann) competition, which provides the Island entry for the Pan Celtic Festival Song Contest held in Ireland each year, was held at the Masonic Hall in Peel.

It was a successful event, which brought a number of Manx traditional musicians together to entertain an appreciative audience, prior to the competition itself and as the judges made their appraisal.

There were two entries this year, introduced by local Pan Celtic delegate, Fiona McArdle, which were Manx band Glashtyn (goblin or sprite from Manx folklore) which included song writers Andy North and Paul Rogers, who gave a lively and powerful rendition of their composition, Pynt dy Lhune (A Pint of Beer) and local duo Adhene (Themselves), with a gentle song by Paul Cringle and Wendy Hurst entitled Awin Auldyn (Auldyn River).

Judges for the evening were David Kilgallon, Dot Saunders and James Harrison, who gave forty percent of the marks for performance, thirty percent for lyrics and thirty percent for music.

The winner on this occasion was Glashtyn, winning a £300 prize sponsored by Culture Vannin, and securing a place in the Pan Celtic Song Contest later this year.

Meanwhile, Manx duo Adhene will also represent the Island at the festival in the New Song in Traditional Style Competition.

Entertainment was provided by Marlene Hendy and Dilys Sowrey, Ruth Keggin, Sarah Hendy and David Kilgallon, Manx Gaelic choir Cliogaree Twoaie, Bob Carswell, members of Tree Cassyn Vannin, Owen Williams and Troor son Daunsin.

With thanks to Culture Vannin for their continued support.
(Photo courtesy of Fiona McArdle)

Valerie Caine
© January 2016

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Kirk Michael's Oie'll Verree Brings in the Crowds

Despite an array of contemporary entertainment, the annual Oie'll Verree in Kirk Michael still attracts a full house to the Ebenezer Hall, situated in the centre of the village.

Many, but not all, of these concerts have fallen by the wayside in recent years, although this particular event continues to grow in popularity. Now organised by members of Michael Heritage Trust, the evening follows a tried and tested format which draws people from all walks of life; and indeed from various parts of the Island.

The lynchpin of this year's event was southern based farmer, Paul Costain, who skilfully introduced each performance with cheerful alacrity and a few quips of his own - ably supported by accompanist Marilyn Cannell.

The first part of the concert followed a typical pattern, with entertainment provided by Manx Gaelic choir Caarjyn Cooidjagh, traditional dancing by Louise and Matt Callister, an interlude of magic from Juan Moore and a selection of local recitation from Pam Evans and Rebecca Traynor.

But it's the Manx dialect play which attracts the most attention.

This year Matt and Juan Callister brought something new to the Manx stage, before everyone settled down for the main feature; A Cat and Dog Life by the late Kathleen Faragher. Its two characters, Betsy Quaggan and Kirry Taggart, were played admirably by Marilyn and Chrissie Cannell.

There's been a resurgence of interest in the local dialect poet, Kathleen Faragher, who was born in Ramsey in 1904, and went on to become a popular writer and performer. She was a prolific writer of books, poetry and short stories, acknowledged as one of the most important dialect poets on the Isle of Man.

After her death in 1974, she was buried in a family grave at Kirk Maughold, but lately it was realised that her gravestone needed some attention, which was carried out by Gregg Memorials and funded by Culture Vannin.

A project dedicated to recording memories of Kathleen Faragher is currently underway with Culture Vannin. If you have any memories you would be willing to share, contact the project organiser, James Franklin, at, or c/o Culture Vannin, P O Box 1986, Douglas, Isle of Man, IM99 1SR.

Valerie Caine
© January 2016

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The clock's coming back!

Following a period of conservation and repair, the iconic clock face at Castle Rushen will be reinstalled tomorrow. The clock will be raised by the abseiling team from the Venture Centure, working in partnership with Manx National Heritage.  

Initial work will commence at 9.30am, with the clock face anticipated to be raised and in place by early afternoon. 

The medieval clock has been in continual use in Castletown for over 400 years. Manx National Heritage has undertaken extensive conservation work on the clock, returning it to working order in 2014. This second phase of work will complete the renovation of the clock face, overlooking the town square.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Manx Musicians Head for Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow

Celtic Connections is the largest, winter music festival of its kind and the UK's premier celebration of Celtic music, and this year will include a number of top traditional musicians from the Isle of Man.

This is not the first time that the Island has been represented in Glasgow's annual, folk, roots and world music festival, but this year the Manx will be making their mark with local favourites Mec Lir and Manx Gaelic singer Ruth Keggin.

Mec Lir is a quartet of highly experienced musicians who have successfully progressed into the UK music scene, but have attracted a growing fan base on the Isle of Man with their octane fuelled gigs and contemporary approach to Manx traditional music. It's a fast and furious  pace with a refreshing appeal for all generations, but retains at its heart an orthodox message.

Meanwhile, Ruth Keggin has rapidly made her way to the top in music circles as a vocalist, sometimes as a solo artist, but also as a member of other groups, such as the bold, new vocal project ‘Aon Teanga:Un Çhengey’ (One Tongue) in collaboration with respected Scottish musician and broadcaster Mary Ann Kennedy and Eoghan Ó Ceannabháin; singer and musician from a Connemara sean nós dynasty in the west of Ireland. It's appropriate that Ruth will be at the event as part of this trio, as at one time the Gaelic language was a single tongue, and whilst there have been moves to re-establish Scottish-Irish links in recent times, there has never been a project that unites the three Gaelic traditions.

The festival will bring Glasgow to life over eighteen days, with more than 2,000 artists and 300 events across 20 venues, with a choice of concerts, ceilidhs, talks, art workshops, and free events.
(Photos courtesy of Sean Purser and Phil Kneen)

Valerie Caine

© January 2016
(Courtesy of Manx Tails)

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Illiam Dhone Commemoration 2016

Although the weather wasn't conducive to an outdoor event, a number of hardy individuals gathered at the site known as Hango Hill on the 2 January to commemorate the execution of Manxman Illiam Dhone (brown-haired William) of nearby Ronaldsway.

In some quarters opinion is still divided as to whether Illiam Dhone was a patriot, or a traitor, but his death by firing squad (historians state either 1662 or 1663) for his part in the Manx Rising of 1651 against the Derby family, is firmly embedded in the history books and chronicles of the Isle of Man.

With the wind whipping through this exposed site opposite King William's College, those assembled heard impassioned speeches from two members of the Manx Nationalist Party, Mec Vannin.

After a brief introduction by Bernard Moffatt, a speech in Manx Gaelic was given by Isla Callister. Her general message conveyed how she believed that the Isle of Man Government is in a unique position to use its degree of independence in such a way as to make real change, without looking elsewhere for inspiration. Following this, Peter Crellin spoke in English, reflecting upon Islanders frustration and concern about the Isle of Man Government's actions and where they might lead us.

A wreath was laid at the site by Tom Callister before the event closed with the singing of the Manx National Anthem.

Those attending the commemoration then moved on to either the Castle Arms (aka The Glue Pot) in Castletown, where there was a thriving music session, or Malew Church, the site of Illiam Dhone's burial, to participate in a special church service.

The ruins currently on the site of Hango Hill are those of a late seventeenth century castellated summer house built by the Derby family, also referred to as Mount Strange, in honour of the Derby heir Lord Strange.

Known as a place of execution and possible prehistoric burial site, the name of Hango Hill is said to be derived from the Norse description 'hanga-haugr' (Gallows Hill), although others say it originates from the Norse word 'hengi', meaning a jutting or overhang.  It's also reputedly haunted by a headless black dog; seen chiefly by fellow canines.
Further details regarding this year's commemoration can be found on MTTV at

Valerie Caine
© January 2016

The Vikings are coming! And loads other great stuff

The Vikings are set to dominate the Isle of Man in 2016 with exhibitions hosted by Manx National Heritage, the organisation responsible for protecting and promoting the Isle of Man’s heritage and culture.
The exhibitions form part of an extensive programme of events and activities for 2016 including a number of new exhibitions; three Viking themed shows; updated displays; lectures and family fun days.  Visitors to Manx National Heritage sites will also be able to see some of the ongoing conservation and improvement works when the attractions re-open in February and March 2016. 
The first Viking exhibition, ‘Heroes’, which opened in December 2015 at the Manx Museum and runs to March 2016, narrates the personal histories of some of the legendary names in the Viking world including Godred Croven, also known as King Orry, one of the most powerful Viking kings of Man and the Isles, as well as other legendary characters such as Eric Bloodaxe and Harald Bluetooth. The exhibition is hosted in conjunction with York Archaeological Trust.  

Heroes1.jpgThe second Viking themed exhibition, entitled ‘Valhalla: In Search of the Viking Dead’, runs at the House of Manannan in Peel from October 2016 and explores how the Vikings commemorated and celebrated their dead using pagan boat burials, grave goods and ornately carved headstones.
Vikings are also the theme behind Danish artist Susanne Thea’s exhibition of prints, entitled ‘They came from the Deep Blue Sea’ which opens on 6th February 2016 until 10th April 2016 at the House of Manannan.  The prints are themed around the Battle of Clontarf in Ireland which took place in AD 1014, when thousands of Vikings were killed and the Irish lost a king, murdered by the leader of the Manx Vikings. The battle is described in many early manuscripts and sagas and it is these tales that provide the inspiration for Susanne’s prints.

‘They came from the Deep Blue Sea’ will be followed by the arrival of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s touring exhibition ‘Hope in the Great War’, which opens in April 2016.    The exhibition celebrates timeless courage during the First World War, telling the wartime story of six heroic RNLI rescues, with family friendly, interactive displays. It offers the opportunity to see the First World War through the eyes of those living on the coast of the UK and Ireland and honour the courage of RNLI rescuers and survivors. Visitors will discover the effects of war on Manx RNLI crews, and how the people of the Isle of Man incredibly managed to crew and maintain six RNLI lifeboat stations in the midst of the war zone that was the Irish Sea.

Images by Manx born photographer Chris Killip will be the main focus of an exhibition opening at the Manx Museum from May 2016 to July 2016.   Chris Killip is distinguished photographer, well known for his gritty black and white images of people and places.  He is the recipient of numerous international awards, has exhibited all over the world, written extensively and appeared on both radio and television.

From August 2016 to October 2016, the Manx Museum will feature a major exhibition by internationally renowned artist Roger Dean. Born in England, Roger Dean is best known for his work on fantasy landscapesfor posters and album covers for musicians, which he began painting in the late 1960s. His work has sold more than sixty million copies worldwide and has inspired generations of young men and women who have become professional designers and artists.

Edmund Southworth, Director of Manx National Heritage, said: “2016 will see some really special exhibitions in Peel and Douglas, with something for everyone. Working with partners allows us to put on high quality shows on very different themes which all add to our understanding of Manx culture throughout the ages. 

Alongside the special shows we are continuing our programme of upgrading and refreshing the displays and facilities at our sites so that people can see something new when they visit. By doing all of this we hope that we can please our local community just as much as those who visit the island on holiday.”

In addition to the programme of exhibitions, a variety of family friendly events are planned, starting with the now annual ‘Egg Rolling’ at Cregneash on Easter Monday, 28 March 2016. Other popular events include the annual Hop tu Naa celebration at Cregneash on 30 October 2016 and Heritage Open Days which take place island-wide between 30 September 2016 and 9 October 2016. 

Edmund continued: “Much of what we do involves the conservation and preservation of the buildings, sites and collections in our care. Some of this is highly visible – such as the famous clock at Castle Rushen which has been keeping time for the local community in Castletown for centuries. Conservation of the yacht Peggy is also high profile and we’ll be giving people the opportunity to help with this scheme during the year. This type of specialised work often goes unseen by our visitors but we’ll be giving lots of unique opportunities to see and hear about it in our events programme and in our social media.”

Spring 2016 will also see the return of the skeleton of the giant deer, a familiar object for many visitors to the Manx Museum.  The skeleton is currently in MNH’s conservation studio undergoing some much needed cleaning and conservation treatment and will shortly be returned to the newly refurbished Geology Gallery at the Manx Museum.  The area previously occupied by the deer will be transformed into a giant cabinet of curiosities showcasing a myriad of collections representing 10,000 years of human history on the Isle of Man. The cabinet will offer a visual introduction to the main galleries at the Manx Museum, stimulating curiosity and inviting visitors to explore the rest of the national collections.
Seasonal heritage sites will begin opening from February 2016, when Rushen Abbey and Castle Rushen will be the first seasonal Manx National Heritage sites to open. Both will re-open at weekends from 6 February 2016 to 6 November.  All other seasonal heritage sites will open from 25 March 2016 to 30 October 2016, including the newly refurbished Nautical Museum. The Manx Museum in Douglas and House of Manannan in Peel remain open all year round. 
The programme of exhibitions, events and conservation work is open to corporate sponsorship and individual support.  For further details, contact Lynsey Clague at Manx National Heritage, email: . Tel: 01624 648032. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Manx Y-DNA Study 5 Year Progress Report - published 31 Dec 2015

A detailed report on progress with the study so far, including the detailed findings by family name can be accessed on this page.

Key headline findings from the study so far are:-
In the period immediately after the Scandinavian occupation of the Isle of Man (800-1265AD) a third of the male population were of Scandinavian or North European origin.
Unexpectedly, a number of male Manx lines with different family names were found to be related and share common male ancestors in the period before hereditary family name adoption.
The unique Y-DNA signatures of more than 70 (out of 125) Manx family lines have been identified and knowledge about their early origins gained.
Kelly from the Isle of Man is really so!  All those familiar family names (e.g. Curphey, Bridson, Kennaugh etc) which we consider to be typical of and unique to the Isle of Man are shown to be indeed so.
Different variants of the same original Manx family name, which are popularly assumed to be equivalent, e.g. Callister and Collister, etc are indeed the same family.
Most Manx families show a single male genetic origin, as would be expected of such small families.
Every one in eight men tested in the study did not show the genetic profile associated with the rest of his family.
The names of some early Manx emigrants changed/evolved after they left the Island in the 1700-1800s.
The close-relatedness of the Manx community genetically is a notable feature of the Isle of Man, as might be expected. Y-DNA testing indicates that a number of male lines are connected from early times. However autosomal DNA testing provides further  anecdotal evidence of this characteristic amongst a small population of people with Manx ancestry.

Manx Y-DNA Study 5 Year Progress Report - published 31 Dec 2015

In order to make this report more easily readable and useable it has been divided into smaller sections as follows:-

Key Findings
Background & Characteristics of Manx Family Names
Y-DNA Testing and Methodology Used
Results Summary
The Future
Appendix I - Detailed Results for Each Family Name
Appendix II - Analysis and Interpretation of Results
Appendix III - Analysis of Non-Paternal Events
Summary spreadsheet of results and progress

Those detailed results for each person tested through FTDNA can be seen here. More will be available in time, as will the analysis.  If your family name is incompletely tested or not all and you have a male candidate bearing your name and you wish to take part please feel free to contact me

The project continues to need financial support as well as further testing candidates. Each Y-37 test costs $150/£100 and anyone can make a donation on line to the project here

I should stress that there is still a long way to go in time and effort before the precise early origins of these Manx male lines can be fully determined and so the project will continue for the foreseeable future. I will try and keep these above detailed results up to date as new information becomes available.

If you have questions or comments on the project then please feel free to contact me, John Creer, here

Blein Vie Noa!

If you have any questions about this site please contact  John A Creer.

Monday, January 4, 2016

The Annual Mollag Ghennal Brightens the Winter Gloom

This year the annual festive gathering returned to Peel with a selection of Manx musicians to whet everyone's appetite on a dismal winter evening.

Traditionally held between Christmas and New Year, the night's entertainment was compéred by local man Greg Joughin of the Mollag Band at the Masonic Hall. Predictably the concert was a sell out with a line--up of singers and musicians performing at the venue from across the Island.

Matt Kelly set the ball rolling with some nifty guitar work, and although frequently seen as part of the successful duo Strengyn, this was a solo performance. He was followed by Manx Gaelic vocalist Ruth Keggin, who pops up in a variety of musical combinations, but on this occasion sang in partnership with fellow songstress Sarah Hendy, accompanied by David Kilgallon on keyboard. Hotfoot from the north of the Island was locally based Scottish musician Malcolm Stitt, who regaled the packed venue with a cross-section of material.

After an interval for supper, the evening was brought to a close by the celebrated Mollag Band, providing a wide selection of songs and tunes from their extensive repertoire.

Valerie Caine
 © January 2016