8 Interesting Facts About the Isle of Man

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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.

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 it did Ireland or other countries in the empire.

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.

The country’s history is more complex than you might think—if you’re keen to learn more, we recommend reading The Story of the Isle of Man.

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.

The Manx Flag flying at Parliament Field in Tynwald
The Manx Flag flying at Parliament Field in Tynwald.

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.

Just some local boys from the Isle of Mann
Just some local boys 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. 

Navigate the Island: Being an island, your best bet is to either rent a car for land excursions, or join one of the many a fantastic land and boat tours in the region. 

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.

49 thoughts on “8 Interesting Facts About the Isle of Man”

  1. I’m great grandfather was from there, last name Corris. Let me know if you have any info on the family Corris. I’m hoping to find a great genealogist.

    Thanks, Melissa

  2. I am a direct descendant of Henry Stanley, one of the three or four Stanley lord’s of Man. I would really love to visit the Isle one day. It is beautiful.

  3. In the late 50’s I understood that the connection with UK was called “Common Purse Arrangement” which as a schoolboy at the time was seen as pay England for protection.

    Also… I wonder who could correct me in describing the position of the Manx 3 legs?
    I lived in Douglas as a child and was closely associated with Douglas Crebbin Faragher. He taught me morse code and a little Gaelic, but, also said that, and I quote ” When looking to the North the toes on the 3 legs will always point to the setting sun”.

    Very informative website. Thank You

    D.Killen

  4. Tom Holland, actor and the current Spider Man, is the grandson of Anthony Holland who is a manxman. Born and reared in Onchan. He left the Island to further his career in education as a lecturer in languages. He lives in London with his extended family.
    His son Dominic, who is Toms father is a writer and stand up comic.

  5. tell me more about the visa.
    I live in Adelaide South Australia. when I was a boy in in 1962 I went with the school for two weeks holiday and we stayed in a school in a town called Ramsey.

    trying to plan my next winter holidays which will be your summer.

    do I need a visor.

      • ‘Facts’ 6 and 7 are incorrect.
        The IoM claims to be The Motorcycle Road Racing Capitol of the world, NOT Motorcycle Racing Capitol of the World, a slight difference. e.g. Rossi does not race on the IoM.
        The Manx Cat is NOT a breed like the Loaghtin Sheep. The ‘Manx Cat’ is a cat with a genetic defect similar to Spina Bifida in humans and can not be pure bred. After very few generations of crossing tail-less cats, the defect causes excessive loss of vertebrae at the tail end if the spine resulting in fecal incontinence and reduced rear leg control. The Manx Cat can be Rumpy or Stumpy where there are more retained vertebrae. Also litters can be mixed, Rumpy, Stumpy, i.e. with and without tails!

  6. I’m yet to visit BT will be next year April.just wondering aw much it will cost.I’m a student n I don’t want much expenses

  7. Im researching my family history and my mothers side is from the Isle of Man. The name is cubbon. Im planning a trip there in april / may next year and so excited to see where my family originated. Hoping to obtain heaps of information while im there.

  8. thank you for this tidbit of info! always been intrigued by this beautiful place. it is def a bucket item for me cause i love castles and the beautiful language

  9. Wrong the Isle of Man is a associated member of EU through the UK as it comes under UK Treasury and EU laws and Procedure’s can be enforced on the Isle of Man. The Isle of Man is British/Manx and owned HM Queen Lord of Mann and travel is classed as local travel to any where in the UK. We are the oldest member of Commonwealth and have the oldest government and govern ourselves to certain extent but the UK Treasury can enforce laws from EU on the Island through England. So I would advise who wrote this blog to do there research and learn our history before writing flash statements

    • I did. Here is the list of associated EU member states from the EU website: http://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/data/ref/h2020/grants_manual/hi/3cpart/h2020-hi-list-ac_en.pdf

      You will notice that the Isle of Man is not listed. They are not members of the EU.

      To the extent that the UK may choose to enforce EU policy on the Isle of Man is a decision of the UK, not the EU. They may just as easily choose to NOT enforce EU policy, and there EU couldn’t do anything about it because the Isle of Man isn’t part of the EU.

      Wikipedia states is very clearly: “As with Jersey and Guernsey, the Isle of Man is not part of the United Kingdom or a direct member of the European Community and its relationship with the EU is defined under Article 355(5)(c) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (former Article 299 of the EC Treaty) and Protocol 3 of the Act of Accession, annexed to the Treaty of Accession 1972, by which the United Kingdom became a member of the European Economic Community.”

  10. I first heard about Isle of Man when my son played Manx TT Superbike on computer.
    I used to think it must be an imaginary place, even the graphics were so beautiful.

  11. I first heard of isle of Mann when my used to play a video game called “Manx TT superbike” I always thought it was an imaginary place.

  12. I am from the USA is a passport to the Isle of Man enough to travel there?
    Has anyone vacationed there on this site…and if so, recommendations for accommodations?
    Thank you.

    • You will need a british visa to travel to the Isle of Man. Once here there is lots of accommodations. I personally would recommend the Park Hotel in Ramsey (North of the Island). If you need help with anything once over please feel free to email me at Mattymoore5@aol.com.

    • I too am an American citizen. I was in London last year and flew to Mann. I think I showed my passport but it was not stamped.

      I was there for three days. The word beautiful doesn’t even begin to describe this island. I traveled part of the island by the steam train, what a treat. I visited Peel and of course the castle. I also went to Rushon, I think that’s what it’s called, castle. I was there when the TT races were coming into town, so I was able to see them setting up. Was able to talk to a few people involved in the race and grabbed a photo sitting on one of the bikes.

      I stayed on Douglas, can’t remember the hotel but my room overlooked the breathtaking Irish Sea. Can’t even remember which promenade. I have lovely pictures. Visiting Mann was a beautiful experience.

  13. My Grandfathers were cousins of Ned Madrell and came from the same area of the Isle of Man. I remember my father and Great Grandfather speaking to each other in the Man Language. My family is from Cregneash were it is said that the Manx language was last spoken and is part of the Manx Museum.

    • It is commonly given that Ned was the last native Manx speaker. My Auntie Jessie Mylchreest was a fluent native Manx speaker and would teach me some basic Manx. She lived in Glen Maye. I moved away from the Island, but she was very much alive and kicking in 1979 when my mum went to the Island for the 1000th Parliament

  14. Hi
    I am holding British passport
    Well do I need to get a visa to travel to Isle of Man !
    My guess is not but still I need to be sure and can I get my car over there by a ferry and use my car over there ?

    Regard
    Wase

    • You do not need a visa to travel to the Isle of Man. And when traveling by ferry you do not even need your passport (So long as it is a British one), however I would recommend still bringing it. You can bring your car, however it does dramatically increase the price of the ferry ticket. The Island has a very good bus service that travels all round the Island. If you do bring your car the island is fully accessible by road.

  15. Ned was my Great Grandfather. We were told that he was the last person to speck Manx as a first language, but certainly did not expect to hear his voice on that recording.
    Amazing!

  16. Ned was my Great Grandfather. We were told that he was the last person to speak !Manx as a first language, but certainly did not expect to hear his voice on this recording. Amazing!

  17. Ned was my Great Grandfather. We were told that he was the last man to speak Manx as a first language, nowhere, did not expect to hear his voice on the recording.
    Amazing!

  18. Ned was my Greatgrandfather. We were told about him and that he was the last person to speak Manx as his first language, but did not expect to hear his voice on the recording.
    Amazing!

  19. I have traced my ancestors to Isle of Mann. I would love to visit. I am a citizen of USA in state of North Carolina.

    • Hi David,
      Mine are as well. 1845-1849 they came to US because of the potatoe famine we were told.
      David Withers dallas texas

  20. If the isle of mann is not a member of the EU do they not have to do what the eu parliament says the rest of europe has to

  21. In my youth just after the war I had so much pleasure going to the Isle of Mann with my parents. Staying on Christian Rd in Douglas sometimes we had a ride on the horsetram and sometimes I had a race against it. There was also a man with an organ which must be used with a handle for the wind, but for me most interesting was the little monkey standing on his instrument. We sailed on the boat ” King Orry ” sailing from Fleetwood.
    Boy oh! Boy those were the days.
    Living in Balackpool and going to the Isle was a real treat.

  22. If the island is not part of UK and EU, does it have it’s own visa requirements etc? Do you need a special visa for it, or having UK visa will do?

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

  24. 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.

  25. 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!

  26. 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.

  27. 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…

  28. 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

  29. 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.

  30. 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!

  31. 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.

  32. 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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