taking our culture forward

Travel Insighter article on the Isle of Man

Wed, 17 Apr 2024

We were honoured that our Online & Educational Resources Officer, was recently asked to write something for the online travel magazine, Travel Insighter.

Typical to his interests, James' answers to their questions offered a view of the Isle of Man rooted in folklore, history, language, music, dance and more.

Avoiding the usual well-known sights and attractions, the article instead took very different view of the Island, with highlights including: a holy well, a neolithic burial cairn, talking Manx, hunting the wren, the former home of Gef the talking mongoose, avoiding the r-a-t word, and how best to combine mumming with pizza!

A telling highlight we enjoyed was this:

Why should visitors travel to the Isle of Man?


The Isle of Man is beautiful, in a way often compared to the rugged coastlines of Ireland or the Scottish Islands, but beauty is shallow when compared to the people and their histories, language, music and stories which root us in a place. I feel privileged to live in a place where these stories are so abundant and so close to the surface, if you know where to be looking.

Another question asked about particular celebrations or times to visit the Isle of Man. As well as Tynwald Day, James focused on the day after Christmas:

St Stephen’s Day

St Stephen’s Day is one of the most Manx days of the year. Whoever you are, or wherever you’re from, you will end up a part of the Manx community if you are game for taking part in the intriguing activities on December 26.

Hunt the Wren happens in the morning, with 100s of people heading out to dance in the streets around a stick decorated with greenery (without an actual wren on it these days!) all over the island. The practice dates back to ancient times but the key thing today is the communities that come together all over the island for it.

Hunt the Wren stops at midday, generally for a drink and some Manx music in a pub, but then you’re off to the ancient Viking mound of Tynwald Hill for the annual game of cammag.

An anarchic version of hockey or hurling takes place in the field at St John’s, with the North playing the South in a game without any formal rules or limits on the numbers of people taking part. Few injuries occur and the field is full of smiles, especially if you’re playing with a stick you crafted yourself from the hedgerows.

Then it is over the road to the pub for one of the best Manx music sessions of the year – not to be missed!

Of course, as one of the authors of A Guide to the Folklore Sites of the Isle of Man, THAT bridge came up in the discussion, with some very useful advice for us all:

The Fairies

Finally – and this isn’t a joke – you absolutely must wave and say hello to the fairies when crossing the Fairy Bridge on the way to the airport from Douglas. The Lil’ Fellas exist. You’d be a fool to do anything that might set them against you!

The full article can be enjoyed here:

James Franklin: Your Local Insighter for the Isle of Man