The Manx Society of New South Wales, Australia sent us their newsletter.

Hop Tu Naa, Sophia Jane Goulden, The Battle of Largs, Island at War, Mona Douglas, A 100ft Triskelion?, A musical about the TT races, stamps, books, witches — and more. What an amazing newsletter.

The Witch of Slieu Whallian

It was Midsummer Day, and the Peel Herring Fleet, with sails half set, was ready for sea. The men had their barley sown, and their potatoes down, and now their boats were rigged and nets stowed on board and they were ready for the harvest of the sea.

It was a fine day, the sky was clear and the wind was in the right airt, beingfrom the north. But, as they say, ‘If custom will not get custom, customwill weep.’ A basinful of water was brought from the Holy Well and givento the Wise Woman that sold fair winds, as she stood on the harbour-side with the women and children to watch the boats off. They told her to look


and tell of the luck of the Herring Fleet. She bent over the water and, as she looked, her face grew pale with fear,and she gasped: “Hurroose, hurroose! An’ do ye know what I’m seeing?”
“Let us hear,” said they.
“I’m seeing the wild waves lashed to foam away by great Bradda Head…

…I’m seeing the surge round the Chicken’s Rock an’ the breaker’s lip is red…
…I’m seeing where corpses toss in the Sound, with nets an’ gear an’ spars…
…An’ never a one of the Fishing Fleet is riding under the stars.”
There was a dead hush, and the men gathered close together, muttering, till Gorty, the Admiral of the Fishing Fleet, stepped forward, caught the basin out of her hands and flung it out to sea, growling:

“Sure as I’m alive, sure as I’m alive, woman! I’ve more than half a mind to heave you in after it. If I had my way, thelike of you an’ your crew would be run into the sea. Boys, are we goin’ to lose a shot for that bleb? Come on, let’s go an’ chance it with the help of God.”
“Aye, no herring, no wedding. Let’s go an’ chance it,” said young Cashen.

So hoisting sails they left the port and when the land was fairly opened out, so that they could see the Calf, they headed for the south and stood out for the Shoulder.
Soon a fine breeze put them in the fishing ground, and every man was looking out for signs of herring-perkins, gannets, fish playing on the surface, oily water, and such like. When the sun was set and the evening was too dark tosee the Admiral’s Flag, the skipper of each lugger held his arm out at full length, and when he could no longer see the black in his thumb-nail he ordered the men to shoot their nets. And as they lay their trains it all fell out as the witch had said.

Soon the sea put on another face, the wind from westward blew a sudden gale and swelled up the waves with foam. The boats were driven hither and thither, and the anchors dragged quickly behind them. Then the men hoisted sail before the wind and struggled to get back to land, and the lightning was all the light they had. It was so black dark that they could see no hill, and above the uproar of the sea they could hear the stirges pounding on the rocky coast. The waves were rising like mountains, breaking over the boats and harrying them from stem to stern. They were dashed to pieces on the rocks of the Calf, and only two men escaped with their lives.

But there was one boat that had got safe back to port before the storm, and that was the boat of the Seven Boys. She was a Dalby boat and belonged to seven young men who were all unmarried. They were always good to the Dooinney Marrey, the Merman, and when they were hauling their nets they would throw him a dishful of herring, and in return they had always good luck with their fishing. This night, after the Fleet had shot their nets sometime, the night being still fine and calm, the Seven Boys heard the voice of the Merman hailing them and saying:

“It is calm and fine now, there will be storm enough soon!”
When the Skipper heard this he said: “Every herring must hang by its own gills,” and he and his crew at once put their nets on board and gained the harbour.
And it was given for law ever after, that no crew was to be made up of single men only; there was to be at least one married man on board and no man was bound by his hiring to fish in this same south sea, which was called ‘The Sea of Blood’ from that day.
As for the witch, they said she had raised the storm by her spells and they took her to the top of the great mountain Slieu Whallian, put her into a spiked barrel and rolled her from the top to the bottom, where the barrel sank into the bog.
For many and many a long year there was a bare track down the steep mountain-side, where grass would nevergrow, nor ling, nor gorse. They called it ‘The Witch’s Way,’ and they say that her screams are heard in the air every year on the day she was put to death. (source: Manx Fairy Tales by Sophia Morrison (1911); artwork is ‘The Herring Net’ by Winslow Homer

Click the link to read it! October 2018 newsletter

Manx Entertainers Help Celebrate Cornish Festival’s 40th Anniversary

Our own, local Celtic festival, Yn Chruinnaght, may have celebrated its fortieth anniversary earlier this year, but hot on its heels is the Cornish festival favourite Lowender Peran, which celebrates its own fortieth birthday at the beginning of November.

Recognised as a family friendly event, Lowender Peran is now firmly established at the Hotel Bristol in Newquay after many years based at Perranporth. Run by the Young family since 1927, the hotel retains some of its original art deco features alongside some of its contemporary in-house facilities; enjoying picturesque views of Tolcarne Beach from its cliff top position.

Organisers of the festival believe they’ve found a perfect home for the festival in the Hotel Bristol, which provides a range of large function rooms and bars to accommodate a burgeoning selection of events, as well as some session-friendly corners.

It’s a great opportunity to shrug off those darker evenings and enjoy an uplifting programme of events for the whole family, which features trusted favourites, such as workshops, dance displays, concerts and ceilidhs till the early hours. Additionally, there are Cornish language activities for families and a Drop-in Kids Art Session, as well as some unique pursuits such as bilingual gin tasting, a cultural expo and Cornish wrestling.

Links between the Isle of Man and Cornwall will be fostered this year by Manx dance group Perree Bane and local musicians The Lawrences.

Other entertainers at the festival with associations with the Island include Scottish harpist Rachel Hair and Welsh accordionist Jamie Smith.

Valerie Caine

© October 2018

(Courtesy of Manx Life)

Culture Vannin Introduces Island-Wide Turnip Carving Competition

Hop tu Naa is a well established Manx tradition which celebrates the Celtic New Year on the 31st October. It is seen as a time to beware of evil, when divination may be practiced (particularly if you’re looking for a soul mate), spinsters would be encouraged to bake the infamous Dumb Cake (Manx Gaelic: Soddag Valloo) and it is an opportunity for a character named Jinny the Witch to make an appearance. A unique song and traditional dance have also survived contemporary influence.

Some of the practices associated with this time of year which haven’t readily endured are now simply a matter of historical record, but the staunch survivor of this period is the tradition of carving a turnip – known colloquially as a moot. Recognised as a useful tool to ward off any impending evil, turnip bearers move predictably from door to door singing what now appears to a present-day audience as little more than a nonsense rhyme, in exchange for a donation of confectionary, or money.

But this year Culture Vannin is providing an opportunity for devotees to enter what is thought to be the Island’s biggest ever turnip carving competition, which will continue until the 5th November.

James Franklin of Culture Vannin commented, “Hop tu Naa is a wonderful chance to celebrate who we are and what makes the Isle of Man so wonderfully different and exciting. We are delighted to think that this competition gives people the chance to be recognised and celebrated for the wonderful things they are doing in keeping the Manx traditions alive and well today.”

Images will be shared online as a celebration of Hop tu Naa with lucky winners set to receive a number of heritage inspired prizes, in conjunction with the Year of Our Island initiative, the Isle of Man Post Office and Culture Vannin.

General Manager of Isle of Man Stamps and Coins, Maxine Cannon, said, “Joining in celebrations of Manx customs through the release of the Hop tu Naa stamp in our new stamp collection (Manx Folk Tradition) is an enjoyable part of the work we do to bring our culture and heritage alive to a worldwide audience.”

To enter the competition, pictures of your carved turnip (pumpkins need not apply) should be submitted through email, Twitter or Facebook. Post a picture online using the hashtag #htnturnipcomp, or email them to

Further information about Hop tu Naa, or suggestions about how to carve your turnip, can be found at

Valerie Caine

© October 2018

Designs for £30m Isle of Man ferry terminal revealed

Artists’ impressions of a new £30m ferry terminal connecting Liverpool and the Isle of Man have been revealed.

The Manx government has released the designs as it prepares to lodge a planning application next month.

The facility is scheduled to open in late 2020 with funding subject to Tynwald approval.

Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson said the terminal would be a “critical piece for our regeneration plans for the north shore”.

Manx infrastructure minister Ray Harmer said passengers’ needs have been “at the forefront of the design process” with “comfortable and modern facilities”.

Manx Company investing in Atlantic City e-gaming company

Atlantic City’s new Call Of Duty is this: To become the East Coast center of competitive video game tournaments, also known as esports.

The activity is rapidly growing in popularity across the country and around the world, and the New Jersey gambling resort wants to become a major player in the nearly $1 billion global market.

Proponents see it as a way for Atlantic City’s nine casinos to add revenue and help endure the slow winter months. And in the hyper-competitive East Coast casino market, they also believe it can attract tourists whose interest in gambling is marginal or non-existent.

Isle of Man-based Continent 8 is building a $5 million data center at the Atlantic City Convention Center to serve not only the data-intensive esports industry, but internet gambling and sports betting technologies as well. It should be ready in April.


More here:


New Exhibition Highlights the Work of Archibald Knox

If you’re planning a visit to the Isle of Man during the winter season, this would be a great opportunity to visit the forthcoming exhibition about Archibald Knox at the Manx Museum in Douglas.

Beginning mid-October, this will be a rare chance to see a host of items designed by Knox with many of them from private collections and, until now, unseen on the Island.

Although he’s known as an artist, teacher and designer, these lines can sometimes be blurred, depending upon personal experience, but here’s an unprecedented opportunity for everyone to see all aspects of the great man’s work. This will include silver, pewter, jewellery and copies of other work designed by Knox, reflecting upon his ability with water-colour, oil painting, sketches, ceramic items, wallpaper, textiles, carpets, design drawing, graphics, illustrations and illuminated lettering.

Interspersed with information about the designer and his life, visitors will also be able to assess examples from The Deer’s Cry, gravestones and memorials, study his teaching methods and learn more about the Knox Guild of Design and Crafts. Other original work, including silverware, clocks, water-colours and oil paintings will also be on display in other parts of the museum.

Additionally, there will be a selection of talks expanding on the Knox theme, including a curatorial lecture focusing on The Deer’s Cry with Yvonne Cresswell. Further talks will encompass Liberty and Co., silver hallmarks, the origins of the distinctive Cymric and Tudric range and industrial espionage at the turn of the nineteenth century. There will also be a brief introduction to the graves situated in Braddan New Cemetery, the aims and objectives of the Archibald Knox Forum and how to spot a fake Knox item. And there’s a further opportunity to view Anthony Bernbaum’s lecture at Olympia during 2014 (with thanks to Culture Vannin, Anthony Bernbaum and the Archibald Knox Society). It’s also hoped to provide guided tours across the Island to visit places associated with Knox.

The exhibition closes on the 13th January 2019.

Thanks are extended to those collectors lending items for display, Culture Vannin, Manx National Heritage, Our Island 2018 committee and the Archibald Knox Forum.

Further details about the Archibald Knox Forum can be found at, by emailing or through their Facebook page.

Valerie Caine

© October 2018




Island at War Event Attracts Visitors to Vintage Steam Railway Stations

With the summer season drawing to a close, Isle of Man Railways once again organised the annual Island at War weekend, which attracted visitors to the steam railway – with events held at stations in Douglas, Castletown and Port Erin.

Including live acts such as the fabulous D-Day Darlings (as seen on Britain’s Got Talent) and the popular, Island based Southern Belles, there were plenty of opportunities to absorb the 1940s atmosphere along the route. There were also additional events including guided bus tours of war sites in Douglas with Charles Guard and two evening concerts with the aforementioned D-Day Darlings. Visitors were encouraged to dress up and join in the fun.

Each station offered something a little different, with a display of restored World War II military and period vehicles stationed in Douglas, together with the Glampervan, offering a 1940s make-up and hair transformation. Here too was an evocative display of military uniforms and period costumes loaned courtesy of the Manx Amateur Drama Federation and curated by local artist Michael Starkey. And there was a treat for animal lovers with an opportunity to meet one of the Douglas Bay tram horses, who assisted in telling the wartime history of horses on the Isle of Man.

Meanwhile, in Castletown, southern based scout troops set up a wartime camp and field hospital, as well as providing activities and cooking demonstrations. There was also chance to see a traction engine and steam roller and tuck into some home-made cake and light refreshments.

At the end of the line in Port Erin there were plenty of goods from the WI stall and the Manx Craft Guild and a further opportunity to cast an eye over a selection of vintage vehicles. The Memorial Hall in Port Erin was transformed into a NAFFI café with exhibitions including an RAF 100 display.

Valerie Caine

© September 2018

On Wednesday 19 September 2018, Manx National Heritage will host a public lecture at the Manx Museum by Deborah Beck, author of, Rayner Hoff – The Life of a Sculptor.

Born on the Isle of Man, Rayner Hoff was the son of a stone and wood carver. He began helping his father on architectural commissions at a very young age and attended the Nottingham School of Art where he studied drawing, design, and modelling, from 1910 to 1915.

He served in the British Army during World War 1 in France, an experience from which he was to draw most passionately in the creation of his various war memorials. Later in the war he made maps based on aerial photographs.

Following the War he enrolled in the Royal College of Art in London. He graduated in 1922 and received the prestigious Prix de Rome.

After studying in Italy for three months, at the age of 29, Hoff emigrated to Sydney, Australia. His arrival in Sydney resulted in a cultural renaissance in his adopted country. He became an influential artist and teacher, and established the first school of sculpture in Australia.  He later became Head of Art at the National Art School.

He became a member of the Society of Artists and sent work to their exhibitions. In 1924, he designed their medal, and in 1927, was responsible for sculpture for the National War Memorial in Adelaide.  His best known works are the monumental sculptures on the Anzac War Memorial in Sydney’s Hyde Park.

His work on the Anzac Memorial is cited as Sydney’s most moving example of publicly visible sculpture.

Hoff also produced a variety of outstanding figurative sculptures and in 1934 was commissioned to design the Victorian centenary medal. At the time of his death, on 19 November 1937, he was engaged on the George V Memorial for Canberra.

Alan Kinvig, Museums and Site Manager for Manx National Heritage said:

“Manx National Heritage is delighted to welcome Deborah Beck to the Isle of Man.  This promises to be a fascinating lecture, exploring Rayner Hoff’s eventful life in the UK, his decision to emigrate to Australia and his meteoric rise as a prominent star of the art world in Sydney”. 

There will also be an opportunity to have your book signed by Deborah on the evening. A limited stock of books will be available from the Manx Museum shop.

The lecture coincides with the recent launch of a set of six stamps by Isle of Man Post Office celebrating Rayner Hoff’s work.

Tickets for the lecture cost £10 and are available for sale at the Manx Museum Shop, where presentation stamp packs and Deborah Beck’s book ‘Rayner Hoff – The Life of a Sculptor’ are also available.  Tickets also available online

The lecture takes place on Wednesday 19 September.  Doors open at 6.30pm for a 7pm start.


Image caption: Raynor Hoff with The Sacrifice


New Book Commemorates the Peel to Knockaloe Railway

Fitting snugly into a knapsack, this new publication encapsulates the memory of a short-lived 3ft gauge railway line which served the expanding Knockaloe Internment Camp, situated on the west coast during World War I.

Acting as a spur from the main line in Peel, it became a veritable work horse for the burgeoning camp which eventually housed a population of approximately 26,000 internees and guards.

The booklet is an ideal companion with which to follow the route – although you’d be hard pressed to find any of the track which transported essential supplies. It’s believed to be the first time information about this topic has been made available under one cover, detailing some remarkable statistics, focusing upon employment opportunities and the railway line’s construction.

Published by the Manx Transport Heritage Museum, it’s available from Mitchell’s Newsagents and the Ward Library in Peel, as well as Manx National Heritage outlets priced at £5.

However, there’s an opportunity to join a fully escorted walk along the route of the defunct railway line on the 9th September, starting at 2.00pm from the overspill car park at the House of Manannan, with no need to book in advance. Alternatively, the walks will be repeated during the Heritage Open Days weekends.

Please note that some sections of the route are unsuitable for wheelchair users and those with limited mobility.

Additionally, meet in the foyer of the House of Manannan at 3.30pm on the 7th September to commemorate the closing of the Peel to Douglas railway line in 1968.

Valerie Caine

© September 2018

(Courtesy of Manx Life)

The Tides of Manaunaun played by Elif Onal

From Brent Warner of the Greater Washington D.C. Area Manx Society comes this gem.


There’s a piano piece by the American composer Henry Cowell, “The Tides of Manaunaun”, using the Irish spelling of Mananan’s name, but it’s the same guy.

It sounds very mystical, as intended.  Here is the composer’s description:

In Irish mythology, Manaunaun was the god of motion and of the waves of the sea. And according to the mythology, at the time when the universe was being built, Manaunaun swayed all of the materials out of which the universe was being built with fine particles which were distributed everywhere through cosmos. And he kept these moving in rhythmical tides so that they should remain fresh when the time came for their use in the building of the universe.