| ISLE OF MAN - TRAVEL AND DESTINATION INFORMATION
ISLE OF MAN:- The Isle of Man is a wonderful place of beauty and history which lies in the Irish sea between the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Getting to and from the Isle of Man by ferry is fast, convenient, comfortable and affordable.
About The Isle of Man
The Isle of Man, just 33 miles long by 13 miles wide, is a must for all countryside lovers with its many different landscapes and breathtaking views.
Official languages: None, though English is the working language of the Government. Manx enjoys some recognition in law.
Capital: Douglas (Doolish)
Currency Isle of Man: The IOM Treasury issues its own notes and coins with a fixed 1:1 exchange rate to the pound sterling.
Time Zone: GMT, UTC, (DST +1),
National Anthem: Isle of Man National Anthem
National Flower: Cushag
National Birds: Peregrine Falcon and Raven
Calling Code: 44 (UK area code 01624)
More About The Isle of Man
Do not make the mistake of calling the Isle of Man part of England; nothing annoys a Manx native more!The Isle enjoys a unique status in the UK; it has its own parliament and its own tax laws. Or to be more precise, its own lack of tax laws, for it is the Isle of Man's loose interpretation of taxation that makes it a haven for British investors anxious to avoid the high taxes imposed on the mainland.
The island is roughly 33 miles long and ten miles wide, and most of those miles is given over to a high plateau split by deep river canyons. The coast is beautiful in a rough, craggy way, but this is not the place to come for a relaxing beachfront holiday. On the other hand if you are a motorcycle fancier, the Isle of Man is Mecca; each year in May and June the island's population of 70,000 is swollen by the arrival of 45,000 motorcycling fanatics, as the series of races known as the Tourist Trophy (TT) take over.
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 345 people per square mile, or 133 per square kilometer.
The capital of Douglas was a popular Victorian seaside destination, though it has seen better days. The Manx Museum in Douglas explores the island's past and present, including the ever-present TT. If you aren't inspired by two wheels, take your own two feet out on a part of the 90 mile long Road of the Gull, a walking path which follows the coastline around the entire island.
Those looking for a more gentle means of exploration can sit back and admire the view on board one of the Island's historic transport systems. But perhaps the most spectacular ride of all is aboard the Snaefell Mountain Railway. Beginning at the old mining village of Laxey - home to the world's largest working waterwheel - the line climbs to the Island's highest point, from where it is possible to see the kingdoms of England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Mann, Heaven and the kingdom of the sea.
But it's not just heritage enthusiasts who enjoy visiting the Isle of Man, with eight quality golf courses and a mild winter climate, the Island is a must for golfers of all abilities.
The Island has a packed calendar of special events such as the world famous TT Motorcycle Races, as well as car rallies, railways, arts and music festivals are ideal themes around which to base a visit to the Island.
The southern tip of the Island is a rugged wilderness and is a haven for birdlife and fishing as well as a beautiful location for photography. The beauty and variety of the Island has not been lost on filmmakers either and you can follow the movie trail taking in locations for famous films such as Waking Ned and Tom Brown's School Days.
You'll never be short of things to do in the evenings with cinema, theatre and concerts at the Villa Marina & Gaiety Theatre Complex, as well as a wide range of restaurants and traditional pubs.
Isle of Man Cutlure
The culture of the Isle of Man is strongly influenced by its Celtic and Norse origins. It is currently enjoying a revival of the Goidelic Manx language (Gaelg).
Although the last original native speaker died in 1974, small children are once again being brought up speaking Manx. There are now 27 known native speakers and 650 other speakers. Manx is closely related to the Scottish Gaelic and Irish languages.
A well known Manx expression is "Traa Dy Liooar", meaning "time enough" and represents a stereotypical view of the Manx attitude to life.
History of Isle of Man
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 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 and 1845, and 1816 and 1852 respectively).
Car registration plate, with the triskelionFor centuries, the Island's symbol has been the ancient Triskelion: 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.
Skancke coat of armsVariations 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 kinsmen of Magnus III and Godfred Magnuson emigrated to Norway after the failure of the 1275 uprising against the Scots and became knights, landlords, and clergy under the Norwegian Crown.
Places of Interest in Isle of Man
- The capital city is the resort and port of Douglas. Every year motorcycle fans from around the world come here for the TT Races.
Douglas is situated on the east coast of the Isle of Man. Douglas has been the island's capital since 1863 and holds most of the island action. Its beautiful sea front is lined with picturesque hotels and restaurants. The shopping high street is filled with familiar names like Boots, Marks & Spencer, Next, etc, as well as many locally owned stores. Parking is available on the sea front or in various car parks around the town.
Tourists staying in Douglas should think about where they want to be. There are two sides to the hotel market. The south side is close to town, steam railway, buses and sea terminal. The north side leaves behind the noise of town and is closer to the Manx Electric Railway. From spring to early autumn the Horse Drawn Trams run along the front. This can make a big difference for those without cars, who wish to get along the 2 mile long promenade. Buses and Taxis are also available.
- The town of Laxey has its Laxey Wheel - a giant water pump. From here it's possible to take an electric tram to the peak of Snaefell.
Laxey is a village located on the east coast of the Island. Named from the Norse word for Salmon river 'laxa', due to the tales of great catches. Today Laxey is mainly a residential and tourist area, though in the past it was a thriving mining and fishing village. The Laxey Mines were the deepest mines in the world during the 1800's. The Great Laxey Wheel, 'Lady Isabella', was used to pump water out of the mines.
- Peel to the south is popular and attractive, and close by is Tynwald Hill - seat of the Manx Parliament.
Peel is the most Manx town on the Isle of Man. Here fishing thrives with a busy harbour. Loads of places to walk and scenery to enjoy. Lovely beach side town with many local shops of interest.
Peel sits on the west coast of the island, is the only city on the Isle of Man, and has the island's cathedral. It is here visitors will find a variety of interests, including a large ruin castle from 1392. Fishing has a long history in Peel as it once was the island's main fishing port. To this day the harbour can be seen filled with boats of the fishing trade. It is here that Herring is cured to make the famous Manx kippers.
Known as Manx town of the Island, Peel, offers many local shops and restaurants. There is an old style feel to the place with many narrow streets and small houses near the coast. There is a pleasant beach and promenade, which is nicely sheltered by hills and St Patrick's Isle. In the evening a stunning sunset can be seen, which is why Peel is also known as the Sunset City.
- Castletown is quiet and attractive and is the former capital of the island with a very long history as the the home of vikings, kings, and government. There is much to see and do in this historical coastal town.
Castletown sits on the site of an ancient volcano. The town was the capital of the island for hundreds of years. The government was run from within it before moving to Douglas and much of what the island is today started in this historical town.
Tracing its origins back to 1090, Castletown holds true as one of the oldest towns in the British Isles. Its narrow streets and small fishing cottages prove this ancient past at every corner. The medieval Castle Rushen, once the home of kings and later government, still dominates the centre of town.
Fishing boats continue to fill the harbour, though Castletown saw the end of major commercial traffic to its port in the 1970's. The on going expansion of financial and industrial businesses in the area keep Castletown on the map as an important island town.
Isle of Man City Tours & Activities
Tourists visiting the Isle of Man will discover a wide range of events and attractions. The island has everything from steam and electric trains to rock climbing and swimming with sharks.
Every year thousands of motorcyclists flock to the Isle of Man to experience the excitement of "TT", the high speed motorcycle race on public roads. Ramblers come to hike around the beautiful Isle of Man countryside through glens and mountains. Come for the action or for the peace. There is a wealth of Manx history from the Celtics to the Vikings.
Settlements, castles, and crosses mark the Isle of Man's long history. Whatever the interest or age, there is something for everyone on the Isle of Man.
Castle Rushen, in Castletown, is a 13th century fortress that was home to the medieval kings and lords of Man. More popular still is Peel Castle, whose sandstone defenses enclose the remains of 13th century St. German's Cathedral. Remains of early Viking presence at Peel are now to be seen in the Manx Museum. Nearby the castle is Tynwald Hill, where the independant Manx parliament, the Tynwald, gathers every July 5.
The delightful Manx Electric Railway is a Victorian tramway running from Douglas to Ramsey via Laxey, providing spectacular coastal views. It is the longest authentic narrow guage railway in Britain, at almost 18 miles in length, and boasts the oldest tramcars in the world still in regular operation.
The Cregneash Village Folk Museum provides a look at life on the Isle in days gone by, with displays of a traditional croft and fishing community, thatched cottages, and a working farm. Just beyond Cragneash is the small isle called Calf of Man, now a bird sanctuary. Regular cruises in summer take visitors to the island. Inland is the Chapel Hill Iron Age hillfort, scene of a fascinating Viking ship burial.
The Isle of Man Department of Tourism and Leisure is quick to point out that the island offers fine golfing, with 8 courses, and a variety of good fishing opportunities from stocked streams and reservoirs to swiftly running rivers.
If these outdoor pursuits do not excite you, visit Murray's Motorbike Museum, where over 120 historic and trophy-winning motorbikes dating from 1902 are on display.
Walkers can enjoy unspoilt coastal and hillside footpaths, and this little kingdom is perfect for bicycles, following clearly signposted routes, which make a series of cycle tracks throughout the Island.
Isle of Man Sport
The Isle of Man is famous for its TT Motorbike racing event, which began in 1904 as a motorcar race. From 1905, the TT was held as a closed roads motorcycle racing event and the original course was extended in the 1920s. This is now a series of annual motorcycle road races over 37.25 miles held from late May to early June. TT stands for Tourist Trophy. Excellent aerial view maps and full details of all racing can be seen at IOMGuide.com and message board discussions run all year at IOMTT.com
The 4.25 mile Billown Course Southern 100 course near Castletown has been the scene of further events in May, June and July since 1955.
Further racing takes place on the TT course each August-September in the form of the Manx Grand Prix. The idea of motor cycle racing for amateurs and private entrants on the famous TT course gave rise to the birth of the MGP back in 1921.
Linked to all this motor cycle racing are the Supporters Clubs, Riders Assns and, of course, the TT Marshals Association and the MGP Marshals Association as, without marshals, no racing would be possible.
Cammag is similar to the Scottish game of shinty, English hockey 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 (26th December) and was only played by men (of all ages) during the winter.
Realistically it ceased to be played about 1900, however today 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 is advised to ease any feelings of cowardice beforehand!
Football is also popular, with the Isle of Man Football Association running an football league of 27 clubs in two divisions, as well as an football combination for the reserve teams of the league clubs. There is also an national football team, although it does not participate in UEFA or FIFA tournaments.
An article on football can be found at Isle of Man national football team
There are a number of Rugby Union clubs that participate in the English rugby scene, such as Douglas R.U.F.C.; Castletown R.U.F.C.; Southern Nomads R.U.F.C.; and Vagabonds R.U.F.C.. It would be possible to enter an Isle of Man Sevens rugby team in the Commonwealth Games.
Basketball is also played in the Isle of Man.
There are many Manx hockey teams, with mixed, mens' and ladies' leagues. See Manx hockey website.
The Isle of Man Cricket Association broke their affiliation with the Lancashire Cricket Board in 2004 to become affiliate members of the International Cricket Council and compete as a national team in their own right.
The Isle of Man hosts very successful Men's and Women's gymnastics teams, which consist of gymnasts solely from Manx Gymnastics.
Recent accomplishments include 2001, 2003 and 2005 Island Games, the latest of which the gymnastics team came away with 29 medals, including 15 golds out of the total of 34 that the Isle of Man team won.
Manx Gymnastics sent a number of gymnasts to the 2004 Junior Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, and plan to send more to the 2006 Commonwealth Games.
Monarch Assurance international chess tournament is held in Port Erin every September-October.
Famous Isle of Man Residents
Despite the wet and cool climate, the low income tax regime and zero tax on personal investments attracts a small number of famous people to live on the island.
- The British racing driver Nigel Mansell lived on the Isle of Man together with his family until moving to the USA.
- Sir Norman Wisdom, comedian and actor, is a long term resident.
- The Bee Gees were born on the Island.
- Jeremy Clarkson has a home at Langness, near Castletown.
- Rick Wakeman has lived on the island for a number of years.
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