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Music of the Isle of Man

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Title: Music of the Isle of Man  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Celtic music, Isle of Man, Music of Cornwall, Music of Wales, Music of Denmark
Collection: Manx Culture, Manx Music
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Music of the Isle of Man

The music of the Isle of Man reflects Celtic, Norse and other influences, including from its neighbours, Scotland, Ireland England and Wales. The Isle of Man is a small island nation in the Irish Sea, between Great Britain and Ireland (and not part of the United Kingdom).

A wide range of music is performed on the island, such as rock, blues, jazz and pop. However, its traditional folk music has undergone a revival since the 1970s, starting with a music festival called Yn Çhruinnaght in Ramsey.[1] This was part of a general revival of the Manx language and culture, after the death of the last native speaker of Manx in 1974.

Musicians of the Manx musical revival include King Chiaullee, Skeeal, The Mannin Folk, Mactullagh Vannin, Moot and many others. Culture Vannin provides a central resource for Manx Music and Dance through the website, which has links to most performers. Other artists who have produced CDs include Emma Christian (Ta'n Dooid CheetBeneath the Twilight), (voice, harp and recorder), and harpist and producer Charles Guard (Avenging and Bright), an administrator at Culture Vannin. Many of the web entries about Manx Music stem from Cliff McGann's 1996 article[2] which is now somewhat out of date.


  • History 1
    • 19th century 1.1
    • 20th century 1.2
    • Future 1.3
  • Manx Music Festival 2
  • Other Isle of Man Music Festivals 3
  • Footnotes 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Prior to the 15th century, little can be determined about the character of music on the Isle of Man. There are many carved crosses from this era, but they depict a total of two musicians, one lur player and a harpist. Songs from this era may have had Scandinavian origins; some also bear similarities to Irish and Scottish music. The song Reeaghyn dy Vannin (the Manx sword dance), is very similar to a lullaby from the Hebrides and is also said to have been a ritual dance during the Scandinavian era.

The earliest written evidence describes fiddle music and a variety of folk dances. There was no harp tradition as was otherwise prevalent in Celtic music. English folk songs were very popular, later including broadside ballads, jigs and reels. Also extant were traditional Gaelic psalm-singing and other church music.

19th century

Church music is the most documented Manx music of the 19th century.

  • Manx Music Website
  • Culture Vannin Website
  • Manx Music Festival official website

External links

  • Mathieson, Kenny. "Wales, Isle of Man and England". 2001. In Mathieson, Kenny (Ed.), Celtic music, pp. 88–95. Backbeat Books. ISBN 0-87930-623-8
  • Guard, Charles (1980), The Manx National Songbook Vol. 2, Shearwater Press,  
  • article on Manx music history by Fenella Bazin
  • Article on Manx traditional music


  1. ^ Cliff McGann (1996) Traditional Music on the Isle of Man
  2. ^ Cliff McGann article
  3. ^ a b Guard 1980, pp. Preface
  4. ^


'We are a small but ever-growing unique festival based on the Isle of Man which started out in 2010. Our mission is to give the public what they really want in a music festival and in doing so, promote the wonderful local talent we have here on the Island, support local business and local charities. The dates of our event are always centred around the Island's Tynwald celebrations and the name is actually a nod to the garden party that is held annually by the Island's Liuetenant Governor who is the Queen's representative on the Isle of Man. The event is held in Begoade Fields, Onchan which is just outside the main village and not far from the Island's capital Douglas.'[4]

The Garden Party

Other Isle of Man Music Festivals

The Manx Music Festival is an annual music festival held at the end of each April in Douglas. It was originally founded in 1892 after music classes were included in the Fine Arts and Industrial Guild, after which the festival gets its colloquial name of "The Guild". Local people and visitors are invited to take part in various singing, instrumental, drama and public speaking classes. At the close of the festival, winners of the individual voice categories compete to win the Cleveland Medal, first donated in 1923 by the Cleveland Manx Society. The first performance of the Manx National Anthem occurred at The Guild in 1907, accompanied by Harry Wood's Orchestra.

Manx Music Festival

Culture Vannin has a dedicated Manx Music Development Team comprising a Manx Music Specialist who works with the IOM Department of Education to encourage the development of Manx music in the school curriculum and a Manx Music Development Officer, who works to promote Manx Music and Dance in the wider community. CDs by bands, soloists and Gaelic choirs are being produced all of the time.


Though West Gallery music continued into the 1950s, by the 20th century instrumental music accompanied most worship on the Isle of Man. Later in the 20th century, Manx church musical traditions slowly declined. The legacy of immigration, from England and elsewhere, has brought in many new styles of music to the island.

20th century

[3] from the 19th century onwards.Gaelic revival songs, in particular, benefited from the Manx language during this era, and there were a number of thriving smaller establishments. British Isles Derby Castle and the Palace Hall became two of the most prominent venues in the [3]

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