Visiting Harp Ensemble Enjoy Cultural Exchange

 Local traditional music group Croan yn Tead recently hosted a very successful visit by The Lissenhall Harp Ensemble from Ireland who journeyed to the Island from Dublin.

Both groups joined forces to rehearse their joint sets at the Mitre Hotel in Ramsey in preparation for their forthcoming concert, but managed to fit in a visit to the House of Manannan in Peel. After their brief sojourn in the west everyone returned to the Mitre in Ramsey for a mighty music session, with more than thirty musicians from both groups taking advantage of the weekly Irish music session.

During the weekend workshops were also held at the Youth Arts Theatre in Douglas, where some of the local harp players enjoyed one-to-one tuition, followed by a concert featuring Croan yn Tead, Fiana Ní Chonail and the Lissenhall Harp Ensemble. Fiana played a selection of tracks from her debut CD Dathanna an Cheoil and was accompanied on selected sets by local bodhrán player John Corlett of Mactullagh Vannin. Croan yn Tead and the Lissenhall Harp Ensemble later joined forces to bring the evening to a close.

Event organiser Peddyr Cubberley said, “The groups and their entourage held a social night at the Mitre Hotel in Ramsey and were treated to an excellent buffet, followed by yet another music session. This was a great time to get to know one another, forge friendships and have a great night of ceol agus craic – music and fun!”

As their extended visit drew to a close, the visiting Irish musicians enjoyed a tour around Cregneash, followed by a final concert in Castle Rushen.

Croan yn Tead would like to thank Carl and Selina Joughin and the staff of the Mitre Hotel, Fiona Helleur and volunteers at the Youth Arts Theatre, Chloë Woolley of Culture Vannin and Manx National Heritage.

(Photos courtesy of Peddyr Cubberley)

Valerie Caine

© May 2017

(Courtesy of the North Western Chronicle)

Posted in Culture

Swift Action Needed to Encourage Local Bird Population

   Our contemporary lifestyle may have brought additional benefits to Island life, but for one annual summer visitor from Africa it has made a significant impact on their much needed habitat.

The Manx Ornithological Society, in conjunction with Manx BirdLife, have now joined forces under the banner of Swift Action to assess the breeding population of the swift, and monitor current numbers after a visitor from Tasmania noted a decline in the local population in comparison to a previous visit and suggested setting up a project to help them.

Undistinguished by their somewhat plain, brown colouring, they are more likely to be remembered for their dexterity and distinctive sound as they soar upwards and onwards – their long, scythe-like wings and short, forked tail strikingly silhouetted against an endless sky. Spending most of the time airborne, where they happily eat, mate and sleep on the wing, they head to the Isle of Man to breed, typically arriving during the month of May and departing in August.

Unfortunately a decline in suitable nesting sites has been identified as being partially responsible for a notable drop in the number of swifts visiting our shores to breed. As a rule they favour elevated holes in wall crevices, eaves of houses, spires and church towers, but many sites have been lost due to our enthusiasm for building renovation.

But this is where you can help raise awareness and appreciation of this fabulous bird, in an effort to encourage more nesting opportunities on the Isle of Man.

Swifts are communal in nature, and project organisers anticipate that the greatest success can be achieved by encouraging new nesting sites in the vicinity of other established nests; although it is possible to gain their confidence on a new site using recordings of their screeching calls.

And here’s what you can do to reinforce the bird’s presence on the Isle of Man. If you suspect there might be a current nesting site you can easily record your sightings on the Manx BirdLife website, or by telephoning Janet Thompson on 835524, noting its approximate location and number of birds sighted in recent years.

Alternatively project organisers would welcome anyone (including children and young people) who would be interested in either helping to monitor specific sites, or know of a suitable location for new nesting boxes, to contact them for further information.

(Photos courtesy of Pete Hadfield)

Valerie Caine

© May 2017

(Courtesy of Manx Tails)

Posted in Uncategorized

Music Composed in Manx Internment Camps Highlighted in Island Concerts

 A unique collaboration between some of the brightest talent from the Royal College of Music, professional soloists and a selection of young performers from the Isle of Man (second concert only) will highlight an important aspect of internment on the Island during World War II later this month.

Initially brought to the stage in April at The Liberal Jewish Synagogue in London, under the title of The Barbed Lyre – Leaves from the Isle of Man, this expressive performance incorporates a rich variety of music composed by German and Austrian refugees facing enforced isolation during the turbulent war years.

Items on the concert programme will include the bilingual revue What a Life! by Hans Gál, an equally moving and humorous piece of musical theatre inspired by daily life within the internment camps, which was performed to enthusiastic audiences in the Palace Theatre in Douglas during 1940, and recreated especially for these specific performances. The programme will also include excerpts from the work Ursonate by the Dadaist artist Kurt Schwitters and other notable composers.

The group of twelve singers and instrumentalists, lead by tenor Norbert Meyn, will also present chamber music from this period in Manx history, which will include Mooragh by Ramsey based internee Peter Gellhorn and Manx dance tunes arranged by W. H. Gill, as well as some popular, old favourites such as I’m a Native of Peel and Has Anybody Here Seen Kelly?

The project is kindly supported by the Isle of Man Arts Council, Culture Vannin and the Malcolm Scott Dickinson Charitable Trust.


7.30pm 16th May – Erin Arts Centre, Port Erin £10 (adults) £2 (under eighteen)

Tel: 832662


7.00pm 17th May – The Studio Theatre, Ballakermeen School, Douglas £12 (adult) £10 (concession) £5 (under sixteen)

Tel: 600555 (booking via Villa Marina box office)

Valerie Caine

© May 2017

(Courtesy of Manx Tails)

Posted in Culture, History

Culture Vannin: Kathleen Faragher’s ‘Owl Neddy’ read by Dollin Kelly

One of the Isle of Man’s greatest poets died 42 years ago today: Kathleen Faragher, you are sorely missed.

We thought that a good way to remember her would be with a smile.
So we’ve just released this reading of one of her great Manx dialect poems by Dollin Kelly RBV:…/kathleen-faraghers-owl-ned…/s-x9o4x

This comes out of a project funded by Culture Vannin, which has been carrying out the first ever serious attempt to collected and tell the story of Faragher’s life and work.
Hours of oral history will be released on the Manx Literature and Culture Vannin websites soon, offering the memories of those who knew her or who had some connection to her.
If anyone has a memory or story about Kathleen Faragher, please get in contact.

Posted in Culture, History

Toy Story 1917


Image: First World War Internee Woodworking Workshop, Knockaloe Camp, Isle of Man, 1917.

New exhibition to discover Toy Stories from the Isle of Man

Have you got a Treasured Toy Story with an Isle of Man connection that you’d like to share?

Manx National Heritage is currently planning a fascinating exhibition to uncover the stories hidden within treasured toys held in the Manx National collections and we invite others to take a trip down memory lane to re-discover their cherished toys and share the tales behind them.

From Victorian dolls to Viking games, visitors to the exhibition will have the opportunity to explore an array of toys and treasures that weave together stories of play and the people behind them, whilst re-kindling a love for their own forgotten toys and introducing the next generation to the wonders of playtimes past.

Anthea Young Manx National Heritage Education Services Officer and curator of the exhibition commented:

“Many toys within the Museum’s collection provide enticing insights into the lives of children and purpose of play on the Isle of Man through the ages.

The exhibition will showcase a range of objects from much loved toys, from wealthy children such as Janet and Alice Gibb of the Grove through to simple toys made from scrap materials by German ‘enemy aliens’ who were interned on the Island during the First and Second World Wars. 

It will not only provide an opportunity to look at the unique collections of toys under the care of Manx National Heritage, but will also be an occasion to seek and present toy stories with an island connection directly from the Islands community.

With studies showing that 25% of adults still own at least one of their favourite childhood toys, Manx National Heritage want to know if you have any treasured toys hiding away in the attic? Please get in touch and share your memories, which may go on to feature in our upcoming exhibition, opening in December 2017 at the House of Manannan.

Any toys loaned to the exhibition by members of the public will be safely returned to their owner after the exhibition closes.

For more information or to discuss the toys you have found please contact Anthea Young 648034 or email:


Posted in Culture, History, Manx National Heritage

Celebrate Mann’s Milling Heritage at Kentraugh Mill

   The merry month of May heralds the popular National Mills Weekend across the length and breadth of the British Isles, and with it comes an annual opportunity for the public to experience the rich history of Kentraugh Mill in the south of the Island.

Billed as an annual festival in celebration of milling heritage, it’s a concept which has fuelled the interest of many visitors as the idea grows exponentially. Until the advent of the steam engine, windmills and watermills provided the sole source of power for many processes, be it flour, paper, cloth, hammering metal or extracting oils.

This year’s theme is Engineers and Engineering, offering the potential of celebrating both local engineers and millwrights who developed and built these remarkable bastions of rural life.

Kentraugh Mill, near Colby, is now one of the few remaining intact watermills on the Isle of Man, but although the original waterwheel is now far beyond its useful life, visitors will still be able to experience the mill in action through the power of electricity.

The mill itself was initially recorded as being in use as early as the start of the sixteenth century, although it’s likely to have been active even earlier. Largely rebuilt around 1832, when its original wooden workings were replaced by the current machinery, Kentraugh Mill remained in the Qualtrough family for several generations before being sold to a fellow miller, John Woods of Ballabeg, in 1904.

Finally closing its doors in 1943, Kentraugh Mill lay untouched for more than twenty years until a new owner (who believed the mill building was a garage) lovingly restored this iconic part of Manx life.

Visitors will be able to join an escorted tour of the three storey mill, and also stroll over to the former miller’s store room, which is now known as the Chapel Garden and was once the site of the Island’s first Primitive Methodist Chapel in 1825.

And there’s also an opportunity to enjoy some home baking, with volunteers on hand providing light refreshments from a tent on the old mill pond site – serving scones topped with a dollop of delicious medlar or quince jelly.

The National Mills Weekend is organised by the Mills Section of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, with Kentraugh Mill open to the public by kind permission of Canon and Mrs Sheen.

Visitors are reminded that they explore the mill at their own risk, and although entrance is free of charge donations are invited for the USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel World Mission).

Open Days

Saturday 13th May 10.00am – 5.00pm

Sunday 14th May 11.00am – 5.00pm


(Access to Kentraugh Mill is by either turning inland at the Shore Hotel or from the Croit e Caley Road near Colby)

Valerie Caine

© May 2017

(Courtesy of Manx Tails)

Posted in Uncategorized

Isle of Man: Architecture on Sea – The Buildings That Made the Seaside

 As part of the initiative Isle of Architecture, author, historian and enthusiast Dr Kathryn Ferry recently gave an illustrated talk based on the changing face of seaside architecture at the Centenary Centre in Peel.

Dr Ferry spent her early years by the sea in North Devon, but was further stimulated in her architectural interests by childhood holidays by the sea. And although now better known as an architectural historian, writer and broadcaster on a number of seaside related subjects, her first academic interest was Victorian architecture and design.

She commented, “There’s something very special about seaside architecture. Much of it is Victorian, harking back to an era which saw massive changes around the coast. Thanks to steamers and the spread of railways, seaside holidays moved from the preserve of the rich taking the ‘air’ for their health, to an annual treat for factory workers on Wakes Weeks. New types of buildings sprang up to cater for their enjoyment including winter gardens, theatres and holiday camps, not to mention boarding houses and promenade amusements.”

Although the Island features in many of Dr Ferry’s books, this was her first visit to the Isle of Man itself, where she took a receptive audience on a brisk promenade through three hundred years of seaside architecture – starting in the early eighteenth century. Her revealing lecture uncovered how entrepreneurs used imaginative ideas and originality to take advantage of up-coming trends, with money-making schemes to attract visitors.

Initially the idea of a health promoting sojourn at the seaside, it was primarily the privilege of the wealthy, but ultimately the concept was widened to include all comers.

Dr Ferry guided her audience through an assortment of architectural styles, re-enforced with images of both well known UK and Manx coastal resorts and buildings.

Despite the loss of some iconic buildings on the Isle of Man, Dr Ferry believes that we still have many others (some under-utilised) to be proud of, which she urged everyone to exploit from the perspective of heritage, particularly in view of the growing trend for the so-called ‘staycation’.

At the close of her lecture, Dr Ferry signed copies of her books, which include reference to the Isle of Man, the home of the first holiday camp remembered by many generations as Cunningham’s Camp.

Valerie Caine

© May 2017

(Courtesy of the North Western Chronicle)

Posted in History

Celtic Media Festival Comes to the Isle of Man


 The Isle of Man has long been a focus of attention within the vibrant world of the film industry, its initial success said to be an early interpretation of Hall Caine’s novel The Manxman in 1916, which brought the Island international attention.

Documentary makers and film producers usually head to the Island to draw upon its richness of scenery, nostalgia, sport or culture, but this year we’ve also attracted the highly influential Celtic Media Festival, whose main aim is to promote the language and culture of the Celtic nations and regions in film, television, radio and online/digital media. And additionally to highligh

t the areas as prime locations for international film and television production.

The annual festival itself roves between these regions, although this is the first time in almost forty years that this showcase of creativity and excellence has reached these shores.

Attracting approximately four hundred delegates, the majority of whom are broadcasters and representatives from independent production companies from across the Celtic nations, they will discuss their roles as responsible broadcasters with regard to indigenous language broadcasting and both the longevity and cred


ibility of language programming within the Celtic cluster. It’s an opportunity for delegates to attend the numerous conference sessions and workshops to discuss various aspects of the media industry, collaboration between the Celtic regions, as well as any difficulties, opportunities or shared solutions.


Festival Director, Catriona Logan, told Manx Tails, “Ultimately the aim of the Celtic Media Festival is to provide a platform for people in all parts of the media within the Celtic nations and regions to discuss and share ideas, difficulties and any solutions that can be shared. It also provides a marketplace for programme makers and broadcasters to promote their productions and make international contacts.”

A popular element of the festival will be the highly regarded Bronze Torc Awards for Excellence, with categories for screen, radio and digital media. Entrants range from major broadcasters and independent production companies to students and other individuals.

One of the main components of the festival will be the Green Light strand, which will aim to give students an opportunity to learn more about the media industry through workshops and panel discussion, and obtain access to decision makers.

Speed networking provides delegates with the option of meeting commissioners and production companies, as well as focusing on co-productions and international commissions. It’s a rare chance for delegates to pitch their ideas and instigate meaningful conversation.

Nominees for each film category and a comprehensive programme (including some free public events) will be available on the Celtic Media Festival website, where volunteers can also apply for positions which will assist in the smooth running of the event and provide invaluable experience.

The festival itself will be held 3rd – 5th May at the Villa Marina in Douglas,

Valerie Caine

© May 2017

(Courtesy of Manx Tails)

Posted in Culture

Celebration and Contemplation – Manx Traditional and Original Music for Church Organ

This aptly named publication is an inspiring new book of Manx music which is likely to appeal to a wide range of music lovers, providing a collection of scores ideally suited for assorted occasions; including weddings, church services, funerals and other special occasions.

It’s a creative combination of well-known local melodies, such as A Manx Wedding, Ellan Vannin and the Manx Fishermen’s Evening Hymn and a selection of traditional music. But it’s enriched by the inclusion of some new pieces from a number of local composers, who have used their skills to produce work from existing Manx works, with an emphasis on individual style.

Examples of this improvisation include Gareth Moore’s reflective composition Remembering Mary and Nick Roberts’ joyful rendition of the aforementioned A Manx Wedding. Additionally, Frank Woolley has taken one of the oldest hymns, the Kirk Christ Rushen Funeral Hymn and expanded the melody to create both a beautiful and powerful reverie.

Edited by Breesha Maddrell and Chloë Woolley, this new volume brings together slow airs, hymns, Gaelic song and traditional dance tunes, reflecting the strong tradition of church music on the Isle of Man.

Published by Culture Vannin and priced at £12, Celebration and Contemplation is available from many Island bookshops, or directly from Culture Vannin at

Valerie Caine

© May 2017

(Courtesy of Manx Tails)

Posted in Culture

Aunt Bessie Mysteries

Cover of Book 1

The first Aunt Bessie mystery is available for the Kindle and also in paperback.

Aunt Bessie assumes that she’ll have the beach all to herself on a cold, wet, and windy March morning just after sunrise, then she stumbles (almost literally) over a dead body. Aunt Bessie assumes that the dead man died of natural causes, then the police find the knife in his chest.

Elizabeth (Bessie) Cubbon, aged somewhere between free bus pass (60) and telegram from the Queen (100), has lived her entire adult life in a small cottage on Laxey beach. For most of those years, she’s been in the habit of taking a brisk morning walk along the beach. Dead men have never been part of the scenery before.

Try as she might, Bessie just can’t find anything to like about the young widow that she provides tea and sympathy to in the immediate aftermath of finding the body. There isn’t much to like about the rest of the victim’s family either.

Aunt Bessie assumes that the police will have the case wrapped up in no time at all, then she finds a second body. Can Bessie and her friends find the killer before she ends up as the next victim?


Posted in Culture