Eminent Feminist Dr Pankhurst Encourages Islanders to Pull Together in Memory of Manx Pioneer

Continuing an historical, family legacy can be viewed by those lingering around the outside of the circle as labouring, challenging, or even unnecessary, but Dr Helen Pankhurst carries her public mantle with a quiet, but dignified determination.

Female emancipation can be divisive and empowering, in equal measure, but it is something which holds generations of the Pankhurst family together, despite forays into other social areas. As an active feminist herself, Dr Pankhurst spreads her time liberally between international development and women’s rights, but also works as an adviser for CARE International and as a trustee of Action Aid.

Having studied at Edinburgh University, Sussex University and Vassar College in New York, Dr Pankhurst now divides her time between Ethiopia (where her radical grandmother Christabel made a new life) and the UK.

Closer to home, Dr Pankhurst has had a growing awareness of her Manx connections, but it was her daughter Laura who dug down into the genealogical ridges to discover more about their links with Sophia Craine of Lonan and other Manx relatives. And although her visit to the Isle of Man last year was brief, Dr Pankhurst was able to visit Sophia’s birthplace and lay flowers at her grave in Braddan New Cemetery.

We can be sure that Sophia’s influence proved to be a catalyst in her descendants’ future work. Upon her marriage to Richard Goulden, Sophia lost her right to vote when she relocated to Manchester, (the Isle of Man was the first country to give (some) women the vote in 1881) but despite raising eleven children still had energy to fight the injustice of slavery and women’s suffrage. And it was, of course, Sophia who sowed the seeds for social change in the mind of her daughter, Emmeline.

Dr Pankhurst’s recent visit to the Island was organised by The Friends of Sophia Goulden, a local group striving to raise a statue of the Manx woman, which, according to Dr Pankhurst, will not only serve as a commemoration, but remind us of what can still be achieved on our own doorstep.

The concept of female emancipation is nothing new, but at some point this was eroded. Locally there is evidence of four women in Garff who cast their vote in 1700 and it’s widely acknowledged that Viking women enjoyed a more equal footing with their men folk in their daily lives. We pride ourselves as being the first country in the world to allow women the vote in 1881, (albeit with restrictions) but the need for continued progress and stability is ongoing.

Dr Pankhurst believes that globally there is much work to be done, but this need not exclude the Isle of Man. Although she clearly sees empowerment as by far the best way forward, neither does this preclude men from taking up the cudgel of feminism. They too can play their part, speak out about discrimination and use their power to reverse the tide of inequality.

Dr Pankhurst commented, “Although contemporary society has seen positive change, misogyny and patriarchy doesn’t serve anybody. Men need not be silent witnesses.”

Cultural, institutional and social change are all required, and with the upsurge in popularity of social media there has never been a better time for women to engage in campaigns and support each other, but as the world adjusts to radical change it also brings fresh opportunities and new problems in its wake.

If it hadn’t been members of the Pankhurst family, undoubtedly others would have emerged to pursue political equality, but in Dr Pankhurst’s opinion there’s nothing like doing this together, taking courage from female pioneers of previous generations.

But when we’re doing this, let’s remember the pivotal role of a pioneering Manx woman – Sophia Craine.

Valerie Caine

© February 2018

(Courtesy of Manx Tails)

Manx Family Links Emmeline Pankhurst to the Isle of Man

With the commemoration of women in Britain securing the vote dominating news coverage today, it’s also an opportunity to explore the lives of the women who fought for democracy, but a Manx link with the powerful Emmeline Pankhurst may hold the key to her personal vision for women’s suffrage.

Sophia Jane Craine, the mother of Emmeline Pankhurst, baptised in the parish of Lonan, was the daughter of William and Jane Craine and often referred to as ‘a bright, attractive, good-looking young woman’. During Sophia Jane’s early childhood the family lived in the Strand quarter of Lonan parish, her father a shoemaker.

Likely an only child, the Craine family moved to Tynwald House, 3 North Quay, Douglas, where they ran a lodging house and home-schooled their daughter.

Sophia Jane married an aspiring Manchester warehouseman and ardent Liberal, Robert Goulden, at Kirk Braddan in 1853 and relocated to her husband’s hometown; it’s assumed that they met when he lodged with her family. Sophia Jane’s mother moved to Christian Road, Douglas, before settling at Strathallan Crescent in the town.

Sophia Jane Goulden was kept busy bringing up a large family, for the most part at Seedley Cottage, Pendleton, Salford. Sylvia Pankhurst recalled, ‘…..grandmother, brought up on a Manx farm, was the typical old-fashioned bustling housewife, working amongst her maids, in a household producing its own butter and bread, jams and pickles……’

It was, however, her great-grandmother, Jane Quine, who was a farmer’s daughter from Jurby.

Her sister Christabel, remarked, ‘…..grandmother, born in the Isle of Man, gave mother her sea-blue eyes, her healthy, finely balanced constitution, her spirited courage, her portion of the enterprise that scatters Manx folk far in the world and gives them good success in their undertakings. The peaceful, open-air life was the best preparation for the exacting and energy-spending life in store for her……’

Sophia Jane was a passionate feminist, who gave her blessing to the work undertaken by her family, accompanying Emmeline to suffrage meetings in the early 1870s. But she was also quick to criticise her daughter.

In 1878 Emmeline’s parents bought 9 Strathallan Crescent, Douglas, formerly the home of John Morrison, her step-father, and used as a holiday home, where the Goulden family spent summers exploring lanes and glens, visiting their grandmother, (who plied them with soda cakes) and listening to Robbie Craine, a relative learned in Manx folklore and a well-known, local character.

Both of Emmeline’s parents died in Douglas, and are buried in Braddan Cemetery – Robert in 1892 and Sophia Jane in 1910, after a bout of double pneumonia.

But although enfranchisement of women, who fulfilled certain criteria, is generally accepted as being established on the Isle of Man in 1881, there is evidence that progress took place much earlier, when four women from Maughold and Lonan were amongst the voters of Garff in 1700.

(Images courtesy of Isle of Man Stamps & Coins and the Isle of Man Family History Society)

Valerie Caine

© February 2018

(Courtesy of Manx Tails)

Oie’ll Verree at Kirk Michael Brings in the Crowds

   The annual Oie’ll Verree, which can still be found in a number of rural settings, takes the form of a concert and remains at the forefront of Manx life as a community event, but the occasion at Kirk Michael was tinged with sadness after the news of the sudden death of Roy Kennaugh, who was one of its most dedicated proponents and organisers.

Held as usual at the Ebenezer Hall in Michael village, the venue was packed with an expectant crowd, looking forward to a good evening of entertainment, but before proceedings got underway tributes to the late Roy Kennaugh were given by John ‘Dog’ Callister and a member of Michael Heritage Trust.

Local singer Dilys Sowery provided a gentle start to the evening, in partnership on this occasion with accordionist John Kaighin. This was followed by Deborah Taubman and Mary Faragher with recitations of historical Manx poetry, including that of the legendary T. E. Brown, and a little magic from Giles Beaumont. The first half concluded with some superb music from harpist Mera Royle and a selection of traditional dances from northern based dance group Ny Fennee.

A short interval, which included the presentation of the award Yn Gliggyr to a resident for their work in the parish, was then followed by the main event, which was the eagerly awaited dialect play, presented by The Michael Players RBV and produced by the late Roy Kennaugh.

This year’s play was The L’il Smook by the prolific J. J. Kneen, a comedy based on the exploits of Mrs Qualtrough’s endeavours to stop her husband from smoking and was the prize winner of the 1913 Yn Çheshaght Ghailckagh play competition. Recognised as the greatest Manx linguist of his generation and one of the most important scholars of Manx subjects, J. J. Kneen was awarded a Knighthood from the King of Norway.

Proceedings closed with the singing of Arrane Oie Vie (goodnight song) and a hearty home-made supper.

Valerie Caine

© January 2018

(Courtesy of the North Western Chronicle)

Local Song Chosen for Pan Celtic Song Contest in Ireland

  Manx group Biskee Brisht recently won the local competition to choose a song to go forward for the annual Pan-Celtic Song Contest, which will take place in Ireland later this year.

This is the second time in succession that Biskee Brisht has won the local heat of Arrane son Mannin (Song for Mann), which was held at the Masonic Hall in Peel and interspersed with a rich selection of musical entertainment. There were a total of three groups seeking victory this year in a competition which looks for a new, original song both written and sung in the Manx language, which will compete alongside songs submitted by our Celtic neighbours.

Local representative of the Pan Celtic International Council, Fiona McArdle, also took on the role of compère for the evening and announced that Clare Kilgallon, also from the Isle of Man, will this year take on the role of President of the Pan Celtic International Festival.

Prize money and support for the local event was provided by Culture Vannin.

Valerie Caine

© January 2018

(Courtesy of the North Western Chronicle)

Illiam Dhone Commemorated at Hango Hill

Onlookers gathered as usual on the 2nd January at the site known as Hango Hill, near Castletown, to commemorate the death of Illiam Dhone who was executed at this windswept location during the seventeenth century.

A landmark event on the Island’s calendar organised by Mec Vannin and the Celtic League (Mannin branch), proceedings got underway with speeches by Bernard Moffatt and Mark Kermode, both of whom referred to the sudden death of Manxman Roy Kennaugh. Fiercely proud of his homeland, he played an important part within several Island organisations, including Mec Vannin, the Celtic League, Michael Heritage Trust and the Celtic Congress, as well as a member of Michael Commissioners.

They were followed by the two main speakers at the event, Peter Crellin who gave the oration in Manx Gaelic on the subject of the Island as a ‘seat of Celticism’ and Dr John Callow who followed with the oration in English detailing his own interpretation of historical events from Illiam Dhone’s life.

Dr Callow is a well known writer, screenwriter and historian of Manx descent, whose teaching and research interests lie primarily in the fields of Early Modern British and European political, social and cultural history, (especially seventeenth century politics), witchcraft and popular culture. He has been the Director of the Marx Memorial Library, based in London, since 2006.

The commemoration concluded with a wreath laying by Eddie Power of Ballasalla at the base of Hango Hill before the crowd dispersed to either the church service at Malew Parish Church, or to The George in Castletown where a music session was soon underway.

Valerie Caine

© January 2018

(Courtesy of the Southern Chronicle)

Christmas Cultural Events on the Isle of Man

   If you’re looking for something a little different during the festive season, there’s an excellent opportunity to participate in a number of long standing Manx events which will give an insight into the unique cultural identity of the Isle of Man.

This year’s Mollag Ghennal will be returning to Douglas, setting up at the Manx Legion Club on Market Hill, but promises a great line-up of singers, dancers and musicians as well as a tantalising supper from the Mollag Kitchens.

Many of the usual favourites will be there, including Rachel Hair and her fine set of young harpists Claasagh (off to the Edinburgh Harp Festival next year), solo artist Matt Kelly and the Jamie Smith All Stars – comprising Malcolm Stitt, David Kilgallon and Ruth Keggin. They will be joined by the jazzed up Clasht Vooar with their very distinctive style, up-and-coming youngsters Scran, Caarjyn Cooidjagh and of course the Mollag Band themselves. Look out too for Skeddan Jiarg, a popular inter-generational local dance group who will be performing the old White Boys Dance which forms part of an historical play, at one time regularly seen on Island streets at this time of year.

Starting at 7.30pm prompt on the 29th December, tickets priced at £13 available from Shaktiman, Celtic Gold, Thompson Travel and Peter Norris.

However, as this year’s festivities draw to a close, the cultural calendar wouldn’t be complete without the old rural event known as the Oie’ll Verree. Once ubiquitous throughout the Isle of Man, this a rare opportunity to absorb the delights of a true Manx evening of Manx music and dancing, as well as other items such as recitation and short comedy sketches.

But undoubtedly the highlight of the evening is the Manx Gaelic play performed by the Michael Players RBV.

This year it will be The L’il Smook by the prolific J. J. Kneen, a comedy based on the exploits of Mrs Qualtrough’s endeavours to stop her husband from smoking and was the prize winner of the 1913 Yn Çheshaght Ghailckagh play competition. Recognised as the greatest Manx linguist of his generation and one of the most important scholars of Manx subjects, J. J. Kneen was awarded a Knighthood from the King of Norway.

The annual Oie’ll Verree will take place at 7.30 pm on Friday, 5th January 2018 at the Ebenezer Hall, situated opposite the old Isle of Man Bank on the main road through Kirk Michael. Tickets priced at £7.50 (including supper) are available from 9th December by phoning Mike Clague on 878328.

And finally there’s also a chance to pop down to the Masonic Hall in Peel where a new song in Manx Gaelic will be chosen to represent the Isle of Man at the Pan Celtic International Song Contest, to be held in Letterkenny, Ireland, during April of next year.

Now a firm fixture on the calendar, the winner of the local event, Arrane son Mannin, will also receive a cash prize sponsored by Culture Vannin. Any genre of music is acceptable, but the song must be new and original and performed in Manx Gaelic, and is open to soloists or groups including up to 6 people. Adjudication will be based on lyrics, music, performance, good Manx pronunciation and phrasing during the performance itself.

The event begins at 7.30pm on Saturday 6th January, 2018.

Valerie Caine

© December 2017

(Courtesy of Manx Life)

Introducing The Manx Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ManxSPCA)

Stubbin – a large Manx cat with no tail, very overweight

The ManxSPCA is the Isle of Man’s only all animal rescue centre. It does not receive government funding even though, at more than 120 years old, it is viewed by many as a Manx National Treasure.

The Society works hard to advise and educate the community about animal welfare, but sadly it deals with an ever-increasing number of abuse and neglect cases. Every year it deals with more than 8,000 calls from the community asking for help. These calls range from reporting abandoned or unwanted pets, through to expressing concerns about the welfare of wild animals such as garden birds, hedgehogs and seals.

Snowy the Westhighland Terrier – his owner was prosecuted for animal cruelty

The Society rehomes hundreds of dogs, cats and ‘small furries’ every year, and its Kennels, Cattery and Small Animals Unit are always full, with a constant turnover and demand for space. The Aviary is quieter in the winter months, but comes alive with a wide variety of birds during the summer. All the animals are given high quality veterinary care, and many benefit from enrichment and behaviour programmes.

The Society provides a vital service to the Island’s community and its environment. You can find out more by visiting its website www.manxspca.com; and to see what’s happening day-to-day please go to its Facebook page (listed as ‘ManxSPCA’). Set in the middle of the beautiful Manx countryside, it’s also a great place to visit.

Loaghtan Sheep – very underweight when they first came to us

Click on this link to register for the 2018 Convention in Victoria, BC

NAMA Convention Registration Form 11-30-17  (Word File) THIS BLUE LINK WILL OPEN THE REGISTRATION FORM – JUST PRINT IT OFF AND COMPLETE ONE PER DELEGATE. MAKE YOUR  CHECKS FOR REGISTRATION OUT  to North American Manx Association.”  Or click here for PDF. NAMA Convention Registration Form 11-30-17

The official hotel of the 2018 convention is the Hotel Grand Pacific. Convention dates run Evening Thursday, June 21st – Evening Saturday, June 23rd.

Convention Itinerary

Thursday June 21, 2018

12:00         Board Meeting

18:30         General Meeting and Buffet Dinner


Friday June 22, 2018

9:45            Orca Spirit Whale Watching, Adventure in Zodiac (if registered)

10:00         Orca Spirit Whale Watching, Sight-seeing larger vessel (if registered)

13:30         Tea at the Fairmont Empress (if registered)

20:00         Evening snack in conversation in 1st Vice President’s suite

Read more ›

Island Represented at Cornish Festival

With the popular Cornish festival Lowender Peran on schedule for early November, Manx participants will soon be packing their musical instruments and dancing shoes for this annual extravaganza, but this year’s invited group could prove to be a bit of a red herring.

Lowender Peran is a long established event set up to encourage recognition of both Cornwall’s heritage and links with their fellow Celts in a relaxed and informal setting, which has proved highly successful. The Cornish people have a proud history of a distinctive, expressive identity, recognising and valuing not only their own roots and personality, but those of others. Although largely known for perennial favourites such as the ubiquitous pasty, the eye-catching stargazy pie and, of course, the area’s stunning scenery, many Cornish people acknowledge that in order for Cornwall to survive as a distinct entity, each generation needs to show those up-and-coming that culture too has a presence within that list.

It’s a banner which has been picked up with gusto over the years, leading to the all encompassing Lowender Peran, which this year will be moving to a new destination at the Hotel Bristol in Newquay – set on the majestic cliff top and enjoying wonderful views of Tolcarne Beach.

The Isle of Man enjoys a long standing friendship with the Cornish crowd, which continues this year with one of the newest local groups Skeddan Jiarg (Manx Gaelic: Red Herring). Established in 2014, it’s a healthy cross-section of young adults and their children who have come together in the west of the Island to practice and display Manx dancing both at home and abroad. Distinctive and vibrant at every opportunity, you’ll find them tackling a combination of both traditional and newly created dances from as young as three years old!

Valerie Caine

© November 2017

(Courtesy of Manx Tails)

Isle of Man from the Air – Drone documentary

A teaser from Duke Video.

COMING 2018 – THE ISLE OF MAN FROM THE AIR One of our most popular films for many years, and highly acclaimed, the original IOM From The Air set a new standard for quality and depth of interest in aerial documentaries when we made it in 1999. Now we have a fleet of high tech drones and 4K cameras to make a new film that will take the viewer to places never seen before and add an entirely new and fascinating perspective to our knowledge of the ‘Jewel of the Irish Sea’. Shot in high definition 4k quality and filmed over a 12 month period, our team have captured a host of the Isle of Man’s most intriguing locations via a drone. From the rugged, sea beaten cliffs of the south to the wide and rich north there’s so much of the Isle of Man that is seen best from above. We’ll take you on a journey to the heart of the island for Tynwald Day, the south and the famous Stevenson lighthouses, Groudle Glen and the pretty Victorian miniature railway and many more wonderful locations! ‘Isle of Man from the Air’ is available to pre-order soon on Blu Ray, Download and DVD at www.dukevideo.com