taking our culture forward

Old Manx tales now online

Fri, 22 Nov 2019

A series of recordings made in the 1970s about life in the past in the Isle of Man have just been released online.

The seven recordings made by John Quilliam stretch over half an hour and cover everything from his work on a Port St. Mary schooner in the 1920s to his attempts to sell 2,000 eggs one day in 1939.

Released online by Culture Vannin, they are free to download or listen to online.

“It is a joy to hear John Quilliam, with its lovely Manx accent, telling these tales,” said James Franklin of Culture Vannin. “The stories and his telling take us immediately back to into home and lives of good Manx people all those decades ago.”

Many will remember Quilliam’s ‘Know Your Parish’ programmes on Manx Radio in the 1970s, which offered interesting stories of people and places around the Island. Similar material is covered in the seven recordings now released, covering Douglas market days, Kirk Michael grocery deliveries to the hill farms, and the cottage at the Lhen offering boiled eggs to weary cyclists.

“There is a wonderful reading of the poem, The Purt Le Moirrey Schooners, but my personal favourite is the story of Harry and George Skelly’s salt herring roaster. The scene of these two old bachelors born in the 1850s in their old thatched cottage is magical.”

John Quilliam was born in Arbory in 1909 and enjoyed a number of jobs on farms around the south until 1934 when he and his wife ran a successful boarding house in Port St. Mary. After retiring to Colby in 1963 he began broadcasting with Manx Radio and went on to win the Mananan Trophy – a forerunner of today’s Reih Bleeaney Vanannan award – for contribution to Manx culture in 1976. He died in 2001 and his tombstone rightfully labels him ‘Manninagh Dooie’ – a true Manxman.

The recordings have been released online with thanks to the Quilliam family. They are free to listen to in the following places:

Culture Vannin website

The full set of recordings are free to download from the Culture Vannin BandCamp page: Roasting a Salt Herring and Other Manx Tales