[From Ellan Vannin, 1895]


THE design and special feature of these pages may be noted as a summary of the History of the Manx People from the early ages to the present. The fabulous and the doubtful are omitted. The external events are recorded only as related to the central idea of the book. The research necessary has demanded an area of wide extent and much care in statement. The valuable volumes of the Manx Society, the Histories of Governor Walpole and of Train, the useful Guides, the Manx Note Book, and other local sources - the Manx ruins included--have been laid under contribution, with a grateful acknowledgment which the writer would now record. In addition, he may mention the Manx Dictionaries of Kelly and Cregeen, the Memorials of the Derby Family by Seacombe, the writings of Patrick, the works of Bede, Dean Murray's Irish Church , Bishop Lightfoot's Leaders in the Northern. Church, Canon Wright's Story of the Early English Church, the Lecture on St. Patrick by Rev. W. T. Hobson, M.A., the recent pamphlet on Early Manx History by Rev. T. Talbot, the Biographies of Bishop Wilson by Stowell and Keble; collateral Histories of England, Scotland, and Ireland, such as by Dr. Smith of Cornwall, Wylie, and, for more general purposes, Green and Gibbon; other works, ecclesiastical and secular, giving incidental light on Manx topics, have been passed in review. The reference to volume and page was at one time intended, but abandoned in the interest of simplicity and economy. The writer has had in view his Manx fellow countrymen as his chief readers, and specially the young people of the Island; at the same time he hopes that the visitor will not find the volume too exacting, but, on the contrary, helpful in glen and upland and ancient ruin, on Snaefell with its grand panorama, or sailing round the rock-bound shores from the Calf to the Point of Ayre and their connecting lines east and west. An area of thirty miles by twelve in the midst of a vast continent might easily pass without notice, but the same area fixed in the Gulf Stream, where Ellan Vannin has its position, or elsewhere in the ocean, strangely becomes more important and suggestive. The Island is but a rock in the centre of the British Empire, too small to belong to itself, too feeble to resist invasion, too isolated to share quickly in general external progress, but its historic interest is uncommon. The ocean storms around have helped its beauty and grandeur. Its solitude has left it rich in ancient ruins, guarded by a useful superstition; its nearness to other lands has given it a place in collateral history, specially of Britain, Ireland, and Scandinavia; its language, still on the printed page, though falling into disuse, remains without material change from past ages, though the languages of England and of lands once in the Roman Empire have been lost in modern developments; its form of government comes from a more remote antiquity than that of any neighbouring kingdom; its liberties have been won without violent revolution; its evangelical religion has triumphed without the blood of martyrs; its prosperity has grown from conspicuous poverty into a degree which, with not many of distinguished wealth, leaves few without money, and those few generally too independent to be paupers. The country, the people, the progress in freedom, wealth, morals, religion, and social life, form a subject of unusual interest. The position of a Manxman in his native land is richly historic, with glimpses of the neighbouring countries and of European affairs in the remote past, and he owes it to himself to know what he may of Ellan Vannin. Immediately around him are monmnents and institutions which recall two thousand years.It is hoped by the writer that these pages may have something to interest the youth of his native Island, and that, perhaps, wandering across the sea, they may remind a Manxman of the land he and his fathers have left behind.

W. T. R.

P.S.- I am indebted to the kindness of Mr. Dean, photographer, Finch Road, Douglas, for most of the illustrations, which have been selected from his admirable collection of Manx scenes.


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Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2001