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8 Things You Might Not Have Known About the Isle of Man

Hello from the city of Douglas, capital of the Isle of Man!

I arrived here today on a short flight from Belfast, Northern Ireland. I’ll be here through the weekend exploring the island an taking photos.

Given the unique nature of the island, I thought it would be a good time for another installment of 8 Things You Might Not Know……

1) The Isle of Man exists. OK, if you live anywhere in the British Isles you are probably well aware of the Isle of Man. Many people might have heard of it, but aren’t really sure where it is. It is located between the island of Ireland and the island of Great Britain in the Irish Sea. There is ferry and air service available from both islands. The island is smaller than Singapore and slightly larger than Guam with a population of about 80,000 people. It is also referred to simply as Mann with 2 n’s.

2) The Isle of Man is NOT part of the United Kingdom. This is going to take some explaining. The Isle of Man is a Crown Dependency, which means that it is technically a possession of the crown directly, not of the UK. It is also not a territory of the UK like Bermuda or the Falkland Islands. The British didn’t technically conquer Mann in the same way they did Ireland or other countries in the empire. The Lord of Mann was the titular ruler of the island until 1765 when the feudal rights were purchased by the crown and the title was transferred to George I. Today, the Queen still has the title of Lord of Mann (even though she is a woman, she is still known as Lord, not Lady). When doing the Loyal Toast on the Isle of Man, they toast the Lord of Mann, not the Queen or King. They do use the British Pound and the UK does have the responsibility of the defense of the island. They are not members of the European Union. Because it is not part of the UK, it is often used as a tax haven for the British.

3) The original language on Mann was called Manx. Manx is a Gaelic language similar to some types of Irish Gaelic. The last native speaker of Manx, Ned Maddrell, died in 1974. There are attempts to revive Manx although only 2% of the population have any knowledge of the language.

4) The symbol on the Isle of Man flag is the triskelion. While it looks like something someone with a bunch of spare doll parts might have put together, the triskelion is actually an ancient symbol. On Mann it is known as the Three Legs of Mann or Tree Cassyn Vannin in Manx.

5) Mann has the oldest continuous parliament in the world. Several countries lay claim to this title. The Manx parliament has been standing ever since 979 with no break. The parliament in Iceland has been around since 930 but it was suspended from 1800 to 1845. San Marino claims to have been a republic since 301, but it hasn’t been the same legislative body ruling it.

6) Manx cats have no tail. The Manx cat is a breed of cat which comes from the Isle of Man which is known for being tailless. The breed also exhibits very large hind legs and a rounded head. There is also a breed of sheep from the island called the Manx Loaghtan which is known for sometimes having 4 or 6 horns.

7) Mann is the motorcycle racing capital of the world. The International Isle of Man TT (Tourist Trophy) Race has been conducted on the island since 1907. In 1907 the Manx parliament passed a law allowing the roads on Mann to be closed and used for the race. It is considered the most prestigious motorcycle race in the world. I drove past the grandstand and paddock area today, which is just a normal street when not in use for the race.

8) The Bee Gees are from the Isle of Man. Thought they were Australian did you? Nope. They are Manx. Maurice, Robin and Barry were all born on the Isle of Man.

  • 11 Comments... What's your take?

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Comments

  1. Hannah says:

    This is awesome! I’m american and I’ve always wondered about the isle of Mann because I have. Ancestors from there.

  2. Abigail Swain says:

    Regarding the first comment about it saying “European Union” and “British Isles” on the passports. It says “British Isles” because that is where it is. Just like Canada is in North America, Kenya is in Africa or Albania is in the Balkans. The British Isles is just a geographical desciptor and unrelated to the term ‘UK’. All islands surrounding the UK (including Ireland) are part of the British Isles although many people would prefer a better geographical description. As for the ‘European Union’ part I think that is added to make clear that Manx people are British citizens and so have the right to free travel in the EU (free travel but not the right to employment and benefits from other EU countries). Very complicated but hopefully there will be a proper independent Isle of Man in the years to come.

  3. Larissa says:

    Was wondering the same thing as Abhijit as far as restrictions for traveling/working in the EU so I Googled it.

    Interesting that “European Union” and “British Isles” are both written on the front of the Manx passport even though it is not part of the EU or UK. Regardless of who or what the territory belongs, Isle of Man citizens are still full British and European Union citizens. There are some exceptions – Manxman who were born or naturalised on the island and have no UK born descendents or connection through residency. Technically those guys/gals don’t have the right to work or seek benefits from the European community, but it is up to each member state to decide.

    Seems damn confusing but probably also what makes this such a unique place. Really want to go now!

  4. Corbett says:

    The triskelion has been spotted by several friends of mine and I in Charleston SC on King St. In the Downtown part of town across from the bike shop. It is located street view in cast iron on park of some gates. I can provide photo’s, but as to why this symbol is located in this area I am confused about. Maybe some more insight by a local will help. Thank you for your time.

  5. Ersan says:

    How nice to hear from fresh news about the globe. I appreciate your travel ambition. I wish I could travel like you, but I know, I will definetly fall behind of you. So, I only envy your travel adventure. you are very lucky guy. I respect , you are my role model. Greetings from Turkey…

  6. Zoë Dawes says:

    You’ve clearly fallen for this lovely, quirky place Gary :-) It’s one of my fav islands around the British Isles – def has its own unique atmosphere. You may like this article I wrote after a trip there earlier this year
    http://www.thequirkytraveller.com/2011/05/the-isle-of-man-another-country

  7. Ed Helvey says:

    Verrrrrrrrry Interesting! I’m always learning something new when I read your posts, Gary. Thanks for making the world a much more interesting place for me and your other followers.

  8. Erik says:

    Just when I thought I knew everything about the Bee Gees!

  9. Natasha @ wandering Kiwi says:

    My great grandfather came from the isle of mann and I jad a great time exploring there back in 2000. Castles, the laxey wheel, the train, lovely green countryside, enjoy!

  10. Patricia GW says:

    I live on the Isle of Man for a time, and your “8 Things” really brought me back. Perhaps a 9th would be that the horse-drawn tram has been running every summer since 1927 along the Douglas promenade. The triskelion is on Sicily’s flag as well.

  11. Abhijit says:

    Interesting! I knew a bit, but not a lot about the Isle. If it’s not part of UK, EU, does it have it’s own visa requirements etc? Do you need a special visa for it, or having UK visa will do?

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About Gary Arndt

My name is Gary Arndt. In March 2007 I set out to travel around the world...
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