taking our culture forward

Mike Boulton


The Reih Bleeaney Vanannan Trophy for 1996 was awarded to the (now retired) Albert Road teacher Mike Boulton for his contribution to the revival of interest in Manx music and dance.

Since 1967 Mike has inspired hundreds of Manx school-children to become aware of and actively involved in the development of traditional Manx music and dancing.  As a Manx speaker, Mike was an original member of the music group Bwoie Doal, which first introduced Manx music to the pubs in Peel and further afield and which in turn encouraged many others to become involved in Manx cultural activities.

In 1977 he created the Mooinjer Veggey (Little People) group at Albert Road and continued to develop it for many years, gradually introducing new arrangements and harmonies so that the music would become accessible to a wide range of pupils.  As a result of Mooinjer Veggey’s success, several other groups such as a Mactullagh Vannin, Share na Veg and Paitchyn Vannin emerged, all stemming from Mike’s enthusiasm and encouragement. The interest he sparked has remained with them and former pupils often volunteer to help him run groups, which maintains continuity. Mike encourages his pupils to compose their own tunes in the folk idiom and to diversify and experiment with their own instruments.

Between 1988 and 1994 he was involved with the Saturday music workshop at Ramsey Grammar School, which gave children of all ages from the north of the Island an opportunity to experience Manx music. He has also been a strong supporter of Yn Chruinnaght and was competitions secretary for several years.

Ramsey MHK Allan Bell was pleased that Mike was being rewarded for years of quiet hard work and effort: ‘Many people have felt for a long period of time that Mike deserved some recognition for the work he has done for Manx culture.’

Presenting him with the award, Bernard Caine said: ‘He has played a major part in creating an atmosphere of appreciation and participation in the revival of Manx music and culture’. Culture Vannin were delighted that he was the recipient of the 1996 Reih Bleeaney Vannanan.

Since receiving the award, Mike has spent a further seventeen years inspiring children to play Manx music. Now retired, he still runs Share na Veg at the Bunscoill Rhumsaa (formerly Scoill Ree Gorree) and has also established Bee er dty Hwooaie for Ramsey Grammar School students. Mike makes a range of instruments for pupils to use and, as a multi-instrumentalist, provides basic tuition for them.