Day 15 – Lost in the Irish Sea


Today the torch is visiting one of those secret places that seem a little unbelievable when you first hear about them.

An island nation with its own laws and the oldest continuous system of government in the world, a top tax rate of 20% and a population of less than 90 thousand. A place where there are many companies whose business is space exploration.

Legends of fairies and witchcraft, archaeological sites linked with the Vikings, Scots and Irish celts, a stunning coastline and a welcoming attitude to tourists make it a fine place to visit.

The Isle of Man – Ellan Vannin – rises out of the mists of the Irish Sea like the keel of a capsized long boat and is, I can confirm, a very fun place.  There’s something for everyone here. Including, if you get lucky, a rumpy, riser, stumpy, stubby or longy. But more of that later.

At the stern of the galleon in the travel poster can be seen the flag of Man – three armoured legs on a red ground. Quocunque Jeceris Stabit – no matter where you throw us we will stand! A nicely optimistic sentiment.


State of the art BAT single cylinder motorcycle from after they banned pedals but before they started insisting on crash helmets. A tweed cap on backwards was sufficient protection for a genuine petrolhead.

 The TT Races

The oldest motorcycle racing circuit still in regular use, the Snaefell course on the Isle of Man tests both man and machine to the limit. The course is run on ordinary public roads, closed for the event, and the locals don’t mind much because it’s fun, especially on Mad Sunday when ordinary members of the public are allowed to ride their own bikes over the lethal mountain section of the course. Click on the picture to read the Wikipedia page about the thrills and spills of the early days where bikes crashed, bashed, had bits knocked off and caught fire in the pits and the riders would get a blacksmith to hammer out the dents, get back out there and win!  Mind you, the average lap speed was a lot less – 30mph as opposed to over 120mph nowadays.


Keeill in the chuchyard at Maughold

 Walking the Keeills

Although now a Christian festival, walking the keeills dates back waaaaaay beyond written history. The picture above shows the remains of  small building but keeills can be anything – a holy well, a standing stone, burial mound, a bend in the road.  Keeills  are described as ‘thin places’ where it’s possible to glimpse or to feel other worlds, and as such they are powerful and need keeping an eye on. There used to be over 250 of them, though the sites of many have been lost. The torch will probably pass a few and I wonder what the carriers will see.


I can haz tail back please?

Manx Cat

Above is a fine example of the Manx cat. In every other respect they are like ordinary domestic cats with the same range of colours and fur lengths but the Manx’s lack some or all of their tails, which is where the rumpy, riser, stumpy, stubby and longy categories come in. Of course.  The rather concerned little fellow above is a dimple-rumpy, having a negative value of tail. Since the tail-less gene is a dominant one, the breed is in no danger of dying out.  Click the picture for the wikipage for the moggies, who have a long and grand history, though nobody knows where they came from.

Finally, a story. I haven’t written anything about the Isle of Man so I’ll leave you with some music and the very sad but true story of the SS Ellan Vannin of the Isle of Man Steamship company. The song was written by the Spinners and it was tempting to choose the cover by the Bee Gees {RIP Robin} but I’ve gone for the one with the nice pictures.  Just click on the pic for the video.


Ellan Vannin – the unofficial anthem of Man.





About Elin Gregory

Elin writes fiction when she isn't working in a museum or doing the tedious every day stuff everyone has to do, like washing dishes or doing the laundry. Her family don't mind her writing as long as there's food in the cupboard and clean clothes in the drawers.

20 responses »

  1. Great post, Elin. Love the little Manx cat, and the haunting ballad of the Ellan Vannin was so beautiful. I’d never heard of her til now. It’s now on my YouTube favourites. Thank you. 😀

  2. I’ve long loved that song, and as I read your post the tune was running around in my head even before I got to your reference to it. Lovely, and a lovely post. The picture of the motorcyclist is great!

    • 🙂 it is a lovely song – super melody. I dunno about the cats. I’d assume that what you’ve never had you don’t much miss. What they might not be able to do is change direction in midair the way my black cat can when she’s leaping for birds. Her tail comes in handy then.

    • My pleasure. The nice thing about this project is that we are all sharing our treasures, whether places, photos, info or tunes. 🙂 It’s great fun. Thanks for commenting.

    • One does ones best *simpers*

      The guy on the bike looks so superior. It just occured to me to wonder whether that IS the motorbike petrol tank or actually an armoured willy protector?

      The kitty looks like it needs a cuddle. It’s a dead ringer for my tabby, except mine is well provided with tail. 🙂

      • Hehe! Definitely the willy armored protector (that sort of thing is probably needed in my books ;))

        Aw, I love tabbies (with or without tails ;))

  3. There always used to be a pub called The Legs of Man in my home city of Liverpool, complete with the Manx national flag on its sign. I grew up with the concept but occasionally it did lead to some rather baffled tourists. LOL

    Love that kitty…

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