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 Fortunately the necessity of using a recently killed bird as traditionally required has been superseded by something less blood thirsty, with coloured ribbons replacing feathers of the bird for good luck as singers and dancers move freely amongst the villages and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
Want to know more about Bonnag?
This new book, which charts the success of the revolutionary Cunningham’s Young Men’s Holiday Camp on the Island, is not only informative and revealing, but proves beyond doubt that the concept of the holiday camp began on the Isle of Man.
Written by Jill Drower, great grand-daughter of Joseph and Elizabeth Cunningham and published in conjunction with the 120th anniversary of the camp, her book is packed with more than one hundred and fifty illustrations and lots of detail about how and why the Isle of Man is unequivocally linked with the beginning of the holiday camp phenomenon.
The story draws on the author’s family history, (they became bakers for Cunard and other shipping lines during the nineteenth century), but the driving force behind this publication is the desire to put back on record that the camp was the template from which others followed, including Billy Butlin.
Jill’s research sets the scene by exploring the life of her forebears who settled by the docks in the North End of Liverpool, which became notorious for its destitution, beer houses, brothels and Irish migrants. Joseph Cunningham became involved in their lives through the practices of the Presbyterian church, followed by his work for the Gordon Institute and latterly the Florence Institute, which in turn led him to the Isle of Man.
Cunningham turned around the lives of the most challenging of the boys who came into his care and was recognised as an ideas man, but Jill’s book acknowledges the growing realisation of Elizabeth’s true position in organisation and management, as opposed to a simple supporting role.
Additionally, it focuses on the transformation of a boys’ camping holiday to holiday camp, its role as an internment camp during World War I, as HMS St George in World War II, its subsequent sale to a syndicate and its connection to the famous Lynskey tribunal.
Launched in Liverpool, London and the Isle of Man, it’s now available from several local outlets as well as through Amazon – priced £25.
The book is dedicated to the memory of Jill’s brother, poet and satirist Roly Drower, who encouraged her research and died ten years ago.
© December 2018
(Courtesy of Manx Life)
A 600 year old silver and gilt ring unearthed on the Isle of Man was today declared to be “Treasure” by the island’s Coroner of Inquests.
First discovered in May this year by metal detectorist Gordon Graham, the ring dates to between AD 1400 and 1500. It is made of silver, but gilded with gold and finely decorated with geometric patterns.
Allison Fox, Curator for Archaeology at Manx National Heritage said:
“We don’t know who this particular ring belonged to before it went into the ground, but we can see from the quality that they had the means to buy good pieces.
The period between AD 1400 and 1500 is an interesting one for the Island. It led to the start of a relatively settled time, with the rule of the Stanley family providing political stability. This encouraged wealth generation and we could suppose that this ring originally belonged to either a wealthy local person or visitor who wasn’t averse to showing their wealth. But, equally likely, perhaps it belonged to someone who just liked nice jewellery!”
Viking rule had ended in AD 1266 and was followed by a century or so of political and social upheaval, with the Island alternating between English and Scottish rule. When King Henry IV of England eventually took control, the Island was officially granted to Sir John Stanley in 1406. The period is not very well-documented, but the Stanley family were one of the wealthiest and most influential in England and they no doubt brought some of this to the Island.
One of the most notable events during this century was the writing down of the Manx law for the first time. Since Viking times, the law had been only spoken, passed down by word of mouth. In 1417, on the instruction of the second Sir John Stanley, the laws of the Island began to be written down.
All archaeological artefacts discovered on the Isle of Man should be reported to Manx National Heritage. If an artefact meets the categories in the Treasure Act 2017, which include being at least 300 years old and having a metallic content of at least 10% precious metal, the find must also be reported to the Coroner of Inquests, who decides whether or not the find is Treasure. If declared to be Treasure, a financial reward is usually paid to the finder and landowner. This ring is the first reported find to be declared Treasure under the Isle of Man’s updated treasure legislation”.
Manx National Heritage extends their thanks to Gordon and the landowners for their assistance and support throughout the Treasure process.
The newly discovered ring will go on display in the Medieval Gallery at the Manx Museum from Saturday 16 December 2018 until February 2019. The museum is open daily from 10am to 5pm and admission is free.
More information on the Treasure Act 2017 is available at:
600 year old silver and gilt ring declared treasure
Songs in Manx for Christmas, Nollick Ghennal, has just been release by Culture Vannin containing 40 songs in Manx Gaelic, which also features new material composed by teachers Annie Kissack and Aalin Clague for the Bunscoill Ghaelgagh carol services.
Annual calendars come in many forms, but there’s something a little different in the offing for next year with the release of the Manx Traditions Calendar for 2019 with all proceeds awarded to the Island based charity Crossroads Care.
Designed and created by local artist and ceramist Felicity Wood, her designs are based on a number of Manx traditions throughout the year and her love of Celtic knot work, which she has developed into a modern style.
Felicity has been designing Christmas cards for Crossroads Care for the last fifteen years, but this year has added this delightful and informative calendar to her range.
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 the lives of carers.
Calendars are priced at £5, with a pack of ten Christmas cards on a Manx theme, based this year on the annual event Hunt the Wren on St Stephen’s Day (Boxing Day) are available at £4 from all Crossroads outlets.
Further information available at www.crossroadsiom.org.
© November 2018
Those who treated themselves to Maria Darnoult’s debut novel, Face The Music, will be delighted to know that the sequel, Crescendo, is now available.
Maria’s latest book continues to follow the love story of William Waverley and Hannah Corlett which scandalised the inhabitants of Castletown at the turn of the twentieth century. William, an aging widower, headmaster, church organist, choir master and pillar of local society, raised more than a few eyebrows in the ancient capital when he fell under the spell of a shop girl almost thirty years his junior.
Crescendo tracks the exploits of the loved-up couple as they embark on married life, with Hannah coming to terms with her changing circumstances and step up from her previous role as a working girl. But inevitably the resistance of the townsfolk in Castletown continues to colour their lives and it isn’t long before the newly married couple find a skeleton in their own cupboard.
You’ll also be introduced to a new set of characters who weave in and out of the story, providing several sub plots and a whole range of additional thoughts on the lives of those in changing times.
Although a fictionalised account, the main characters within Crescendo are based on the lives of the author’s grandparents, with a smattering of Manx references securely linking this local love story to the Isle of Man.
The chronicle is set to continue within a number of other books in the series, with a third and fourth already in the pipeline.
Priced at £9.99, more about where to buy Crescendo and Maria Darnoult’s other publications can be found at www.mariadarnoult.com.
© November 2018
(Courtesy of Manx Life)