Monday, March 28, 2016

International Celtic Congress to be Held on the Isle of Man

This year's International Celtic Congress, which will bring a total of sixty delegates from the Celtic countries in a demonstration of solidarity, will be held on the Isle of Man later this month.

As a group they aim to perpetuate the culture, ideals and languages of the Celtic people, and to maintain an intellectual contact and close co-operation between the respective Celtic communities.

The first Celtic Congress (under the title of the Pan-Celtic Congress) was held in Abergavenny, Wales, during 1838 and subsequently organised approximately every thirty years until the close of the nineteenth century, when, starting with a gathering at Morlaix in Brittany, annual meetings were regularised.

In its current form, the Celtic Congress convened at Birkenhead in 1917, at the invitation of the National Union of Welsh Societies, as part of the National Eisteddfod. On this occasion there was also a representative from the Celtic Society of Paris, together with those from the six Celtic nations.

The hub of this year's gathering will be at the Empress Hotel in Douglas, which will be used as a base for a series of lectures, concerts and Manx classes. This year's theme is The Inclusion of Celtic History and Culture in the School Curriculum, with the Isle of Man lecture being given by Peter Crellin.

Local entertainment will include  northern based dance group Ny Fennee, Manx Gaelic choir Caarjyn Cooidjagh, vocalists Ruth Keggin, Sarah Hendy, Dilys Sowrey and Marlene Hendy; together with musicians Isla Callister, Strengyn and Jamie Smith, amongst others.

There will also be performances by musicians from Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Cornwall and the Isle of Man, as part of a special Inter-Celtic Concert.

Delegates will also be given the opportunity of experiencing facets of Island life, including a visit to the historic Tynwald Chamber, a trip on the Manx Electric Railway and excursions to Castletown, Cregneash and Laxey.

Further highlights will include a gala dinner, the organisation's Annual General Meeting and a special ecumenical service at St Peter's Church in the traditional setting of Cregneash.

But for those who enjoy a little sport, there's a unique opportunity to watch a specially organised Inter-Celtic Cammag Match to be held at 4.15pm on the 4 April, on the shore opposite the Empress Hotel.

The game of cammag is considered to be an earlier form of hockey, and is recognised by its Celtic neighbours, where it is closely related to Irish hurling, camogie, Scottish shinty and Welsh bandy. The word itself is derived from the same root as camanachd - a word associated with a Scottish Gaelic stick and ball game.

If you require further details about the events surrounding the International Celtic Congress, or would like to become involved with the local branch, please contact the Secretary, Roy Kennaugh at

Valerie Caine
© March 2016

(Courtesy of Manx Tails)
(Logo courtesy of Greg Joughin)

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Festival Season Gets into Full Swing!

There'll be Manx music both at home and away later this month, as the festival season gets into full swing, with opportunity to enjoy contributions from many of our Celtic neighbours.

Based predominantly in Ramsey and now in its eighteenth year, Shennaghys Jiu will have a programme of concerts, ceilis, music sessions and workshops. Irish musicians Achrann, who are Fleadhanna competitors and medal winners, have joined forces especially for their Shennaghys Jiu debut. Joining them on stage will be the highly acclaimed Kilcummin Set Dancers, displaying a mixture of Irish dances, including the amazing brush dance! Currently reigning world and All Ireland champions, they have toured extensively in Europe.

Additionally, the festival includes musicians Ross Hull and Cameron Grant, who met as members of the North East Folk Collective and then progressed to the National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music, before forming as a duo whilst studying on the Isle of Benbecula; playing their music across Scotland. They will be joined by fellow musician Christian Gamauf, who will inject some distinctive Cape Breton sounds into their performance.

Local musicians will include singer and guitarist Adam Melvin (previous winner of the Young Singer/Songwriter of Man) who's working on a new EP, and the mighty Mollag Band, with their profound view of life.

Look out too for the Schools Art Exhibition in Ramsey Town Hall.

Meanwhile, the forty fifth Pan Celtic International Festival returns to Carlow in the sunny south-east of Ireland, with a colourful spectacle of dancers, singers and musicians from the Celtic Diaspora.

Its aim is to promote the modern Celtic languages, culture and artists from the six Celtic nations of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, Brittany and of course the Isle of Man.

Known for its strong, competitive focus, a number of main events will place at the Seven Oaks Hotel, including the Pan Celtic International Song Contest. This year the Island will be represented in the competition by local band Glashtyn (a goblin or sprite from Manx folklore) with their composition Pynt dy Lhune (A Pint of Beer). But Island duo Adhene will also compete in the competition for a new song in traditional style, with their song Awin Auldyn (Auldyn River). In recent years the Isle of Man has been very successful in competition alongside its larger, Celtic cousins.

Other events during the festival include street performances, club nights, an open-air ceili and a choral concert at the Cathedral of the Assumption in Carlow.

There's also a range of fringe events, involving food and craft markets, sport, classes and workshops.

Successful local band Mec Lir will also be making a welcome return to the festival, with their contemporary interpretation of Manx music putting the Island at the forefront of the traditional music scene.

Valerie Caine
© March 2016

(Courtesy of Manx Tails)