Highlighting Celtic Influences in Literature at Manx LitFest

Sara Crowe

One of the highlights of the most recent Manx LitFest took place at the House of Manannan in Peel, where a panel of experts gathered to discuss the Celtic influence in literature before a packed audience at the Manx National Heritage venue.

Manx LitFest is an annual literary festival which has quickly become an established fixture on the Island’s calendar, attracting a wide selection of well-known authors and readers of all ages, as well as encouraging local writers to develop their skills.

Sponsored by Knox House Trust, the panel discussion tied in with the Celtic Style exhibition, which commemorated the 150th anniversary of the birth of Archibald Knox, the internationally renowned Manx artist and designer for Liberty & Co. The exhibition explored the historical influences and shared Celtic heritage that inspired both Knox and his Scottish and Irish contemporaries in the early years of the 20th century.

Donald S. Murray
The panel was made up of a number of Island based individuals with experience of this area; Dr Brian Stowell, Dr Breesha Maddrell, Dr Catriona Mackie, fiction writer Sara Crowe, whose debut novel draws on Celtic mythology, and visiting author Donald S. Murray, a Scottish Gaelic speaker from Shetland.

Each of the panellists made valuable contributions to the discussion, with an initial foray into the importance of how some of the mythological figures, who transcend both time and place, form a continuous link but are subsequently reinvented and reworked.

But the suggestion that a bonding of two traditions sparks creativity led the discussion into a new area, with a lively exchange of views about the literary ability of the Celts and the importance of bilingualism in its structure and the validity of stories as they pass through each generation.

However, the discussion didn’t solely focus upon one genre, but looked at a variety of topics such as satire, politics, lullabies and nursery rhymes when it became clear that further research is needed into Manx literature.

As themes progressed members of the panel spoke of how many of the stories contained underlying messages, although storytellers may make subtle changes and problems could be created during translation.

Valerie Caine

© March 2015