taking our culture forward

Conversations with David Byrne about his youth in Douglas, being a part of the Manx language community, and his passion and success for art.

Born in 1931, David grew up in Hillside Crescent, enjoying boats in the harbour (despite not being able to swim!) and selling the fish they caught to local fish and chip shops. His memory of shops in Victoria Street is phenomenal, as are his stories of Douglas charaters, including Filario and his monkey!

After school he attended Douglas Art School at the end of the war. From there, he joined a sign-writing company as an apprentice, and soon moved on to a full employee.

He turned to art seriously only in his fifties, at which point it remained a passion from then for the rest of his life. A discussion of everything from his proudest artistic achievements to his work with his wife, Nancy Corkish, follows.

It was through investigating the Manx place names of the places he was painting that David first came to an interest in Manx. This led to his obtaining the fainney airh (gold ring) and becoming a member of the Manx language community from the 1970s into the 1990s. He describes his friendships with figures such as Lewis Crellin, Mark Braide, Doug Fargher and Freddie Cowle, alongside attending the Oieghyn Ghaelgagh of Peel, Douglas and Ramsey.

Alongside this he touches on his competing in the first Parish Walk, his early interest in running (which saw him run from Douglas to Tynwald Hill three times a week for a long period), his family connections to Rushen, features and characters of Cregneash in the 1950s, Manx funeral customs and more.

The two interviews, conducted just under five months apart, cover much of the same territory and offer slightly different material.


When you click play on one of the interviews below there will be a slight delay as the audio file is downloaded. Large files or slow internet connections will increase the length of this delay.

  • David Byrne interviewed by Ruth Keggin Gell (30 Aug 2022)

  • David Byrne interviewed by Ruth Keggin Gell (15 Jan 2023)

More Photos

  • David Byrne's painting of the Chasms