Local quartet Drogh Yindys was selected to represent the Isle of Man at the annual Pan Celtic International Song Contest in Letterkenny, County Donegal, during the local heat Arrane son Mannin at the Masonic Hall in Peel recently.
The song Yn Faageyder (Leaving Thee) focuses on leaving the Isle of Man, and as a group Drogh Yindys has a number of connections to Kirk Michael on the west coast; including singers Jo and Juan Callister, his sister also named Jo on whistle and fellow musician Katie Lawrence on keyboard. The song was originally composed in English by their father John ‘Dog’ Callister and translated into Manx Gaelic by Phil Kelly, both of whom are also connected with Kirk Michael.
The local heat, Arrane son Mannin (Song for Mann), provided a great chance for Island musicians to present an original song in the Manx language, encouraging diversity and innovation amongst singer/songwriters.
As well as the competition itself (with prize money sponsored by Culture Vannin) a large and enthusiastic audience enjoyed a varied evening of Manx entertainment, including BBC Radio 2 Young Musician of the Year Mera Royle, local singer/songwriter Matt Creer and the Manx Gaelic choir Caarjyn Cooidjagh.
© January 2019
The annual candle-lit, musical evening held in Holy Trinity Church in the parish of Patrick, has now become an established event on the Manx calendar, with entertainment provided by local early music group Hartes Ease.
They were introduced by Alison Jones, one of the stalwarts behind the emerging Knockaloe Visitors’ Centre, which will provide a focal point for descendants of those incarcerated in the Knockaloe Internment Camp positioned across the road from the church during World War I, and those seeking history of the camp, which, at its peak, housed approximately twenty five thousand internees and guards. Poignantly, she also pointed out that as the camp wasn’t de-commissioned totally until the autumn of 1919, a number of internees were obliged to spend the festive season of 1918 behind barbed wire.
The programme provided by Hartes Ease largely included music from the Mediaeval period, with one of them, Ein Feste Burg, linking events with one of the many novels written by famous Island novelist Sir Hall Caine. Entitled The Woman of Knockaloe, the story is based upon the love story of a Manx girl and a German internee.
After refreshments the repertoire of Hartes Ease included two Manx tunes, Ushag veg Ruy and Ec ny Fiddleryn ayns y Nollick, arranged by one of their musicians Cristl Jerry. One of her ancestors was interned within Knockaloe Internment Camp.
All money raised during the evening will be donated towards the on-going work of the Knockaloe Visitors’ Centre, which will be up-and-running from March this year.
© January 2019
Organised by Michael Heritage Trust, the traditional Oie’ll Verree held at the Ebenezer Hall in the village follows a tried and trusted format, which in the age of contemporary entertainment can still muster a full house.
Members of the audience were welcomed by the Chair of Michael Heritage Trust, David Corlett, before returning compére, Zoë Cannell, took to her feet to act as lynch pin between the varied acts on the programme.
The evening always gets underway with a rousing rendition of While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night before all eyes turned to the stage for a night of Manx entertainment. Music, recitation, song and dance dominated the programme, with Erin Loach and Paul Costain providing several local songs in both Manx Gaelic and English, Kirsty and Katie Lawrence captivating the audience on fiddle, whistle and cello, and some of the youngest members of the dance group Skeddan Jiarg stepping out onto the compact stage. They were joined by Marilyn Cannell on piano, who also provided an improvised song, self-penned poetry from the current Manx Bard Annie Kissack and Zoë Cannell and a selection of magic tricks with Island magician Lexi Dernie.
The annual presentation of the award Yn Gliggyr was made during a short interval to Mike Clague, before The Michael Players RBV presented the Manx dialect play In the Doctor’s Waiting Room written by J. E. Q. Cooil during the 1950s; a perfectly crafted comedy which concentrated on the varied suggestions as to how a pan might be released from the head of a small child – with a twist in the tail.
But the evening closed as ever with the aptly named Arrane Oie Vie ( Goodnight Song) and a sumptuous home-made supper.
© January 2019
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 now demolished abode at Ronaldsway.
His death in the seventeenth century has long provoked comment and vitriol, with many still divided on the subject of whether he was a traitor or a patriot.
Jointly organised by Mec Vannin and the local 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 nick-named Illiam Dhone (Brown-Haired William).
Introduced by Bernard Moffatt, the oration in Manx Gaelic was given by Chair of Mec Vannin, Mark Kermode, followed by a second in the English language by Bill Henderson MLC who spoke on the topic of the return of The Chronicles of Mann and the Isles to the Island.
It’s an important, historical document, covering the early history of the Isle of Man and thought to have been written at Rushen Abbey in Ballasalla – although other historians suggest that the content may have been recorded at the Cistercian Abbey at Furness. But the main thrust of his speech focused upon a plea for the return of the publication from the British Library in England. Back in 2007 he invoked a Resolution in Tynwald for the return of the Chronicles, but has lately detected further interest about the subject from his fellow members of the legislature.
This was followed by the annual wreath-laying ceremony and singing of the Manx National Anthem in both Manx and English.
Once the crowd dispersed, there was an opportunity to either attend a special service at Malew Parish Church (where Christian is believed to be buried), or travel back into Castletown for a post music session at Compton Vaults, where hot soup was available in return for a donation to the Isle of Man Food Bank situated in Tromode.
© January 2019
The Greater Washington Area Manx Society held its annual 12th Night celebration, beginning with a qualtagh chasing out the Old Year with a sword and bring gifts of salt, money and peat and ending with a rousing chorus of Auld Lang Syne. Here the Society poses with a sign for Avril Shipman, the Society’s surviving founding member who celebrated her 95th birthday last week. Other activities included a meeting to discuss events for 2019, announcing the NAMA 2020 plans for Plymouth, MA, and our rambunctious “Laxey Swap”.
The much loved, annual Mollag Ghennal, which has its roots in the Garden Room of the old Villa Marina, before the Mollag Band took over the baton from the Calor Gas Ceili Band in 1993, celebrated its twenty fifth anniversary during the festive season.
It’s a tried and trusted format still favoured by the event’s many followers, who enjoyed a relaxed evening of mostly local entertainment at the Manx Legion building in Douglas. This year organisers welcomed Sel Edwards who provided both Welsh and Manx music, local singer/songwriter Matt Kelly, Imbolc (hotfoot from performances in Belgium), up-and-coming group Scran with their new album Nane, father and son duo Frank and Jamie Joughin and Manx dancers Skeddan Jiarg.
Meanwhile, the Mollag Band presented a new dimension, described by lead vocalist Greg Joughin as the musical equivalent of modern art, with groups of lyrics connected simply by vague association. An abstract image formed through the ears of the listener, a kind of melodic Matisse.
Supper was provided by the Mollag Kitchens.
As well as the usual self-penned, original songs from the Mollag Band, the evening concluded with a revolutionary mix of community singing linking Victorian music hall and Manx folk classics from the 1970s.
© January 2019
We’re off to Plymouth, MA for our 2020 Convention. We’ll celebrate our Manx heritage in the place where Miles Standish, reputedly from Ramsey, was Captain of the Militia for the Pilgrims, in charge of their safety.
Put it in your calendars now! August 6-9th 2020. More information to follow.
It’s a busy time for those keeping Manx traditions in the spotlight on the Isle of Man when St Stephen’s Day (Boxing Day) dawns, with a surge of interest in events this year providing a welcome boost for the future of these important occasions.
Hunt the Wren often includes many happy revellers from across the Island, ensuring that this long-held tradition remains unforgotten in an increasingly global climate. Fortunately the necessity of using a recently killed bird as traditionally required has been superseded by something less blood thirsty, with coloured ribbons replacing feathers of the bird for good luck as singers and dancers move freely amongst the villages and towns.
Additionally this year Isle of Man Stamps and Coins have also released a unique £2 coin capturing the striking image of the little wren, and available as either a single product within a protective wallet, or within a limited edition card featuring images from the recently produced Manx Folk Traditions stamp collection, a Hunt the Wren stamp and a unique first day issue postmark.
Maxine Cannon, Isle of Man Stamps and Coins General Manager, commented, “We are pleased to present this beautiful and festive £2 coin themed on a Christmas tradition that is still valued on our Island today, which perfectly illustrates this custom.”
Meanwhile, there’s still an opportunity to enjoy the Island’s Christmas stamps celebrating eighty years of the Beano, with Dennis and Gnasher visiting several well-known destinations on the Isle of Man, drawn exclusively by their official artist Nigel Parkinson.
But later in the day there was a great opportunity to work off those extra calories by taking part in the annual Cammag match on the old fair field at St John’s, where teams from the north and the south battled for supremacy in a sport which may well be familiar to those in neighbouring Celtic nations who play shinty or hurling. Although the game lost favour to football at the turn of the nineteenth century there has been a resurgence of interest in the sport in recent times.
The day concluded with an uplifting music session in the Tynwald Inn which included some of the Island’s finest musicians.
© January 2019
How to make Manx bonnag the Laxey Mills way
- 225g Laxey Glen Mills Soda Bread Flour (Bob’s Red Mill does a version)
- 50g caster sugar
- 110g sultanas
- 110g margarine
- 140mls (1/4 pint) buttermilk
- 1 egg
- Rub the margarine into the flour.
- Add the sugar and saltanas.
- Beat the egg and buttermilk together and add to the mixture and beat well.
- Shape into a round loaf shape and score a cross on the top.
- Bake in the oven for about an hour at 180°C.
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