Isle of Man

Isle of Man
Isle of Man
Ellan Vannin
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: Quocunque Jeceris Stabit  (Latin)
Whithersoever you throw it, it will stand.
Anthem: "O Land of Our Birth"
"Arrane Ashoonagh dy Vannin" (Manx)
Royal anthem"God Save the Queen"
Location of  Isle of Man  (Red)
Location of  Isle of Man  (Red)
(and largest city)
Douglas (Doolish)
54°09′N 4°29′W / 54.15°N 4.483°W / 54.15; -4.483
Official language(s) English, Manx[1]
Demonym Manx
Government British Crown Dependency Parliamentary democracy (Constitutional monarchy) 
 -  Lord of Mann Elizabeth II
 -  Lieutenant Governor Adam Wood
 -  Chief Minister Allan Bell
Legislature Tynwald
 -  Upper House Legislative Council
 -  Lower House House of Keys
Status Crown dependency 
 -  Lordship of Mann revested in British crown 1765 
 -  Total 572 km2 (191st)
221 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 0
 -   estimate 80,085 (196th)
 -  Density 140/km2 (109th)
362.4/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2003 estimate
 -  Total $2.113 billion (162nd)
 -  Per capita $35,000 (11/12th)
Gini  41[2] 
HDI (2010) 0.849[3] (very high) (n/a)
Currency Pound sterling1 (GBP)
Time zone GMT (UTC+0)
 -  Summer (DST)  (UTC+1)
Date formats dd/mm/yyyy (AD)
Drives on the left
Internet TLD .im
Calling code +44 spec.
     (landline) area code
+44-7524, +44-7624, +44-7924
1 The Isle of Man Treasury issues its own sterling notes and coins (see Manx pound).

The Isle of Man (play /ˈmæn/; Manx: Ellan Vannin,[4] pronounced [ˈɛlʲən ˈvanɪn]), otherwise known simply as Mann (Manx: Mannin, IPA: [ˈmanɪn]), is a self-governing British Crown Dependency, located in the Irish Sea between the islands of Great Britain and Ireland, within the British Isles. The head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who holds the title of Lord of Mann. The Lord of Mann is represented by a Lieutenant Governor. The island is not part of the United Kingdom, but its foreign relations and defence are the responsibility of the UK Government. Although the United Kingdom does not usually interfere in the island's domestic matters, its "good government" is ultimately the responsibility of the Crown (i.e., in practice, the Government of the United Kingdom).[5]

The island has been inhabited since before 6500 BC. It began to be influenced by Gaelic culture in the 5th century AD, and the Manx language, a branch of the Gaelic languages, gradually emerged. In the 9th century, the Norse began to settle there. A Norse-Gaelic culture arose and the island came under Norse control. In 1266, the island became part of Scotland. After a period of alternating rule by the kings of Scotland and England, the island came under the feudal overlordship of the English Crown in 1399. The lordship revested into the British Crown in 1764 but the island never became part of Great Britain or its successor the United Kingdom and retained its status as an internally self-governing Crown dependency.



The origin of the name "Man" is unclear. In the Manx Gaelic language the Isle of Man is known as Ellan Vannin, where ellan is a Gaelic word meaning island. The earliest form of 'Man' is Manu or Mana[6] giving the genitive name Manann leading to the word Mannin, which is lenited when used after the feminine word Ellan, giving Mhannin. As mh is pronounced like a v in Goidelic languages, in modern Manx the name becomes Ellan Vannin. These forms are related to the figure of Celtic mythology known as Manannán to the Irish and Manawydan to the Welsh.[7]

The name enters recorded history as Mona (Julius Caesar, 54 BC), and is also recorded as Monapia or Monabia (Pliny the Elder, AD 77), Monœda (Ptolemy, AD 150), Mevania or Mænavia (Paulus Orosius, 416), and Eubonia or Eumonia by Irish writers. In Welsh records it is Manaw, and in the Icelandic sagas it is Mön.[8][9][10][11]

Though the Isle of Man was never incorporated into the Roman Empire, the island was noted in Greek and Roman accounts where it was called variously Monapia, Mοναοιδα (Monaoida), Mοναρινα (Monarina), Menavi and Mevania.[12] The Old Welsh and Old Irish names for the Isle of Man, Manau and Mano, also occur in Manau Gododdin, the name for an ancient district in north Britain along the lower Firth of Forth.[13] The name is probably connected with the Welsh name of the island of Anglesey, Ynys Môn[13] and possibly with the Celtic root reflected in Welsh mynydd, Breton menez, Scottish Gaelic monadh, "mountain".,[13] which probably derive from the Proto-Indo-European root *men-, "to tower". In this case, such a name may have referred to the island apparently rising out of the Irish Sea on the horizon.[14][15]


The Braaid, in the central Isle of Man, with remnants of a Celtic-Norse roundhouse and two longhouses, c. 650–950 AD

Rising water levels cut off the island from the surrounding islands around 8000 BC. Evidence suggests that colonisation of the Isle took place by sea sometime before 6500 BC.[16] The first residents lived in small natural shelters, hunting, fishing and gathering their food. They used small tools made of flint or bone, examples of which have been found near the coast. Representatives of these artefacts are kept at the Manx Museum.[17]

The Neolithic Period marked the coming of knowledge of farming, better stone tools and pottery. It was during this period that megalithic monuments began to appear around the island. Examples from this period can be found at Cashtal yn Ard near Maughold, King Orry's Grave at Laxey, Meayll Circle near Cregneash, and Ballaharra Stones at St John's. This was not the only Neolithic culture: there were also the local Ronaldsway and Bann cultures.[18]

During the Bronze Age, the large communal tombs of the megalith builders were replaced with smaller burial mounds. Bodies were put in stone-lined graves along with ornamental containers. The Bronze Age burial mounds created long-lasting markers around the countryside.[19] According to John T. Koch and others, the Isle of Man in the Late Bronze Age was part of a maritime trading-networked culture called the Atlantic Bronze Age that also included the other Celtic nations, England, France, Spain and Portugal, and ancient Tartessus, and may have been where Celtic languages developed.[20][21][22][23][24][25][26]

The Iron Age marked the beginning of Celtic cultural influence. Large hill forts appeared on hill summits, and smaller promontory forts along the coastal cliffs, while large timber-framed roundhouses were built. It is likely that the first Celtic tribes to inhabit the island were of the Brythonic variety. Around the 5th century AD, cultural influence from Ireland, probably along with some degree of migration, precipitated a process of Gaelicisation, evidenced by Ogham inscriptions, giving rise to the Manx language, which remains closely related to Irish and Scottish Gaelic.[27]

Viking settlement of the Isle of Man began at the end of the 8th century. The Vikings established Tynwald and introduced many land divisions that still exist. They also left the Manx Runestones. Although the Manx language does contain Norse influences, they are few. The Norse Kingdom of Mann and the Isles was created by Godred Crovan in 1079 after the Battle of Skyhill. During Viking times, the islands of this kingdom were the Isle of Man and the Hebrides Súðreyjar or Sudreys ("southern isles") in contrast to the Norðreyjar ("northern isles") of Orkney and Shetland. This later became Anglicised as Sodor. The Church of England diocese is still called the Diocese of Sodor and Man although it only covers the Isle of Man.[28] (When the Rev. W.V. Awdry wrote The Railway Series, he invented the island of Sodor as an imaginary island located between the Isle of Man and the Cumbrian coast.)[29]

In 1266, under the Treaty of Perth, Norway's King Magnus VI ceded the isles to Scotland. The Isle of Man came under English control in the 14th century. During this period the Island was dominated by the Stanley family, who also held the title of Earl of Derby, and who had been given possession of the Isle of Man by King Henry IV. In 1703, the Act of Settlement secured peasant rights and marked the beginning of a move away from feudal government. In 1765, however, the British Crown secured greater control over the island under the Act of Revestment, without incorporating it into the kingdom of Great Britain. This omission laid the ground for the island's subsequent status as a Crown dependency.[30]

The 1830s saw the arrival of tourism as an important industry; and by the late 19th century it had become a major industry and source of income for the Island.[31] In 1866 greater autonomy was restored to the Island's parliament and a full transition to democracy began.[32][33] The introduction of the TT races in 1907 contributed significantly to the tourist industry with annual visitor numbers reaching half a million by the 1930s.[34] During both the First and Second World Wars the Island was used for internment camps for Central Powers and Axis citizens and suspected sympathisers.[35] With the decline of tourism and the two World Wars the Isle of Man Government looked elsewhere for sources of income, and in 1973 the government started to encourage the expansion of the banking sector.[36] By the start of the 21st century the financial services industry accounted for 39% of Manx source income.[37]


Tynwald, the island's parliament, is an ancient institution, though the accuracy of its stated foundation date (AD 979) is suspect.[38] It is arguably the oldest continuous parliament in the world[39], consisting of the directly elected House of Keys and the indirectly chosen Legislative Council. The annual ceremonial meeting in July on Tynwald Day, the island's national day, continues to be held at Tynwald Hill, where the titles and a brief description of the new laws enacted by Tynwald during the previous year are announced.[40]


The Calf of Man seen from Cregneash

The Isle of Man is located in the middle of the northern Irish Sea, approximately equidistant from the islands of Great Britain and Ireland, within the British Isles. The closest land is southern Scotland. It is 52 kilometres (32 mi) long and, at its widest point, 22 kilometres (14 mi) wide. It has an area of around 572 square kilometres (221 sq mi).[41] Besides the island of Mann itself, the political unit of the Isle of Man includes some nearby small islands: the seasonally inhabited Calf of Man,[42] Chicken Rock on which stands an unmanned lighthouse, St Patrick's Isle and St Michael's Isle. Both of the latter are connected to the mainland by permanent roads/causeways.

Hills in the north and south are separated by a central valley. The extreme north is exceptionally flat, consisting mainly of deposits from glacial advances from western Scotland during colder times. There are more recently deposited shingle beaches at the Point of Ayre. The island has one mountain higher than 600 metres (2,000 ft), Snaefell, with a height of 620 metres (2,034 ft).[41] According to an old saying, from the summit one can see six kingdoms: those of the Mann, Scotland, England, Ireland, Wales, and Heaven.[43][44][45] Some versions add a seventh kingdom, that of Northern Ireland, the Sea, or Neptune.[46][47]


Map of the Isle of Man

At the 2006 interim census,[48] The Isle of Man was home to 80,058 people, of whom 26,218 resided in the island's capital, Douglas. Most of the population was born in the British Isles, with 47.6% born in the Isle of Man, 37.2% born in England, 3.4% in Scotland, 2.1% in Northern Ireland, 2.1% in the Republic of Ireland, 1.2% in Wales and 0.3% born in the Channel Islands. The remaining 6.1% were born elsewhere in the world.


The Isle of Man Full Census, last held in 2011, has been a decennial occurrence since 1821, with interim censuses being introduced from 1966. It is separate from, but similar to, the Census in the United Kingdom.

The 2001 Census was conducted by the Economic Affairs Division of the Isle of Man Treasury, under the authority of the Census Act 1929.


The Isle of Man has a temperate climate with cool summers and mild winters. Average rainfall is higher than the average for the British Isles, due to its location at a sufficient distance from Ireland for moisture to be accumulated by the prevailing south-westerly winds. Average rainfall is highest at Snaefell, where it is around 1,900 millimetres (75 in) a year. At lower levels it can be around 800 millimetres (31 in) a year. Temperatures remain fairly cool with the recorded maximum being 28.9 °C (84.0 °F) at Ronaldsway.


A composite satellite image of the Isle of Man

The United Kingdom is responsible for the island's defence and ultimately for good governance, and for representing the island in international forums, while the island's own parliament and government have competence over all domestic matters.[49]


The island's parliament, Tynwald, dates from AD 979 or earlier, and claims to be the oldest continuously existing ruling body in the world.[50] Tynwald is a bicameral or tricameral legislature, comprising the House of Keys (directly elected by universal suffrage) and the Legislative Council (consisting of indirectly elected and ex-officio members). These two bodies meet together in joint session as Tynwald.

The executive branch of government is the Council of Ministers, which is composed of members of Tynwald. It is headed by the Chief Minister, currently Allan Bell MHK. The Council of Ministers comprises the greater part of the House of Keys.

Vice-regal functions of the Head of State are performed by a Lieutenant Governor.

External relations and security

Under British law, the Isle of Man is not part of the United Kingdom. However, the UK takes care of its external and defence affairs, and retains paramount power to legislate for the island.[51] There are no independent military forces on the Isle of Man although the HMS Ramsey is affiliated with the town of the same name.[52] From 1938 there was a (now disbanded) Manx Regiment of the British Territorial Army, which saw extensive action during the Second World War.[53] There is an independent Isle of Man police force, which is controlled directly by the Isle of Man Government, but which nonetheless voluntarily submits to inspection by the UK inspectorate of police.[54]


The cover of an Isle of Man passport

Citizenship in the Isle of Man is governed by UK law. Passports issued by the Isle of Man Passport Office say "British Islands - Isle of Man" on the cover but the nationality status stated on the passport is simply "British Citizen". Although Manx passport holders are British citizens, because the Isle of Man is not part of the European Union, those without a parent or grandparent either born or resident for more than five consecutive years in the UK do not have the same rights as other British citizens with regard to employment and establishment in the EU. Isle of Man passports can be issued to any British citizen in the Isle of Man (whether or not that person has "Manx status" as an Isle of Man worker under the local Isle of Man employment laws). They can also be issued to Manx-connected British citizens residing in the UK or any of the other Crown Dependencies.

European Union

The Isle of Man holds neither membership nor associate membership of the European Union. Protocol 3 of the UK's Act of Accession to the Treaty of Rome permits trade for Manx goods without tariffs.[55] In conjunction with the Customs and Excise agreement with the UK, this facilitates free trade with the UK. While Manx goods can be freely moved within the EU, capital and services cannot be. EU citizens are entitled to travel and reside, but not work, in the island without restriction.[56][57]

Commonwealth of Nations

The Isle of Man is not itself a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. By virtue of its relationship with the United Kingdom, it takes part in several Commonwealth institutions, including the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and the Commonwealth Games.


Isle of Man local authorities and sheadings

Most Manx politicians stand for election as independents rather than as representatives of political parties. Though political parties do exist, their influence is not nearly as strong as in the United Kingdom.

The largest political party with three seats in the House of Keys is the Liberal Vannin Party (established 2006), which promotes greater Manx independence and more accountability in Government. The Manx Labour Party is the second largest party with one seat.

A number of pressure groups also exist on the island. Mec Vannin advocates the establishment of a sovereign republic.[58] The Positive Action Group campaign for three key elements to be introduced into the governance of the island: open accountable government, rigorous control of public finances, and a fairer society.[59]

Local government

Local government on the Isle of Man is based on the concept of ancient parishes. There are two types of local authorities: a corporation for the Borough of Douglas, and bodies of commissioners for the town districts of Castletown, Peel and Ramsey, the village districts of Kirk Michael, Laxey, Onchan, Port Erin and Port St Mary, and the 15 'parish districts' (those parishes or parts of parishes which do not fall within the districts previously mentioned). Local authorities are under the supervision of the Isle of Man Government's Department of Local Government and the Environment (DOLGE).


The Isle of Man is a low-tax economy with no capital gains tax, wealth tax, stamp duty, or inheritance tax[60] and a top rate of income tax of 20%. A tax cap is in force; the maximum amount of tax payable by an individual is £115,000 or £230,000 for couples if they choose to have their incomes jointly assessed. The £115,000 tax cap equates to an assessable income of £589,550. Personal income is assessed and taxed on a total worldwide income basis rather than a remittance basis. This means that all income earned throughout the world is assessable for Manx tax rather than only income earned in or brought into the Island.

The rate of corporation tax is 0% for almost all types of income, the only exceptions are that the profits of banks are taxed at 10%, as is rental (or other) income from land and buildings situated on the Isle of Man.[61][62]

Offshore banking, manufacturing, and tourism form key sectors of the economy. Agriculture and fishing, once the mainstays of the economy, now make declining contributions to the Island's Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Trade takes place mostly with the United Kingdom. The island is in customs union with the UK, and related revenues are pooled and shared under the Common Purse Agreement.

The Manx government promotes island locations for making films by contributing to the production costs. Since 1995, over eighty films have been made on the island. The policy has been criticized as unsustainable. Since 2007, the Isle of Man government invested £34 million in the film industry but recouped only £6.3 million, representing a loss of over £27 million.[63]

The Isle of Man Government Lottery operated from 1986 to 1997. Since December 2 1999 the island has participated in the United Kingdom National Lottery.[64][65] The island is the only jurisdiction outside the United Kingdom where it is possible to play the UK National Lottery.[66] Since 2010 it has also been possible for projects in the Isle of Man to receive national lottery Good Causes Funding.[67][68] The good causes funding is distributed by the Manx Lottery Trust.[69] Tynwald receives the 12p lottery duty for tickets sold in the Island.


The main telephone provider on the Isle of Man is Manx Telecom. At present, the island has two mobile operators: Manx Telecom, previously known as Manx Pronto, and Sure. For a short time, Cloud9 operated as a third mobile operator on the island, but has since withdrawn. Broadband internet services are available through four local providers which are Wi-Manx, Domicilium, Manx Computer Bureau and Manx Telecom. The island does not have its own ITU country code, but is accessed via the UK's country code (+44) and the island's telephone numbers are part of the UK telephone numbering plan with local dialling codes 01624 for landlines and 07524, 07624 and 07924 for mobiles.

In 1996 the Isle of Man Government obtained permission to use the .im national top-level domain (TLD) and has ultimate responsibility for its use. The domain is managed on a daily basis by Domicilium, an island-based internet service provider.

In December 2007, the Manx Electricity Authority and its telecommunications subsidiary, e-llan Communications commissioned the laying of a new fibre-optic link that connects the island to a worldwide fibre-optic network.

The Isle of Man has three radio stations: Manx Radio, Energy FM and 3 FM.

There is no insular television service and local transmitters retransmit British mainland digital broadcasts via the free-to-air digital terrestrial service Freeview. Isle of Man is part of the regions served by BBC North West for BBC One and BBC Two television services, and Granada Television for ITV.

Many television services are available by satellite, such as Sky, and Freesat from the group of satellites at 28.2° east, as well as services from a range of other satellites around Europe such as the Astra satellites at 19.2° east and Hotbird.

The Isle of Man has three newspapers, all weeklies, and all owned by Isle of Man Newspapers, a division of the Edinburgh media company Johnston Press.[70] The Isle of Man Courier (distribution 36,318) is free and distributed to homes on the island. The other two newspapers are Isle of Man Examiner (circulation 13,276) and the Manx Independent (circulation 12,255).[71]

Postal services are the responsibility of Isle of Man Post, which took over from the UK General Post Office in 1973.


The island has a total of 688 miles (1,107 km)[72] of public roads, all of which are paved. In areas denoted by derestricted signs in the Isle of Man, there is no overriding national speed restriction; only local speed limits are set. Rules for reckless driving and most other driving regulations are enforced in a manner similar to the UK.[73] There is a comprehensive bus network, operated by the government owned bus operator, Bus Vannin.

The Isle of Man Sea Terminal in Douglas is served by frequent ferries to and from Heysham. Douglas is also served by frequent summer services to and from Liverpool with a more restricted timetable operating in winter. There are also limited summer-only services to and from Belfast and Dublin. All ferries are operated by the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.

The only commercial airport on the island is the Isle of Man Airport at Ronaldsway. There are scheduled and chartered flights to numerous airports in the United Kingdom and Ireland, as well as further afield. The Irish operator Aer Arann entered a code-sharing agreement with Abu Dhabi airliner Etihad Airways in 2009, a deal which provides for the booking of one-ticket flights from the Isle of Man.[74]

The island used to have an extensive narrow-gauge railway system, both steam-operated and electric, but the majority of the steam railway tracks have been taken out of service and the track removed. Currently there is a steam railway which runs between Douglas and Port Erin, an electric railway which runs between Douglas and Ramsey and an electric mountain railway which climbs Snaefell.

Space Commerce

The Isle of Man has become a centre for emerging private space travel companies.[75] A number of the competitors in the Google Lunar X Prize, a $30 million competition for the first privately funded team to send a robot to the moon, are based on the Island. The team summit for the X Prize was held on the Island in October 2010.[76] In 2010 the Island was named the fifth most likely nation to reach the moon next.[77] In January 2011 two research space stations owned by Excalibur Almaz arrived on the Island and were kept in an aircraft hangar at the airfield at the former RAF Jurby located near Jurby.[78]


The culture of the Isle of Man is influenced by its Celtic, and to a lesser extent its Norse, origins. Close proximity to the UK, popularity as a UK tourist destination, and mass immigration by British migrant workers has meant that British influence has been dominant since the Revestment period. Revival campaigns have attempted to preserve the surviving vestiges of Manx culture after a long period of Anglicisation, and significant interest in the Manx language, history and musical tradition has been the result.


A bilingual sign in the Isle of Man featuring Manx Gaelic and English

The official language of the Isle of Man is English, while Manx Gaelic has also had official status since 1985.[79] Manx has traditionally been spoken but is now considered "critically endangered".[80]

Manx is a Goidelic Celtic language and is one of a number of insular Celtic languages spoken in the British Isles.[81] Manx has been officially recognised as a legitimate autochthonous regional language under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, ratified by the United Kingdom on 27 March 2001 on behalf of the Isle of Man government.[82]

Manx is closely related to the Irish language and Scottish Gaelic.

In Manx English the greetings moghrey mie and fastyr mie, which mean good morning and good afternoon respectively, can also be heard.[83] Like Irish and Scottish Gaelic, the English terms evening and afternoon are referred to with one word.[84] Another term used in Manx English is traa dy liooar meaning time enough, and represents a stereotypical view of the Manx attitude to life.[85][86]


A sculpture of the Manx triskelion as seen in front of Ronaldsway Airport terminal.

For centuries, the island's symbol has been the so-called "three legs of Mann" (Manx: Tree Cassyn Vannin), a triskelion of three legs conjoined at the thigh. The Manx triskelion, which dates with certainty to the late 13th century, is of an uncertain origin. It has been suggested that its origin lies in Sicily, an island which has been associated with triskelions since ancient times.[87] Another possibility is that its origin lies with the emblem of the 10th century Norse-Gaelic dynasty which ruled the island at the time.[88]

The symbol appears in the island's official flag and official coat of arms, as well as its currency. The Manx triskelion may be reflected in the island's motto, Latin: Quocunque jeceris stabit, which appears as part of the island's coat of arms. The Latin motto translates into English as "whichever way you throw, it will stand"[88] or "whithersoever you throw it, it will stand".[89] It dates to the late 17th century when it is known to have appeared on the island's coinage.[88] The original meaning of the motto, however, may have referred to the poor quality of coinage which was common at the time—as in "however it is tested it will pass".[90]

It may also have a purely militant attestation, as it was common in Gaelic folklore and custom to throw the sword of a fallen hero before a battle following their death. If the weapon landed upright, it was a blessing and a call to arms, if it did not stand upright, Ie simply fell or landed without being erect, there would be no such call. The very nature embedded in the motto is indicative of this custom, or at least its sentiment is starkly present.


The predominant religious tradition of the island is Christianity, and the ancient Christian Church of the island is today part of the Church of England. The diocese has an unbroken history from 1154 to the present day, during which there have been many changes in tradition and detail. As with all ancient Anglican churches, the diocese was once (and until the Reformation) part of the then mainstream of western Christian tradition, the Roman Catholic Church. The diocese has been part of the national churches of Norway, Scotland, and England.[91] It has also come under the influence of Irish religious tradition. Since 1541[92] its bishop and parishes (currently 28)[93] have been part of the Province of York.[94]

Other Christian churches also operate on the Isle of Man. The second largest denomination is the Methodist Church, which is close in size to the Anglican diocese. There are eight Roman Catholic parish churches, under the authority of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Liverpool. Additionally there are five Baptist churches, four Pentecostal churches, the Salvation Army, a ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, two United Reformed churches, as well as other Christian churches. There is a small Muslim community, with its own mosque in Douglas, and there is also a small Jewish community.[95]

Myth, legend and folklore

In Manx mythology, the island was ruled by Manannán mac Lir, a Celtic sea god, who would draw his misty cloak around the island to protect it from invaders. One of the principal theories about the origin of the name Mann is that it is named after Manannan.

In the Manx tradition of folklore, there are many stories of mythical creatures and characters. These include the Buggane, a malevolent spirit who according to legend blew the roof off St Trinian's Church in a fit of rage; the Fenodyree; the Glashtyn; and the Moddey Dhoo, a ghostly black dog who wandered the walls and corridors of Peel Castle.

The Isle of Man is also said to be home to fairies, known locally as the little folk or themselves. There is a famous Fairy Bridge and it is said to be bad luck if one fails to wish the fairies good morning or afternoon when passing over it. It used to be a tradition to leave a coin on the bridge to ensure good luck. Other types of fairies are the Mi'raj and the Arkan Sonney.

An old Irish story tells how Lough Neagh was formed when Ireland's legendary giant Fionn mac Cumhaill (commonly anglicised to Finn McCool) ripped up a portion of the land and tossed it at a Scottish rival. He missed, and the chunk of earth landed in the Irish Sea, thus creating the island.

Peel Castle has been proposed as a possible location of the Arthurian Avalon [96][97] or as the location of the Grail Castle, site of Lancelot's encounter with the sword bridge of King Melegaunt.[98]


Traditionally the national dish of the island is Spuds and Herrin, boiled potatoes and herring. This plain dish is chosen because of its role supporting the subsistence farmers of the island, who crofted the land and fished the sea for centuries.

A more recent claim for the title of national dish would be the ubiquitous chips, cheese and gravy. This dish, which is similar to poutine, is found in most of the island's fast-food outlets, and consists of thick cut chips, covered in shredded Cheddar cheese and topped with a thick gravy.[99]

Seafood has traditionally accounted for a large proportion of the local diet. Although commercial fishing has declined in recent years, local delicacies include Manx kippers (smoked herring) which are produced by the smokeries in Peel on the west coast of the island, albeit mainly from North Sea herring these days.[100] The smokeries also produce other specialities including smoked salmon and bacon.

Crab, lobster and scallops are commercially fished, and the Queen Scallop (Queenies) is regarded as a particular delicacy, with a light, sweet flavour.[101] Cod, ling and mackerel are often angled for the table, and freshwater trout and salmon can be taken from the local rivers and lakes, supported by the Government fish hatchery at Cornaa.

Cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry are all commercially farmed, Manx lamb from the hill-farms being a popular dish. The Loaghtan, the indigenous breed of Manx sheep, has a rich, dark meat that has found favour with chefs,[102][103] featuring in dishes on the BBC's MasterChef series.

Manx cheese has also found some success, featuring smoked and herb-flavoured varieties and is stocked by many of the UK's supermarket chains.[104][105][106] Manx cheese took bronze medals in the 2005 British Cheese Awards, and sold 578 tonnes over the year.

Beer is brewed on a commercial scale by Okells Brewery (established in 1850) and Bushy's Brewery. The island has a beer purity law, resembling the German Reinheitsgebot, dating to 1874.[107]


The Isle of Man is represented as a nation in the Commonwealth Games and the Island Games and hosted the IV Commonwealth Youth Games in 2011. Manx athletes have won three gold medals at the Commonwealth Games, the including cyclist Mark Cavendish in 2006 in the Scratch race. The Island Games were first held on the island in 1985, and again in 2001.

Isle of Man teams and individuals participate in many sports both on and off the island including rugby union, football, gymnastics, hockey, netball, Taekwondo, bowling and cricket. It being an island, many types of watersports are also popular with residents.

Motorcycle racing

The main international event associated with the island is the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy race, colloquially known as "The TT",[108] which began in 1907. It takes place in late May and early June. The TT is now an international road racing event for motorcycles, which used to be part of the World Championship, and is long considered to be one of the "greatest motorcycle sporting events of the world".[109] Taking place over a two week period, it has become a festival for motorcycling culture, makes a huge contribution to the island’s economy and has become part of Manx identity.[110] For many, the Isle carries the title "road racing capital of the world".[111]

The Manx Grand Prix is a separate motorcycle event for amateurs and private entrants that uses the same 60.70 km (37.72 mi)[112] Snaefell Mountain Course in late August and early September.


Prior to the introduction of football at the turn of the twentieth century,Cammag was the national sport of the Isle of Man.[113] It is similar to the Irish hurling, and the Scottish game of shinty. Nowadays it is an annual match at St John's.

Manx animals

Manx Loaghtan Sheep are bred for their meat on the island.

There are two domestic animals specifically connected to the Isle of Man, though they are also found elsewhere.

The Manx cat is a breed of cat noted for having a genetic mutation that causes it to have a shortened tail. The length of this tail can range from a few inches, known as a "stumpy", to being completely nonexistent, or "rumpy". Manx cats display a range of colours and usually have somewhat longer hind legs compared to most cats. The cats have been used as a symbol of the Isle of Man on coins and stamps and at one time the Manx government operated a breeding centre to ensure the continuation of the breed.[114]

The Manx Loaghtan sheep is a breed native to the island. It has dark brown wool and four or sometimes six horns. The meat is considered to be a delicacy. There are several flocks on the island and others have been started in England and Jersey.

Famous residents

See also



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External links

Coordinates: 54°15′N 04°30′W / 54.25°N 4.5°W / 54.25; -4.5

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