George Broderick

1. History

Not much is known about the early history of the Isle of Man before the arrival of Goidelic speaking people(s) around 500 AD. However, as Man is surrounded on three sides by the island of Britain, British speaking until various periods after the Roman era, we may assume that Man also was British speaking until some time after 500AD. The bilingual Ogam / Latin Knock y Dooney stone of ca. 500 AD makes clear that at that time at any rate both British and Goidelic were spoken in Man. In addition, there is also the (now lost) place-name Hentre (cf. Welsh Hendref ‘old farm, stead’, G. sean bhaile, Mx. Shenn valley) recorded in the Abbey-land Bounds appended (ca. 1280) to the Chronicles of Man as plausible evidence for British speech having once existed in Man.

Goidelic eventually ousted British in Man, though the early history of Goidelic itself there is obscure. Nevertheless, it survived four centuries of Scandinavian presence (9th-13th centuries) and has come down virtually to the present day. The last reputed native speaker of Manx (as Goidelic in Man later came to be known) died on 27 December 1974.

The Goidelic presence in Man seems to have existed largely uninterrupted for some 300 years, when Scandinavian settlement took place in Man around the third quarter of the 9th century. Archaeological evidence suggests that the settlement was peaceful, resulting from a probable invitation from a local chieftain, and that Jurby in the north-west of Man seems to have been the initial area of such settlement. Though the origin of these Scandinavian settlers may have been the western areas of Norway, their immediate starting point may have been somewhere in the north-western part of the British Isles, possibly Orkney or Lewis.

In the course of time Man came to be associated with various Norse kingships, first of all from Limerick during the 10th century, then from that of Dublin in the 11th century, during which time Man was drawn into association with the Hebrides to form the Kingdom of the Isles, known as the Sudreys or suðr-eyjar ‘southern isles’ (the ‘northern isles’ being Orkney and Shetland), with the seat of the kingdom in Man. Nominally under the suzerainty of the Kings of Norway, the kingdom seems to have had as its purpose the protection of the trade-route from Dublin (one of the most important trading centres in the western seas) to Norway until the latter part of the 12th century. It remained relatively intact until it was sold by treaty to the King of Scotland in 1266. The kingdom was partitioned in 1156, the southern isles of Mull and Islay and their adjacent appendages being ceded to Argyll, the northern isles of Skye and Lewis remaining intact with Man till 1266. Man remained under Scottish control till the death of Scottish King Alexander III in 1289.

From 1289 till 1333 Man was contended for in Scottish-English rivalries during the Scottish wars of independence, and from 1333 to 1405 was held from the English king by several Anglo-Norman magnates who retained the title ‘King of Man’. In 1405 Man was granted by King Henry IV of England to the Stanley lords of Knowsley near Liverpool (after 1485 ‘Earls of Derby’) who from 1521 (if not before) were styled ‘Lords of Man’, a title persisting to the present. The Stanleys held sway in Man (except for a short period from 1594 to 1609) until 1736, when Man passed into the hands of the anglicised Scottish Dukes of Atholl. In 1765 the manorial rights of the Dukes of Atholl were bought out by the British government on behalf of the British Crown, though the final sum was not settled until 1828. The British Crown felt it had the right to revest in itself the suzerainty of Man in 1765, as during the 14th century the English Crown (as it was then) had vested the suzerainty of Man in various Anglo-Norman liege lords who held their estates in England, as with Man, from the English king. To this day the British Government, on behalf of the British Crown, regards itself as being responsible for "good government", as it puts it, in Man. The reason for the revestment was the concern the British Government had for what it regarded as the use of Man for purposes of smuggling which it felt it ought to bring under control.

From 1765 onwards the British Government has exercised political and fiscal control in the island. It was not until the Second World War that a measure of self government was devolved on Tynwald, the Manx Government, which has gradually increased over the years to the point where virtual internal self-government has been achieved. External affairs are still handled by the British authorities.


Belchem, J. C. (2000): A New History of the Isle of Man. The Modern Period 1830-1999. Vol. 5. Liverpool: University Press.
Broderick, George (1980): ‘Irish and Welsh Strands in the Genealogy of Godred Crovan’. Journal of the Manx Museum VIII (89): 32-38.
Broderick, George (ed.) (1995): Cronica Regum Mannie & Insularum. Chronicles of the Kings of Man and the Isles. Douglas: Manx National Heritage. Diplomatic edition of BL Cotton Julius Avii, with Introduction and English translation. Repr. 1999.
Bruce, J. R. (1968): The Manx Archaeological Survey. Sixth Report 1966. Keeills and Burial Grounds in the Sheading of Rushen. Douglas: The Manx Museum and National Trust.
Cubbon, William (1933 & 1939): A Bibliographical Account of Works relating to the Isle of Man. Oxford: University Press. 2 vols.
Davey, Peter J. (1999b): Rushen Abbey. First Archaeological Report. Centre for Manx Studies Research Report 7 1999. Douglas.
Davey, Peter J. (ed.) (1978): Man and Environment in the Isle of Man. British Archaeological Reports. Series LIV. Liverpool: University Press.
Davey, Peter J. (ed.) (1999a): Recent Archaeological Research on the Isle of Man. British Archaeological Reports British Series LIV. Liverpool: University Press.
Dickinson, J. R. (1997): The Lordship of Man under the Stanleys. Government and Economy in the Isle of Man, 1580-1704.
Dolley, Michael (1977): ‘Procurator extraordinary – Sir Wadsworth Busk (1730-1811)’. Proceedings of the Isle of Man Natural History and Antiquarian Society VIII/3: 207-245.
Edge, Peter. W. (1997): Manx Public Law. Douglas: Isle of Man Law Society.
Fell, Christine et. al. (edd.) (1983): The Viking Age in the Isle of Man. Select papers from the Ninth Viking Congress, Isle of Man, 4-14 July 1981. Viking Society for Northern Research, University College London.
Freke, David et. al. (2002) : Excavations on St. Patrick’s Isle, Peel, Isle of Man, 1982-1988: prehistoric, Viking, medieval and later. Liverpool: University Press.
Kermode, David G. (1979): Devolution at Work: A Case Study of the Isle of Man. Farnborough.
Kermode, David G. (2001): Offshore Island Politics. The Constitutional and Political Development of the Isle of Man in the Twentieth Century. Liverpool: University Press.
Kermode, P. M. C. (1968): The Manx Archaeological Survey. A Re-issue of the first five reports (1909-1918) 1909-1935. Keeills and Burial Grounds in the Sheadings of Glenfaba, Michael, Ayre, Garff and Middle. Douglas: The Manx Museum and National Trust.
Kinvig, R. H. (1975): The Isle of Man: a social, cultural and political history. Liverpool: University Press.
Megaw, Basil (1976): ‘Norseman and Native in the Kingdom of the Isles: a reassessment of the Manx evidence’. Scottish Studies 20: 1-44. Revised version in Davey (ed.) 1978: 265-314.
Moore, Arthur. W. (1900): A History of the Isle of Man. London: Unwin. Reprinted 1977 for the Manx Museum and National Trust. 2 vols.
Winterbottom, Derek (1999): Governors of the Isle of Man since 1765. Douglas.

2. Manx Gaelic

Manx Gaelic is one of three Insular Celtic languages belonging to the Goidelic group along with Modern Irish and Scottish Gaelic. It is a descendant of Old and Middle Irish and departs, along with Scottish Gaelic, from Irish in the Early Modern Irish period (13th century) and parts with Scottish Gaelic itself in the fifteenth century.

The arrival of Goidelic in Man seems to have taken place around AD500 as part of the fourth- to fifth-century Irish expansion into adjacent Britain, where in Man it ousted a British language apparently spoken there. Except for some Goidelic place-names its early history in Man is obscure. But it survived four centuries of Scandinavian presence (9th-13th centuries) and seven centuries of English presence and administration until 1974 when its last reputed native speaker Ned Maddrell died on 27 December of that year.

Though there is likely to have been a bardic tradition in Man supported by a native Gaelic-speaking aristocracy before and during the existence of the Manx Kingdom of the Isles (ca. 950-1266), this is unlikely to have continued under a non-Gaelic speaking hierarchy from the fourteenth century onwards. Though the language of administration from that time would also have been non-Gaelic, it was nevertheless found necessary, for example, for the (Anglican) Book of Common Prayer to be translated into Manx (ca. 1610), as well as the complete Bible (1748-75) and a Manx version of the Prayer Book (last published 1842) to be made, i.e. up until 1842 at least most Manx people spoke Manx or at least felt more at home in that language.

Given the absence from the fourteenth century of a Gaelic-speaking hierarchy and educated class capable of sustaining by its patronage learning and literature in Man, restriction in the life of the ordinary people to the most everyday activities would likely explain the impoverishment of the Manx vocabulary (in comparison with that of Irish and Scottish Gaelic), as exemplified in the available dictionaries. Even within the time-span of the written record (early 17th century to present) a decline in inherited Gaelic vocabulary is attested.

The oldest continuous text in Manx is that of Bishop John Phillips (1604-33), namely the translation of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer (see above), but this did not find its way into print until 1894. Manx first appeared in print in 1707, and thereafter throughout the eighteenth century a number of works, mostly of a religious nature including the Manx Bible translation, were published. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries a number of secular traditional songs in manuscript form appeared (some later in print), which could be regarded as original native material. Included in this corpus of original Manx must be the twenty to twenty-five thousand lines in verse of largely unpublished religious folksongs, or carvals, dating in origin, though not in manuscript form, probably from the later Medieval period, and latterly supported by Methodism (ca. 1770 onwards). From the late 19th century we have perhaps as the last example of native vernacular Manx the folklore stories and reminiscences of Edward Faragher of Cregneash (Ned Beg Hom Ruy 1831-1908) published in 1981, 1982.

As noted above, Manx ran parallel with Irish until the 13th and with Scottish Gaelic until the 15th century. However, its evolution thereafter became more progressive, while at the same time preserving archaisms from the Old Irish period, lost in other branches of Gaelic. The most notable features of this trend towards syncretism include a) a simplified declension and case system in the noun where the only difference to be found is between singular and plural, and b) an analytic verbal conjugation using the verbs ‘be’ and ‘do’ as auxiliaries in conjunction with the verbal noun running parallel with, but not completely ousting, the synthetic system of inflection. There are two main dialects in Manx: North and South, separated by a mountain chain running north-east to south-west. The differences are mainly lexical, occasionally phonological.

Three periods of Manx may be distinguished:

  1. Early Manx: seventeenth century; essentially the Manx translation of Phillips’ Anglican Book of Common Prayer, ca. 1610.
  2. Classical Manx: eighteenth century; essentially that of the Manx Bible translation (1748-75).
  3. Late Manx: nineteenth-twentieth centuries; essentially that of Edward Faragher (1831-1908) and the last of the native Manx speakers (ca. 1840-1974).


Broderick, George (1981): ‘Manx stories and reminiscences of Ned Beg Hom Ruy’. Zeitschrift für Celtische Philologie 38: 113-78.
Broderick, George (1982): ‘Manx stories and reminiscences of Ned Beg Hom Ruy’. Zeitschrift für Celtische Philologie 39: 117-94.
Broderick, George (1984-86): A Handbook of Late Spoken Manx. Tübingen: Niemeyer. 3 vols.
Broderick, George (1993): ‘Manx’. In: Ball, Martin (ed.)(1993): The Celtic Languages. London: Routledge.
Broderick, George (1999): Language death in the Isle of Man. Tübingen: Niemeyer (Linguistische Arbeiten 395).
Jackson, Kenneth H. (1953): Language and History in Early Britain. Edinburgh: UP.
Jackson, Kenneth H. (1955): Contributions to the study of Manx phonology. Edinburgh: Nelson.
Ó Cuív, Brian (1957): ‘A poem in praise of Ragnall, King of Man’. Éigse VIII/4: 283-301.
Thomson, Robert L. (1950-51): ‘Syntax of the verb in Manx Gaelic’. Études Celtiques 5: 260-292.
Thomson, Robert L. (1954-57): ‘A glossary of Early Manx’. Zeitschrift für Celtische Philologie 24: 272-307; 25: 100-140; 27: 79-160.
Thomson, Robert L. (1960): ‘Svarabhakti and some associated changes in Manx’. Celtica 15: 116-26.
Thomson, Robert L. (1969): ‘The study of Manx Gaelic’. Proceedings of the British Academy 5: 177-210. Rhys Memorial Lecture.

3. Manx Literature

The audience for Manx literature has during most of its history been too small and too poor, and its authors too lacking in patrons and therefore unable to live by authorship, for us to expect a rich harvest of literary works in the language. What has survived in manuscript and in print has a strong bias to religious subjects, since the clergy and other serious-minded people were the most likely to have the education and the leisure for authorship, and educational and religious charities were the most likely to produce the grants that would bring the books within the limited means of those for whom they were intended. Such constraints do not necessarily apply to oral composition and transmission; neither author nor audience need be literate. Composition would be a spare-time activity and the rewards likely to be be limited to entertainment and hospitality and the acquisition of a degree of local celebrity. These economic and social factors have left their mark on Manx literary composition.

The earliest datable text, though preserved in manuscripts of the second half of the 18th century, is the so-called Manannan Ballad or Traditionary Ballad, which can on internal evidence be assigned to the 16th century at the latest. It is a poem purporting to give a short history of Man from the introduction of Christianity (ca. 7th century) to ca. 1500, and though transmitted orally for much of its existence, seems likely to have originated in antiquarian speculation based on tradition, place-names and documentary history. Also recorded at this time was a poem about Finn and Ossian known as Fin as Oshin, recovered at a time when there was much interest in Fenian poetry aroused by the controversy of James Macpherson’s ‘translations’ of the poems of ‘Ossian’ from Scottish Gaelic. Belonging to this era is also the Illiam Dhone Ballad, dating from the political events in Man of the mid-17th century and involving the execution of Manx patriot William Christian in 1662/3. Along with the Traditionary Ballad, the Illiam Dhone Ballad probably owes its survival to political events in the latter half of the 18th century. Other popular poetry, however, escaped notice until interest in folksong collecting in the later 19th century, and some of what was available was published by Moore (1896) and Gilchrist (1924-26; see also below). But other collectors were earlier in the field, ca. 1840. The contents of these collections vary: children’s rhymes and assorted stray stanzas which have lost their context (including some of an earthy content); poems on local personalities and events which can sometimes be dated, such as the loss of the Manx herring fleet in a storm off Douglas in 1787, or the search for snowbound sheep about 1700; songs of love and courtship and some connected with folk-belief and practices.

The main body of original verse takes the form of carvals, religious poetry on a variety of themes. Verse of a similar nature is found in Gaelic Scotland towards the end of the 17th century, and is itself a development of a genre well known to the Gaelic professional poets of the Medieval period. The Manx poems, however, appear to belong to the 18th and early 19th centuries. Early 18th century dates are assigned to a few of them, but the manuscript evidence is lacking to support them, and the manuscripts point to the second half of that century. The carvals had an institutional setting to provide a motive for preserving and maintaining them and continuing to compose them, in that they were traditionally sung in the parish churches (later in the Methodist chapels) on Christmas Eve (24 December). Some are closely concerned with Christmas, but most treat a collection of subjects taken from the whole theme of salvation, from the fall of man to the last judgment. A small number concentrate on single Bible characters, while others are more concerned with more abstract moral themes, such as charity and temperance. Some 150 of such poems (of varying lengths) exist, about half of which were printed in Moore (1891). The stanzas are chiefly of four or eight lines and seem modelled on the metres of the metrical psalms.

Most of the material designed to be printed is translated and on religious issues. A bridge between this and the original verse is provided by the abridgment of Milton’s Paradise Lost (Mx. Pargys Caillt) to about 4000 lines in heroic couplets published in 1796, but seemingly written some 20-30 years earlier. It is the general sense which is translated, so that the result has some claim to originality. Generally, however, strict translation was the intent, as in Phillips (ca. 1610), the first certainly dated work extant in a nearly contemporary manuscript. This was the largest single work attempted in Manx before the Manx Bible. Bishop John Phillips was Welsh and so far as is known he had the task of reducing continuous Manx, as distinct from isolated names, etc, to writing for the first time.

The first printed work in Manx dates from 1707. Bishop Thomas Wilson (1698-1755) had composed in English an expanded version of the Prayer Book Catechism and had it translated into Manx by some of the clergy. The translation provides an object lesson in the art of rendering abstract English into simple and natural Manx. It was about this time that the first interest in Manx from outside Man was shown. Edward Lhuyd, the ‘father’ of Celtic philology, published a handful of lexical items of Manx in his Archaeologia Britannica in 1707. From his semi-phonetic alphabet based on Welsh conventions we have the first evidence of the sound of Manx independent of the conventions of writing used by those who spoke it.

The next project for translation was a Manx version of the Bible, beginning with the publication of St. Matthew’s Gospel in 1748 from a version dating some 20 years earlier. A revision of this, together with other Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, appeared in 1763, and a first edition of the Epistles and Revelation in 1767. These had been translated by small groups, but the Old Testament required the enlistment of the whole clergy. Genesis to Esther appeared in 1771 (reprinted 1772) and Job to Malachi, together with Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus from the Apocrypha completed the whole Bible in 1775. Five more texts from the Apocrypha, notably Tobit and Judith, survived in manuscript to be printed in 1978. The translators drafts were revised by a small editorial group who normalised the spelling and terminology, and sometimes removed renderings which seemed insufficiently close to the original, but generally seemed not to have scrutinised the translation very closely. The translators worked from the Authorised Version (1604) in English for the most part, though a few consulted the Greek version of the Old Testament in addition. Many of the freer renderings of obscure passages derive from the translator’s own understanding or from the commentators available at the time. Though the standard of the Manx varies from book to book, and the editors seem rarely to have corrected their colleagues’ grammar, the work as a whole is of a high standard and reflects great credit on those who produced it. The Manx Bible is taken as the yardstick for the standard language. Other works of a religious nature appear also around this time, notably a translation of The Christian Monitor (1763) and a fresh version of the Prayer Book (1765).

A bi-product of the Manx Bible translation was the beginning of interest in analysing and describing the language. First in this field was John Kelly (1750-1809) who acted as copyist of the text of the Bible for the press and as proof-reader. In his youth he had begun a dictionary of Manx, a version of which was published in 1866. Kelly also compiled a triglot dictionary based on Rev. William Shaw’s English and Galic Dictionary of 1780, translating English into Manx, Irish and Scottish Gaelic in parallel columns. This was due for publication in 1805, but a fire at the printers put an end to the project. The other Manx lexicographer is Archibald Cregeen whose dictionary was published in 1835.

The end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries saw an increase in the number but a diminution in the scale of Manx publications. One genre making an appearance at this time is the hymn book. A selection of metrical psalms had been made in 1761 and attached to the Prayer Book, and further unofficial translations were made from the same source. However, the introduction of Methodism into Man during the 1770s stimulated the translation of hymns for Manx-speaking congregations and several collections were published. During the first half of the 19th century there appeared a considerable body of short tracts published by various societies. A translation of Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress exists in manuscript.

For much of the 18th century and the first half of the 19th century sermons in Manx were being composed and a great many of these survive in manuscript, often with annotations showing where and when (and how often) they were delivered. This corpus has yet to be edited and published.

In the 1890s Edward Faragher (1831-1908), the last native writer of Manx, wrote down a number of recollections of his own life, chiefly spent as a fisherman, and of anecdotes, customs and reminiscences, as well as composed verse in both Manx and English and translating Aesop’s Fables, twenty-five of which were published. Faragher’s original prose was published in 1981-82.


Broderick, George (1981-82): ‘Manx stories and reminiscences of Ned Beg Hom Ruy’. Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie 38 (1981): 113-178, 39 (1982): 117-194.
Broderick, George (1982): ‘Baase Illiam Dhone’. Celtica 14: 105-23.
Broderick, George (1984): ‘Ny Kirree fo Niaghtey’. Celtica 16: 157-68.
Broderick, George (1990): ‚Fin as Oshin’. Celtica 21: 51-60.
Christian, Thomas nd [1796]: Paradise Lost, a poem by John Milton, translated into the Manks language. Douglas. See also Thomson 1995 below.
Cregeen, Archibald (1835): A Dictionary of the Manks Language… Douglas: Quiggin.
Evans, Dafydd & Thomson, Robert L. (1977): ‘Edward Lhuyd’s Gerieu Manaweg’. Studia Celtica 14-15: 129-167.
Faragher, Edward (1901): Skeealyn Aesop. Douglas.
Gilchrist, Anne G. (1924-26): [Manx Traditional Songs]. Journal of the Folksong Society VII (28-30).
Kelly, John (1866): Fockleyr Gailckagh as Baarlagh [Manx-English & English-Manx Dictionary]. Douglas: Manx Society 5. Repr. (Manx-English only) 1977. Douglas: Yn Cheshaght Ghailckagh.
Lhuyd, Edward (1707): Archaeologia Britannica. Oxford.
Moore, A. W. (1891): Carvalyn Gailckagh… Douglas.
Moore, A. W. (1896): Manx Ballads and Music. Douglas.
Moore, A: W. & Rhys, John (eds.) ‘The Book of Common Prayer in Manx Gaelic…’. London. 2 vols. Manx Society 32 & 33. Oxford: UP.
Thomson, Robert L. & Pilgrim, Adrian J. (1988): Outline of Manx Language and Literature. Douglas: Yn Cheshaght Ghailckagh.
Thomson, Robert L. (1960-62): ‘The Manx Traditionary Ballad’. Études Celtiques 9: 512-48, 10: 60-87.
Thomson, Robert L. (1995): Pargys Caillt & Parnell’s ‘Hermit’. Douglas: Centre for Manx Studies Research Report 3.
Wilson, Thomas (1707): The principles and duties of Christianity [Mx. Coyrle Sodjey]. London. Bilingual English-Manx. Repr. Menston 1972.

4. Manx Traditional Music

Resurgence in interest in Manx traditional music and song (i.e. songs in Manx Gaelic and tunes felt to belong to the repertoire of Manx tradition-bearers irrespective of their provenance) took place in the early 1970s as part of a general revival in adjacent countries and has continued down to the present day, with sessions being held in various bars at different times of the week. The longest known session is that in Peel which meets on a Saturday evening; it began in 1974.

In addition to recent compositions felt to be in the Manx idiom, the resurgence principally concentrates on the collections of Dr. John Clague (1842-1908), W. H. Gill (1839-1922), A. W. Moore (1836-1909) and Mona Douglas (1898-1987). Clague and Gill made their collections during the 1890s from many of the then known tradition-bearers, Clague collecting mainly in the south, Gill in the north of Man, though a number of tunes collected by Clague appear also in Gill’s collection. A version of Clague’s collection was published in Gilchrist 1924-26; Gill’s manuscripts have recently turned up in the Manx Museum archive. In all some 315 tunes and variants were collected by Clague, a much smaller number by Gill. A. W. Moore’s collection comprises 74 song texts and 40 tunes, collected via agents from known tradition-bearers or obtained from manuscript sources; these were printed in Moore 1896. Mona Douglas, inspired by the Manx folklore collector Sophia Morrison (1859-1917 see below), made her collection during the 1920s/30s. She published three sets of 12 songs (in Manx) in 1928, 1929 and 1957. Some of the songs here were composed by Douglas herself to tunes culled from Irish or Scottish sources, but which have nevertheless come down as part of the present-day repertoire.

However, Clague and co. were not the first to collect traditional music and songs in Man. The first known serious music collection was made around 1810 by a Cumbrian man called Shepherd who came to Man ca. 1806 to teach music. He collected some 90 tunes, almost exclusively psalm tunes. However, the first publication of secular tunes came out in 1820 in a limited edition in J. Barrow’s Mona Melodies, which contains 13 tunes fitted to English texts (none associated with the original Manx). Many of these tunes appear in Clague taken directly from this book. Very few of them did Clague meet with himself, which suggests that between 1820 and the 1890s many tunes had fallen out of the tradition. In1869 and 1873 William Harrison published five tunes along with some twenty ballads in Manx. After the Clague, Gill and Moore collections were made some twenty tunes, mostly drawn from Clague, but also one or two others hitherto not noted, were published by Sophia Morrison in Mannin (1913-17).

We are fortunate in having some information, brief and inadequate though it may seem to be, from both oral and written sources giving some idea of how the songs were sung. In all cases, including a note on it by Gill himself in the preface (Gill 1896 & 1898), it becomes apparent that some use was made of ornamentation, though its precise application and extent is not known. Gill admits that the delivery of the songs he had heard could not in reality be properly represented by the system then available to the transcribing of music (or at least Gill felt he could not adequately note down how the song was sung).

In addition to Clague’s collection of tunes he made a collection of a number of song-texts (it seems not on the same occasions as he collected the tunes), many only containing one stanza, noted down in nine out of twenty-four note books that contain other material. These songs were published in 1980-82. The music collections have recently been made available to the general public. A reappraisal of the source material and the revival is at present underway.


Barrow, J. (1820): Mona Melodies. London.
Broderick, George (1980-81): ‘Manx traditional songs and song-fragments I’. Béaloideas 48-49: 9-29.
Broderick, George (1981). Review of The Manx National Song Book Vol. 1, with an introductory preface by Charles Guard. Shearwater Press. In The Anglo-Welsh Review 68: 131-134.
Broderick, George (1982a): ‘Baase Illiam Dhone’. Celtica 14: 105-123. Manx Gaelic Volkslied with linguistic notes.
Broderick, George (1982b): ‘Manx traditional songs and song-fragments II’. Béaloideas 50: 1-41.
Broderick, George (1984a): ‘Berrey Dhone – a Manx Caillech Bérri ?’. ZCP 40: 193-210. Manx Gaelic Volkslied with linguistic notes.
Broderick, George (1984b): ‘Ec ny Fiddleryn’. ZCP 40: 211-227. Manx Gaelic Volkslied with linguistic notes.
Broderick, George (1984c): ‘Ny Kirree fo Niaghtey’. Celtica 16: 157-168. Manx Gaelic Volkslied with linguistic notes.
Broderick, George (1990): ‘Fin as Oshin’. Celtica 21: 51-60. Manx Gaelic Volkslied with linguistic notes.
Clague, John (1893-98): [Collection of Folktunes] Manx Museum MSS.448A, 449B (Archdeacon Kewley Coll.). See also under Stephen Miller below.
Clague, John nd. [ca. 1896-98] [Collection of Manx Folksongs] Manx Museum MS.450A (Archdeacon Kewley Coll.).
Douglas, Mona with Arnold Foster (1928, 1929, 1957): Twelve Manx Folksongs Sets 1. 2, 3. London.
Gilchrist, Anne G. (1924-26) [Manx Folksongs from the Clague Collection]. Journal of the Folksong Society VII 28-30. London. Republished 2001 by Stephen Miller w. Introduction.
Gill, W. H. (1896): Manx National Songs. London: Boosey and Hawkes.
Gill, W. H. (1898): Manx National Music. London: Boosey and Hawkes.
Harrison MSS. (unaccessioned); prepared for printing of ‘Mona Miscellany’ series I & II (1869 & 1873), ed. William Harrison for the Manx Society.
Harrison, William (ed.) (1869): Mona Miscellany I’. Manx Society XVI. Douglas.
Harrison, William (ed.) (1873): ‘Mona Miscelly II’. Manx Society XXI. Douglas.
Jerry, Colin W. P. (1978): Kiaull yn Theay. Manx music and songs for folk instruments. Douglas: Yn Cheshaght Ghailckagh.
Jerry, Colin W. P. (1980): Kiaull yn Theay II. Manx music and songs for folk instruments. Douglas: Yn Cheshaght Ghailckagh.
Jerry, Colin W. P. (1987): Kiaull Vannin. A source book for Manx tunes. Transcribed from the collections of Dr. J. Clague and others [A. W. Moore & Mona Douglas]. Peel. Published privately. Repr. 1991.
Manx Language Scrapbook MM.H140; includes broadside ballads.
Miller, Stephen (ed.) (1994): Manx Folk Song, Folk Dance, Folklore. Collected Writings. Onchan: Chiollagh Books.
Mona Douglas music ms. Collection of tunes. In private possession.
Moore, A. W. (1896): Manx Ballads and Music. Douglas.
Shepherd music collection MM.J66 6523 MS. 437A (Archdeacon Kewley Coll.).
Song collection of G. F. Clucas MM.MS.263A. In Broderick 1980-81.
Speers, David (1997): ‘The historical references to Manx traditional music, song and dance: a reappraisal’. Béaloideas 46-65 (1996-97): 225-277.
Strachan, John (1897): ‘A Manx Folksong’. ZCP 1: 54-58.

5. Manx Folklore

5. 1. Introduction

Although the Isle of Man today is English speaking, the last reputed native speaker of Manx Gaelic, Ned Maddrell, having died 27th December 1974, traditional culture and lore are closely linked to that of Ireland and Gaelic Scotland. The story from Irish oral tradition has it that Fionn mac Cumhaill create the Isle of Man by tearing up a huge sod of earth, thereby creating Lough Neagh, and throwing it into the Irish Sea. Man is often confused with Emhain Ablach, the home of Manannán mac Lir, the principal sea-deity and otherworld ruler of Irish and Goidelic traditions. Manannán himself is closely associated with Man and his name probably derives from it, meaning ‘the one from Man’. The first known recording of Manx oral tradition appears in the Manannan or Traditionary Ballad, dated from internal evidence to ca. 1500, in which Manannan Beg mac y Leirr (as he is termed in Manx tradition) is regarded as the first king in Man. The triskele, or three-legged symbol of early Celtic provenance, is associated with Manannan in that he appears in this form when rolling over the mountains. Veneration of Manannan continued in Man, particularly among the fishermen, till the end of the 19th century.

Allusions to Man occur commonly in Irish and to a lesser extent in Scottish Gaelic stories. The legendary Maughold derives from Mac Cuill of the Túatha Dé Danann. The shaggy-haired Fir Fálgae were speciously associated with Man, as was the otherworldly Dún Scáith. In addition, the early physical culture in Man, the Neolithic chambered tombs and the Bronze Age cairns and ring-forts, correlates with that found in Ireland.

In addition to the distinctive fynodderree, many characters in Manx folklore find parallels in Irish and Scottish Gaelic tradition, e.g. Finn McCooil (G. Fionn mac Cumhaill, see above) and Oshin (G. Oisín), as well as the Buggane, Cabbyl Ushtey, Glashtin, Tarroo Ushtey, etc.

5. 2.1. The Fynnodderree

In Manx tradition the Fynnodderree (variously spelt), possibly OIr. finnfad ‘hair’ w. draoi ‘sorcerer’, is portrayed as a short, dark, uncouth, supernatural creature and one of the best-known members of the ferrishyn ‘fairies’. He has no known counterpart in Irish or Scottish Gaelic tradition. He is usually seen as naked but covered with body hair. He is customarily seen as an individual rather than a class (viz. "The Fynnodderree"). He can be compared with the Scottish ‘brownie’, he is helpful and can perform tasks requiring enormous strength and endurance, such as carrying a huge block of marble a long distance or harvesting an entire field of crops. In this latter respect he is sometimes referred to as yn foldyr gastey ‘the nimble mower’. He was once regarded as handsome, but was transformed into an ugly and solitary figure for courting a mortal girl from Glen Auldyn (near Ramsey). Some see him as satyr-like, more for his hairy legs than anything else. The glashtin (qv), known only in the south of Man, appears to be similar to the fynnodderree.

5. 2.2. The Buggane

In Manx tradition the Buggane is a mischievous creature. He has a mane of black hair and torch-like eyes. He can chase and frighten people and is adept at shape-shifting. He is sometimes compared with the Cabbyl-Ushtey (qv) of Manx folklore, cf. Ir. púca (< ?ON pukki), W. pwca, Corn. bucca.

5. 2.3. The Cabbyl-Ushtey

The Cabbyl-Ushtey ‘water-horse’ can be compared with Ir. each uisce, the Scottish ‘kelpie’ and the W. ceffyl dwfr. He appears in relatively few folk narratives. He is not as dangerous as the kelpie, but might seize cows, stampede horses, or steal children. He can be compared with the Glashtin (qv).

5. 2.4. The Glashtin

As his name implies, he lives in water, cf. OIr. glais, glaise, glas ‘river, stream’, W. glais, and can be compared with the Mx. Cabbyl-ushtey, Ir. each uisce, and W. ceffyl dwfr. He is a mischievous water-horse. Although he might take human form, he could not hide his horse’s ears. He is sometimes confused with the heavier, shambling fynnodderree (qv), but more human in appearance.

5. 2.5. The Tarroo-Ushtey

The Tarroo-Ushtey ‘water-bull’ can be directly compared with the ScG. tarbh uisge. It lives in swamps and shallower pools, and sometimes roams the fields among the farm cattle. But like its Scottish Gaelic counterpart, it can be malevolent and emerge from the rivers by moonlight to terrorise the countryside.


Broderick, George (1974-76): ‘Four Manx Folktales’. Béaloideas 42-44: 41-61.
Broderick, George (1982-83): ‘Manx stories and reminiscences of Ned Beg Hom Ruy I & II’. ZCP 38 (1982): 113-178; 39 (1983): 117-184. Contains much folklore material.
Broderick, George (1983): ‘Boddagh yn Cooat Laaghagh’. Béaloideas 51: 1-10. A Manx version of Bodach an Chóta Lachtna.
Callow, Edward (1882): The Phynodderee and Other Legends of the Isle of Man. London: J. Dean.
Cashen, William (1912): Manx Folklore. Douglas: G. & L. Johnson. Repr. 1977.
Clague, John (1911): Cooinaghtyn Manninagh. Manx Reminiscences. Castletown: Blackwell.
Craine, David (1955): Manannan’s Isle. Douglas : Manx Museum and National Trust.
Gill, W. Walter (1929): A Manx Scrapbook. London: Arrowsmith.
Gill, W. Walter (1932): A Second Manx Scrapbook. London: Arrowsmith.
Gill, W. Walter (1963): A Third Manx Scrapbook. London: Arrowsmith. All three contain much folklore material.
Killip, Margaret (1975): The Folklore of the Isle of Man. London: Batsford. Repr. 1986.
Mackillop, James (1998): A dictionary of Celtic Mythology. Oxford: University Press.
Moore, A. W. (1891): Folklore of the Isle of Man. London. Repr. 1971 Wakefield.
Moore, A. W. (1895): ‘Further notes on Manx Folklore’: Antiquary 31.
Morrison, Sophia (1911): Manx Fairy Tales. Peel. Second edition 1929.
Paton, Cyril I (1939-41): ‘Manx Calendar Customs’. Folklore LI & LII. London.
Rhys, John (1891): Celtic Folklore. Oxford: UP.
Rhys, John (1901): Celtic Folklore Welsh and Manx. Oxford: UP. 2 Vols. Repr. 1983.
Robertson, David (1794): A Tour through the Isle of Man – 1794. London. Repr. 1970.
Roeder, Charles (1896): ‘Contributions to the Folklore of the South of the Isle of Man’. Yn Lioar Manninagh III: 129-190. Douglas.
Roeder, Charles (1904): Manx Notes and Queries. Douglas. Contains much folklore material.
Sacheverell, William (1702): An account of the Isle of Man. Manx Society I (1859).
Thomson, Robert L. (1960-62): ‘The Manx Traditionary Ballad’. Études Celtiques 9: 512-48, 10: 60-87.
Train, Joseph (1842-45): An Historical and Statistical Account of the Isle of Man… Douglas. Published initially in four parts, then in two volumes in 1845.
Waldron, George (1726): A description of the Isle of Man.... Manx Society XI (1865).

6. The Constitutional and Legal Status of the Isle of Man

6.1.1. The Legal status of the Isle of Man

The Isle of Man is not and never has been part of England or of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. However, today, although a distinct realm, the Isle of Man is a dominion of the British Crown, as is indicated by the jurisdiction of the Privy Council to the British Crown and of the English authorities over the Manx Crown during succession disputes. The exact date of the entry of the Isle of Man into the dominion of the British Crown is less clear.

Title to an existing territory can be obtained in four ways: 1) by settlement, 2) by annexation, 3) by cession, or 4) by conquest. The key period for determining this is between 1304 when Man was in the possession of the Scottish Crown (see below) and 1405 when the Manx Crown was held by feudal service, Man remaining within the (then) English Crown dominions. Man could not be settled, since there was already an established system of government there and there was no obvious pattern of displacement by a new population; it could not be annexed, as Man belonged to another nation (Scotland) before this period; it could not be ceded, since no treaty ceded rights over Man. It remains to be seen whether an event constituting conquest can be identified.

In 1305 Affrica de Connaght, who claimed the Manx Crown through the Norse line (see below), made over her rights to Sir Simon de Montacute (probably her husband). Between 1307 and 1333 the English Crown dealt with Man as sovereign. In 1333 King Edward III of England executed a document which, while arguably a mere recognition of the Norse titles of the Montacutes, appears to have renounced sovereign rights over the island, and thus excluded Man from the English Crown dominions. The grant was unlimited in time, made no provision for revocation of the rights of the King of Man, and made no provision for feudal service to the English Crown, i.e. a subject of the English Crown held title over a territory outside the English Crown dominions. The title King of Man had been adjusted to Lord of Man by 1521.

In 1392 William le Scroop, a baron subject to the English Crown, purchased the title of the King of Man. In 1399 he was executed by King Henry IV of England who granted Man to the Earl of Northumberland. Henry granted title to Northumberland conditional upon feudal service. Henry claimed this right as he had executed the absolute ruler of Man William le Scroop, whereby the title fell automatically to the person who ordered le Scroop’s death. In other words, Man had been obtained by conquest. It would appear that by 1399 Man had entered the dominions of the English Crown and, by reservation of service in grants after that date, remained within those dominions thereafter. The union of the Scottish and English crowns in 1603, when King James VI of Scotland became King James I of England, resulted in the creation of the British Crown.

6.1.2. The Legal Status of Man after Revestment (1765)

As a result of what the British authorities regarded as smuggling an act of the Westminster Parliament in London in 1765 revested authority over Man in the British Crown, i.e. the manorial rights of the Lord of Man were purchased by the British government on behalf of the Crown. The Revestment Act was not an Act of Union between Great Britain and Man, but rather it vested a legal entity – the Lordship of Man – in a natural person, i.e. the then British sovereign and his heirs. This did not change the constitutional status of Man per se.

6.1.3. The Isle of Man as part of the British Empire and later Commonwealth

The proximity of Man to the United Kingdom, the antiquity of its association with the English, then British Crown, places Man (and the Channel Islands for that matter) in a category apart from all other British Crown Dependencies. The legislature of the island derives its authority from insular (Manx) law, rather than Acts of the Westminster Parliament. These features provide sufficient justification for treating Man as, at least potentially, sui generis within the British dominions.

6.1.4. The Boundaries of Manx Jurisdiction

The Manx jurisdiction includes the entire geographical land area of the Isle of Man and extends into territorial waters, since 1990 reaching out to twelve miles from the Manx coast or to the agreed median line where Manx territorial waters would overlap with those of a neighbouring jurisdiction.

6.2. The Manx Constitution

As we have seen above, Goidelic speaking peoples settled in Man around AD500 and their speech ousted what is regarded almost certainly as British speech soon after. From the 9th to the 13th centuries Man came under Scandinavian sway. Before the 9th century we may speak of Man existing in, for want of a better term, a Celtic milieu, i.e. Man likely shared a legal and governmental system similar to those in adjacent Celtic areas in Britain and Ireland.

The Celtic system of government focused upon the King. Beneath the King, by rank, came the nobles, the freemen, and finally the base or unfree. All except the unfree had a role in the open-air fair or assembly held on and around a small hill (cf. OIr. óenach, ModIr. aonach ‘fair’; Mx. feailley, G. féile), the main institution of government. The King sat upon the hill under which his forebears probably lay buried, thereby representing a continuum from the founders of the community down to himself. He was also regarded as the representation on earth of the (protecting) deity of the community and a link between that deity and the community. Such a tradition probably dates back to the Bronze Age, if not before.

The principal business of the óenach was more judicial than legislative. The King, in consultation with his nobles, made such decisions as were meet and declared them to the assembly of freemen. Most judicial business was undertaken by the (OIr.) brithem (G. britheamh, Mx. briw), or judge, whose office was hereditary and jurisdiction consensual. The role of government in legal terms, however, was minimal. Manx customary or traditional law stems from this early period.

From 9th – 13th centuries Man came under Scandinavian suzerainty whereby kings of Man became (nominally) subject to the overlordship of the King of Norway. During this period a political unit comprising Man and the Hebrides, known by the Norwegians as the Suðr-eyjar, (L. Sodorenses, anglicised as Sudreys or Sodor (see below)), was created seemingly to protect the trade route between the Scandinavian trade centre of Dublin and Norway. In 1156 the Kingdom of the Sudreys was split, the southern Inner Hebrides (Mull and Islay and adjacent islands), and possibly Barra and the Uists in the Outer Hebrides, being ceded to Somerled of Argyll. The other islands (Skye and Lewis / Harris) remained with Man till the Hebrides and Man were ceded to the King of Scotland in the Treaty of Perth in 1266 for 4000 marks.

A notable feature of the later Manx constitution arose during the Scandinavian period. The Kings of Man were bound in service or treaty to a more powerful monarch. The exact nature of this bond varied, as did the identity of the other party, thus reinforcing the view that the King of Man was an independent force in the area, entering into political alliance or allegiance for his best advantage, viz: King Edgar of England 973, King Diarmid of Dublin 1060, King Magnus Barefoot of Norway 1093, King Henry II of England 1156, King John of England 1205, King Inge of Norway 1208, King John of England 1213, King Henry III of England 1218, Pope Honarius III 1219, King Hakon of Norway 1239, King Alexander III of Scotland 1264. Later vassalage was to become more binding and more legally significant.

During the Anglo-Scots period (1266-1405) Man was bounced to and fro between Scotland and England, finally landing in the English court in 1333 (see above). However, some doctrines of Manx law appear to be of Scots origin. For example, the execution of female felons by drowning them in a sack appears to have been copied from an earlier Scots statute, although it survived in Man in traditional law.

In 1405 King Henry IV of England granted the kingdom of Man to John Stanley, his heirs and assigns, on the service of rendering two falcons on paying homage, and two falcons to all future Kings of England on the day of their coronation. Although the most significant rights over Man (i.e. the manorial rights) were given up in 1765 (see above), this service was carried out in order to preserve residual rights until 1821, King George IV being the last British king to receive the two falcons. The King of Man thus held his crown by virtue of service to the King of England. This suzerainty is also demonstrated by the role of the King of England in disputes over the Manx Crown. An example of this occurred in 1594 when a dispute arose between the heirs general and heirs male as to who should succeed to the Lordship of Man. Pending settlement the English Crown took possession of Man. In 1609 the matter was decided by the English courts in favour of the heirs general on the basis that the right descended from the common law of England.

The vassal kings (i.e. the Stanleys) were active in the political life of England and had properties other than Man. In 1736 the Stanleys were succeeded by the Dukes of Atholl who held the Lordship of Man till 1765. Between 1765 and 1866 the legal title to the Isle of Man, and effective control of the government of the Isle of Man, lay with the British Crown. After 1866, although the Crown of the Isle of Man remained vested in the British sovereign, governmental power began to return to Man. In 1866 the House of Keys (see below) became popularly elected.

As from 1866 Man became more and more exposed to the influence of English jurisdiction, especially during the period in which the law became a coherent system administered largely by the state. Between 1866 and 1939 power was gradually returned to the Manx government, to an extent that Man enjoyed a degree of autonomy within the British Empire. With the disintegration of the British Empire after the Second World War, in which former colonies became part of the British Commonwealth, the position of the Isle of Man became increasingly unusual and problematical. The Isle of Man, unlike colonies elsewhere, did not take part in the development towards full independence, but remained closely tied to the United Kingdom. Nevertheless, considerable authority was transferred to the Manx authorities. In 1946 the Executive Council was created as an advisory body to the Lieutenant- Governor (the representative of the British sovereign in Man). It comprised seven members appointed on the recommendation of the Manx government, the Tynwald (see below), and was placed on a statutory basis. It was reconstituted in 1961 and 1968 and acted as a form of cabinet on the British model. At the same time as the Executive Council gained stature, the Lieutenant-Governor lost some functions to an increasing number of Boards of Tynwald. The transfer of executive power from the Lieutenant-Governor to Manx officials continued with the creation in 1990 of an entirely insular executive, the Council of Ministers (created out of the Executive Council) led by a Chief Minister. The Lieutenant-Governor was thereby relegated to a more formal and ceremonial role.

6.3. Tynwald

The Tynwald is the government of the Isle of Man. The name derives from Sc. thing-völlr ‘assembly field’, in Manx known as the feailley (G. féile) ‘fair’, a development from the óenach as found in Early Ireland (see above). The first known description of the role and composition of Tynwald lies in a detailed declaration of 1417 when John Stanley II visited Man as king. The various components of Tynwald were as follows:

  1. The King (see above). If the King were absent his place was taken by a Viscount (L. vicecomes), a precursor of the Captain, Governor and Lieutenant-Governor of later periods.
  2. The Barons. At this time (1417) the Barons were temporal nobility and appeared in the political struggles and events of the period. By 1417 all the Baronies were in spiritual hands. In later periods the sole surviving Baron, the Bishop of the Isle of Man – styled Bishop of Sodor and Man – had (and still has) a voice (and a vote) in the legislature.
  3. The two Deemsters or High-Court Judges, a derivative of Sc. dómr ‘a court of judgment; opinion, jedgment’, cf. Scots doomster, was similar to the brithem (cf. also the Scandinavian lagman, or lawman) and proclaimed judicial decisions and stated the law on any point raised. The Deemster carried on the same function and, like the brithem, was the main repository of oral traditional law, known as breast law.
  4. "the worthiest men in the land", i.e. the freemen who may have assisted the Deemster in determining points of law. This body developed later into the House of Keys. Eight were seemingly drawn from the "Out Isles", the Hebrides, i.e. probably those parts of the Hebrides still connected with Man after 1156 (viz. Skye and Lewis, though possibly a further eight were drawn from those isles (viz. Mull and Islay) before their transference to Argyll in 1156). Sixteen seem to have been drawn from Man, which with the additional eight would make twenty-four, the present complement of the House of Keys (see below).

Tynwald, the legislative body of Man, consists of the House of Keys, the Legislative Council, and the Lord of Man. The origin of the term ‘Keys’ is uncertain, but may possibly be from W. cais (from ceisio ‘seek, catch’) anglicised as ‘keys’, i.e. those in the Old British system of the Cymmwd (Commote, or administrative district), who delivered writs, made distraints, carried out the decisions of the courts, etc, or is an attempt by English speakers to pronounce the first part of Mx. kiare as feed (G. ceithre as fichid) ‘twenty-four’, particularly of the notion of ‘keys’ to ‘unlock’ the mysteries of the law is associated with the name. Before 1866 the Keys were appointees of the Lord, who could remove them either individually or en masse. In practice, however, by 1765 the Keys had developed into a self-perpetuating oligarchy. The Council ( a form of Senate) consisted of the principal officers of the Lord, who acted as advisers to the Governor. The assent of both these bodies was needed to enact an Act of Tynwald. The signature of the Captain or Governor was also required. In later periods this function was performed by the British sovereign, today by the Lieutenant-Governor unless otherwise required. The legislature created new laws, generally not based on English models, and the older procedure of declaration of traditional law by the Deemsters and Keys continued.

Today Tynwald, or the Tynwald Court, comprises the Lord of Man (the British Sovereign represented by the Lieutenant-Governor), the House of Keys, and the Legislative Council. Until 1990 the Court was presided over by the Lieutenant-Governor who, as a separate estate, had a discretion to withhold his signature from any Bill (in which case it would fall). After 1990 his position was taken over by the President of Tynwald, who does not possess this veto. Bills are signed by the Lieutenant-Governor to become Acts of Tynwald.

The functions of Tynwald comprise the following:

  1. Creation of new primary legislation;
  2. Making policy recommendations and providing a forum for a discussion of policy;
  3. The Manx executive bodies are responsible to Tynwald;
  4. Tynwald is responsible for ratifying some subordinate legislation and making certain appointments, e.g. that of Chief Minister;
  5. A resolution of Tynwald enables the levying of taxes and supply of finances, unless statute provides to the contrary;
  6. Tynwald is responsible for receiving and considering petitions and memorials, especially petitions for redress of grievance presented at the ceremonial Tynwald Fair Day, held at Tynwald Hill, St. John’s, nowadays usually every 5 July. This open-air meeting is the successor to the óenach and thing-völlr of earlier days.

6.4. The Isle of Man and the United Kingdom

The fundamental core of the connection between the United Kingdom and the Isle of Man lies in the relationship between the two constitutional corporations of the Lord of Man and the Sovereign of the United Kingdom. Before Man entered the dominions of the English Crown the organs of government of England had no authority over the Isle of Man. When the Lord of Man became a vassal of the English (later British) sovereign the organs of government of Britain retained certain powers over the Isle of Man. But more immediate authority lay with the Lord of Man. Since Revestment (1765) the Lord of Man and the British Sovereign have been the same natural person. Thus it may be correct in theory to view the relationship between Man and the United Kingdom as that of equals sharing the same Head of State. In practice, however, the United Kingdom dominates the relationship.

With the decline in the constitutional independence of the British sovereign there now exists a convention that, in the exercise of his/her powers, the Sovereign will follow the advice of the ministers of the United Kingdom government. No similar convention exists for the Sovereign when exercising his/her powers as Lord of Man. In such circumstances he/she would follow the advice of the ministers of the United Kingdom government. Until recently the British Home Secretary was responsible for Manx affairs. Today it is the Lord Chamberlain’s Office.

Although the Isle of Man government has virtual control over the internal affairs of the Isle of Man, the United Kingdom government retains the following residual powers by virtue of its control of the British Crown, irrespective of any Acts of Tynwald or Westminster:

  1. the Lieutenant-Governor is a servant of the British Crown and can be required, when felt necessary, to exercise his remaining powers as the British authorities demand.
  2. some of the most important officials of the Manx government are appointed by the Crown, rather than by Tynwald, viz. the Lieutenant-Governor, the First and Second Deemster, and the Attorney-General. In practice the British authorities usually consult with the Manx government directly before making an appointment.
  3. the bundle of powers, rights and characteristics described as the Royal Prerogative reside in the Crown.
  4. the Crown retains the power to control the international affairs of the Isle of Man, which it regards as a non-metropolitan part of its territory.

The British government, even before Revestment, was responsible for the external relations of the Isle of Man deriving from the vassal relationship of Man with England, later the United Kingdom. This gives the British government the power to enter into treaties whose effect extends to the Isle of Man. In addition, deriving from this same relationship, Acts of Westminster can be extended to the Isle of Man, either at the request of the Isle of Man government or by means of "Orders in Council", i.e. via the Privy Council of the British Crown. In practice this seldom happens. When its does, then at the request of the Manx authorities. Direct intervention via Orders in Council is a rare occurrence.

6.5. The Isle of Man and the European Union

In the wake of the Act of Accession of the United Kingdom of 1973 to the European Economic Community (EEC), now the European Union (EU), the Isle of Man obtained a "special relationship" with the Community. This is contained in Protocol 3 to the above Act of Accession which is enabled by Article 227 of the Treaty of Rome.

The provisions of Protocol 3 affecting Man (and also the Channel Islands) include the following:

  1. Article 1. The Community rules on customs matters and quantitative restrictions, in particular those of the Act of Accession, shall apply to […] the Isle of Man under the same conditions as they apply to the United Kingdom […]. In respect of agricultural products and products processed therefrom […], the levies and other import laid down in Community rules and applicable by the United Kingdom shall be applied to third countries. Such provisions of Community rules […] as are necessary to allow free movement and observance of normal conditions of competition in trade in these products shall also be applicable […].
  2. Article 2. The rights enjoyed by […] Manxmen in the United Kingdom shall not be affected by the Act of Accession. However, such persons shall not benefit from Community provisions relating to the free movement of persons and services.
  3. Article 4. The authorities of these territories shall apply the same treatment to all natural and legal persons of the Community.
  4. Article 6. In this protocol […] Manxman shall mean any citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies who holds that citizenship by virtue of the fact that he, a parent or grandparent was born, adopted, naturalised or registered in the Island […]; but such a person shall not for this purpose be regarded as a […] Manxman if he, a parent or a grandparent was born, adopted or naturalised or registered in the United Kingdom. Nor shall he be so regarded if he has at any time been ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom for five years.

With regard to the effect of European Union law in Man, once it is determined that a particular provision comes within the scope of Protocol 3, general principles derived from English and European Union jurisprudence will govern its application. In such circumstances Man is treated as if it were a part of the European Union.


Binchy, D. A. (1979): Críth Gablach. Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies.
Birch, J. W. (1975): The Isle of Man. A study in economic geography. Cambridge.
Byrne, F. J. (1971) : ‘Tribes and tribalism in Early Ireland’. Eriu 22: 128-166.
Byrne, F. J. (1973) : Irish Kings and High Kings. London. Paperback ed. 1987.
Cain, T. W. (1996) : ‘The Isle of Man and the European Union’. 27 Manx L.B. 65.
Edge, Peter W. (1997): Manx Public Law. Douglas: Isle of Man Law Society.
Gill, J. F. (1883): The Statutes of the Isle of Man. London. Vol. 1 (1417-1824). Repr. 1992.
Horner, S. A. (1984): The Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. A study of their status in Constitutional, International and European Law. Florence.
Kelly, Fergus (1988) : A guide to Early Irish Law. Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies.
Kermode David G. (1974): ‘Legislation without Representation. The application of United Kingdom legislation to the Isle of Man’. Parliamentary Affairs 67.
Kermode, David G. (1979): Devolution at work. A case study of the Isle of Man. Douglas.
Kermode, David G. (2001): Offshore Island Politics. The Constitutional and Political Development of the Isle of Man in the Twentieth Century. Liverpool: University Press
Megaw, Basil (1976): ‘Norseman and Native in the Kingdom of the Isles: a reassessment of the Manx evidence’. Scottish Studies 20: 1-44. Revised version in Davey, Peter J. (ed.) (1978): Man and Environment in the Isle of Man. Liverpool: University Press. BAR Ser. Liv.
Moore, A. W. (1900): A History of the Isle of Man. London: Unwin.
Paton, G. C. H. (ed.) (1958): An Introduction to Scottish Legal History. Edinburgh.
Rees, William (1963): ‘Survivals of Ancient Celtic Custom in Medieval England’. In: Rees, William (ed.) (1963) Angles and Britons. Cardiff: University of Wales Press.

7. Manx English

7.1. Introduction

Manx English, or Anglo-Manx, is a form of English spoken today in the Isle of Man by native born and bred Manx men and women. Manx English shows varying degrees of phonological, syntactic and lexical influences from Manx Gaelic (see above). The language shift from Manx Gaelic to English essentially took place during the 19th century due to increased settlement into Man, though English had been spoken in the towns and centres of administration since the advent of English suzerainty in Man in 1399. In addition, primarily due to the ferry services, connections with Man for the better part of the 19th century to date have been with Liverpool.

7.2. Studies in Manx English

In comparison with Manx Gaelic academic study of Manx English has not been as extensive. The first known comments on English spoken in Man come from A. J. Ellis, where he notes close similarities with Lancashire English, though perhaps understates the Gaelic influence. He classifies Manx English as a dialect of Fylde (around Blackpool) on the basis of the presence of I am (as opposed to Northern English I is) and lack of Northern English [u:] in house, mouse, etc. He subdivided Man from Fylde on the use in Man of the Standard English definite article the, rather than the Lancashire ‘suspended’ t’, i.e. [t] or [θ]. Ellis noted that Manx English was more similar to Standard English than the adjacent dialects in England. J. Wright concurred with Ellis’s findings.

The first substantial work on Manx English came in 1924 from A. W Moore, Sophia Morrison and Edmund Goodwin in the form of a dictionary of lexical items drawn from both oral tradition and literary sources, particularly from the works of T. E. Brown (though how far his poems really represent Manx English is questionable) and Josephine Kermode (‘Cushag’), revealing the use of over 750 items from Manx Gaelic in Manx English.

This was followed in 1934 by a similar work by W. W. Gill, essentially drawing material from the works of George Quarrie. Here Gill recorded a further 250 items from Manx Gaelic. In 1950 Heinrich Wagner noted some forms, such as birk ‘birch’, bink ‘bench’, etc, in Manx Gaelic that may either be genuine Norse survivals, or more likely dialect words from Lancashire. In the 1950s the Manx Folklife Survey collected some material in Manx Gaelic, but much more of Manx English on a series of sound recordings of native Manx Gaelic and native monoglot Manx English speakers.

In 1953 I. B. Whittaker undertook research on Manx English in the Dalby–Glen Maye area of Man, some 4km south of Peel, for an undergraduate dissertation. In 1958, and again in 1966, field work on Manx English was undertaken by Michael Barry, who was only able to record some 126 Manx Gaelic items in Manx English. His material from 1958 was used in 1962-63 by Orton and Halliday in their atlas of English dialects. Barry’s work is essentially phonological and lexical in content.

In 1989-92 George Broderick collected some 130 hours of sound-recorded material from ca. 180 native Manx informants for the Manx Place-Name Survey. This material comprises primarily place-names, but in addition a substantial body of Manx English speech on related folklore and folklife matters

In October 1996 the Centre for Manx Studies (University of Liverpool), Douglas, initiated the three-year research project Recording Mann involving a number of students, part of which was to make a thorough investigation of Manx English. This resulted in a substantial archive of sound-recorded material, a PhD thesis and a number of articles.

7.3. Examples of Manx English: some syntactical influences from Manx Gaelic

The forms in brackets are Gaelic equivalents:

It was done at him ‘he did it’
Mx. v’eh jeant echey (*bha e déanta aige).

It’s forgotten at me ‘I have forgotten it’
Mx. t’eh jarroodit aym (*tá e dearmadaith’ agam).

We’ll put a sight on him ‘we’ll visit him’
Mx. neemayd cur shilley er (*ní muid cur silleadh air).

That’s the field they were calling the Big Field to ‘that’s the field they called the Big Field’
Mx. shen yn magher v’ad gra yn Magher Mooar rish
(*sin an machair a bha iad ag rá an Machair Mór ris).

It’s Juan that’s in ‘it’s Juan who is there’
Mx. She Juan t’ayn (is é Seán atá ann).

There’s a fine day in ‘it’s a fine day’
Mx. ta laa mie ayn (tá lá maith ann).


Barry, M. V. (1984): ‘Manx English’. In: Trudgill, Peter (ed.) (1984): Languages in the British Isles. Cambridge.
Broderick, George (1989-92): Manx Place-Name Survey Recordings. Douglas (Manx Museum Archive).
Broderick, George (1997): ‘Manx-English: an overview’. In: Tristram, Hildegard L. C. (ed.) (1997): The Celtic Englishes. Heidelberg: Winter, pp. 123-34.
Broderick, George (1999): Language death in the Isle of Man. Tübingen: Niemeyer. Linguistische Arbeiten 395.
Ellis A. J. (1889) : ‘On Early English Pronunciation, Part V, the existing phonology of English dialects’. EETS OS, 56. London.
Gill, W. W. (1934): Manx Dialect Words and Phrases. London.
Kewley-Draskau, Jennifer (fc. 1997): Gaelic influences in Anglo-Manx. Liverpool.
Maddrell, Breesha (2001): Contextualising a vocabulary of the Anglo-Manx dialect: developing Manx identities. Unpublished PhD thesis University of Liverpool.
Maddrell, Breesha (2000): ‘Studying networks in a community of diversities: the "Recording Mann" project’. In: Tristram, Hildegard L. C. (ed.) (2000): The Celtic Englishes II. Heidelberg: Winter, pp. 146-158.
Moore, A. W., Morrison, Sophia, Goodwin, Edmund (1924): Vocabulary of the Anglo-Manx Dialect. London.
Orton, H., et al. (1962-71) : Survey of English Dialects (SED). Leeds.
Whittaker, I. B. (1953):: ‘The dialect of Dalby and Glen Maye’. Unpub. BA thesis, University of Leeds.
Wright, J. (1898-1905): The English Dialect Dictionary, 6 vols. Oxford.

8. The Isle of Man Today

Today the Isle of Man is a tax-haven, a status it has acquired through its constitutional position vis-à-vis the United Kingdom. It earns a substantial amount of its income from this status, whereby banks, insurance companies and trusts can offer their clients financial arrangements and facilities not available in non-tax haven jurisdictions. It is strictly regulated, but recent disquiet from some countries in the European Union, notably France and Germany, who are concerned about huge outflows of capital into such tax-havens as Luxemburg and Liechtenstein, may result in an all-embracing EU directive affecting the status of all tax-havens within the EU sphere to bring them somehow "into line".

The development of this finance sector in Man replaced the tourist industry which earned considerable capital for the island during the three summer months, drawing holiday-makers from the four main cities flanking the Irish Sea area, namely, Glasgow, Belfast, Liverpool and Dublin, as well as from the industrial towns of Northern England, and offering them cheap holidays and a chance to get away from work. However, Man could not offer permanent sunshine, and the development of cheap package holidays to Spain, for example, during the 1960s and 1970s took its toll on the Manx visiting industry. This led to a governmental decision in the early 1960s to encourage permanent settlement in Man of people who had money. Initially this drew people, mainly elderly, from the former British colonies, then with the growth of the finance sector settlement of younger people with families, mainly from England, but with substantial numbers coming also from both parts of Ireland, was encouraged.

This new population settlement in Man naturally had side-effects, both negative and positive. One main negative aspect of this development was the rapid increase in the prices of houses, which encouraged the feeling among many Manx people of being a disadvantaged entity in their own land. However, on the positive side many new arrivals took an interest in various facets of Manx life, one of which was the Manx language, and it was because of support from this quarter inter alia that the Isle of Man Government was able to announce in 1992 the promotion of the teaching of Manx Gaelic in the island’s schools as official government policy. At the same time there developed a new awareness of other facets of Manx life that had not seen so much interest taken in them for many a year. Though there is now a significant population shift away from the old indigenous Gaelic-based community, a new dynamism has developed which has heralded full employment in a capital-orientated society. It remains to be seen, however, what the future holds, as the spirit of the European Union makes itself more and more felt in the politics of the United Kingdom and the Isle of Man.