So why bother to think about the Isle of Man? After all, it is just a tiny speck on the map, 23 miles long, 13 miles wide and stuck out in the Irish Sea between England and Ireland. Further, let’s be honest, it’s a rare day that anybody asks us at Celtic Elegance for our jewelry showing the triskelion, the ancient symbol associated with the island showing the three armored legs with golden spurs.
Well, two reasons we should bother:
- It has a great Celtic history and is full of a proud and resilient people!
- For such a small island with only about 80,000 inhabitants, it is a truly amazing place!
For a start, it is reputed to have the world’s oldest parliament, Tynwald, which has been in continual existence since 979. So not Rome, China, Turkey, Spain or England but little old Isle of Man. The Celts show the way again! So given this fact, you could be forgiven for thinking that the Isle of Man has history but is probably a bit behind the times. No way! In 1881 it became the first nation in the world to give women the right to vote in a general election. It was the first country in Western Europe to allow 16 and 17 year olds to vote in national elections. Talk about showing the rest of the world how to be part of an open and democratic society. As Celts, we can take some pride in that achievement.
Another example of the Isle of Man punching way above its weight is the fact that it is the only entire jurisdiction in the world to be designated as a UNESCO Biosphere, developing its plans to meet the challenges facing the long-term sustainability of our planet.
Nation? Country? Jurisdiction? The Isle of Man is actually a self-governing British Crown dependency like Jersey and Guernsey so has its own directly elected legislative assemblies, administration and fiscal and legal systems. It has a low tax structure and has been used as a tax haven. Not surprisingly then, financial services are a key part of the economy backed up by light manufacturing and tourism.
The native language in the Isle of Man is Manx Gaelic which is similar to Irish and Scottish Gaelic. It became extinct in 1974 with the death of the last native speaker but has been revived and now there is a vibrant community learning and using the language.
Probably the Isle of Man is best known for the annual TT motorcycle races which have been held in May and June since the first one back in 1907. It is the most important event of its kind in the world with the races taking place on normal roads which are temporarily closed off to traffic, thankfully. This is a particularly dangerous affair. Some of the spectators no doubt like the fact that there is no national speed limit on the roads in the Isle of Man which does sound a bit scary. Hopefully, they’re not dreaming of emulating their heroes when they get on them!!
What about animal life? Well, maybe what first comes to mind for a lot of people when they hear about the Isle of Man is the Manx cat with no tail. Or the Manx Loaghtan, the rare breed of native sheep with four or six horns. Or the wallabies that are thriving since two escaped from a wildlife park in the 1970s!
Just in case you are thinking that this is all well and good but it is a shame that nobody famous comes from the Isle of Man you would be wrong. No less that the Bee Gees were born on the Isle of Man. The family moved to Australia but us Celts have first claim.
So there can’t really be many better places than the Isle of Man. Rich history, proud people, rugged coastline, history of smuggling, beautiful countryside. Horrible wet British weather, that is true, but hey, you can’t have everything. Just don’t forget your waterproof.