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The Isle of Man (also known as the Isle of Mann) is one of the most unique bits of Europe and the British Isles. It’s culturally, historically, linguistically, and geographically different from all the other islands surrounding it and there are a lot of interesting facts many don’t know about it.
Outside of the UK and Ireland, most people know very little about this small island, and although some do travel to Mann, visitor numbers are quite low. Enjoy these interesting facts about the Isle of Man!
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, which is also commonly referred to simply as Mann, with two n’s. Many people might have heard of it, but aren’t really sure where it is. If you’re left wondering, but wait, “Where is the Isle of Man?”, you are not alone.
Where is the Isle of Man?
The Isle of Man is located between the islands of Ireland and Great Britain in the Irish Sea. There are ferry and air services available from both islands. The island is smaller than Singapore and slightly larger than Guam, and has a population of about 80,000 people.
2. The Isle of Man is NOT a part of the United Kingdom.
Some people believe the Isle of Mann belongs to the United Kingdom so therefore it’s part of the UK—but the story is more complicated. This is going to take some explaining to thoroughly break down the territories of the United Kingdom. The Isle of Man is a Crown Dependency, which means that it’s technically a possession of the crown (aka the Queen) directly, not of the UK.
Instead, 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. That said, it’s not a member of the European Union, and because it’s not technically part of the UK, it’s 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 modern attempts to revive Manx, although only 2% of the population have any knowledge of the language, making this a pretty tough feat.
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 mashed together, the triskelion is actually an ancient Celtic symbol that, like many Celtic symbols relies on rotational symmetry, as well as a triple spiral. On Mann, the triskelion is known as the Three Legs of Mann or Tree Cassyn Vannin in Manx. Despite how it looks, it has nothing to do with a swastika.
5. Mann Has the Oldest Continuous Parliament in the World.
It’s worth noting that several countries lay claim to this title, but the Manx parliament has been standing without break ever since 979. 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 the same legislative body hasn’t been ruling it that entire time. Our bet is on Isle of Man having it right on this point.
6. Manx cats have no tail.
This little known fact about the Isle of Man is a fun one! The Manx is a breed of cat that actually comes from the Isle of Man, and it’s best known feature is its taillessness. The breed also exhibits very large hind legs and a rounded head. There’s also a breed of sheep from the island called the Manx Loaghtan, which is known for sometimes having four or six 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’s considered the most prestigious motorcycle race in the world. I’ve driven past the grandstand and paddock area, and it’s 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. The Bee Gees are Manx through and through—Maurice, Robin, and Barry were all born on the Isle of Man. Their family later moved to Australia, but they were born on Man.
Recommended Resources And Readings:
Best Books About the Isle of Man
- The Story of the Isle of Man: This one’s for the history buffs ready to dive deep into the Isle of Man’s very long history that has shaped it into what it is today.
- The Folk-Lore of the Isle of Man (1891): The folklore of this island is stand out and you will thoroughly enjoy delving deep into the island’s customs, myths, legends, superstitions, and culture.
- Manx Fairy Tales: These 45 children’s stories from the Isle of Man from Elian Vannin or Mona’s Isle are a delight and are different from any others that exist in the world, offering unique insight into what makes the Isle of Man distinct (hint: it’s the faeries, known as the Little People to the Manx).
- Walking on the Isle of Man (Cicerone Walking Guides). If you’re booking trip to the Isle of Man, then this is a must-have book to help you plan some adventures of every level—easy walks with great views, as well as information on the best hikes, and the best coastal views worth exploring on foot.
- The Isle of Man from the Air: While not a book, this gorgeous film is worth renting for a true taste of the beauty the island offers!
Plan a Trip to the Isle of Mann:
Isle of Man Travel Guide: Our free guide covers everything you should know about booking travel to the Island, what you should do once you’re there, as well as where to stay, and more. And if you’re after a visual tour of the country, check out our Isle of Man Photo Essay.
Where to Stay in Douglas: We’re partial to the Ellan Vannin Hotel on a mid-range budget, the Halvard Hotel for a beautiful splurge, and Bed And Blueberry offers a great ratio of amenities-to-price for those on a budget.
Book Travel Insurance: Although completely safe, the Isle of Man is fairly remote and if you need medical care you’ll be glad for travel insurance—we recommend coverage through World Nomads.