Manx Performers Strengthen Ties with Cornish Festival

It is said that the Cornish have a long history of expressing their distinctive identity, with a steadily increasing identification and promotion of a Celtic dimension since the late nineteenth century, and there’s no better way to experience this than the annual festival known as Lowender Peran.

Set up to encourage recognition of Cornwall’s heritage, there’s a long list of Manx performers who have strengthened links with the festival during many years of participation. This year the Island will be represented by two very distinctive sets of entertainers, who are well known for supporting a whole range of festivals both at home and abroad.

Mark Lawrence is an accomplished guitarist who enjoys playing a range of styles on both acoustic and electric guitars. He is known for both composing his own tunes and reframing traditional ones, but is heavily influenced by other genres such as the Beatles, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, John Doyle and Arty McGlynn. This merging of influences has subsequently led to Mark’s current project – a fusion of folk, blues, jazz and classical music played on acoustic guitar. He’s a long-time supporter of Lowender Peran and is very much looking forward to performing at this year’s festival.

Additionally, the traditional Manx dance group Ny Fennee (The Heroes in Manx Gaelic), based in the north of the Island, will also be taking centre stage at Lowender Peran. Founded in 1980, and under the leadership of Juan Garrett and Sue Jaques, this dynamic, young set of dancers are well known for putting their own stamp on traditional Manx dances, accompanied by their own musicians both on and off the Island. Consisting of forty members of all ages, Ny Fennee – easily identified by their colourful costume – regularly partake in local competitions, such as Dance Mann, where they have won the traditional dance section and also placed runners-up within overall group performance.

The festival itself is, at its core, renowned for its dance displays and energetic ceilidhs – providing an opportunity for pageant, colour and identity.

But if you’ve left your dancing shoes at home, there’s ample opportunity to sample other aspects of the festival, including music and song, story-telling, workshops, sessions and the Cornish language; with an outreach programme to several schools across Cornwall. You’ll also be able to slake your thirst with a variety of Cornish beers and embrace a Cornish Gin tasting session.

If time and energy allow, visitors to the festival, now based in The Hotel Bristol in Newquay, may also enjoy some of the area’s stunning coastal scenery, or a visit to Truro to see Cornwall Cathedral, one of the most iconic buildings in the county, tour the Royal Cornwall Museum, or brave the Atlantic surf.

Valerie Caine

© October 2019

(Courtesy of Manx Life)