New Film Reveals Details about the Manx Tradition of Bollan Bane

   Wearing a sprig of Bollan Bane (aka mugwort or white wort) in your lapel on Tynwald Day (the Isle of Man’s National Day) has long been recognised as a colloquial protection against ‘themselves’ or the fairies, but the release of a new film by Culture Vannin reveals further interesting details about this long held tradition.

Although now strongly associated with the ceremony played out at Tynwald Hill in St John’s on the 5th July, it was formerly associated with Manx folk medicine, but this new film focuses more specifically on the folklore connected with a melody of the same name.

Collected by the celebrated cultural field worker A. W. Moore from P. Cain (aka Phillie the Desert) of West Baldwin during the 1890s, and also by the locally connected composer W. H. Gill, this delightful tune was subsequently published in Manx Ballads and Music (1896).

The film itself fixes its gaze on the tale of the tune, related here by the contemporary cultural champion Annie Kissack, and centres upon the story of a man who hears the melody whilst lost on the hills, and is followed by a performance of what is considered to be the tune itself by the aforementioned Annie Kissack and Phil Gawne.

To find out more look out Culture Vannin’s short film on their website, Facebook page, YouTube or on Vimeo.

Valerie Caine

© July 2017

Isle of Architecture Celebrates with Concert in Peel Lifeboat House

As part of the closing events for the year long initiative Isle of Architecture, a special concert reflected a diverse use of a very special building in Peel.

Isle of Architecture is a celebration of the built environment, encouraging appreciation of the Island’s rich, architectural heritage, as well as exploring the future of building on the Isle of Man itself.

The lifeboat station, which houses the vessel Ruby Clery (currently celebrating twenty five years service), is situated by the breakwater in readiness for any sea-faring problems, but on this occasion was being used as an unusual concert venue for three local groups.

Built in 1885 at a cost of £500, the concept encouraged music lovers to fill the building to capacity to hear up and coming Scran, new group Clash Vooar and the popular Mollag Band.

Scran is relatively new on the music scene, consisting of some of the more experienced members of the Manx youth group movement Bree. Aged fourteen to eighteen, their music introduces a modern, dynamic twist, with vocals in both Manx and English.

Clash Vooar (Big Groove) is also a relatively recent addition, developing Manx music and Gaelic song using the distinct medium of a gypsy, jazz groove.

The evening closed with the ever popular Mollag Band, who diversified their programme with a selection of songs from their Manx-Anglo Pop Project and a number of favourites from their back catalogue.

All proceeds from the evening were donated to the RNLI.

Valerie Caine

© June 2017

(Courtesy of the North Western Chronicle)

2018 Convention! Have you booked yet? Come on, it’ll be great, eh!

788618_82_zThe 2018 North American Manx Association Convention will be held at the Hotel Grand Pacific in beautiful Victoria, BC, Canada. June 21st- 24th, 2017. More details coming soon! It’s going to be AMAZING!

Remembering Manx Commonwealth Games Gold Medal Cyclist Peter Buckley

   With Cyclefest in the can and the British Cycling National Road Championships looming on the horizon, it’s a fitting opportunity to remember the Island’s first gold-winning Commonwealth Games medallist who set the pace in cycling during the 1960s, but died tragically in the midst of his ongoing success.

Peter Buckley was born in Peel to Joan (née Quayle) and Louis Buckley, a member of the Peveril Camp Guard, and although he later relocated to Oldham in Lancashire he always maintained he was proud to be a Manx man; returning regularly for training.

When he was selected for the 1966 Commonwealth Games in Jamaica (where Buckley celebrated his twenty second birthday) he chose to represent the Isle of Man, although in some quarters his victory was perceived to be just another win for England. However, this view was not shared by the British Cycling Federation, who saw it as recognition for the tremendous support that the Island gave to cycling.

The race itself was a feat of endurance which raised genuine concern amongst doctors and officials, but ultimately shattered the theory that endurance events in Jamaica would be beyond the physical limits of competitors. A gruelling one hundred and twenty mile road race from Kingston to Manchioneal, Buckley survived a crash by the leading group in the early stages, but rode with determination through tropical rain storms amongst the mountain foothills, tackling slippery, winding, crumbling roads, pot holes and an unwanted puncture. Many of his competitors crashed out of the race, but Buckley’s pledge to win gold for the Isle of Man spurred him on to victory, in a record time of just over five hours – almost one mile ahead of the second placed man.

But the race had taken its toll of a dazed Buckley who was helped from his bike at the finish line, soaked with both rain and perspiration. He freely admitted that it was a tough, punishing course presenting its own dangers, and there were times when he considered pulling out. Although he had ridden longer races this was the most gruelling, riding alone for the final forty miles and battling extreme tiredness during the closing stages.

Buckley’s success aroused enormous pride on the Isle of Man, and the Manx team was greeted by thousands of cheering well wishers at Ronaldsway Airport, which Buckley quipped was better than a Beatles’ welcome, followed by a government reception and presentation of an inscribed silver tray. Additionally, Buckley and his family attended further presentations in both Peel and Douglas.

Crowned Sportsman of the Year on the Isle of Man in 1967, Buckley returned to his job as a clerk in a railway company and his training regime, in the hope of being selected for the next Olympic Games, winning the Manx International Road Race, and securing top places in the Tour of Mexico and the Tour of Britain Milk Race. The Peter Buckley Series became one of the most prized awards in UK cycling, but tragedy was waiting in the wings. Whilst out training Buckley was involved in a collision with a loose dog at Hebden Bridge in the Yorkshire Pennines in July 1969 and he subsequently died of his injuries – struck down in his prime after establishing himself as the leading amateur rider in Britain at the age of twenty four. His ashes were interred at Peel Cemetery.

Buckley was acknowledged as a gentleman both on and off the bike and as an excellent ambassador for the Isle of Man, but his memory lives on through the establishment of the Peter Buckley Trophy (awarded to competitors from the junior cycling league) and now presented to Dot Tilbury’s Junior Cycling RLS 360 and awarded to the most promising competitor,  together with a memorial seat placed at Creg Willey’s Hill (Creg Willy Syl – Willy Sylvester’s Rock).

Meanwhile his Commonwealth Games gold medal and other memorabilia can be seen at the Leece Museum on East Quay in Peel – admission free.

Valerie Caine

© June 2017

(Courtesy of Manx Tails)

Manx Internment Camp Music Concerts Break New Ground

A unique collaboration between some of the brightest talent from the Royal College of Music and the Ensemble Émigré, professional soloists and a selection of young performers from the Isle of Man, highlighted an important aspect of internment on the Island during World War II and broke new ground during the process.

With performances at The Studio Theatre in Ballakermeen High School and the Erin Arts Centre, local audiences were treated to a fabulous presentation of music composed by internees housed in various camps across the Island.

The concert was initially staged in The Liberal Jewish Synagogue in London earlier this year under the title of The Barbed Lyre – Leaves from the Isle of Man, incorporating a rich variety of music composed by German and Austrian refugees.

It was a stunning performance from a group of twelve singers and instrumentalists led by Norbert Meyn. They also managed to include some sightseeing and school workshops, which attracted more than one hundred students, following which four young performers from Ramsey Grammar School were included with the visiting group’s second presentation at Ballakermeen High School.

Entitled What a Life! – Music from the World War II Isle of Man Internment Camps, each musical item was interspersed with information about some of the internees, or their diary entries. Such detail provided an insight into the lives of thousands of men and women who were suddenly thrust into the spotlight and branded as ‘enemy aliens’.

The Isle of Man inadvertently became, as broadcaster Andrew Marr observed, ‘one of the great centres of European intellectual life’, which was reflected in these rare performances. A selection of masterpieces included a superb arrangement of the highly expressive Ursonate by the Dadaist artist Kurt Schwitters, and work by Peter Gellhorn, who composed a piece of work called The Cats and another entitled Mooragh. Other work at the concerts included that of Hans Gál who composed the music for a bi-lingual camp revue entitled What a Life! within a matter of weeks, for the most part from his camp hospital bed.

Their music was interspersed with a selection of Manx compositions which included Has Anybody Here Seen Kelly, I’m a Native of Peel and dance tunes by W. H. Gill.

As well as filming a performance of Mooragh in Ramsey Town Hall, Culture Vannin also filmed Norbert Meyn and the String Quartet performing some of Peter Gellhorn’s music inside one of the apartments on Mooragh Promenade which formed part of the Mooragh Camp, where he was interned. It was fitting that Barbara Gellhorn, his daughter, was able to be present at this event. This will shortly be available at

An article highlighting the project was published on the international news site Deutsche Welle.

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

(Photos courtesy of Norbert Meyn – Royal College of Music)

Valerie Caine

© June 2017

(Courtesy of the Southern Chronicle)

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)

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)

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)

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.

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: