Isle of Man

2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Geography of Great Britain

Ellan Vannin
Isle of Man
Flag of the Isle of Man Coat of arms of the Isle of Man
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: Quocunque Jeceris Stabit  (Latin)
"Whithersoever you throw it, it will stand"
Anthem: Isle of Man National Anthem
Location of the Isle of Man
Capital Douglas
54°09′N 4°29′W
Largest city Douglas
Official languages English, Manx
Government Crown Dependency (UK
 - Lord of Mann Elizabeth II
 - Lieutenant Governor Paul Haddacks
 - Chief Minister Donald Gelling
 - First Deemster Michael Kerruish
 - President of Tynwald Noel Cringle
Independence Crown dependency 
 - Passed to British crown 1765 
 - Total 572 km² ( 191st)
221 sq mi 
 - Water (%) 0
 - July 2005 estimate 76,538 ( 201st)
 - Density 131.2/km² ( 75th)
339.6/sq mi
GDP ( PPP) 2003 estimate
 - Total $2.113 billion ( 182nd)
 - Per capita $28,500 ( 19th)
HDI  (n/a) n/a (unranked) ( n/a)
Currency Pound sterling1 ( GBP)
Time zone GMT ( UTC+0)
 - Summer ( DST) ( UTC+1)
Internet TLD .im
Calling code +44 (UK area code 01624)
1 The Isle of Man Treasury issues its own sterling notes and coins (see Manx pound).
Not to be confused with the phantom Isle of Mam.

The Isle of Man ( Manx: 'Ellan Vannin') or Mann (Manx: 'Mannin'), is an island located in the Irish Sea at the geographical centre of the British Isles. Although it is not part of the United Kingdom, it is a Crown dependency.


The Isle of Man is part of the British Isles, an archipelago off the north-western coast of mainland Europe. The island lies in the Irish Sea, approximately equidistant between England, Scotland and Ireland.

Approximately 48 kilometres (32  miles) long and between 13 and 24 kilometres (8 and 15  miles) wide, the island has an area of around 572 km² (221  square miles).

Hills in the north and south are bisected by a central valley. The extreme north is exceptionally flat, consisting mainly of deposits built up by deposition from glacial advances from Western Scotland during colder times. There are more recently deposited shingle beaches at the Point of Ayre. It has only one mountain higher than 2,000 feet, Snaefell, with a height of 621 metres (2,036 ft). According to an old saying, from the summit one can see six kingdoms: those of Mann, Scotland, England, Ireland, Wales, and Heaven , , . Some versions add a seventh kingdom, that of Neptune or the Sea , .


According to the 2001 census, the Isle of Man is home to 76,315 people, of whom around 25,347 reside in the Island's capital, Douglas (Doolish). This gives the island a population density of 133 per square kilometre, or 345 people per square mile.


The culture of the Isle of Man is strongly influenced by its Celtic and Norse origins. Manx is closely related to the Scottish Gaelic and Irish languages.

By the middle of the 20th century only a few elderly native speakers remained (the last of them, Ned Maddrell, died on December 27, 1974), but by then a scholarly revival had begun to spread to the populace and many had learned Manx as a second language. The first native speakers of Manx (bilingual with English) in many years have now appeared: children brought up by Manx-speaking parents. Primary immersion education in Manx is provided by the Manx government: since 2003, the former St. John's School building has been used by the Bunscoill Gaelgagh (Manx language-medium school). Degrees in Manx are available from the Isle of Man College, the Centre for Manx Studies and the University of Edinburgh. Manx-language playgroups also exist, and Manx language classes are available in island schools. In the 1991 census, 1,689 out of a population of about 71,000 claimed to have knowledge of Manx, although the degree of knowledge in these cases presumably varied. It is currently enjoying a revival of the Gaelic Manx language (Gaelg).

A well known Manx expression is "Traa Dy Liooar", meaning "time enough" and represents a stereotypical view of the Manx attitude to life.

Food and drink

The national dish of the island is "Spuds and Herrin'", boiled potatoes and herring. This plain dish is chosen because of its role supporting the subsistence farmers of the island, who crofted the land and fished the sea for centuries.

Seafood makes up a large proportion of the Manx diet. Although commercial fishing has declined in recent years, local delicacies include manx kippers (smoked herring) which are produced by the smokeries on the west coast of the island, albeit mainly from North Sea herring these days. The smokeries also produce other specialities including smoked salmon and bacon.

Crab, lobster and scallops are commercially fished, and the Queen Scallop ('Queenies') is regarded as a particular delicacy, with a light, sweet flavour. Cod, ling and mackerel are often angled for the table, and freshwater trout and salmon can be taken from the local rivers and lakes, supported by the Government fish hatchery at Cornaa.

Manx meat has a good reputation. Cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry are all commercially farmed, Manx lamb from the hill-farms being a popular dish. The Loughtan, the indigenous breed of manx sheep, has a rich, dark meat that has found favour with chefs, featuring in dishes on the BBC's Masterchef series.

Milk and cheese are produced by IOM Creameries. Manx cheese has been a particular success, featuring smoked and herb-flavoured varieties, and is stocked by many of the UK's supermarket chains. Manx cheese took bronze medals in the 2005 British Cheese Awards, and sold 578 tonnes over the year.

Beer is brewed on a commercial scale by Okells Brewery (established in 1850) and Bushy's Brewery.

Okells produces a number of beers including classic bitters, ales and milds, with a range of specialities including "Mac Lir" wheat beer and "Aile" smoked porter.

Martin Brunnschweiler's "Bushy's Brewery" is a relatively recent startup that has found favour with the younger crowd and with the TT fans who congregate in his beer tent over the TT festival. Bushy's produces ales, bitters and stouts, including "Old Bushy Tail" and "Piston Brew", alongside one-off specials and seasonal brews.

"Manx Spirit", a spirit distilled from Scotch whisky, is produced by Kella Distillers.



The Isle of Man is a self-governing crown dependency. The Head of State is the Lord of Mann, who since 1765 has been the British Sovereign, currently Elizabeth II. She is represented by the Island's Lieutenant Governor. The United Kingdom is responsible for the Island's defence and for representing the Island in international forums, while the Island's own parliament has competence over almost all domestic matters.

The Island's parliament is Tynwald (Tinvaal), which dates from at least AD 979. Tynwald is a bicameral legislature, comprising the House of Keys (directly elected by universal suffrage) and the Legislative Council (consisting of indirectly elected and ex officio members). These two bodies meet together in joint session as Tynwald. There is a Council of Ministers, which is headed by the Chief Minister, currently Donald Gelling MLC.

A satellite picture of the Isle of Man
A satellite picture of the Isle of Man

External relations

Under British law, Mann is not part of the United Kingdom. However, the UK takes care of its external and defence affairs, and retains paramount power to legislate for the Island. The Isle of Man had a dispute with the European Court of Human Rights in the 1970s because it was reluctant to change its laws concerning birching (corporal punishment).

The Isle of Man holds neither membership nor associate membership of the European Union, and lies outside the European Economic Area (EEA). Nonetheless, Protocol Three of the treaty of accession of the United Kingdom permits trade for Manx goods without non-EU tariffs. In conjunction with the Customs and Excise agreement with the UK, this facilitates free trade with the UK. While Manx goods can be freely moved within the EEA, people, capital and services cannot.

There is no Manx citizenship. Citizenship is covered by UK law, and Manx people are classed as British citizens. However, those defined as Manx under Protocol Three have a special endorsement placed in their passports preventing them from freely living or working in EU states. Those Manx persons with a parent or grandparent born in the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland), or who have lived in the UK for five years, are not subject to this provision.

The restriction on free movement of persons is anomalous in that the treaty establishing the EU (formerly EEC) clearly states that all citizens of member states will also be citizens of the EU. However a special protocol was inserted in the Treaty of Accession of the United Kingdom excluding the Channel Islands and Isle of Man from the provisions governing free movement of people. This was done at the request of the governments of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man at the time.

Travel to the Isle of Man is regulated by the local government laws, although the Isle of Man is part of the Common Travel Area. Visitors from countries who require a UK visa may also require a special Manx visa, obtainable from a British diplomatic mission. All non-Manx, including UK citizens, are required to obtain a work permit to take up employment on the Island until they have lived there for five years or more.


Most Manx politicians stand for election as independents rather than as representatives of political parties. Though political parties do exist, their influence is not nearly as strong as is the case in the United Kingdom. Consequently, much Manx legislation develops through consensus among the members of Tynwald, which contrasts with the much more adversarial nature of the UK parliament.

One political party, Mec Vannin, advocates the establishment of a sovereign republic. A Manx Labour Party also exists, unaffiliated to the UK Labour Party. The island formerly had a Manx National Party and a Manx Communist party. There are Manx members in the Celtic League, a political pressure group that advocates greater co-operation between and political autonomy for the Celtic nations. The main political issues include the Island's relationship with the finance sector, housing prices and shortages, and the Manx language. The vast majority of the members of the House of Keys are non-partisan (19), with two representatives from the Manx Labour Party and three from the Alliance for Progressive Government. The next scheduled election is in 2006.

Local government

Isle of Man sheadings map
Isle of Man sheadings map

The Isle of Man is divided into six administrative districts, called sheadings. The six sheadings are Ayre, Glenfaba, Garff, Michael, Rushen and Middle. The sheadings form the basis of some constituencies and each has a Coroner. This office must not be confused with the Coroner for Inquests, a role usually fulfilled by the High Bailiff. A person may fulfil the role of coroner for more than one sheading at the same time.

The term 'sheading' is thought to be a Norse word for 'ship division'; each district was believed to be responsible for producing a certain number of warships. It could also be a Celtic word meaning 'sixth part'.


The Isle of Man is a low tax economy with income tax rates of 10% and 18% and 0% rate of corporate tax. Offshore banking, manufacturing, and tourism form key sectors of the economy of the Isle of Man. The government's policy of offering incentives to high-technology companies and financial institutions to locate on the Island has expanded employment opportunities in high-income industries. As a result, agriculture and fishing, once the mainstays of the economy, have declined in their shares of gross domestic product (GDP). Banking and other services now contribute the great bulk of GDP. Trade takes place mostly with the United Kingdom. The Isle of Man has access to European Union markets.

The Isle of Man has also recently entered the online gambling industry. In 2005 PokerStars, one of the world's largest online poker sites, relocated its headquarters to the Isle of Man from Costa Rica.

The Manx government also promotes island locations for making films by contributing to the production costs. Among the most successful productions funded in part by the Isle of Man film industry were Waking Ned, where the Manx countryside stood in for rural Ireland, and films like Stormbreaker, Shergar, Tom Brown's Schooldays, I Capture the Castle, The Libertine (with Johnny Depp), Island at War (TV series), 5 Children and IT, Colour me Kubrick, Sparkle, etc: see

Since 1999, the Isle of Man has received electricity through the world's longest submarine AC cable, the 90 kV Isle of Man to England Interconnector, as well as from a natural gas power station in Douglas, an oil power station in Peel and a small hydro-electric power station in Sulby Glen.


Ancient times to present

The Isle of Man became a Viking outpost/kingdom from circa AD 700 to AD 900. The Norse Kingdom of Mann and the Isles was created by Godred Crovan in 1079. Norway's King Magnus VI ceded the isles to Scotland in 1266, as dictated in the Treaty of Perth. The Isle of Man came under English control in the 14th century and to the British Crown in 1765.

The Isle of Man was used as a base for Alien Civilian Internment camps in both the First World War (1914-18) and the Second World War (1939-45).

Trivia: During Viking times the Isle of Man was the mainland of the Western Isles, Mull, Skye, etc.. It is still considered offensive to refer to the UK as the mainland. Being the Southern (most) Isle, it was named Sodor. Churches on the Island are under the stewardship of the Diocese of Sodor and Man. When Rev. W. V. Awdry wrote Thomas the Tank Engine he based the island of Sodor on his memories of visits to the Isle of Man. The film Thomas and the Magic Railroad was filmed in part on the Isle of Man.

Myth, Legend and Folklore

Like most Celtic races the Manx have a rich tradition of folklore, and there are many stories of mythical creatures and characters. These include the Buggane - a malevolent spirit who according to legend blew the roof off St Trinian's church in a fit of pique; and the Moddey Dhoo - a ghostly black dog who wandered the walls and corridors of Peel Castle.

The Isle of Man is also said to be home to fairies, known locally as "the quaer fellas" or "themselves". There is a famous Fairy Bridge and it is said to be bad luck if one doesn't wish the fairies good morning or afternoon when passing over it.

The Tynwald

The Island arguably has the oldest continuous parliament in the world, the Tynwald, nominally founded in 979 AD (both the Icelandic parliament and the Faroese parliament are older, but they were abolished between 1800 - 1845, and 1816 - 1852 respectively). The annual ceremonial meeting at Tynwald Hill, on Tynwald Day in July, continues the celebration of the Island's national day. The main purpose of the occasion is to read the titles and to give a brief description of the new laws which have been enacted by the Tynwald Court during the previous year.

The Triskelion

Car registration plate, with the triskelion
Car registration plate, with the triskelion

For centuries, the Island's symbol has been the ancient Triskelion and is similar to Sicily's Trinacria: three bent legs, each with a spur, joined at the thigh. The Triskelion does not appear to have an official definition — Government publications, currency, flags, the tourist authority and others all use different variants. Most, but not all, preserve rotational symmetry. Some run clockwise, others anticlockwise. Some have the uppermost thigh at 12:00, others at 11:30 or 10:00, etc. Some have the knee bent at 90°, some at 60°, some at closer to 120°. Also the degree of ornamentation of the leg wear and spur vary considerably.

The three legs relate directly to the island's motto — Quocunque Jeceris Stabit, which translates to Whithersoever you throw it, it will stand. Interpretations of the motto often stress stability and robustness in the Manx character. Many schools on the island have adapted the motto to promote perseverance and hard work.

Variations on the Triskelion are still in use on the coats of arms belonging to the different branches of the ancient Norwegian noble family that ruled Mann up until the 13th century. This particular version belongs to the Skancke branch of the Skanke family. The name stems from skank, the Norwegian version of the word shank. The Norse royal family of Man stayed on the island for some years after the death of Magnus III and the beginning of Scottish rule. The family's emigration only came after the a final attempt on the Manx' part at restoring the old Sudreyar dynasty in the 1275 uprising against the Scots. This revolt failed disastrously, ending in the deaths of hundreds of rebels, including the last Norse King of Man, Godred IV Magnuson when the Manx suffered defeat in the decisive Battle of Ronaldsway, near Castletown. When the Norse-Manx royals arrived in Norway they took service as nobles of the Norwegian king, quickly becoming knights, landlords, and clergy under the Norwegian Crown.


The Isle of Man is represented as a nation in the Commonwealth Games and the Island Games and will be hosting the IV Commonwealth Youth Games in 2011. The Island started the Island Games in 1985.

Isle of Man teams and individuals participate in many sports both on and off the island. Among the many sports played on the island are cricket, football, gymnastics, hockey and rugby union.

Motorcycle racing

The main international motorcycle event associated with the island is the Isle of Man TT, which began in 1907 and takes place in late May & early June. It is now an international road racing event for motor bikes and used to be part of the World Championship. The Manx Grand Prix is a motorcycle event for amateurs and private entrants that uses the same 37.73 mile Snaefell mountain course in late August and early September.


One sport that originated on the Isle of Man is cammag. This is similar to the Scottish game of shinty, and Irish hurling. It used to be the most widespread sport on the Isle of Man, but it ceased to be played after the introduction of football, until very recently when it has been somewhat revived. It involves a stick (cammag) and a ball (crick) with anything between four and hundreds of players. Sometimes whole towns and villages took part, or even played each other. The cammag can be any stick with a bent end, and the crick can be made from cork or wood. Old accounts tell us that it was occasionally covered in a rag to make it less painful to hit. Cammag season started on Hunt the Wren Day ( 26 December) and was only played by men (of all ages) during the winter. Realistically, it ceased to be played around 1900. However, in modern times, an annual match of cammag is played in St. John's (Balley Keill Eoin). As there are no rules to cammag, a trip to the local inn is advised to ease any feelings of cowardice beforehand!

Famous residents

A number of famous people born, previously or currently living on the island:

  • The Bee Gees were born on the island. Their parents ran the Post Office in Union Mills. Maurice Gibb returned for a spell during the 1970's. Robin Gibb is in the process of returning to the Island with his family (November 2006).
  • BBC Radio presenter Andy Kershaw lives in Peel.
  • Robert Henry Cain (2 January 1909 - 2 May 1974) was an oil company executive who was awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry during Operation Market Garden in September 1944. He was the father of Frances Catherine Cain (Francie Clarkson), wife of Jeremy Clarkson.
  • Jeremy Clarkson has a home at Langness, near Castletown. His wife Frances was born on the island, a place described by Clarkson in 2004 as "a thorn in the side of Tony Blair's nanny state," because of its lack of an upper speed limit. This home was revealed to be a lighthouse during the July 5, 2006 episode of The F-Word.
  • Alan Warner, a multi-millionaire and prolific writer, novelist, lyricist and screenwriter born December 8, 1960 in Bolton, Lancashire. He moved to the Isle of Man from the UK in 1989. He lives a reclusive and modest lifestyle at a lighthouse in the north of the island.
  • Neil Hodgson, the 2003 World Superbike champion.
  • George MacDonald Fraser, the journalist, author, and screenwriter; the title of his 2002 memoir Light's on at Signpost is a reference to the Isle of Man TT race.
  • Nigel Mansell, the British racing driver, lived on the Isle of Man together with his family, including his sons Leo and Greg, both racing drivers themselves, and was a Special Constable throughout his Formula One career. After retirement, he later moved to Jersey and then to the USA.
  • Justin Jackson is a professional footballer who played for numerous English league and non-league clubs including Bolton Wanderers, Halifax Town, Rushden and Diamonds, Doncaster Rovers and Morecambe.
  • Rick Wakeman has lived on the island for a number of years.
  • Sir Norman Wisdom, comedian and actor, is a long-term resident.
  • Charlotte Lamb, a prolific and bestselling romantic novelist (1937 – 2000), best-known for writing over 150 Mills & Boon novels, lived on the Island from 1977 until her death in October 2000.
  • Florrie Forde (1876 – 1940), known as the queen of the music hall sing along chorus, performed at the Derby Castle ballroom stage from 1900 to 1937 (excluding the war years) and had a bungalow at Niarbyl Bay on the west coast of the island where she spent her Sundays relaxing.
  • John Rhys-Davies has lived on the island for a number of years and is best known for his acting roles in Indiana Jones as Sallah, in Sliders as Professor Arturo and in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy as Gimli.
  • Alex Lloyd (racing driver), winner of the McLaren Autosport Young Driver of the Year Award, is from the island.
  • T.E. Brown Manx poet, scholar and theologian.

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