Eighteen members of the local traditional group the ‘Manx Folk Dance Society’ will be flying the Manx flag on the Wirral this month at the invitation of the ‘Mockbeggar Morris Dancers’.
They will be dancing at various venues in the area, including the picturesque Birkenhead Park which is now designated a Conservation Area and a Grade 1 Listed Landscape by English Heritage. During this trip they will be stepping out in full costume at the isolated Thor’s Stone on the summit of Thurstaston, a natural rock feature made of red sandstone reputed to be 230 million years old. The ‘Manx Folk Dance Society’ was last at this venue approximately ten years ago, but with a 5.00am start they’re going to need an early morning wake up call!
Although usually thought of as a masculine activity the all ladies ‘Mockbeggar Morris Dancers’ was founded in 1991 after some of the wives of the ‘Mersey Morris Men’ expressed a desire to start their own group. Adopting the style of English traditional dancing known as North West Clog Morris they elected to name themselves ‘Mockbeggar’ largely because of its association with the Wirral Peninsula.
In contrast the ‘Manx Folk Dance Society’ has been part of the dancing scene for much longer. Formed in 1951 for the Festival of Mann celebrations, and easily recognisable in their colourful and eye catching costumes they have danced in places as diverse as local village halls, the Albert Hall, London, and the Celtic Festival in Barbados!
They have forged links with fellow dance groups all over the world, but are currently busy fundraising in readiness to celebrate the group’s 60th anniversary, which will include a spectacular International Folk Dance Festival in August 2011.
Valerie Caine © April 2010 (Courtesy of Manx Tails)