taking our culture forward

John Kaneen RBV was born in Douglas in 1940 and brought up there. He recounts his early memories and his first involvement with Manx dancing in primary school in the 1950s. His secondary school years saw him in the school ‘skiffle’ group, a ‘craze’ that lasted for about four years, before he and some of his contemporaries formed the ‘Manx Ballads and Blues Club’. John was visiting Liverpool at weekends to go to folk clubs and his friendship with the Spinners started then. He moved there for a period in the 1960s, until the death of his father brought about his return to the Isle of Man. He met up with musicians in the 1970s and 80s who were playing Manx traditional music and he attended sessions in the Central in Peel, played for Manx dance groups Bock Yuan Fannee and the Manx Folk Dance Society, supported the newly-formed Yn Chruinnaght Festival, and formed with friends the long lasting Calor Gas Ceili Band. He played and sang for Hunt the Wren dancers in Douglas on St. Stephen’s Day, going around the residential streets for many years, while reviving the traditional game of Cammag on the Tynwald Fair Field in the afternoon of the same day. He also brought over musicians and dancers on occasion to perform in the Isle of Man.

He has been, and still is, a recorder and broadcaster of music as a personal interest and for his long-running ‘Folk Programme’ on Manx Radio. A modest man, he says he did it all for the enjoyment and pleasure that he still gets from his music and dance. He wished to share his Reih Bleeaney Vannanan award with his late cousin Brian Kaneen, who gave a generous bequest to the Manx Heritage Foundation (Culture Vannin).

Picture courtesy of Jiri Podobsky.


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  • The story of John’s life and involvement with Manx culture.

More Photos

  • Photo credit: Yn Chruinnaght
  • John Kaneen & family