Thanks, Illiam, for keeping the blog warm while I was ‘over there’. We had a great time and stayed in a fabulous converted barn in Post St. Mary owned by the Cain’s (nee Qualtrough). Brilliant! The weather was DRY for all but one day of our trip and we got to visit the new-look Laxey Woolen Mills and the new restaurant at the old Christian residence, Milntown in Ramsey. All great advances and definitely places to visit on the Homecoming in 2014.
So, while my family was entertaining the neighbors with a rendering of The White Boys some more hardy Manx people were playing Cammag at St. John’s.
The game of cammag is a Manx team sport. It is similar to the Irish hurling and its related Scottish game of shinty. It used to be the most widespread sport on the Isle of Man, but it ceased to be played around 1900 after the introduction of football, until very recently when it has been somewhat revived.
It involves a stick (cammag) and a ball (crick) with anything between four and hundreds of players. Sometimes whole towns and villages took part, or even played each other. The cammag can be any stick with a bent end, and is similar in design to the caman in Shinty, both unlike the Irish camán, having no blade. The Manx word Cammag as in modern Scottish Gaelic and Irish camán, is derived from the Gaelic root word cam, meaning bent. The crick can be made from cork or wood. A gorse wood cammag, if of suitable size and shape, was a very much treasured possession. Old accounts tell us that it was sometimes covered in cloth or leather to make it less painful to hit.
Cammag season started on Hunt the Wren Day (26 December) and was only played by men (of all ages) during the winter. Corris’s Close (now Athol Street) was the chief playing-ground in the town of Peel.
Photo: Valerie Caine