The annual ceremony commemorating the anniversary of the death of William Christian took place at Hango Hill, just outside Castletown, close to the site of both his execution and his now demolished home at Ronaldsway.

His death in the seventeenth century tends to provoke comment, with ongoing discussion as to whether he was a traitor or a patriot, although many agree that he saved the Island from bloodshed.

Jointly organised by Mec Vannin and the Mannin branch of the Celtic League, the anniversary of Christian’s death also provides a platform for members of the community to enjoy the opportunity of free speech, as well as remembering the man referred to colloquially as Illiam Dhone (Brown-Haired William).

Despite a strong wind and driving rain, a large number of people gathered at the spot also known as Mount Strange to hear an introduction by Mark Kermode, followed by orations from Devon Watson of the Climate Change Coalition and Paul Craine author of the Isle of Man Population Atlas, on the combined subject of climate change; focusing upon what we can do individually, how the Isle of Man Government can assist and the consequences of inaction. In a marked departure from the usual format, both proclamations were given in English.

This was followed by the annual wreath-laying ceremony, this year including an additional wreath laying by Maxine Cannon, General Manager of Isle of Man Stamps and Coins in recognition of the support given to the Isle of Man Post Office in the preparation of their recent stamp issue Age of Rebellion which captured the historical facts in the lead up to the events commemorated here. She said, “Generations of Manx men, women and children have nurtured Manx art, heritage and culture for the benefit of all of us gathered here today and not forgetting those who have come to our shores who positively embrace our values and traditions.”

The commemoration concluded with the singing of the Manx National Anthem – before the crowd dispersed to attend either a service at Malew Parish Church (where Christian is thought to be buried), or a lively music session at Compton Vaults in Castletown.

Valerie Caine

© January 2020

(Courtesy of Isle of Man Stamps & Coins)

Despite being only the second year running this event, the Isle of Man Young Farmers’ Christmas Tractor Run captured the imagination of the Manx public, as fifty working tractors left the Island’s farms to raise funds for local charities.

Gaily decorated for the festive season, they gathered along Marine Parade in Peel and at Tynwald Mills in St John’s before embarking upon a dedicated route along the TT course, with large numbers of spectators gathering at various points along the route.

The convoy headed diligently towards the northern town of Ramsey, where those involved with the event were treated to supper from two local chip shops (The Trawlerman and Bourne Plaice Chippy) before continuing their journey through the village of Laxey and onwards to their destination at the TT grandstand in Douglas.

They were accompanied by a number of volunteers and helpers and assisted on their journey by members of the Isle of Man Constabulary Roads Policing Unit.

Money raised by the event was donated on the night, via their Just Giving page and by sponsorship of one of the attractively decorated tractors – with almost £10,000 raised for local charities Isle Listen and Manx Breast Cancer support Group.

Next year’s date for the Isle of Man Young Farmers’ Christmas Tractor Run is 12th December, 2020.

More photos and videos available on the Isle of Man Young Farmers’ Facebook page.

Valerie Caine

© December 2019

Although the Island is often viewed as a place of wealth and prosperity, there’s a growing number of people acutely affected by the high cost of living, whilst others find themselves homeless.

These issues are unrecognised by some living on the Isle of Man, but volunteers at the forefront of the charity Graih witness at first hand the growing number of homeless individuals, of both sexes, who arrive at their door looking for help and compassion.

Homelessness is rampant across many countries, and the causes in each area broadly similar, although the spectre of economic decline often darkens their lives. The impoverished may not be seen on the Island’s streets, unlike other countries, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. It is sometimes said, with little charity or justification, that being homeless is a lifestyle choice, but many of these vulnerable individuals are likely to face an early death, or at best an unstable existence.

Graih (the Manx word for love and pronounced ‘gry’) was established in 2008 with its roots within a Christian group known as the Stauros Foundation, which offered a drop-in centre to support those with addiction. It soon became apparent, however, that homelessness was a key component of their problems – often sleeping on the streets, in derelict houses, car parks and public toilets. There was little they could offer at this point, but it was gratefully received by those who needed somewhere safe and warm to sleep. By the following winter it was obvious that there was a greater need for such a service, with the realisation that this had become a serious problem.

With greater awareness, an extended group of volunteers and supporters allowed the enterprise to expand, providing hot food, a shower, clothing (if required), a place to chat and a sofa to use overnight. Additionally, there is now an emergency night shelter.

In the intervening years Graih has fostered partnerships with government agencies as well as other charities and churches; providing security and re-assurance in an increasingly unstable world.

Based at The Alpha Centre in Douglas, Graih also offers a varied programme of events throughout the year, providing important social and pastoral support, and community work where applicable.

A capitalist society is often embarrassed by its homeless, with each country offering differing solutions, and many would argue that governments need to be better employed to prevent this growing issue. In the meantime Graih continues to step up to the plate in order to assist some of the most vulnerable in our society, including a high proportion of guests suffering with mental health problems, as well as others afflicted with substance abuse and addiction.

If you can help them, in any way, please contact them now.

Contact details:

The Alpha Centre, Broadway, Douglas, Isle of Man IM2 4EN. Please buzz ‘Drop-in’ for entry.

Drop-in office mobile: 07624 304381.

Manager: Erica Irwin. Email:erica@graih.org.im Telephone: 07624 224807

Community Worker: Michael Manning. Email: michael@graih.org.im Telephone: 07624 324767

www.graih.org.im

Valerie Caine

© December 2019

(Courtesy of Manx Life)

With the festive season just around the corner, there’s a couple of annual events coming up with a special Manx flavour to entertain you during the cold, winter evenings.

The long-standing Mollag Ghennal, starting at 7.30pm on Sunday 29th December, has now settled into its new location at the Manx Legion Club on Market Hill in Douglas, offering a host of entertainers to lift your spirits midst the holiday activities.

Following a tried and tested format, the evening will provide a rich and rewarding list of musicians, including Manx dancers Skeddan Jiarg, guitarist Mark Lawrence, fiddle and keyboard player David Kilgallon, young rising stars Scran, duets Imbolc (César Joughin and Daniel Quayle) and Frank and Jamie Joughin and, of course, The Mollag Band. It’s anticipated that further singers and musicians will be added to the list.

Tickets held at £12 available from Celtic Gold, Shakti Man and Thompson Travel, with supper from the Mollag kitchens included.

But in the west of the Island, the seasonal calendar will be brought to a close on Sunday 5th January with the traditional Oie’ll Verree (Eve of the Feast of Mary) at the Ebenezer Hall in Kirk Michael. An old style Manx concert, the evening will include local musicians, singers, dancers and comedy. However, the final act will be the annual dialect play performed, as usual, by The Michael Players RBV. Their choice of play is an adapted version of Mr Quilliam Decides, written by Lillian and Eva Kneen.

Tickets priced at £8 will initially be available to members of Michael Heritage Trust on a first-come first-served basis, with any remaining obtainable by leaving a message at 878328. Details will also be available on Michael Heritage Trust’s Facebook page.

Footnote: The Oie’ll Verree is likely to be fully booked

Valerie Caine

© December 2019

(Courtesy of Manx Life)

A dedicated group of supporters gathered at the memorial to the S.S. Ellan Vannin, placed by the Manx Heritage Foundation (now known as Culture Vannin) on the quayside at Ramsey to take part in the annual Service of Remembrance, to mark the anniversary of what is probably one of the greatest maritime disasters in Manx history.

The event was organised by Ramsey Town Commissioners, with a brief introduction by Deputy Chairman, Luke Parker, followed by opening prayers from Father Brian O Mahony of Our Lady, Star of the Sea and St Maughold Church where there is a plaque to commemorate two stonemasons who were working on the church and subsequently died on the Ellan Vannin, and the observation of one minute’s silence.

The short service concluded with a reading of the names of crew members of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company and passengers who died aboard the Ellan Vannin as it foundered near the Mersey Bar, en route to Liverpool on the 3rd December, 1909.

In conclusion, wreaths were laid on behalf of Ramsey Town Commissioners and the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company before closing prayers by Father Brian O Mahony.

Those gathered at the quayside in Ramsey, from whence the Ellan Vannin sailed, counted descendants of those who perished on that fateful night, including one young boy descended from seaman Thomas Corkish.

Meanwhile in the USA, Robert Ramsey Benson (grandson of seaman John Benson) watched the service from his home with his daughter.

A video of the event is available now on the Ramsey Town Commissioners Facebook page.

Further information about the sinking of the Ellan Vannin is available from Richard Stafford’s book of the same name which can be purchased through Culture Vannin’s website.

Valerie Caine

© December 2019

 

The Isle of Man has an extensive and proud historical link with the North West of England through the busy port of Liverpool, serving a need for migration, employment, transport of goods and latterly an important connection for onward travel.

But the port represents much more than this to people on the Island as we continue to foster a long held affinity.

This tangible link with the Isle of Man has recently been brought into sharp focus with the need to shift the position of our current terminal building to a new site, after many years alongside the iconic Royal Liver Building. The move has been required after it was revealed that a new cruise liner terminal would be situated on that site, which has provoked questions about its re-assignment and cost.

A one-day exhibition about the on-going project, staged in Liverpool, invited the public to learn more about the proposed scheme, with an opportunity to raise any concerns.

Held in the magnificent RIBA North Building, based at the appropriately named Mann Island on Liverpool’s waterfront, the event was jointly hosted by the Isle of Man Government’s Department of Infrastructure, Aecom (Consultants and Engineers) and The Manser Practice, a firm of architects with offices in London and York.

There’s no doubt that the current terminal facility in Liverpool is tired and jaded and would welcome an upgrade, but the Isle of Man Government’s proposal centres on an ambitious, modern replacement designed to meet the needs of the twenty first century traveller. The proposed site is located at Prince’s Half Tide Dock, some eight hundred metres north of the current terminal, a location which has evolved since the early nineteenth century.

With substantial regeneration dominating the Merseyside landscape, the new terminal will be positioned within a residential area which is home to some eight hundred people in surrounding apartments, some of whom raised their own concerns with representatives at the exhibition. Many were assuaged, but others remained un-assured.

Several diagrams and images adorned the walls, portraying the vision of the Isle of Man Government for the site, which lies in the desire to organise the flow of both vehicular and passenger traffic in a seamless fashion; avoiding congestion and bottlenecks. The overall design is, appropriately, distinctly reminiscent of a sailing vessel and incorporates a number of local references – with external and internal signage proposed in both Manx Gaelic and the English language. The distinctive triskellion, instinctively linked with the Isle of Man, will also be used to visual effect using Manx colours. Meanwhile, the terminal itself will be constructed mainly of glass and zinc in an effort to create a bright and reflective building. A deliberate choice of material to withstand the rigours of a waterfront setting, the use of zinc is also additionally reported to be a nod towards the Island’s now defunct mining industry.

It’s proposed that passengers will be filtered around the perimeter in an efficient manner, with a clear view of the vessel at all times and up-to-date facilities for the travelling public. Additionally, the main building is perceived to be a high quality pavilion constructed sensitively for use in a designated World Heritage site.

In the meantime you can view an inter-active visual image of the proposed terminal in a short clip on the Isle of Man Government’s Youtube channel.

Since publication of this article the cost of the project has increased and completion date extended.

Valerie Caine

© November 2019

(Courtesy of Business 365)

With an estimated forty percent of languages around the world said to be in danger of extinction, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages, in order to raise awareness of the potential threats to their future but also mobilise people into action for their preservation.

It’s claimed that most of these are indigenous languages, which in turn is said to put both the culture and knowledge systems to which they belong at risk. Additionally, these people can often be isolated both politically and socially which is reflected by their geographical location, history, culture, language and tradition.

The Manx language was famously declared extinct recently by UNESCO based upon the death of the last native speaker, Ned Maddrell, in 1974. But after an outcry by some of the estimated six hundred active speakers, including pupils from Bunscoill Gaelgagh (the Manx speaking primary school) UNESCO revised the Island’s language status to that of a living language.

In many areas the state of an indigenous language is believed to reflect that of its people, where it identifies origin or membership in a community – as well as the ethical values of their ancestors. However, unlike some countries the Manx language, which has successfully embraced modern technology, has received positive support from government, in conjunction with the countless volunteers who have devoted their time to keeping the Island’s native language alive.

Recognition of language instability is, however, growing, with a belief that a country’s language should be recognised as a strategic, national resource for development and reconciliation, with the ability to foster and promote local culture, customs and values; ultimately adding to the rich tapestry of global, cultural diversity.

The recent publication of Poems from the Edge of Extinction: An Anthology of Poetry in Endangered Languages by John Murray Press, on National Poetry Day, has also focused attention on this situation. Borne from the Endangered Poetry Project, this revolutionary publication, edited by Chris McCabe of the National Poetry Library, has brought together fifty poems from across the world where language has been identified as endangered, and includes a contribution from the Isle of Man by Bob Carswell, entitled Duillagyn Ny Fouyir or The Leaves of Autumn.

With one of the world’s seven thousand languages reported to be disappearing every two weeks, this anthology (with accompanying English translation and commentary) aims to preserve and reclaim voices which would otherwise die.

Chris McCabe said, “This book has grown from a simple idea I had in my role as National Poetry Librarian – to collect poems spoken, or written, in endangered languages throughout the world, which would help to document our understanding of how poetry exists globally.”

The anthology, which includes contributions from both new and established poets, identifies some of those languages perceived to be endangered and offers a unique insight into the culture of those vulnerable languages through the voices of their writers.

Valerie Caine

© November 2019

(Courtesy of Manx Life)

There’s a further treat in store for those dedicated readers who have been following Maria Darnoult’s series about the Waverley family, with the third volume, entitled Discord, now in print.

Based on a dramatised version of real events, there’s a brief resume at the beginning of the book to refresh those who may need a gentle reminder about what happened in Maria’s previous novels, Face the Music and Crescendo; which introduced us to the scandalous relationship of William Waverley and Hannah Corlett, their subsequent wedding and the antics of their family and friends.

Now expecting their first child, the newly married Waverleys continue to receive disapproval from those living in Castletown, as the book digs deeply into the lives of the Waverleys, as well as their friends and neighbours, using the Isle of Man as a backdrop for the saga.

A foray through the pages of Discord also permits the reader to lift the veil of Elbie’s complex love life and her European travels, a potentially bigamous marriage and a bolt from the blue for the newly married Hannah Waverley.

Booklovers can follow the parochial movements of the south side family, as they attempt to unravel the life of the innocent servant girl, Maud, and deal with the fate of the sailing vessel, Bessie Arnold.

Available now, priced £9.99 from outlets across the Island, further information about forthcoming books in this series can be found at Maria’s website – www.mariadarnoult.com

Valerie Caine

© November 2019

(Courtesy of Manx Life)

If you’re looking for a gift with a local flavour which also helps the on-going work of an Island charity, then here’s the opportunity to pop into any branch of Crossroads Care to pick up your copy of next year’s calendar and their Christmas cards.

The charity’s beautifully illustrated calendar, entitled As Manx as the Hills, has been designed by local artist Felicity Wood and depicts a number of original designs alongside a selection of Manx expressions. They have been chosen specifically for their relevance to the Isle of Man, using a mixture of well-known phrases and other which are a little more obscure – with explanations also provided. This year’s Christmas card design has been taken from the calendar.

Felicity, who has been associated with Crossroads Care for eighteen years, specialises her work by developing a modern twist on Celtic design using a range of medium, including clay and watercolour.

Her work has raised thousands of pounds for the charity.

Crossroads Care is an independent Manx charity which provides support to all carers and individuals with care needs, regardless of disability, illness, or age, and is currently the leading provider of both practical and emotional support for carers living on the Isle of Man – with a view to improving their lives.

Both the calendar and cards can be purchased from the charity’s main office at Eden Park, or from any of their local shops. Alternatively, purchasers can phone 673103 or contact mfaragher@crossroadsiom.org.

The calendar is priced at £6 with a pack of ten Christmas cards costing £4.

www.crossroadsiom.org

Valerie Caine

© November 2019

(Courtesy of Manx Life)