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

Posted: December 2, 2011    Categories: 8 Things, 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.

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