The Fifth Celtic Nation – The Isle of Man
When I read that there were 5 Celtic Nations. I easily could list Scotland, Ireland, England (Cornwall) and Wales, but I had to look up the fifth. I had only a vague notion of the Isle of Man, the fifth on the list. Introduced to it on the internet, I decided I just had to visit. Of course, the clincher was the picture of one of its stone circles, a passion of mine.
So, I flew from England to Isle of Man and then took a ferry back to Ireland on the last leg of a 5-week trip. It was well worth it. Plus, by luck, I visited the week of the prelims of The Isle of Man TT, a major annual cross-country motorcycle race around the island. I met motorcyclists from around the world, including four retired Australian guys who, we teased, were following me around the island.
This island, smack in the middle of the Irish Sea, lies between Northern Ireland and Scotland. It is smaller than the county I live in in NYS, but it is actually a self-governing British Crown dependency. What that means to me and the average tourist is that the money has Isle of Man features but is interchangeable with the UK pound sterling. It has a British flavor, especially in its capital and financial center, Douglas. The lengthy crescent beach with trolley, boardwalk and Victorian hotels is delightful and reminds me of an English seaside scene from an Agatha Christie novel. When Manx folk say “over across” they are referring to UK. I met many from London and Manchester.
The countryside is very like its Celtic cousins: charming, with a ruggedly beautiful coastline and memorable historic features. As the Irish say, “if we only had the weather”.
Of course, what I love most are the stone circles. At the top of the hill above Cregneach Village is a wonderful small circle, tucked into a dip on the cliffside terrain ovelooking the Calf of Man, a “wee” island of the coast. The views were breath-taking and it was ever so quiet. I had the romantic notion I was the first visitor since the Vikings, until “my” motorcycling Aussies appeared.
The quaint village of thatched cottages at the bottom of the path is an interpretative museum of crofting (traditional farm) life. It was the main location for the filming of the delightful Irish film Waking of Ned Devine. Its wonderful tea room gave me an opportunity to have tea and crumpets; my reward for the steep climb.
There are many interesting places to explore and enjoy on the island. Shortly after visiting, I discovered a series of cozy mysteries set on the island with covers featuring places I visited. I became hooked on Aunt Bessie’s adventures, starting with Aunt Bessie Assumes to present issue Aunt Bessie Observes. Author Diane Xarissa lived on the island for ten years and really represents it well. I will write about Isle of Man again, but in the meantime, you can enjoy learning more about it through Aunt Bessie.
Slane is the simplest form of good-bye and the only word of Manx I managed to learn. So for now, slane.