Launch of Poetry Book on World Book Day

The Enchanting Island of Cushag is the most recent publication to be launched under the auspices of Peel Heritage Trust with the Peel City Guardian, appropriately on World Book Day, at the Peel Clothworkers School.

Cushag was the pen-name of Ramsey born Josephine Kermode, one of fourteen children of the Reverend William Kermode and sister of the celebrated naturalist and archaeologist P. M. C. Kermode.

Her poetry has long been a favourite of Bill Quine, who set about compiling all of her known poems (105 in all) for this publication, which includes perhaps her best known composition Traa dy Liooar, together with a short biography.

With the future of the Island’s heritage and culture ultimately in the hands of the younger generation, it was decided to engage the pupils of Peel Clothworkers’ School in this event, which also commemorated the death of Cushag eighty years ago. The launch was attended by Jo Callister who represented the Department of Education and Children, Mrs Bridge Carter and Mrs Di Benson of the Isle of Man Poetry Society (who also recited examples of their own work) and the Honourable Ray Harmer MHK. They were also joined by Dr Breesha Maddrell of Culture Vannin, representatives of Peel Heritage Trust and invited guests.

Bill Quine revealed further details of the life and times of Cushag to his audience and gave an insight into his fondness for her poetry, with recitations by pupils Charlotte Dalgleish and Chloë Gelling.

Peel Heritage Trust has also generously donated approximately one hundred copies of the book to the Department of Education and Children for distribution amongst Island schools.

But before their return to lessons, pupils were read the opening lines of a newly written poem entitled Bobby and the Buggane, and challenged to come up with a suitable conclusion. The winner will receive a prize from Peel Heritage Trust.

Celebrations concluded with light refreshments including, appropriately enough, some home-made bonnag.

Priced at £9.50, The Enchanting Island of Cushag is available from Mitchell’s Newsagents in Peel, Bridge Bookshop (Port Erin and Ramsey), the Lexicon Bookshop in Douglas, or direct from Peel Heritage Trust.

Valerie Caine

© March 2017

(Courtesy of the North Western Chronicle)

Posted in Uncategorized

Plenty of Entries at the World Bonnag Championships

  The annual World Bonnag Championships was a great opportunity to combine a talent for baking with an evening’s entertainment, drawing competitors and onlookers from all parts of the Island.

The Manx bonnag is a simple, un-yeasted bread which once figured prominently upon many farmhouse kitchen tables, but remains a favourite at a number of social gatherings and in some Island households.

Sponsored by Shoprite, the winners were:

Women’s Section – Carolyn Kinrade  (who was also awarded the Isle of Man Creamery’s Buttermilk Trophy

Men’s Section – Dominic Gordon

Under Fourteen – Eva Jones

Gluten Free – Vanessa Callin

Professional Bakers – Niarbyl Cafe (Shoprite Trophy)

Everyone who entered the competitions was invited to take away a complimentary bag of Soda Bread Flour, courtesy of Laxey Flour Mill.

But if you didn’t have time to whip a bonnag into shape, there was also chance to watch the events and enjoy a hearty supper, along with entertainment by Dot Tilbury and friends, presentation of cheques to last year’s charities and an introduction to this year’s chosen beneficiaries. The evening concluded with the auction of all competition entries.

Proceeds after costs will be divided between Tabitha’s Trust, the Pahar Trust (Nepal) and Dalby Church Restoration Fund.

Valerie Caine

© March 2017

(Courtesy of the North Western Chronicle)

Posted in Culture

Celtfest – a Fresh New Name for the Island’s Annual Summer Festival!

  There’s a fresh new name on the festival calendar, but behind it a rich background of history and social enterprise.

Celtfest Isle of Man has been organised by Yn Chruinnaght (a group of like-minded individuals who love all things Celtic) and promises to invigorate mid-summer with a selection of new ideas and trusted favourites.

Putting the Celts truly into Celtfest will be anatomist, anthropologist and broadcaster Professor Alice Roberts, who has presented several landmark BBC series, including The Incredible Human Journey, Origins of Us, Ice Age Giants and, of course, The Celts.

Additionally, a new event for this year will be a free family day based in and around Cathedral Isle of Man (St German’s Cathedral in Peel) called The Gathering. Sponsored by Conister Bank, it will be an opportunity to enjoy music and dance performances, browse the artisan craft fair and take part in mini workshops. There’ll be food and drink on hand from local producers, together with yarn-spinner and puppeteer Fi Angwin (bringing traditional Celtic stories to life), well-known harpist Rachel Hair and a plethora of Manx performers.

Music will be very much a staple part of the Celtfest menu, including a liberal outreach programme of both visiting and local acts for school children, and a week of free, lunchtime sessions featuring talented, Island singer/songwriters and musicians at Noa Bakehouse in Douglas.

Further entertainment will also be available at the Centenary Centre in Peel with a cross-section of fine musicians from Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man; including Talisk, Connla, the Rioghnach Connolly Band and the stunning debut album The River, composed by the award-winning Hamish Napier and sponsored by the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.

The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company’s Chief Executive Mark Woodward commented: “For four decades Yn Chruinnaght has been a leading celebration of Manx and Celtic culture and as it enters an exciting new era as Celtfest we are delighted to be the festival’s Travel Partner. Since the late 1970s the festival has not only engaged the Manx community but also brought visitors from across the Celtic nations to share their music, song and dance and experience the Isle of Man. As Celtfest, the festival can build on this great tradition and grow, bringing more people to the Island and getting even more of the local population involved. The Steam Packet Company is proud to call the Isle of Man home and delighted to support Celtfest as it shares our unique culture with people from around the world.”

Celtfest Isle of Man is also kindly supported by Culture Vannin and the Isle of Man Arts Council, but organisers would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to sponsor the event.

Further information available from Facebook, Twitter, www.celtfest.im or by phoning 07624 302200.

Valerie Caine

© March 2017

Posted in Culture

William Kennish Memorial Dedication Ceremony

  With the success of a local campaign to raise funds for a permanent gravestone at the burial site of one of the Island’s unsung heroes, there was an opportunity for some of those involved with the project to view the finished stone before transportation to New York.

Trustees of the William Kennish Memorial Trust, Robert Stimpson and Roy Moore (a descendant of the Kennish family) invited those who had donated to this unique marker along to Manx Memorials in Peel, where Matthew Gregson, who worked on the stone, was on hand to answer questions, together with the trustees.

William Kennish was born at Cornaa in 1799, and although he modestly described himself as illiterate, was later rapidly promoted within the Royal Navy. The son of a farmer, Kennish spoke only Manx Gaelic when he left the Island, but this didn’t hold him back. As a self-educated engineer, Kennish didn’t lack imagination, producing a number of inventions which included the Marine Theodolite, part of the first gun commander system in 1828, and an ambitious plan to provide a Harbour of Refuge at the Calf of Man.

He returned to the Island in 1844 with his family, briefly spending time in Castle Rushen Debtors’ Gaol, before presenting a 3,000 signature petition in London to improve the harbours on behalf of Manx fishermen. He later headed for the USA to further his career.

However, Kennish’s most outstanding achievement is, perhaps, reflected in his work to locate a route for what is now the Panama Canal. Undertaking seven complex surveys across hazardous territory, Kennish remains the only person to have successfully found a canal route without locks across the isthmus, and although un-adopted, his plan has been re-examined.

Kennish died of pneumonia in 1862, but the complications of typhus prevented his burial for seven years, and although eventually laid to rest in New York, he lies in an unmarked grave in Green Wood Cemetery.

However, the curious addition of the name of Charles P. Neurse on the reverse of the Kennish gravestone requires some explanation. Unforeseen family circumstances resulted in Kennish being buried in a public plot, together with the aforesaid Charles P. Neurse, who died of bilious fever at the age of twenty four. The policy employed at the Green Wood Cemetery requires that all persons within a given plot are identified upon the gravestone.

A brief dedication ceremony will take place on the one hundred and fifty fifth anniversary of William Kennish’s death on the 19th March, 2017, at Green Wood Cemetery, which will also be attended by the President of Tynwald, the Honourable Stephen Rodan MLC.

www.william-kennish.com

Valerie Caine

© March 2017

Posted in History

Festival Season Springs into Life

 With daffodils raising their heads well above the parapet, in a seasonal surge of expectation and solidarity, it’s a sure sign that the festival season is about to spring into life.

Manx performers will be entertaining audiences both at home and abroad, including the Welsh inter-Celtic festival Cwlwm Celtaidd, headlined by Jamie Smith’s Mabon, which includes talented locally based musicians Jamie Smith and Paul Rogers, along with Welsh band Calan who performed in Peel last year.

Based in Porthcawl’s Grand Pavilion, Cwlwm Celtaidd has developed a growing reputation as a family friendly festival, harbouring a long held link with the Isle of Man. This includes Manx dance group Perree Bane, joined this year by new band Imbolc (pronounced i-molg) and named after a traditional Gaelic calendar festival which, appropriately enough, marks the beginning of spring. The brainchild of local fiddle player César Joughin, who attends the Newark School of Violin Making, he’s joined by Daniel Quayle, currently studying linguistics at the University of Edinburgh and fellow instrument makers Félix Debroise and Mark Healy, who hail from Brittany and Ireland. This will be their first festival gig, where both César and Felix will be making music on personally, hand-made violins.

As well as the usual packed programme of events (including a beach ceilidh), followers of the Six Nations Rugby Championship won’t have to forego watching their sporting heroes, but will be able to keep an eye on their favourite team (an appropriate Celtic clash – Wales v Ireland) live on the big screen.

Hot on its heels will be the Ramsey based Shennaghys Jiu, celebrating its twentieth anniversary by showcasing a selection of local talent and the return of some performers from further afield.

It’s very much a home-based festival, which has witnessed a resurgence of interest in traditional music in Ramsey and the north. The festival’s long standing collaboration with local schools has again resulted in an art display at Ramsey Town Hall (3rd – 10th April) and an opportunity for visiting groups to perform for pupils Many venues in the town lend themselves readily for an array of ceilidhs, concerts, workshops and music sessions, although some of the performers will be taking a detour to the Centenary Centre in Peel for a special afternoon concert.

In amongst a range of musicians will be Manx favourite Mec Lir, together with up and coming local girls Becky Hurst and Isla Callister, the latter featuring in the new sextet Trip. Additionally, Galician duo Antón Davila and Xosé Liz de Cea, who have supported Shennaghys Jiu for many years, will also be making a special appearance during the festival’s twentieth anniversary celebrations.

Further information about each of the festivals available on their websites and Facebook pages.

www.shennaghysjiu.com

www.cwlwmceltaidd.org

Valerie Caine

© March 2017

(Courtesy of Manx Tails)

Posted in Culture

The Hammer of Thor

Despite its title, this book has little to do with Norse mythology, but one of its meanings, ‘fearful destruction’, is a perfect epitaph of the life-changing consequences of what was termed the Great War.

The effect of war is, by its very nature, manifold, but in her new book Patricia Skillicorn reveals the true picture of how the Island fared during World War I and what became of it at the cessation of conflict; including some valuable first-hand accounts. Our unique position juggled the provision of internment alongside providing a higher proportion of men for military service than anywhere else in the British Isles, self-sufficiency became a priority, the visiting industry, along with its valuable income, vanished virtually overnight and the aspiration of Home Rule fell by the wayside.

This is a compelling story which also provides important detail about the Island prior to World War I, setting the scene for what arrived in its wake as the Lieutenant Governor, Lord Raglan, members of the House of Keys and a number of important social reformers, such as Samuel Norris, labour radicals and unionists, faced the challenges of a declining local population and inevitable economic problems; but not always singing from the same hymn sheet.

Well researched and informative, The Hammer of Thor provides a sometimes brutal account of how islanders survived away from the battlefield, (particularly women) deficient of a number of social monetary benefits available in England.

But in amongst the sacrifice, depravation and despair of the working class, Patricia also presents the reader with details of how resourceful Manx people were at this time, developing strategies, coping mechanisms and embracing the need for enterprise.

The Hammer of Thor can also describe a protection of mankind, but other sources, appropriately, reveal it to be an indicator of a future path.

Available from Island bookshops priced £15.

Valerie Caine

© March 2017

(Courtesy of Manx Tails)

Posted in History

Celebrate Fairtrade Fortnight at Dalby

There’s a special event coming up at Dalby to mark Fairtrade Fortnight, where there’s sure to be a warm welcome, along with a film made during a visit to Kathmandu and an opportunity to purchase some tasty Fairtrade products.

The main feature of the evening will be a revealing film produced as part of a trip to Kathmandu, focusing particularly on the Kumbeshwar Technical School. It’s here that more than three thousand women are trained and employed to manufacture Fairtrade knitwear, with the proceeds of sale used to run a primary school, children’s hostel and a carpentry course. And they also supply goods to be the Manx outlet Shakti Man, based in Ramsey.

All are welcome to find out more about how the purchase of Fairtrade products can transform the lives of the Nepalese community and enjoy stunning photography of a trek around Dhaulagiri – the sixth highest mountain in the world.

There will also be an opportunity to purchase Fairtrade goods, raffle tickets and enjoy some home-cooked refreshments using Fairtrade produce.

Although there will be no admission charge, proceeds from the raffle and donations (after costs) will be used to support the vital, ongoing work at the Kumbeshwar Technical School.

This special get-together starts at 7.30pm on Thursday the 9th March at St James’ Church in Dalby.

www.stjamesdalby.org

Valerie Caine

© February 2017

Posted in Uncategorized

William Kennish Memorial Stone Shipped!

Image: Peel, Isle of Man, Saturday February 20th, 2017 prior to the crating of the memorial.
Bob Stimpson Matthew Gregson Roy Moore
Author and Trustee Monumental Mason Trustee and Kennish Great x 4 nephew

I am very pleased to be able to confirm that the William Kennish Memorial Trust completed raising the £5,000  ($6,200) target in the past week, and this saw the 350lb memorial stone completed, engraved, crated up and shipped out of Douglas on February 20th to the UK from Douglas Isle of Man.

The commemorative dedication service at Green Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn NY will take place on Sunday 19 March 2017 at 11:00hrs starting in the cemetery chapel, and concluding at the graveside. This will be the 155th anniversary of William’s death. The Honorable Steve Rodan, President of Tynwald, will be attending the ceremony in Brooklyn, and the Trust is hoping for confirmation of both Royal Navy and US Navy representation at the ceremony.  

A Memorial Ceremony program can be downloaded from  www.william-kennish.com/KennishMemorialCeremony.pdf

NAMA members and anyone with a Manx connection are all  very warmly invited to join the wider Kennish family descendants attending the ceremony – we are hoping for good weather as it’s a 3/4 mile walk from the chapel to the graveside and only limited transportation will be available!

Posted in History, USA

Funds Secured for William Kennish Memorial

 As the worldwide achievements of Manx men and women continue to bring international recognition for the Isle of Man, Bob Stimpson and Roy Moore have successfully joined forces, as trustees, to raise funds for a memorial to be dedicated to one of the Island’s most prolific inventors.

The campaign’s success has now secured shipment of the stone for cutting before transfer to Manx Memorials for specific work on the grave-marker’s inscription by Matthew Gregson.

William Kennish was born at Cornaa in 1799, and although he modestly described himself as illiterate, was later rapidly promoted within the Royal Navy. The son of a farmer, Kennish spoke only Manx Gaelic when he left the Island, but this didn’t hold him back. As a self-educated engineer, Kennish didn’t lack imagination, producing a number of new ideas which included the Marine Theodolite, part of the first gun commander system in 1828, and an ambitious plan to provide a Harbour of Refuge at the Calf of Man.

He returned to the Island in 1844 with his family, briefly spending time in Castle Rushen Debtors’ Gaol, before presenting a 3,000 signature petition in London to improve the harbours on behalf of Manx fishermen. He later headed for the USA to further his career.

However, Kennish’s most outstanding achievement is, perhaps, reflected in his work to locate a route for what is now the Panama Canal. Undertaking seven complex surveys across hazardous territory, Kennish remains the only person to have successfully found a canal route without locks across the isthmus, and although un-adopted, his plan has been re-examined.

Kennish died of pneumonia in 1862, but the complications of typhus prevented his burial for seven years, and although eventually laid to rest in New York, he lies in an unmarked grave in Green Wood Cemetery.

But the William Kennish Memorial Trust, established on the Isle of Man, hopes to change this situation, inviting donations which will be used to provide an appropriate memorial stone as a fitting conclusion of his life.

The trustees will need to raise in the region of £5,000/US$7,000 for the project, which will include shipment of the headstone to New York. A brief dedication ceremony will take place on the one hundred and fifty fifth anniversary of William Kennish’s death on the 19 March, 2017 at Green Wood Cemetery.

There are a number of ways of donating to this fundraising scheme, such as by PayPal, bank transfer or cheque, with those contributing £25/US$30 or more entitled to receive a special commemorative booklet of the occasion. Those who wish to donate with US dollars are requested to contact Dana (Deke) Kennish Smith in the first instance at deke@dksic.net.

Further information about William Kennish can be found at www.william-kennish.com, or by reading Bob Stimpson’s book William Kennish -Manninagh Dooie – True Manxman.

If you have any queries please contact donate@william-kennish.com or go to www.william-kennish.com/donate.

Valerie Caine

© February 2017

(Courtesy of Manx Tails)

Posted in History

Clarion call to all loyal Manx wherever you are. Save Ramsey Pier!

Image: Ray Collister, with permission.

We are writing to you as we hope that though you may live far away, you may keep strong links with your Manx roots, and will be happy to hear that one of the iconic landmarks of the Island has a real chance at last of being restored.

This iconic structure was built in 1886, designed by the foremost naval architect of the Victorian era – Sir John Coode, as one of his last works.  It is the 6th longest pier in Great Britain at 684metres long.  Sir John also built and advised on harbours in Australia, New Zealand South Africa and all over the UK.

For 100 years the pier functioned as a dock for smaller shipping, a landing point, and an unparalleled recreational asset where people came from all over the island and beyond to ride on the little train, fish from its bays, and enjoy the superb view of the northern plain which borders the sea front of Ramsey and Maughold Head.

Over the last 20-30 years Ramsey has been a bit in the doldrums.  Parliament St seemed to be full of empty shops, the Mooragh Park looked rather dejected, cold and windswept – and the Pier sat forlornly empty and abandoned.  Various attempts were made to work out what to do, both by individuals (The Friends of the Queen’s Pier) and by the Government, who carried out an island-wide questionnaire on what should become of the iconic landmark. An overwhelming majority supported the view that the Pier be retained but until last year, nothing happened.

However, I am delighted to let you know that  – at last! – a group of retired engineers, naval officers and general Pier enthusiasts have by pure will power managed to convince the Government that something can be done.  In the last year they have set up a Charitable Trust (The Queen’s Pier Restoration Trust) with all its relevant officers, bank accounts etc, They were then authorized to undertake a full structural survey of the pier.  By October every bay, strut and plank had been examined, filmed and structurally assessed. Amazingly the cast iron legs are still in good condition, and though many of the girders will need to be replaced, it is a relatively easy task.  Even much of the 150 year old teak planking is still in excellent condition!  The railings, and some of the smaller artifacts are still safely in storage in Jurby.

The completed survey has recently been handed to the Government, who have already moved to begin reconnecting water, power and drainage to the Gate House, and they have promised a decision on our request for a 5 year lease to undertake the full restoration of the pier using largely volunteer labour and a major fundraising effort to obtain the needed replacement materials  – by March this year.

We cannot start full scale fundraising until this undertaking is signed and sealed – but we need funds to begin the restoration as soon as we get the permissions.

We write to ask if you could help us through your members generosity, but only to be paid once the lease with the Government is signed?  We are confident that with this, and with other money that is being collected on island, we should have enough straight away to begin restoring the gatehouse, building the gantry to remove defective girders, and for purchasing the necessary raw materials so that we can begin the work on the Pier itself as soon as the weather is suitable.

A large board will be erected at the entrance to the Pier which will commemorate any donations of £1000 and over.  Individual planks and girders can also be “purchased”, and small plaques with donors’ names which will be made by the Manx Disabled Workshops, will be fixed to a beam running along the edge of the pier walkway.

Tourism is going to be more and more important to the Isle of Man, and this restoration of an iconic landmark will greatly boost the progress of Ramsey and the Northern Plain into becoming a Gourmet Destination of choice – great restaurants, cafes and gift shops have sprung up recently.  Plans for the Pier include a Victorian style coffee shop on the first bay – a battery run train running the length, a multipurpose hall at the far end for concerts, parties, docking facilities for smaller yachts and boats, and of course – lots of space for angling, including a facility for selling the catch – much needed now we longer have a fishmonger in Ramsey.

Please be part of this great public effort and register your willingness to help us – in however small a way.   Of course if you – or your children, could come over and spend a few months working with our volunteers in the workshops, in the replacing of defective elements or in cleaning down and repainting the good parts, you would be hugely welcome!

With very best wishes

Tom Durrant

Chairman

Queen’s Pier Restoration Trust

Facebook page: www.facebook.com/queenspiertrust

Website/donation page:  http://www.ramseypier.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in History