Chris Killip – Isle of Man Revisited

Currently teaching at Harvard University, internationally famous photographer, Chris Killip, recently returned to the Isle of Man for the opening of a new exhibition of his work at the Manx Museum, and to present a sell out talk about his life and work.

His seminal work The Isle of Man: A Book About the Manx, published in 1980, captured a view of Manx life which was soon to disappear, focusing on a rural community through the lens of a plate camera, and the stark black and white images, with which Chris Killip made an indelible mark in the photographic world.
Born in 1946, whilst his father was landlord of the Highlander Inn at Greeba, Killip freely admits that academia was not for him, but upon moving to Peel, after his father became landlord of the White House, he felt that the town moulded him. He speaks lovingly of his childhood and his fondness for the fishing port.
Having worked briefly at Moore’s Kipper Yard and in the Island’s hotel industry, Killip travelled to London in order to pursue a career in photography, inspired by an image taken by Henri Cartier-Bresson and bolstered by his earnings as a beach photographer.
He finally secured a job as an assistant in the Chelsea studio of Adrian Flowers (one of the most successful advertising photographers of the day), but it was a visit to the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1969 that proved to be Killip’s Damascene moment.
Returning to the Isle of Man in that same year, Killip worked in his father’s pub at night and photographed during the day; developing his work in his mother’s walk-in linen cupboard. Described elsewhere as ‘a dour, unflashy exploration of the photographer’s cultural roots’, it was this work which became The Isle of Man: A Book About the Manx
During 1975 Killip relocated to England, where his revealing images of the austerity riven north east resulted in the publication of In Flagrante and the Cartier-Bresson Award in 1989.
Later, he was commissioned to photograph the workforce of the Pirelli factory in Derbyshire, before being head-hunted for his role at Harvard University. But for the people of the Isle of Man, his most poignant work is likely to be his initial foray into publishing.
Killip set aside those images for thirty years, but recently re-evaluated them, culminating in the current exhibition and his recent publication Isle of Man Revisited.
Although a number of photographs have been changed and others added, it’s clear that Killip has re-awakened a host of memories. They convey many things about the hard-working, rural Manx people of that time – poverty, simplicity, acceptance and, for some, contentment.
Killip (who now lives in the US) has moved on, but so have the people of the Isle of Man, as they strive to balance an older way of life with the influence of a contemporary world.
His exhibition at the Manx Museum offers a welcome opportunity to examine his work on a more personal, emotional level and can be viewed until the 30 July, 2016.
Killip’s book, Isle of Man Revisited, is available from the Manx Museum shop and various Island bookshops priced at £40.
Valerie Caine
© July 2016
 

(Courtesy of Manx Tails)

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Rushen Heritage Trust Summer Exhibition

 A recent exhibition organised by members of Rushen Heritage Trust, focusing on the hey-day of tourism in the south of the Island, attracted a large number of visitors to Port Erin; many of whom reminisced about those halcyon days.

Situated in St Catherine’s Church Hall, a stone’s throw from Port Erin Bay, the organisation’s volunteers had brought together a wealth of information and memories describing how visitors entertained themselves in Port Erin, Port St Mary and beyond.

The main thrust of what was on offer revolved around an extensive array of outdoor events, which afforded visitors a range of activities to keep them rooted in the south of the Island.

These were simpler, less complicated times, when they were more inclined to relax in a deckchair on the beach, or challenge a member of the family to a leisurely game of ‘pitch and putt’.

Paddling pools and Beach Missions kept the younger generation busy, whilst their elders may be more inclined towards a game of bowls, or a round of golf.


Boating, fishing, bird watching (the feathered variety) and cycling were also great favourites, along with special excursions to the Calf of Man and exciting coach trips to other Island destinations.

The once popular Traie Meanagh open-air baths, situated in what was advertised as one of the sunniest and most sheltered creeks in Port Erin Bay, attracted scores of spectators to watch talented divers perform at the sea water pool.

Both Port Erin and Port St Mary are also remembered for their selection of hotels such as The Belle Vue and the Balqueen, amongst others, and a range of eateries to satisfy hungry visitors; the most well known probably the distinctive Collinson’s Cafe, now in private ownership.

Chapel Bay, Happy Valley and Port St Mary Town Hall also figured in the exhibition along with the picturesque Breagle Glen and Bradda Glen.

Valerie Caine

© July 2016

(Courtesy of the Southern Chronicle)
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Strongest Ever Line-up for Island's Annual Celtic Festival!

With a strong focus on top quality Celtic music, Peel’s Centenary Centre will be the hub this July for the Island’s biggest Celtic festival Yn Chruinnaght (The Gathering); celebrating everything Celtic from music and dance to language and crafts.

The festival programme includes a diverse range of entertainment, including mellow singer-songwriters and fast and fiery dance tunes, with energy, attitude and talent from Dublin’s finest folk miscreants Lynched, Welsh superstars Calan, exceptional Cornish singer-songwriter Kezia and Brittany’s delightful An Tri DipoP.

But in addition to these visiting acts organisers will also welcome an all-important, über-talented line-up of performers from the Manx music and dance scene, including internationally acclaimed Manx singers Christine Collister and Ruth Keggin.

Committed to ensuring that the next generation is fully connected to the Island’s rich Celtic heritage, Yn Chruinnaght has teamed up with Sure to provide two mid-festival, sell-out, school concerts in the Centenary Centre. Children are, however, welcome throughout the festival, especially during the popular ceili and the many outdoor events. New for this year will be free sessions suitable for pre-school children and their parents, as well as an after-school ceili for those of primary school age.

Now that the event is firmly based in Peel,  talented Manx artist and illustrator, Alice Quayle, has been commissioned to develop a festival design which celebrates a number of key points related to the town. Alice commented, “The unique selling point of Yn Chruinnaght is that it’s now based in Peel…this means that if you visit you don’t just get music, there’s the seaside, castle, ice cream, kippers, seals, narrow winding streets, pubs, etc. – a whole seaside experience!”

You will be able to see some of Alice’s work when she joins other gifted Manx artists and producers for an Artisan Craft Fair in the Corrin Hall, where you can also learn the art of Pictish ribbon interlace and key pattern design in two workshops fronted by Greg Joughin. Advance booking for the workshops is essential – email info@ynchruinnaght.com

And in a ground-breaking innovation this summer, Yn Chruinnaght can be heard on Manx Radio’s AM service on Saturday 16 July for a unique mix of music and discussion, with a refreshing Celtic twist.

But the festival will also feature the usual formal and informal performances (both indoors and outdoors) from the Island’s many talented musicians, singers and dancers including Perree Bane, Ny Fennee and Birlinn Jiarg; together with the current Manx bard Stacey Astill.

Yn Chruinnaght is a not for profit event, supported by Culture Vannin, the Isle of  Man Arts Council, Sure, Mannin Group, Paradise and Gell, Conister Bank and Shoprite.

Tickets available now (including money saving Gig Passes) both online and at the usual Centenary Centre outlets.

For further details visit www.ynchruinnaght.com or phone 302200.

Valerie Caine

© July 2016

(Courtesy of Manx Tails)
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New website with easier-to-type address

nama-banner-600w

No, you didn’t go to the wrong page – this is the North American Manx Society.  We recently changed to a new hosting provider and a new format that will let more people provide content.  It is based around a blog, with the addition of a menu bar to take you to other webpages for NAMA and the regional societies.

The website name northamericanmanx.org was easy to remember, but cumbersome to type – especially on a mobile phone.  To remedy that, we have shortened it to namanx.org.  The old website name will still work, but it will re-direct to the new one, as will namanx.com and northamericanmanx.com.

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Recalling Eamon de Valera's Visit to the Isle of Man

As commemorations for the centenary of the Easter Rising continue apace in the Irish Republic, it’s an appropriate time to reflect upon the Island’s links with one of the most important men of the insurrection, Éamon de Valera.

Although he had never visited the Isle of Man, Éamon de Valera was approached in 1938 by his honour Deemster Farrant, Mrs K. Kelly and Miss Mona Douglas, together with representatives of other Celtic nations, on the question of whether financial assistance might be forthcoming from the Irish government in relation to the furtherance of Celtic culture.

But in 1947 Éamon de Valera did make a brief, informal visit to these Island shores as part of a short cruise on the former Royal Navy fisheries protection vessel Macha which was on sea trials, taking in the Western Isles and the Outer Hebrides.

Skippered by Captain F. M. White, the vessel drew alongside the Victoria Pier in Douglas, in glorious sunshine, to be met by the Lieutenant Governor Sir Geoffrey and Lady Bromet, Captain J. M. Cain ADC, the Mayor of Douglas and other dignitaries. However, his visit seemingly aroused little interest amongst the thousands of holiday makers, who were more intent, perhaps, on enjoying the summer weather.

Accompanied by his son, Rúaidhrí, and officials, Éamon de Valera and his party made a courtesy visit to Douglas Town Hall, before heading to Government House for lunch. Afterwards, they toured the Island by car, visiting places of interest and having tea at the Manx Museum. He also attended St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Douglas before his departure.

Although brief, Éamon de Valera’s visit proved to be fortuitous for the Isle of Man, securing a vital link between the few remaining Manx Gaelic speakers and revivalists of recent times.

Stopping off at Harry Kelly’s cottage in Cregneash, both Éamon de Valera and the celebrated Manx speaker, Ned Maddrell, spoke together in their native tongue without difficulty. This prompted an offer to send the Irish Folklore Commission’s newly acquired and fully equipped recording van to the Island, so as to record the last native speakers of Manx Gaelic.

During the following year, Irish folk collector, Kevin Danaher, arrived in Douglas, after an adventurous journey on a cattle boat from Dublin, to begin his quest; although not before his van was thoroughly hosed down at the Manx Museum.

But another, more intriguing story, linking Éamon de Valera to the Isle of Man involves the Island’s cultural champion, Mona Douglas, who was staying in the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin during the War of Independence. The story recounted how a party of Black and Tans, searching for Éamon de Valera, raided the hotel, but were apparently unable to locate their prey, as he was safely hidden in a wardrobe in Mona’s room!

Valerie Caine

© June 2016

(Courtesy of Manx Tails)

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Manx National Heritage Plans New Military History Gallery

 
Manx National Heritage, the national heritage agency for the Isle of Man, is in the early stages of planning a new gallery at the Manx Museum, examining the role armed conflict has played in the history of the Island and the response of Manx people to it. 
 
The gallery will build upon the success of 2014’s temporary exhibition ‘This Terrible Ordeal’, which covered all aspects of the First World War, and aims to examine what armed service and conflict has meant for Manx people from the 1700s to the present day.  
 
In preparation for planning the new gallery, curators from Manx National Heritage would like to hear from people on the Isle of Man who have been affected by armed conflict in recent years.
 
Matthew Richardson, Manx National Heritage Curator of Social History commented:
 
“We are seeking to examine all aspects of warfare and military service in the past 250 years, including those who have gone willingly or unwillingly to war, those who have been bystanders, and indeed those who have opposed conflict.  Our collections are strong in terms of the years up to the Second World War, but there are always new stories to tell. 
 
We are especially interested in hearing from Manx people who served in Korea, the Falklands, Northern Ireland, the Gulf or Afghanistan, and who may have memories or memorabilia which they wish to share with a wider audience. We would also be interested to hear from those who have been affected by conflict in other ways, or who have protested against it”.
 
Through the support of its Friends organisation, Manx National Heritage was recently able to acquire the medal awarded to Trafalgar hero John Cowle, who lost his arm in the famous naval battle in 1805. Five such medals were awarded to Manx sailors, who played an important part in the battle, but Cowle’s is the only one now known to survive.
 
Matthew continued:
 
“John Cowle’s story will figure prominently in the new gallery. Manx seafarers were greatly prized by the Royal Navy, and many were swept up by the infamous press gangs. John Cowle suffered what we would term today a life-changing injury, but he overcame this, and lived a successful life for many years afterwards. Injury and disability will be one of the themes running throughout each era we cover”.
 
One of the most poignant items to be displayed in the new gallery however will undoubtedly be the simple wooden cross from the battlefield grave of Private Thomas Corlett, who was killed in action near the Belgian city of Ypres 1917.
 
If you have a story to tell or an object you would like to see on display, contact Matthew Richardson at the Manx Museum on 01624 648053 or email matthew.richardson@mnh.gov.im.
 
ENDS
 
Image caption:
 
Medal awarded to Trafalgar hero John Cowle (Images 2016-00060Medal003 and 005 – medal front and reverse)
Manx flag from the Gulf War – an example of artefacts of interest from recent conflict
 
For further information, please contact:
 
Lynsey Clague
Communications Manager
 
Manx National Heritage, Eiraght Ashoonagh Vannin
Manx Museum, Douglas, Isle of Man, IM1 3LY
Telephone: +44 (0) 1624 648032
 
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Save the Date!

Our next Convention will be held June 22-24, 2018 in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

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Some snaps from the 2016 Convention Gallery

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Exhibition Highlights History of St Patrick's Church Jurby

 With the imminent handover of St Patrick’s Church, Jurby, to The Friends of Jurby Church, a recent exhibition at the venue highlighted the ecclesiastical building’s long and varied history.

A prominent feature of the northern plain, the building is an important aspect of parish life, which is reflected in the work done by Sandra Kerrison for the publication Isle of Man History at Jurby Church.

As well as raising funds for The Friends of Jurby Church, this well presented booklet provides an informative overview of both the building and the surrounding area; leading to a greater understanding of both the landscape and its people.

The exhibition itself explored topics in more detail, with an opportunity to learn more about subjects such as local industry, Norse influence in the area, early Christianity, details of men from the parish who fought in both World Wars and the role of the church itself in the neighbourhood.

The building will now be centred upon a new community based initiative, focusing on exhibitions, concerts, family history and realising its potential as a tourist attraction, but retaining an ecclesiastical link with occasional services, weddings and funerals.
 

If you would like further information about joining the Friends of Jurby Church, please contact Sandra Kerrison:

Post: Ballacrye Farm, Sandygate, Jurby IM7 3BS
In Person: Leave details in the folder on the table at the church

Valerie Caine

© June 2016

(Courtesy of the North Western Chronicle)

 
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Ruth Keggin to Launch New Album

Manx Gaelic vocalist, Ruth Keggin, will be sharing her success in the music industry with the launch of her second album, Turrys(Journey) as part of two concerts this weekend.

Following on from her critically acclaimed debut, solo album Sheear (Westward) in 2014, Ruth has performed live sessions on both BBC Radio 3 and BBC Radio Scotland, as well as at the British Museum in London and at high profile festivals such as Glasgow based Celtic Connections and the European favourite, Festival Interceltique de Lorient in Brittany.

Together with her band, Ruth has also performed in joint concerts with major players in the folk world, including Scottish Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis, Irish vocalist Mary Black and the band Dàimh.

Ruth will be marking the launch of her latest album with two concerts, initially at Noa Bakehouse on the 24 June, followed by a second at the Centenary Centre in Peel on the 25 June; both starting at 8.00pm. Children are welcome at both concerts, but strict licensing laws prohibit them from Noa Bakehouse after 9.00pm.

As well as Ruth Keggin and her full band, support will be provided by talented, local fiddle player, Isla Callister (who will shortly be relocating to Glasgow where she will study traditional music at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland), ubiquitous multi-instrumentalist David Kilgallon and expressive sean-nós singer and musician Eoghan Ó Ceannabháin, who also features in Ruth’s own band.

The live studio recording of her current album highlights an eclectic mix of traditional, contemporary and original songs and melodies, arranged in a fresh and imaginative way; including a mixture of vocals, flutes, guitar, double bass and concertina. It can be pre-ordered either through Ruth’s dedicated website, or by using iTunes.

Tickets for the concerts can be purchased in advance at £8, again from Ruth’s website, Celtic Gold, Shakti Man, Peter Norris and Thompson Travel, or £10 on the door. Tickets for the first gig only (in Douglas) will also be available from Noa Bakehouse.

Valerie Caine

© June 2016

(Courtesy of Manx Tails)

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