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The Isle of Man is a small island nation in the Irish Sea, between Great Britain and Ireland. Its rich and varied culture reflects Celtic, Norse and other influences, with its neighbours, Scotland, Ireland England and Wales playing their part. The island is not part of the United Kingdom.

Celtic music
Ireland (island of)
Isle of Man
Celtic Canada
Celtic America
Music of the United Kingdom

There are other types of Manx music that are not folk like Rock, Blues, jazz and pop. The folk Music began late in the 20th century, alongside a general revival of the Manx language and culture. The 1970s revival was kickstarted, after the 1974 death of the last native speaker of Manx, by a music festival called Yn Çhruinnaght in Ramsey [1].

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 Many of the web entries about Manx Music stem from Cliff McGann's 1996 article which is now somewhat out of date: Cliff McGann article.



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. Lining out was a common technique, as it was throughout Great Britain and Ireland. West Gallery musicians performed for special occasions, using locally-composed or well-known compositions. Organs were a later importation that became standard in most of the island's churches. The first collection of Manx church songs was printed in 1799, and was followed by many other collections, though it was not until the 1870s and 1880s that Manx music began to be published in any great quantity, as drawing-room ballads, religious songs, and choral arrangements all became popular. The proliferation of this music coincided with a boom in the tourism industry for the Isle, and Manx music-hall and dance-hall songs and dances saw increased demand.[1] Derby Castle and the Palace Hall became two of the most prominent venues in the British Isles during this era, and there were a number of thriving smaller establishments. Manx language songs, in particular, benefited from the Gaelic revival from the 19th century onwards.[2]

20th century

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.


The Manx Heritage Foundation 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.


  1. ^ Guard 1980, pp. Preface
  2. ^ Guard 1980, pp. Preface


External links

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