WE’RE SO EXCITED!!!! Convention Dates: 6th-9thAugust 2020

COME TO THE 2020 North American Manx Association Convention. It will be held at Hotel 1620 right on Plymouth Harbor and will run from 6th-9thAugust 2020. We picked  Plymouth as it is the 400th Anniversary of the landing of the settlers aboard The Mayflower, who included Myles Standish, a Manxman. Plymouth will be a hosting a year long celebration. This is a great opportunity to celebrate being Manx AND American!

We are planning a two-site visit with guided tours during the weekend to the world famous Plimoth Plantation and a replica of Mayflower. This is definitely one for the children and grand-children! 

In addition we will be welcoming Ruth Keggin. She is a Manx speaker and fabulous musical performer. She will be running several Manx culture workshops. Check out her website for more about her work. www.ruthkeggin.com. We’d like to thank Culture Vannin for sponsoring Ruth’s trip to see us!


We have blocked off rooms and you should quote NAMA2020 when reserving your room. Only book the hotel directly by phone or on their own website. Please, please, please do not book in any other way, as we could be financially liable if we fail to hit our room allocation. Our specially negotiated rate at this busy harbor hotel is $229 per night.

This is an American celebration and we have some fun events planned. We will also reacquaint ourselves with Captain Myles Standish, the militia man aboard the vessel, who is of Manx descent, and delightfully links our American and Manx heritages.

While flights to Boston are plentiful, the bus link to Plymouth stops short of the town and will require a taxi pick up from a drop-off point. You might want to consider renting a car. The hotel has lots of parking spaces. Please mention any disabilities when you reserve your room. Quote: NAMA2020. Hotel Phone Number: +1 (508) 747-4900 Website: https://www.hotel1620.com 

TO REGISTER CLICK THIS LINK:  Registration Form 2020

Dr John C Taylor OBE FREng FRS

Some of history’s most significant British timepieces dating from 1500 to 1800 will go on display on the Isle of Man in a new Luxury of Time exhibition, made possible thanks to the generosity of the philanthropist Dr John C Taylor OBE.  The stunning spectacle showing the golden age of clock and watch making will be on display at the Manx Museum in Douglas from Saturday 15 February  2020 until Sunday 10 May 2020.

Born in Buxton, Derbyshire in 1936 and schooled at King William’s College, Isle of Man, Dr Taylor returned to the Island in 1977 to bring up his young family.  He founded Strix in 1981, made numerous world-changing inventions including kettle controls now used a billion times a day; he retired and left the company in 1999.  He has over 400 patents to his name and has since focussed on philanthropy and passing on his knowledge to future generations through talks, lectures and endowments.  He has also built a stunning home in the Isle of Man – Arragon Mooar House – which is elliptical in shape, because in the words of Dr John C Taylor OBE,“building a circular one would have been too easy”.

Dr Taylor continued:

“I’ve always loved clocks and my interest started at a young age when I would watch my father, who was an engineer and inventor.  He would boil clock mechanisms in a pan to release built-up grease and then scrub and clean the metal until he breathed new life into the gear wheels and got them working again.”

Dr Taylor has since built up a unique collection of early clocks and watches from the British Isles that tell many stories of great design, metal work, furniture making, entrepreneurialism, engineering and timekeeping.

“Hand-made English clocks, many dated and numbered, were in fact the first mass-produced luxury items, heralding the start of the industrial revolution.  Not only is the craftsmanship astoundingly intricate, it amazes me that such wonderful works of art could be created to such a high specification, when spectacles were rare and clockmakers had to make their own tools.”

The exhibition will feature 30 different outstandingly beautiful timepieces, including a gothic lantern clock, made by blacksmiths (from 1500) plus majestic clocks and exquisite watches.

This carefully curated collection has many Royal connections.  The silver and gilt David Ramsay astronomical verge watch (c1618) puts modern “complicated” watches in their place.  The dial of this watch shows the hour, the day (sign, name and deity), the month (name and date) together with the sign of the Zodiac, the age and phase of the moon, and the planet hour.  This incredible timepiece bears an engraving of a portrait of King James I and is signed, ‘David Ramsay Scottes me Fecit’.

Queen Mary’s Turtle-shell Tompion (c1693)

There’s also the bedside table clock, Queen Mary’s Turtle-shell Tompion (c1693), styled from the design of Daniel Marot and Louis XIV’s court in Versailles. Tompion billed Queen Mary II £40.00 for this clock on an itemised account dated 16th August 1693.

The Joseph Knibb ebony veneered table clock with tic-tac escapement (1677) also has an impressive pedigree.  It was part of King George III’s collection and was presented to his surgeon, Thomas Beckett. It then remained in the Beckett family until it was sold to the collection of the renowned Isle of Man watchmaker, George Daniels.

Taking pride of place in the exhibition is the John Harrison of Barrow Longcase Clock (1726), made famous through global interest in the Longitude Prize.  This magnificent timepiece was originally created as a land-based clock against which to calibrate his sea clocks. Following Harrison’s addition of his gridiron pendulum, this became the most accurate clock in the world for 150 years.

John Harrison of Barrow Longcase Clock (1726)

Kirsty Neate, Head of Professional Services for Manx National Heritage said:

“The exhibition would not have been possible without the support and collaboration of Isle of Man resident, inventor and philanthropist, Dr Taylor, and his team, to whom Manx National Heritage are extremely grateful for their generosity in bringing this unique collection together for display on the Isle of Man for the first time”.

Dr Taylor commented: “Most people state that the world’s greatest invention is the wheel. The wheel is the servant of mankind, but mankind is slave to the clock so therefore, surely, clocks are the most important objects ever invented.”

The Luxury of Time exhibition runs at the Manx Museum, Kingswood Grove, Douglas, Isle of Man IM1 3LY, from Saturday 15 February 2020 to Sunday 10 May 2020.  It is open daily from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM with free admission.

Following the launch of the exhibition, Dr John C Taylor OBE will deliver a public lecture on 5 March 2020 at the Manx Museum, with all proceeds to Manx National Heritage, Isle of Man registered charity no. 603.  Tickets are priced at £10.  Dr Taylor will also be leading an exclusive guided tour of the gallery on 9 April. Please see www.manxnationalheritage.im for details.


About Dr John C Taylor OBE FREng

Dr John Crawshaw Taylor OBE FREng was born in Buxton, Derbyshire in 1936.  He was sent as an evacuee to Canada in 1940 during the Second World War, returning home five years later in a convoy where five ships were torpedoed.  He is dyslexic and failed his 11 plus, his 13 plus and Common Entrance exams.  He was accepted and educated at King William’s College in the Isle of Man and then at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge University, where he studied Natural Sciences and participated in the 1958 and 1961 Cambridge Spitsbergen Expeditions.

After graduating, Dr Taylor joined Otter Controls Ltd, founded by his father, Eric, and began inventing and designing snap action controls using bimetal.  Many of these early inventions are still in production today.

In 1977 Dr Taylor moved to the Isle of Man and in 1981 he founded Strix Ltd, retiring from the company in 1999. Strix Ltd was named UK manufacturer of the year in 1995 and has received four Queen’s awards – three for export and one for innovation that was awarded for Dr Taylor’s 360° cordless kettle connector and underfloor heating element inventions.

In 2000, Dr Taylor was granted an Honorary Doctorate of Engineering from the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST). This was followed in 2017 by an Honorary Doctorate of Science from the University of Durham and an Honorary Fellowship of University College Isle of Man in 2018.

He is one of the world’s leading experts on the work of John Harrison, an early pioneer in timekeeping and sea clocks.  This led Dr Taylor to design and build the Corpus Chronophage, a three-metre-high clock that is displayed on an exterior wall of Corpus Christi College undergraduate Taylor Library and is controlled by a Grasshopper escapement as a tribute to John Harrison.  This time-eating Chronophage clock has become the main visitor attraction of Cambridge, eclipsing the iconic King’s College Chapel.

Apart from his two honorary doctorates and honorary fellowship, Dr Taylor has also been the recipient of many other honours including, but not limited to, the appointment as a Fellow of the Institute of Patentees and Inventors and the appointment as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 2011 New Year’s Honours List for his services to business and horology.

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering for his outstanding contributions to the advancement of British engineering, innovation and commerce and was awarded The Harrison Medal by the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers for excellence in horology.

In 2009, HRH the Duke of Edinburgh presented Dr Taylor with the Chancellor’s 800th Anniversary Medal for Outstanding Philanthropy to the University of Cambridge.

Dr Taylor maintains very strong affiliations with the University of Cambridge today and both instigated, and funded in perpetuity, the first Professorship of Innovation at the University’s Department of Engineering.

About Manx National Heritage

Manx National Heritage is responsible for protecting and promoting the Isle of Man’s natural and cultural heritage.  It is an Isle of Man registered charity and looks after some of the Island’s most special places, spaces, archives and museum collections, making these available to a worldwide audience.

Find out more at www.manxnationalheritage.im.

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A tiny rare bat species has been recorded on the Isle of Man for the first time.

The lesser horseshoe bat, which measures just 1.7in (4.5cm), was found in a cellar in the south of the island, the Manx Bat Group (MBG) confirmed.

It is the second new species to be found on the island in recent years after a Nathusius’ pipistrelle was spotted in 2018.

Kevin Wells of the MBG described the discovery as “extremely exciting”.

In total, the lesser horseshoe bat has become the ninth species of the mammal to be recorded on the island.

There are 18 species known to be native to the UK.

Generally found in Wales and parts of west England and Ireland, the population has recovered in recent decades after it suffered a dramatic decline, according to the Irish organisation the Vincent Wildlife Trust.

It is among the smallest mammals in Great Britain and weighs under 10 grams.

A suspected sighting was made on the island in 2006, two miles from the site of the recent discovery, but it flew away before it could be verified.

In the latest discovery, DNA testing on droppings in the domestic cellar verified the existence of the species.

A spokesman for the MBG said it would carry out “further fieldwork” to establish if a resident population of the bats exists on the Isle of Man.

Local author, Derek Winterbottom, has written several books concerning different aspects of the Isle of Man, but he has now focused his attention towards two remarkable women who devoted their lives to an all consuming passion.

Both Sophia Morrison and Mona Douglas undoubtedly played a crucial role in the survival and continuity of the Island’s language, folklore and other traditional elements of Manx life; but here we have a book which brings them together in printed form and explores their lives on an intimate basis.

Although their backgrounds couldn’t have been more different, both women sought the same goal, in an attempt to save and nourish what they held dear to their hearts, and within these pages you’ll find out more about their tremendous accomplishments and determination. And yet in some respects their upbringing reflected each others. Notwithstanding their unbridled love of Manxness, both women experienced an unusual childhood, spent time in a rural setting and were the daughters of businessmen. As recounted in this book, neither of their lives were without colour and boldness, but both of them experienced sadness and frustration in equal measure.

Other notable characters who have played their part in Manx history make a brief appearance as important cornerstones to both women’s stories, which develop on either side of the Island.

This book offers a glimpse into their daily lives and lifts the curtain occasionally on private moments, but also teases out other elements which defined them. It shadows the growing work of both women and their determination to be successful in a somewhat patriarchal world.

Sophia Morrison was very much a facilitator, and although largely remembered for her iconic book Manx Fairy Tales, worked upon other, diverse publications which also deserve recognition.

Unfortunately ill health dogged her later years and with her early death we can only surmise what her greater achievements may have been.

A large section of the book is, however, devoted to Mona Douglas, to whom Sophia passed the baton as cultural field-worker and was, indeed, encouraged by her mentor to move amongst the people and record what remained of the Island’s folk memory, language and other unique aspects of Manx life.

There are many who still remember this veritable tour-de-force, who were themselves inspired from an early age by her cultural endeavours and have continued to uphold the legacy of both women.

Sophia Morrison and Mona Douglas pursued different avenues in their quest, but were united in their resolve to be a flag-bearer for their beloved Isle of Man.

Fortunately the baton has been picked up by many since their time, who now continue Sophia and Mona’s important work.

Priced at £12.50, Sophia Morrison, Mona Douglas and Their Enchanted Isle is available from bookshops across the Island.

Valerie Caine

© January 2020

(Courtesy of the North Western Chronicle)

Local group Clash Vooar will soon be heading to Denmark to represent the Isle of Man in the thirteenth edition of Liet International Festival, amongst a line-up of twenty participants representing regional and minority languages.

Most members of the group, described as having a gypsy/jazz groove, reside in the west of the Island, with regular gigs at both the Centenary Centre and The Whitehouse in Peel, and were selected by an international jury from an extensive list of forty five potential entries – reflecting a growing interest in the Liet International Festival.

This year’s festival will form part of the official activities organised to celebrate the centenary of the border between Denmark and Germany and the German minority in Nordschleswig, Denmark, home to 15,000 people. The area maintains its own school and a wide spectrum of social and cultural institutions, and serves as a vital bridge between the German-Danish border region.

All twenty of the chosen groups will perform at the Gazzværket, a popular night venue in the city of Apenrade/Aabenraa in the south of the country, with half of them going forward to the final on the following evening.

The song festival itself is a Frisian initiative, first held in the capital of Friesland, but now moves between different venues in Europe under the patronage of the Council of Europe.

It has become one of the biggest promotional events for minority languages, enjoying the attention of the world-wide media.


(Interior photo: James Franklin)

Valerie Caine

© January 2020

(Courtesy of the North Western Chronicle)


The Arrane son Mannin (Song for Mann) competition is an opportunity for the performance of new and original music written in Manx Gaelic, with the winner representing the Isle of Man at the annual Pan Celtic Festival in Carlow, Ireland, later this year.

Held in the Masonic Hall in Peel, judges at the event were challenged to find the best, original song composed in the Island’s native tongue, which will go forward in competition with others from neighbouring Celtic nations, vying to clinch the top position in the festival’s International Song Contest.

Judges were drawn from a selection of the Island’s singers and musicians, who ultimately chose local trio Skeeal Elley, with their song Oie as Laa, which tells the story of a Manxman and his longing to escape a prison cell and return to his rural home in Ballaragh, on the north east coast of the Island.

The evening also included a selection of local musicians and singers, providing a range of Manx entertainment – including the former Young Singer of Mann Erin Loach, accordionist Jack McLean, musicians David Kilgallon and Malcolm Stitt and former Manx Bard Annie Kissack. Additionally there was a group from the north of the Island, comprising flautist Peddyr Cubberley, harpist Arabella Aayen solo dancer Ellie from local dance group Ny Fennee and an inspiring performance by a quartet of pupils from the Bunscoill Ghaelgagh. The evening concluded with a number of songs from the Manx Gaelic choir Cliogaree Twoaie.

Arrane son Mannin was organised by local Pan Celtic representative Fiona McArdle.

Valerie Caine

© January 2020

(Courtesy of the North Western Chronicle)

The annual Oie’ll Verree, now a concert-based form of entertainment, was once a celebration centred against a more religious backdrop, and has been the subject of much transformation over the years.

Many of the outlying districts have abandoned this special celebration, but in Kirk Michael it’s a much anticipated part of the calendar. Held in the local Ebenezer Hall, it’s a great opportunity for the audience to enjoy a host of entertainment in a provincial setting.

An introduction was made by David Corlett, Chairman of Michael Heritage Trust, (organisers of the event) followed by Mike Clague, compére for the evening – introducing a range of performers, including traditional dancers from Perree Bane and a number of singers, musicians, the current Manx Bard Zoë Cannell and a little light comedy.

During the evening, the annual Yn Gliggyr award was presented to local girl Chrissy Cannell, in recognition of her contribution towards Kirk Michael’s cultural heritage.

And to end the evening a little dialect poetry supplied by Deborah Taubman as an introduction to the celebrated dialect play. Presented by The Michael Players RBV, this year’s adaptation was Mr Quilliam Decides by Lillian and Eva Kneen.

Valerie Caine

© January 2020

(Courtesy of the North Western Chronicle)

When St Stephen’s Day dawned, it was with trepidation that we opened our curtains to the sight of torrential rain, but this didn’t deter many of those heading out to Hunt the Wren across the Island.

It’s a long-held tradition, not unrecognisable in other Celtic nations, although thankfully the death of a bird is no longer obligatory, and distribution of its feathers for luck has been superseded by coloured ribbons.

Some of the revellers, understandably, sheltered from the appalling weather, whilst others braved the deluge – determined to honour this local tradition.

Later, a large number of players gathered on the original fair field at St John’s to play an annual game of Cammag, despite the continuation of dreadful weather. A battle between teams from the north and south (won by the latter), the game will be familiar to those who enjoy the likes of shinty, or hurling.

Although the game lost favour on the Island at the turn of the nineteenth century, with the introduction of football, there has been a resurgence of interest in recent years.

The day concluded with a rousing music session at the Tynwald Inn.

Valerie Caine

© January 2020

(Courtesy of the North Western Chronicle)

The long-standing concert Mollag Ghennal, offering a fantastic evening of local entertainment took place at the Manx Legion Club in Douglas; with a packed house enjoying a range of musical acts, as well as a revival of the celebrated White Boys.

There was also an opportunity to take part in a local quiz and sample supper from the Mollag Band kitchens.

Following a tried and tested format, the musicians included guitarist Mark Lawrence, duo David Kilgallon and Malcolm Stitt, BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award 2018 Mera Royle, rising stars Scran, fellow duo Frank and Jamie Joughin and, of course, the Mollag Band who brought the evening to a close.

But after organising this annual event for twenty five years, members of the Mollag Band have decided it’s time to step back and would welcome any group, or individual, prepared to pick up the baton and organise this popular event.

Valerie Caine

© January 2020

(Courtesy of the North Western Chronicle)

After an absence of a number of years, two sets of entertainers historically known as The White Boys, brought back the traditional Manx version of the mummers play to the towns and villages of the Isle of Man.

Although not distinctive to the Island, it’s loosely based on a version of the theme of St George and the Dragon (although the latter is never seen) with some local anecdotes threaded amongst the story – which has been part of Manx tradition for many years.

It’s a colourful street performance which amused our forefathers, but still has a place in a contemporary setting amidst busy shoppers who witness the deaths of some of the prominent characters after a mock fight, and who are miraculously revived by the contents of a small bottle from the bag of the mysterious doctor – who seeks payment in vain for his work.

Valerie Caine

© January 2020

(Courtesy of the North Western Chronicle)