taking our culture forward

Maureen Costain Richards


Maureen Costain Richards was the very first recipient of the Reih Bleeaney Award, which was presented to her by Culture Vannin in 1986. The award was made to Maureen for her work in drawing and illustrating the Manx crosses.

Maureen Costain was ‘proud of the fact that she was Manx born and bred’, and throughout her life she was keen to make some contribution to the national heritage of the Isle of Man.

She was born in Douglas as Maureen Costain and attended Murrays Road School, the Douglas Collegiate School, Park Road and Ballakermeen High Schools. In 1945 she moved to live in Abadan with her family when her father took up a post with the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company there. When Abadan became independent, the Costains returned to live to Port St Mary to live with Maureen’s maternal grandfather, the late Bill Clucas, who was the last of several generations of the Clucas family engaged in sailmaking in the Port.

Maureen had been interested in archaeology since her schooldays, especially in its Manx aspect, and in the art of the crosses which she first came across through school visits to the Manx Museum. She obtained a scholarship for a year’s study at the Douglas School of Art.

On her return to the Isle of Man from Iran, Maureen pursued individual research and study of the Manx artistic heritage, concentrating on the crosses. She also practiced sculpture, hand-carving in stone and pewter replicas of Manx crosses in miniature. Indeed, she beautifully carved part of the Reih Bleeaney Vanannan Trophy, unaware that she was to be its first recipient!

Maureen completed a beautiful book of colour illustrations of the Manx crosses. The book is entitled ‘The Manx Crosses Illustrated’ and was published in 1988.