[From Manx Quarterly #19,1918]


The annual meeting of the Manx Society (Yn Cheshaght Gailckagh) was held in Douglas Town Hall on the afternoon of Hollantide Day (Monday). There was but a small attendance. Presiding was the Rev Canon Leece (Vicar of Rushen), and the others present included the Rev Canon Kermode (Vicar of St. George's, Douglas),- Miss Mona Douglas (hon. secretary), Miss Lindsay (Port St. Mary), Miss Corrin (Castletown), Mr W. Cubbon (hon. treasurer), Mr S. K. Broadbent, Mr P: W. Caine, Mr W. H. Bell, Sergt. J. H. Fayle, Mr E. L. M. Pritchard, B.A., Mr R. E. E. Quilliam, Dr Marshall, and Mr J. Gelling.


The hon. secretary (Miss Mona Douglas) read her report for 1917 as follows:-


The first thing that comes into one's mind on reviewing the history of the society for the past year, is, of course, the irreparable loss which it has sustained in the death, shortly after the last annual Meeting, of the late secretary Miss Sophia Morrison. At a meeting of " Yn Cheshaght Gailckagh " it is quite needless to emphasise that loss, or to enumerate Miss Morrison's many-sided activities, for these things are well known to all the members. Her devotion to the work of this society; her life of patient and self-sacrificing labour — often crowned with real success — in the threefold cause of the Manx nation, the Manx language, the Manx people; her unbounded enthusiasm and ready sympathy, which have probably inspired more of her compatriots to work for Ellan Vannin Veg Veen that she herself had any idea of, are all summed up in the phraze: A True Manx Patriot — a proud title, but one which nobody ever deserved better than she. May her spirit and ideals long continue to inspire us !


For the fourth time our annual meeting is hold while the world is dark with war; and once more our thoughts and sympathies go out tip those of our countrymen, particularly our fellow-members, who are fighting in foreign lands, to all those who have lost friends or kindred and also to Manx folk resident in those districts of England where air-raids are so prevalent. May peace be declared before next Hollantide, and our men home again from their long forced exile!


Things have been far from peaceful, at home as well as abroad, during the past year; and still the Island is seething with questions of immense national importance. Having always been non-political, the society has taken no active part in these matters. But whether it remains outside such discussions or not, a society such as this, which exists for the purpose of preserving and developing the Manx national spirit, and for furthering peculiarly Manx ideals in all directions, must view the present situation with anxiety; and we trust that our popular leaders, legislators and politicians may ultimately be guided into some course which shall prove to be for the real and lasting good of the Manx nation and the Manx people.


There has been but little literary activity during the past year. A little Book of Manx Songs has been compiled for the use of Manx soldiers, and has been published in conjunction with the W.M.A. As it consists of the words of well-known songs only, this booklet can scarcely be reckoned as new literature; but it is hoped that it may have proved use-fu. to many a Manx lad " out foreign " by providing in a handy and portable form the songs of home, of which in many cases, the words may have been remembered only in snatches, while the tune was familiar. This book has been distributed, and the expenses of publication have been paid, for the most part, out of the proceeds of Private W. W. Gill's book of poems Juan-y-Pherick's Journey, which he generously devoted to this purpose. Mr P. W. Caine's fine collection of Carvals finished appearing in the Examiner some time ago and it is hoped that they will soon be published in book form. Mannin No. 9 the final issue, maintains the usual high level of literary excellence, but is, of course, overshadowed by the death of its late editor, Miss Morrison. It is in fact, a memorial number, and contains many worthy tributes to her memory in prose and verse by various writers. The question of the continuance of the society's magazine has been under anxious consideration. The publication of a journal such as Mannin is attended with serious financial responsibilities, as is well known from past experience; and the income annually at the disposal of the society, though at present not unsatisfactory, is an uncertain quantity. The Mannin series having come to an end, the committee have come with the greatest reluctance to the decision that it would be unwise to undertake such responsibility during the war. They cherish the purpose however, of resuming publication when conditions again become normal, and meanwhile hold themselves in readiness to expend a limited sum in issuing a temporary publication, smaller in size and more modest in character, during the coming year, if circumstances arise which seem to demand or warrant such a course.


One of the most interesting events of the year was the Pan-Celtic conference at Birkenhead, which was convened by the National Union of Welsh Societies, and held in association with the National Eisteddfod of Wales. Representatives from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Brittany and Mann attended, and a (helpful and illuminating week was spent. A report of the recent work of Yn Cheshaght Gailckagh was read, and was well received. A Celtic Union was formed with the object of united efforts being made for the protection and development of language, literature and nationality in all the Celtic countries, each national society appointing a strong national committee. It is hoped that this union will do good work and stimulate the interest of belts in their sister nations.


Turning now to yn ghlare Vanninagh itself, a new venture is being tried this year in the form of an organisation for the purpose of bringing children together in groups, under competent teachers, to study their mother-tongue and generally develop their sense of nationality. In order to secure competent teachers for these proposed groups it is necessary to start with adult classes, and those being formed at various centres. The Douglas class opened a week ago, with Mr J. J. Kneen as teacher, and already a dozen students have been enrolled. Arrangements are being made to start a similar class in Peel, it is hoped that it may be possible to start one in Ramsey also ere long. Later on, as soon as may be found practicable, junior ups will be formed; and it is hoped that real interest may be awakened among the children especially in the country districts, where, as a rule, there are fewer counter-attractions.


Relations with sister Manx Societies have been cordial if communication has been infrequent; and two members of the London Manx Society [G. W. Wood & C. I. Paton] have been appointed Celtic delegates in London.

In conclusion, let us hope that the coming year will see the end of the present unrest and strife, and the dawn of a brighter era for Mann and all other small nations whose freedom is now infringed or threatened.

A hearty round of applause followed the reading of the report.

The Chairman said the society should be very grateful to Miss Douglas for her report, which took a comprehensive view of the society's operations and explained very clearly how the society stood. He called upon Mr Cubbon to submit the treasurer's report.

The hon. treasurer (Mr W. Cubbon) read the balance-sheet as follows:-


Receipts and Expenditure from Hollantide, 1916, to Hollantide 1917.

To Balance in bank (1916)

£12 16 2

„ Life member's subscription

1 1 0

„ Ordinary members' subscriptions

6 17 6

„ Sales of publications

16 6

„ Bank interest

5 0


£21 16 2

By Fund for printing Song Books for Manx Sailors and Sailors

£2 0 0

„ Banker's commission


„ Credit balance

18 14 5


£21 16 2

W. CUBBON, treasurer.

Audited and found correct, 2nd November, 1917. J. KEWLEY, M.A., Archdeacon.

Mr Cubbon said : I should explain that although last year's accounts showed a balance of £12, strictly speaking the balance was £3 18s less, for the reason that that sum did not belong to the society, but was a fund for providing Manx literature for the Manx soldiers. This scheme was initiated by one of our vice-presidents, Private Walter Gill, who has himself been in France for nearly two years. That sum of £3 18s was the proceeds of the sales of his volume, " Juan y Pheric and other poems" issued last year. You will see by the balance-sheet that £2 has been paid out of this account this year for printing Manx song books for the soldiers. The subscriptions to the society, notwithstanding the very trying circumstances, are keeping up well. This year they amount to £9 as against £11 last year, and I have received nearly £2 since the balance-sheet was made up. I would like to draw the attention of the members and friends of the society to the fact that we have in stock a number of publications which I feel sure would be wanted, but those interested seem to think they are out of print. A few copies are yet in hand of Mr Goodwin's " Capital Grammar" and also of Mr Kneen's " Teacher." Mr Kneen's book is based on the Berlitz system, or direct method of teaching languages, which has been proved to be the most successful yet tried. Copies are yet in stock of Mr H. P. Kelly's "First Primer," which is intended for juveniles. It is illustrated, and costs only threepence. Manx students who are more advanced may be able to read the Psalms of David in metre, published by the society some years ago. It is surprising to realise the large number of educational and useful works published by the society during its existence. Altogether there are twenty volumes and pamphlets. Besides these we have published quite a large number of traditional Manx songs; and there is the beautiful : "Carval Abban Rushen," the work of Mr J. E. Quayle, which ought to be more widely known. We have three plays by Mr Christopher Shimmin, issued at sixpence, namely, " Illiam Kedhere's Will," " Luss ny Graill," and " The Charm," and also Cushag's delightful. little " Glen Aldyn Play." There are also collotype portraits of T. E. B., size 20 x 15, at a popular price.

Mr P. W. Caine moved the adoption of the reports of the hon. secretary and the hon. treasurer, which he said showed that the society's work during the year had been quite satisfactory. They had all listened with great interest to the first report presented by the new secretary. When Miss Douglas was appointed to succeed the late Miss Morrison, the society held lively anticipation of her success, and he was sure that those anti-cipations had been thoroughly justified. There was every reason to feel that the promise already given would mature more and more as the years went by (applause).

Mr S. K. Broadbent seconded the motion. The report, he said, expressed the deep regret the society felt at the death of Miss Morrison, and he was sure the expression could not be too much accentuated. It was a matter of extreme gratification that there was such an able successor in Miss Douglas. The report quite justified her appointment, and he was sure she would be of great service to the society in the years to come.

The motion was agreed to.


The address of the retiring President (Mr G. W. Wood) was read by Mr W. Cubbon, as follows: —

Ladies and gentlemen, — It has been my pleasure and privilege to fill the office of president of Yn Cheshaght Gailckagh for the past year. Although a small society in point of numbers, it can be claimed for it that it is the sole representative of a language which belongs to the old and interesting group of Celtic languages having for its sisters Irish and Scotch. Through no fault of its own Manks is unfortunately hastening to its doom, as was the fate of its Cornish cousin more than a century ago, and, notwithstanding all efforts to the contrary, it will soon be only a remembrance and a theme for philologists. A year or two ago there were still people living — perhaps some are living yet — who had been first taught to speak English at the schools. Nowadays we should be only too glad if the children were taught a little Manks there also. Manks must, no doubt, die as a spoken tongue, though we should do all we can to put off the evil day; but the written language will still survive, and will always be of interest to Manxmen and all others who love Ellan Vannin. The Cornish literature is mentioned by most writers on Celtic philology, yet it has not one-tenth — not one-hundredth-part of the literature which the Manks language possesses, either native or translated. It is not a little remarkable that only one ancient manuscript in Manks has come down to us, and that in an imperfect form, namely, the copy of the Prayer Book translated by Bishop Phillips in 1610, which I am glad to know is now a national heirloom. Hardly less remarkable is it that for nearly a century afterwards no book was printed in the language; that it, until the catechism of Bishop Wilson in 1707. The epoch-making event in the history of the language was, of course, the most excellent translation of the Bible by the clergymen of the Island in 1771-5. In the period before and after these dates there were many publications in Manks, but the need for them may be said to have passed with the issue of a small book of prayers in 1846. After that date English became the common language of the people, though Manks lingered on in a somewhat discredited way. Specimens of it were printed by the Mona's Herald press in 1870, and spasmodic attempts were made to revive its use, notably by the lessons in Manks given by Captain Christian in Douglas about 1880, and the public readings in Manks in Douglas and Peel presided over by Parson Caine of Kirk Lonan; all to no purpose, Manks remained lifeless. Its present revival dates from 1898, and emanated from a letter written to the Isle of Man Examiner by Mr E. R. Evans, of Carnarvon, who urged the natives of the Isle of Man "to create a patriotic revival which will keep language a distinctive feature of themselves" as in the case of the Welsh. Other letters followed from Mr E. E. Fournier, Mr J. J. Kneen, and others, including myself, advocating the claims of Manks as a national heritage. It will be remembered that classes were afterwards formed in various parts of the Island, and largely through the instrumentality of William Quayle, of Ballamilgyn, Yn Cheshaght Ghailckagh sprang out of them. After his untimely death came Miss Sophia Morrison, whose literary work and journal Mannin have been the theme of richly deserved praise, and whose early death we all deplore. It is a matter of great regret that the journal in question, which have come to regard as our organ, is to be suspended — we trust only temporarily — for without such a mouthpiece it will not be easy to keep alive the interest in the movement. This leads me to another important question which has arisen in connection with the English title of our society. Objection has been taken to its being called "The Manx Society" as being an appropriation of the title of the old Manx Society of 1858 onwards, which, although it has published nothing for twenty-four years, still exists in a moribund condition. It is hardly necessary to remind members that this new name was substituted for that of " The Manx Language Society " four years ago, and only recently has it been seriously challenged. But no disadvantage would, I think, accrue by reverting to the original title, which, moreover, more specifically expresses the aim and objects of the society. The committee have the subject before them, and will, I understand, bring it before this meeting for your decision. The chief work done by the old Manx Society was the publication of native literature and old books relating to the Island, and on the whole it was done well. Part of this work has been carried on by the Manx Language Society in a manner which would, I am sure, have had the cordial support of the old society. The Carvals collected by the energy of Mr Philip Caine, are to be printed in book form, and after the war it is hoped that this part of our work may increase. Indeed I should like to see a Manx Text Society on the lines of other similar societies formed of such members of our body as are especially interested in Gailck literature, to publish and reprint rare Manx pamphlets, for there is no lack of material. But, under whatever name the society may be known in the future, I am convinced that its members will remain faithful to the cause of which it is the symbol, and work together for maintaining its integrity in spite of the difficulties which are not lessened by the war, in which the little Manx nation has borne its full share. I thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for the kind feeling which prompted you to offer me the presidency of our little society, which effluxion of time requires me now to vacate.

Streatham. G. W. WOOD, A.K.C.

Mr Broadbent proposed that the best thanks of the society be accorded Mr Wood for his services as president during the past year. Mr Wood, he said, had done a great deal for the society, although he was handicapped by living off the Island and could only keep in touch with the society by correspondence. He (Mr Wood) had a very warm feeling for the Isle of Man. He was a London gentleman who had married a Manx lady — her mother was a Cregeen. Mr Wood took up the study of Manx because of this, and not only had he mastered the Manx language, but he had collected a large number of books, pamphlets, and pictures connected with the Island — his collection was, without doubt, the largest and best of the kind in the world. He hoped that in the course of a few years Mr Wood would be able to come and live here.

Mr Cubbon seconded the motion, which was agreed to.



The meeting proceeded to the appointment of officials and committee.

Mr P. W. Caine said he had the greatest pleasure in nominating Mr Henry Percy Kelly, B.A., as president of the society for the coming year. For a considerable number of years Mr Kelly had been a prominent member of the society, and had also undertaken various activities for the furtherance and cultivation of the Manx language. He had published a primer of the language under the auspices of the society, and was the official translator of Acts of Tynwald. Several years ago Mr Kelly was one of the representatives of the society at the Pan-Celtic Congress, and he was a gentleman of a very high standard of education and very considerable ability. He (Mr Caine) was sure that Mr Kelly would prove a most useful president and a worthy successor of previous presidents.

Dr Marshall, seconding the motion, remarked that there was one qualification Mr Kelly possessed which Mr Caine had not mentioned. He was the only member of the society that he (Dr Marshall) knew of who had won the prize for Manx at King William's College.

The motion was agreed to with acclamation.

The Chairman said that Mr Kelly had intended being present at the meeting, but was detained by a business engagement.

The vice-presidents were appointed as follows: — The Ven. Archdeacon Kewley, Rev J. W. Karran, Canon Leece, Dr Marshall, Private W. W. Gill, and Mr G. W. Wood. The last-mentioned was appointed in place of Mr Thomas Moore, of Brookfield, who had resigned in consequence of ill-health.

The following were elected as the committee for the year: — Canon Kermode, Mr J. J. Kneen, Mr W. A. Craine, Mr P. W. Caine, Mr C. R. Shimmin, Mr S. K. Broadbent, and Mrs J. E. Quayle. Mrs Quayle takes the place on the committee of Mr H. P. Kelly, the newly-appointed president.

Mr W. Cubbon proposed the re-election of Miss Mona Douglas as hon. secretary. He said that Miss Douglas's heart and soul were in the work of the society. The late Miss Morrison and be had worked in harness together for 14 years, and he did not think they had quarreled more than an ordinary man and woman ought to quarrel. If they again put him into the position of treasurer — he did not ask them to do so — he thought that Miss Douglas and he would agree very heartily together. Mr Broadbent seconded the motion.

The Chairman said he had great pleasure in putting the motion. Miss Douglas only made her debut last year, and she had started very well (hear, hear). The society liked to get hold of young and capable officers, and they had made a most excellent discovery in Miss Douglas.

The motion was agreed to with acclamation.

Miss Douglas said she had felt it very hard coming into the position after such a splendid person as Miss Morrison. She thanked the members for all the kind things that had been said about her, and she would do her best to prove herself worthy of the confidence that had been reposed in her and to advance the society in every way (applause).

The Chairman said that Mr Cubbon had held the position of hon. treasurer for so many years in a most satisfactory way that they began to look upon him as sort of permanent undersecretary of State (laughter).

Mr P. W. Caine said he would like to have the privilege of moving the re-election of Mr Cubbon to the very important position. He had had many opportunities of witnessing Mr Cubbon's devotion to duty, and the conscientious manner in which he performed it. He was sure that in the Isle of Man the could not find a better or more reliable administrator of the finances of the society than they had in Mr Cubbon.

Dr Marshall seconded the motion which was agreed to with acclamation. On the motion of Mr Broadbent, the Ven. Archdeacon Kewley was re-appointed as hon. auditor.


Mr Cubbon read the following memorandum prepared for the consideration of the committee of the society with reference to a suggested change in the name of the society

The committee are no doubt aware that there has been, and still is, a strong objection on the part of the representatives of the original " Manx Society" to the use by Yn Cheshaght Ghailckagh of the English title of "The Manx Society," and it would appear that there are good grounds for such objection. The change of name made a few years ago seems to have been an unfortunate one — it was no doubt prompted by a desire to widen the scope of the society's aims — and, in view of the feeling which exists, the committee would no doubt wish to consider whether a change should not again be made. Various suggestions have been offered by friends, but none, I think, likely to give such general satisfaction as a reversion to the original and exact English equivalent of the Manx title. I venture to hope that, if the committee decide upon the advisability of a change, they will agree to go back to the original English title of " The Manx Language Society."


Mr Cubbon said the matter had been brought before the committee and had it discussed at the last meeting. It was decided by the committee to leave the matter in the hands of the annual meeting. The committee expressed no opinion on the proposal. He formally moved, on Mr Wood's behalf, that the old name be reverted to, but would vote against the motion.

Mr Broadbent said that to put the motion in order he would second the motion pro forma, but, like Mr Cubbon, did not promise to vote for it.

The Chairman said that three years ago he was utterly opposed to changing the name from the Manx Language Society to the Manx Society. He was brought up to have a great respect for the old Manx Society, and he objected to this society stealing its clothes and masquerading in its name. He did not, however, like the suggestion to revert to old name of the Marx Language Society and would prefer the name, Manx Literary Society or Manx Literature Society. He feared that people were under the impression that membership of Manx Language Society involved knowledge of the Manx language, and as they were not very fond of learning languages they refrained from joining. He suggested that as little notice had been given of the matter it should be adjourned.

Dr Marshall opposed the change, and said "Manx Society" stood for anything and everything that was Manx. It had said they had borrowed some other society's name, but where did they get from ?

Chairman : They had it before us, at any rate.

Dr Marshall said that when the present name was adopted no representative of the old society opposed its adoption, and he maintained that this society had a perfect right to it.

Mr Caine said that when the matter came before the committee, he confessed that he rather shared the chairman's tender conscience as to making free with other people's robes. On the other hand he very much disliked disrobing and to stand shivering in the cold. To again change the name would, he thought, be confusing, and they thought that, all things considered, they had best stick to the name they now had. Personally he would prefer some such name as the Manx Language Society or the Manx Literature Society as being more expressive of the whole scope of the society's operations; but as one change had already been made, it was a matter for serious consideration whether they should make a further change either by reverting to the original name or by adopting another name. This was the view that some members of the committee took.

The Chairman thought they should either refer the matter to the committee or adjourn it to another meeting.

Mr Caine moved as an amendment that the matter be adjourned to the next annual meeting.

The Chairman : And in the meantime we might arrange with our ancestors as to whether we may keep their clothes.

Canon Kermode seconded the amendment, which was agreed to.

On the motion of Mr Broadbent, seconded by Canon Kermode, a vote of thanks was accorded Canon Leece for presiding.

Canon Leece briefly responded,


Back index next


Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received MNB Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2003