With the festive season on the horizon and the uplifting sound of music and song to warm our winter evenings, there’s an opportunity to enjoy a magical, Manx Christmas at the Gaiety Theatre in Douglas.

Manannan’s Winterfest, which made a successful debut at the same venue last year, will showcase a range of talent from across the Island (and one or two from further afield) who will represent a cross-section of top performers from a number of genres.

To be hosted by the one and only Dot Tilbury, the evening will feature the London based Manx opera singer Kate Dowman (who will be performing at Buckingham Palace on the previous day) and local girl Mae Challis – hot foot from a five-week recording session in London.

It’s an opportunity to celebrate Manx Christmas traditions with some of the Island’s finest exponents of classical, folk, brass and choral music, with a little added local humour and drama. This will include the outstanding young singer and actress Alexandra Slater, the award-winning Scottish harpist Rachel Hair and the legendary Michael Players RBV, who will entertain the audience with a rare Manx dialect play.

Other entertainers during the evening include contemporary dancer Rebecca Cooil, local pianist Gareth Moore, the Manx Trinity Academy of Irish Dance, the Ballacottier School Choir, the Manx Youth Band and Manx Concert Brass; topped with Manannan’s House Band which brings together traditional musicians David Kilgallon, Kirsty and Katie Lawrence and Malcolm Stitt.

Valerie Caine

© November 2019

(Courtesy of Manx Life)

It is said that the Cornish have a long history of expressing their distinctive identity, with a steadily increasing identification and promotion of a Celtic dimension since the late nineteenth century, and there’s no better way to experience this than the annual festival known as Lowender Peran.

Set up to encourage recognition of Cornwall’s heritage, there’s a long list of Manx performers who have strengthened links with the festival during many years of participation. This year the Island will be represented by two very distinctive sets of entertainers, who are well known for supporting a whole range of festivals both at home and abroad.

Mark Lawrence is an accomplished guitarist who enjoys playing a range of styles on both acoustic and electric guitars. He is known for both composing his own tunes and reframing traditional ones, but is heavily influenced by other genres such as the Beatles, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, John Doyle and Arty McGlynn. This merging of influences has subsequently led to Mark’s current project – a fusion of folk, blues, jazz and classical music played on acoustic guitar. He’s a long-time supporter of Lowender Peran and is very much looking forward to performing at this year’s festival.

Additionally, the traditional Manx dance group Ny Fennee (The Heroes in Manx Gaelic), based in the north of the Island, will also be taking centre stage at Lowender Peran. Founded in 1980, and under the leadership of Juan Garrett and Sue Jaques, this dynamic, young set of dancers are well known for putting their own stamp on traditional Manx dances, accompanied by their own musicians both on and off the Island. Consisting of forty members of all ages, Ny Fennee – easily identified by their colourful costume – regularly partake in local competitions, such as Dance Mann, where they have won the traditional dance section and also placed runners-up within overall group performance.

The festival itself is, at its core, renowned for its dance displays and energetic ceilidhs – providing an opportunity for pageant, colour and identity.

But if you’ve left your dancing shoes at home, there’s ample opportunity to sample other aspects of the festival, including music and song, story-telling, workshops, sessions and the Cornish language; with an outreach programme to several schools across Cornwall. You’ll also be able to slake your thirst with a variety of Cornish beers and embrace a Cornish Gin tasting session.

If time and energy allow, visitors to the festival, now based in The Hotel Bristol in Newquay, may also enjoy some of the area’s stunning coastal scenery, or a visit to Truro to see Cornwall Cathedral, one of the most iconic buildings in the county, tour the Royal Cornwall Museum, or brave the Atlantic surf.

Valerie Caine

© October 2019

(Courtesy of Manx Life)

With new and exciting ideas in the pipeline for the redevelopment of the basement displays in the Manx Museum, it will bring to a close the much-loved Folklife Gallery, which has been on permanent display since the 1950s and remains largely unchanged.

The Folklife Gallery is a gentle reminder of a bygone age on the Isle of Man, evoking memories of a mainly rural setting.

By far the largest display is the quarterland farmhouse, based on the northern style, which by and large, incorporates beach stones and a slate floor within its design, reflecting differences in building materials in comparison with the south of the Island. The unpretentious farmhouse, furnished with a host of domesticity, and gathered from a range of sources, was initially placed into position in 1938, allowing visitors an opportunity of viewing two distinct building styles. The other, of course, being Harry Kelly’s cottage at Cregneash which opened during the same year.

It encapsulated a life which was already rapidly disappearing.

There’s long been a rumour that the spectre of a young child appears in the bedroom of the farmhouse, thought by some to be an urban myth, but if you know otherwise Yvonne Cresswell, a curator at the Manx Museum, would be delighted to hear about your experiences.

Farming life inevitably dominates the basement, an extension of the Manx Museum built during the 1930s, interspersed with historical curiosities, such as the Ballafreer sundial and reminders of Arthur Caley, the so-called Manx Giant, which have their own stories to tell. There’s also an opportunity to look inside a fisherman’s hut, glance at a typical old-style dairy and appraise the old-fashioned corner shop which sold everything you could possibly need, and was once a common feature in every village. And students of fashion can also enjoy a small selection of the museum’s extensive wardrobe, covering the nineteenth century.

But life moves on, with Manx National Heritage currently at the feasibility stage of redeveloping the basement into a new TT gallery – dealing with nostalgia in a contemporary setting. It’s a lengthy project, viewed as having international importance, with a potential opening date of 2022 (subject to change), displaying memorabilia as well as motorbikes and highlighting different strands of the TT which assist the smooth running of the event.

It’s seen as a good opportunity to re-interpret this area of the Manx Museum and engage visitors with objects using new technology, as a way of displaying another side of Manx identity.

Some of the objects currently displayed in the Folklife Gallery will be re-assigned elsewhere amongst the Manx National Heritage sites, with others cared for in storage until such time as they too can be re-instated in future displays.

The Folklife Gallery currently remains untouched, but for those who wish to have a final, nostalgic visit, will close in January of next year.

Valerie Caine

© October 2019

(Courtesy of Manx Life)

(Since publication of this article a petition to save the Folklife Gallery has been launched at www.change.org)

The Island’s largest free festival of heritage and cultural events, known as the Isle of Man Heritage Open Days, has blossomed since its inaugural year which included just three events and this year celebrates its tenth anniversary, with a burgeoning list of events scheduled for two weekends during October.

Heritage ‘Open Doors’ events have been firmly established in both the UK and Europe for several years, but it wasn’t until 2010 that Manx National Heritage decided to test the water with a local version during the month of October (so as to avoid the Manx Grand Prix) with a view to acting as an extension to the tourism season. It began tentatively with the opening of the fisherman’s cottage at Niarbyl and the magnificent Civil War fort situated on St Michael’s Isle, which are both in the care of Manx National Heritage and generally closed to the public.

Both events were a resounding success, which paved the way for future open days totalling almost eight hundred individual events straddling walks, tours, buildings and other activities and including virtually twenty thousand participants during a decade of free events.

Both local people and visitors eagerly embraced the idea, with more members of the Heritage Forum coming forward with new ideas as years progressed, with a programme of events now issued during September covering both bookable events and drop-in sessions.

Organiser of the annual event, Katie King, said “Isle of Man Heritage Open Days is a true partnership project, working with a network of knowledgeable and passionate guides who volunteer their time to inspire, educate and highlight the history, culture and architecture the Isle of Man has to offer.”

The event is funded by Manx National Heritage through the auspices of the Manx Museum and National Trust Charitable Funds.


Valerie Caine

© October 2019

(Courtesy of Manx Life)

Held at the Great Meadow estate by kind permission of Mr & Mrs Riggall, this year’s Southern Agricultural Show was once again plagued by demanding weather conditions, but organisers carried on regardless – with a few re-adjustments to the programme.

A much respected annual show, its well supported from across the Island and beyond but despite the necessity of adapting its schedule to suit a more contemporary audience, has retained its core values of agriculture and rural life.

The Southern District Agricultural Society’s first event took place in fields adjacent to Billown Mansion in Malew during 1914 and Great Meadow in 1920 before moving to various venues around the area of Castletown, returning permanently to Great Meadow in 1973 and developing into a two-day event during the early 1990s.

It attracts some of the best of the Island’s livestock, and also holds competitions for horses, dogs, poultry and small animals. Additionally, others competed for prizes in classes for confectionery, crafts and produce. The main trophies of the event were presented to winners by the Chief Minister, Mr Howard Quayle MHK and Mrs Lorraine Quayle. Shoprite offered a mouth-watering hamper filled with local produce to the winner of the Trade Stand Treasure Hunt and artists were encouraged to produce a piece of artwork based upon their personal observation of the show. The winner will have the opportunity to see their work featured on next year’s publicity for the event and collect a prize of a return journey for two passengers and a car courtesy of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.

Valerie Caine

© August 2019


Hot on the heels of last year’s successful debut of one of the Island’s newest festivals, Our Island Our World returns to Peel on the 30th and 31st August with a host of new bands at the Centenary Centre.

Organised by local musician, Dave McLean, and back by public demand, the festival promises a weekend of exhilarating music. And there’s a great opportunity to discover more about the culture of those from across the world who have made the Isle of Man their home, at a special, free international celebration in the cathedral, surrounding grounds and the Corrin Hall. Here you can experience global food, live music and dance, plenty of children’s activities, workshops (free with concert ticket) exploring the world of Serbian and belly dancing, as well as tribal drumming and singing and the debut performance of a Manx/Bulgarian musical collaboration.

Two concerts will include the Rajasthan Heritage Brass Band from the eponymous northern Indian state, playing a wide range of Indian music, the Baghdaddies with their cocktail of Balkan melodies, ska and Latin groove and the highly original sound of Agbeko (with three Manx musicians), inspired by the 1970s dance music of the Nigerian, Ghanaian and Ethiopian dance floor. They’ll be joined by Jally Kebba Susso, combining jazz, rock, blues and Afro-funk with the West African kora, the Faith I Branko quartet mixing the talent of a Roma violinist from Serbia and an English accordionist with ragtime, jazz, swing and classical styles and the Island’s own band Lava with a special Latin set. And there’ll be plenty of room for dancing during the evening concerts.

With thanks to Culture Vannin, Thornton Chartered Financial Planners and the Isle of Man Arts Council for their support.

Further details from www.facebook.com/ourislandourworld

Valerie Caine

© August 2019

(Courtesy of Manx Life)

Invitation from Stephen Schaitberger

The next meeting of the Minnesota Manx Society will be held on September 21, 2019 at the home of Stephen and Sharli Schaitberger in Brainerd, Minnesota.   We will gather at 11am and have lunch at noon.  The Northern Manx will provide lunch.

I also invite any Manx to join us! I have learned that the Wisconsin Manx Society may be disbanding and extend an invitation to them in particular.

Katy Prendergast, the President of the North American Manx Association will be joining us to share her vision for the 2020 convention to be held August 7-9 2020 at Plymouth, Mass. Miles Standish, the military leader of the Mayflower, was a Manxman.  Special pre-convention gifts will be shared.

Our address is: 1402 S. 8thSt.

Brainerd, MN 56401

Phone: 218-330-1402

E-mail stephenschaitberger(at)charter.net

We Brainerd Manx have enough rooms and campers etc. to put up several people for overnight either on Friday Sept 20 or Saturday September 21 if you choose not to drive up and down the same day. Make this a weekend event!!

The theme of our meeting will be “The Cabin Up North”.  Come prepared to share your stories about your family’s adventures up North.  Many Manx found the Minnesota lake cabin to be a reminder of life on the Isle of Man.

Please RSVP so we can get a count for lunch and overnight guests.


At our recent Board Meeting we took a moment to reflect upon some members who have recently passed away, or the news of their passing has just reached us.

Name of Deceased Date of Death Last Residence Person who notified
Corlett, Richard 25-Sep-18 Suqumish, Washington John Prendergast
Creer,Mona 2017 Orland Park, Il John Prendergast
Ernst, Polly Fargher 2018 California Jack Cormode
Quine, Clarence 12-Feb-18 Strongville, Ohio John Prendergast
Scarffe, Albert Anne Scarffe
Shipman, Elizabeth 1-Mar-18 Richardson, TX James Shipman
Todd, David A 14-Aug-17 Tacoma, WA John Prendergast
Bobnar, Gladys M. 22-Jul-15 Sarasota, FL John Prendergast
Ritter, Jane A. 8-May-19 Rochester, NY John Pendergast
Woodruff, Keig 18-Jan-17 Chicago, ILL Brad Pendergast
Schaitberger, Kristin 25-Jul-19 Chaska, MN Stephen Schaitberger
Avril Shipman 29-July-19 Hyattsville, MD Kelly McCarthy
A note from the Chaplain Stephen Schaitberger:
If you know of someone who has died since our last convention in 2018 please
forward this information to me to include name, date of Death, and last residence.
The same is true for those who need our prayers due to serious illness.
Stephen Schaitberger stephenschaitberger(at)charter.net
1402 S. 8th St. 218-330-1402
Brainerd, MN 56401
Persons who are in serious Illness
Palmquist, Anita Member
Standish, Norm Past President
Fargher, Larry Honorary President

We’re at the Hotel 1620 in Plymouth, MA having our off-year meeting and planning the 2020 Convention. More news to follow!

All roads lead west on the 9th and 10th August when this year’s Royal Manx Agricultural Show opens the gates for yet another fantastic day out for all the family – whatever the weather.

Firmly established as one of the highlights on the rural calendar, the Royal Manx Agricultural Show, now held at Knockaloe Farm just outside Peel, is the culmination of months of hard work from both show participants and committee members, led by Secretary Carol Kennaugh.

And this year Mrs Fiona Moore has been nominated as the first woman President.

There’ll be an extensive range of craft and trade exhibitors, along with a wide selection of food and drink vendors, including the agricultural show’s own Country Kitchen and Burger Queen catering outlets. There’s been a high demand from trade exhibitors for sites at this year’s show, which will include a cross-section of agricultural merchants, car dealers, charities, conservatories, local banks, as well as health and beauty suppliers, amongst others.

Back by popular demand, is the Ridgeside Falconry Show, with birds of prey featuring in dramatic flying displays and close handling, and lurcher racing – a fun demonstration of speed and agility for dogs. Other entertainment includes sheep shearing, Spike Milton’s Timbersports Lumberjack Show, sheep dog trial demonstrations, dressage to music, classic car and vintage tractor parades and a full musical programme on the bandstand. But this year’s line-up also includes something new in the arena with the world famous Vander Space Wheel of Death, providing the best aerial stunt act in Europe and guaranteed to keep spectators mesmerised.

The event is, of course, at heart an agricultural show, with animal judging and the popular arts and crafts forming the backbone of the event, with the local farming community competing for the ‘best in show’ awards.

It’s also a celebration of Manx life, highlighting such as traditional arts and crafts, the Manx Beekeepers’ Association and the Manx Craft Guild. Additionally, the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture will be showcasing Manx produce and tempting visitors to buy an extensive range of local food.

Carol Kennaugh, Secretary of the Royal Manx Agricultural Show, said “There really is something for everyone at this year’s show – it’s very much a family day out and we try to appeal to everyone from all walks of life. While we will always remain an agricultural show, dedicated to maintaining traditions that have been upheld for years, it’s important that we move with the times. We’ve had great demand from exhibitors and are delighted to see so much interest from the community in what is one of the Island’s longest running events. We are extremely grateful to each and every one of our sponsors, particularly Manx Telecom, Conister Bank and Pokerstars, for all their support.”

The ultimate prize for exhibitors will be the Deemster Johnson’s Supreme Award, presented for the best animal in show by His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor Sir Richard Gozney and sponsored by Conister Bank.

Gates open 9.00am – 5.00pm on both days with tickets priced at £7 (Friday) and £9 (Saturday), children £1 on either day with those under the age of four allowed in free. Dogs permitted on short leads only. Pre-show tickets available from outlets across the Island, or from the show’s website.

Further information available from www.royalmanx.com, or by telephoning 801850.

Valerie Caine

© August 2019

(Courtesy of Manx Life)

(Since publication of this article first day of the event cancelled due to atrocious weather conditions)