Monday, February 29, 2016

Manx Performers Spring into Life at Welsh Festival

With the advent of spring and the ubiquitous golden daffodils to help shake off the winter gloom, the inter-Celtic festival of Wales, Cwlwm Celtaidd, will burst into life this month and will include musicians and dancers from the Isle of Man in their programme.

Based in the seaside resort of Porthcawl, this family-friendly festival has long been a favourite of Manx traditional dance group Perree Bane, whose vibrancy and colour attract an audience wherever they perform.

They will be joined this year by Skeddan Jiarg (Red Herring), a newly formed dance group with a core of young and enthusiastic children who practise at the Sailors' Shelter in Peel.

Further Manx links include Scottish contemporary Celtic harpist, Rachel Hair, who regularly visits the Island to provide lessons for a large number of pupils, as well as touring extensively as a solo artist, or with the Rachel Hair Trio.

They will perform alongside a Scottish pipe band, up-and-coming singers and musicians, established artists and a Welsh male voice choir.

Situated midway between Cardiff and Swansea, Porthcawl's legacy is based primarily on agricultural and industrial exports, but the town also became a favourite holiday resort for thousands of visitors who strolled along its Victorian promenade and enjoyed the Grand Pavilion - where the festival is based.

Valerie Caine
© March 2016

(Courtesy of Manx Tails)

New Governor for Isle of Man

The Isle of Man will have a new governor when Adam Wood's five-year term ends in April. His successor will be Sir Richard Gozney (seen here), a retired diplomat. 

His distinguished career included being Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Bermuda from 2007 to 2012,  British High Commissioner to Nigeria from 2005 to 2007 and  British Ambassador to Indonesia from 2003 to 2005. He has also worked in Argentina, Spain and Swaziland. Since retiring, he has been non-executive director, a post from which he recently retired.

He says that he and his wife visited the Island a few years ago and, having fallen for it, they are looking forward to moving to Government House and to meeting the Island's people.

Career summary[edit]

  • 1973–1974: Foreign and Commonwealth Office desk officer for Somalia and Ethiopia
  • 1974–1978: British Embassy Jakarta, Third and later Second Secretary
  • 1978–1981: British Embassy Buenos Aires, Third and later First Secretary
  • 1981–1984: Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Head of Section for NATO nuclear arms control
  • 1984–1988: Madrid, Head of Chancery and Political Section
  • 1989–1990: Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
  • 1990–1993: Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Principal Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
  • 1993–1996: British High Commissioner to Swaziland
  • 1996–1997: Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Head of Security Policy Department
  • 1998–2000: Cabinet Office, Chief of the Assessments Staff
  • 2000–2004: British Ambassador to Indonesia
  • 2004–2007: British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Her Majesty's Non-Resident Ambassador to the Republic of Benin and the Republic of Equatorial Guinea
  • 2007–2012: Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Bermuda


  • 1993: Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George
  • 2003: Best of Indonesian language speaker (Tokoh Berbahasa Indonesia Lisan Terbaik)
  • 2006: Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George
  • 2009: Commander of the Royal Victorian Order
  • 2010: Knight of Justice of the Venerable Order of St. John

  • Publications

    Gibraltar and the EC: Aspects of the Relationship
     (Royal Institute of International Affairs Discussion Paper, 1993)

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Manx Band Mec Lir Relive Their Visit to the Celtic Colours Festival in Canada

Local trad band Mec Lir made history recently, when they became the first Manx group to represent the Isle of Man at what has become known as one of Canada's premiere musical events.

Musicians David Kilgallon, Tomas Callister, Adam Rhodes and Greg Barry have brought a new, contemporary feel to Manx traditional music, providing a ground-breaking mix of dance tunes with an upbeat tempo which has attracted a legion of new fans and generated much interest off-Island.

The Celtic Colours International Festival is recognised as a cultural highlight of Nova Scotia's annual calendar, and has been successful in extending Cape Breton Island's tourism season.

It's home to a unique combination of music and culture, following the settlement of immigrants from France, Scotland and Ireland, but additionally influenced by the Aboriginal Mi'kmaq people, its geography and social isolation.

Members of Mec Lir quickly recognised an affinity with the Isle of Man as the community came together to provide a rich experience of a living culture for festival-goers.

Keyboard and fiddle player David Kilgallon remarked, "The concerts were always sold out, and not surprising really, since there's such strong support for what heritage is there, and of course the interest of seeing the first band from the Isle of Man. The festival is very community based, with little over 150,000 people living on Cape Breton Island. We were cooked dinner each day by volunteers, but also hit Thanksgiving whilst we were there, so had lots of turkey dinners!"

With dozens of concerts held across the Island, workshops, an extensive line-up of community events and a nightly Festival Club at the Gaelic College in St Ann's, the fabulous Celtic Colours Festival has grown rapidly since its inception in 1997.

Mec Lir played a number of gigs at the festival (often closing the night off) with Tomas Callister providing nuggets of information about the Isle of Man. One highlight was a session on stage with a duo from Newfoundland on the penultimate night.

David commented, "The Festival Club was the heart of the fest and usually sold out too. In the Festival Club we mixed with some world class musicians who were also playing at the festival, which led to many impromptu sessions which went on till at least six in the morning!"

Another highlight of the festival for the Manx band was playing for the local school in Baddeck, where children were invited to learn how to sing Hunt the Wren. In appreciation of their visit, members of Mec Lir were each presented with a Baddeck Academy scarf.

The award-winning festival provides an ambitious schedule, allowing both visitors and residents to pursue a hands-on experience through a wide selection of presentations, demonstrations and lectures. This extends to visual art presentations, outdoor walks and bicycle tours to take advantage of Cape Breton Island's spectacular scenery.

(Photos courtesy of Phil Kneen)

Valerie Caine
© February 2016

(Courtesy of Manx Tails)

Monday, February 15, 2016

Snowdrop Walk Attracts Afternoon Visitors to Dalby

In response to the relentless wind and rain of the past few months, supporters of St James Church, Dalby, came out in force to join the annual snowdrop walk, followed by afternoon tea.

Meeting at Dalby House, by kind permission of Mrs Clarke, visitors were invited to stroll amongst the garden, where a plethora of snowdrops basked in the glory of praise and endearment.

With local man, Michael Killey, on hand to answer questions, this carpet of white blooms was, perhaps, a signal that hope springs eternal. Potted snowdrops were also on sale for budding enthusiasts and experienced gardeners.

Fortunately, the predicted heavy rain held off until everyone had decamped to the nearby church, for a sumptuous afternoon tea by a roaring fire in the schoolroom, provided by a team of helpers at Dalby.  

There was a welcome on the mat for each visitor, with every table tastefully decorated with vases of snowdrops, together with generous plates of sandwiches and a large selection of home-made cake.  

Proceeds from the event will be divided between St James Church Restoration Fund and this year's chosen charities, Craig's Heartstrong Foundation, which provides vital screening for young people and Excellent Development, a not-for-profit organisation which supports rural, dry-land communities to work their way out of poverty in some of the most vulnerable parts of the world.

Valerie Caine
© February 2016