Categories: History

10 Lesser-known Interesting Facts about the Isle of Man

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The ‘Isle of Man’ or ‘Isle of Mann’ sometimes simply termed as ‘Mann’ with two n’s is a self-governing island under British Crown possession since 1828. This is one of the most unique bits of British and Europe isles located in the Irish Sea between Ireland and England. Outside the Europe and the British Empire, very low numbers of people know about this beautiful and unique island.

How is Isle of Man unique from neighboring islands?

Mann is historically, geographically, culturally, and linguistically different from various islands surrounding it. Its rugged coastline, rural landscapes, mountainous center, and medieval castles make it unique and a point of attraction. The proofs of the island’s rich heritage can be seen in the ‘Manx Museum’ in ‘Douglas’ the capital city of the island. Although some visitors do travel to the Isle of Man, the numbers of tourists are quite low. Enhance your knowledge about this wonderland by going through these interesting facts about the Isle of Man.   

1. Geographic Location of Isle of Man

If you live in the British Empire, you may be well aware of the island called ‘Isle of Man’, but if you are based out of British realm then the chances are quite high that you probably not know about the geographic location of the ‘Mann’. You are not alone who don’t know of the whereabouts of the unique island. 

Yes! The Isle of Man does exist. It is located at the equidistant (roughly) of England, Ireland, Wales, and Scotland. The dimension of the island is about 48 km long and 16 km wide. There is a central mountain mass on the island. The Calf of Man, an islet lies to the southwest with a precipitous cliff. It is administered as a bird sanctuary by the Manx National Heritage.  According to 2016 Isle of Man Census Report, the total population of the island was 83,314 on 24th-25th April night, 2016. The country’s capital is Douglas. The principal cities of the country are Douglas, Ramsey, Peel, and Castletown. The island is well connected to the British mainland by air and ferries.

2. Crown Possession by the United Kingdom

Some people think that the Isle of Man belongs to the United Kingdom. Though it is a part of the United Kingdom, the story of its belonging is more complicated. 

The British Parliament purchased the sovereignty of the island in 1765 and acquired remaining prerogative of the island in 1828. Thus, the Isle of Mann came under the possession of British Crown that means it is directly under the possession of the crown, not of the United Kingdom. They use the British Pound as their currency but the United Kingdom has no responsibility for the safety and security of the Island.   

3. Climate and lifestyle 

The Island witnesses a temperate climate having cool summers and mild winters. Cereals and vegetable cultivation, cattle rearing, poultry and catching fish are the main occupations of the country. Moreover, light manufacturing, tourism, and financial services are some other source of income of the Manx people. The island also exports processed beef, lamb, shellfish, tweed, and herring.

4. Manx Language

An ogham inscription on a stone in the Manx Museum written in Primitive Irish.

The official language of the Island is English. Manx is considered the original language of the island. It is similar to some kind of Irish and Scottish Gaelic. Almost the whole population of the island spoke Manx until 1765. When the Duke of Atholl sold the island to the British Crown in 1765, it affected the language also. Immigrants from North West England sped up the decline of the original language of the Mann in the 18th and the 19th centuries. 

The Manx Language Society was formed in 1899 to preserve the language. UNESCO in 2009 officially declared the Manx language extinct. Some people claim to write, read, speak Manx today but it does not illustrate actual fluency as the native speaker. But the UNESCO has changed the classification from extinct to critically endangered language.    

5. Mann: Motorcycle Racing Capital of the World

The motorcycle racing fans may already know that the Island organizes a major cross country motorcycle race annually under the name ‘International Isle of Man TT (Tourist Trophy)’. The Isle of Man TT was initiated in 1907 and is considered the most prestigious motorcycle race in the world until now. The Manx Parliament passed a law in 1907 to close the two-lane public roads on Mann and use them for the racing tournament. 

Since then, every year in June the roads are closed for the use of two weeks racing event. A total of 250 lives have been lost in the event including racers and some spectators since the beginning of this event.  Unlike closed course track for racing, the roads of Mann are uneven and rough.  Stone walls, buildings, lampposts, trees, and curbs line the entire TT track. It is also full of hills, corners, and turns.

6. The Government of Isle of Man

It’s worth noting that although the island has ‘Man’ in its name, the women’s suffrage (right to vote for female) is first given in the Isle of Man in 1881. Though these rights were given to a few female residents who fulfill the conditions that were decided to vote at that time, still the country holds the record for being the first parliament to give ‘Right to Vote’ for women. 

Also, the Tynwald, the Isle of Man Parliament holds the record for the oldest continuous parliament of the world since 979. Though the Iceland Parliament is the oldest since 930, it was suspended during the period 1800-1845.

Tynwald parliament has three parts, namely, the House of Keys, the Legislative Council, and the Tynwald court, thus it is called Tri-Cameral parliament.

7. Manx Cat

The Manx cat breed is popularly known for its tai — or the non-existence of one. The Manx kittens can be born with full-length tail, short tails or no tails. These cats are termed as longy, stumpy, and rumpy respectively. The Manx cat also has very large hind legs and rounded head. According to modern time geneticists, the Manx’s taillessness is caused due to spontaneous mutation within the local cat population of the Mann.

8. Triskelion symbol on the Isle of Man Flag

The emblem of the national flag of Isle of called Triskelion and consist of three armored man legs running clockwise towards the sun. It is not sure why the emblem was adopted by the king in the 13th century. The emblem is quite distinctive and striking. This spiral symmetry was originally a symbol of the Sun, life and power. The three-leg man symbol is associated with the motto “Quocunque Jeceris Stabit”, the translation of which is “Whithersoever you throw it, it will stand.”   

9. The origin of the kings of Disco (Bee Gees)

Known as the Kings of Disco, the Bee Gees namely Maurice, Robin, and Barry Gibb all were born on the Isle of Man to a British Couple. The trio formed a band in 1958. Robin was famous for his vocals, Barry for their signature sound and Maurice wrote all of their hits. The family stayed in the Isle of Man until the late 1950s.  

They then moved to Queensland, Australia and later to Cribb Island. They returned to the United Kingdom in 1967 as they were being promoted to the audience of the world by the producer Robert Stigwood. Barry is the only surviving member of the group since Maurice left for heavenly abode in 2003 and Robin was defeated by cancer in 2012.         

10. The superstition about Rats

If you are not aware of the superstitious beliefs of the Isle of Man, the island is rife with superstitions. Manx people believe in the stories of ghosts, giants, goblins and other supposed creatures on the island. The most common fear there is of the word rat.  It is believed that it will attract bad weather or bad luck. Instead, rats are commonly called ‘Longtail’, ‘Ringie’, ‘Joey’ or the Manx language word ‘Roddan’. Many people don’t even utter the ‘r’ letter in their entire lives. While visiting the island, you should dodge the word ‘rat’ as it may attract outrage from the locals.   

We have gone through the interesting facts about the Isle of Man.  Surely, this article has enhanced some knowledge about a wonderland and gave us a new place to add on our list of places to be visited in future.


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