The Flag of the Isle of Mann — Click to enlarge

THE ISLE OF MANN (MANNIN): Located in the Irish Sea nearly equidistant from Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, the Isle of Mann has long enjoyed its own sort of independence. Never formally annexed to England, and to this day not a part of the United Kingdom, Mann remains a “crown dependency” whereby its hereditary ruler, the “Lord of Mann,” happens also to be the English monarch. Be that as it may, Mann is governed, at least locally, by its own representative body known as the House of Keys, whose roots go back over a thousand years to the popular decision-making assemblies held by the invading Norse.

By ancient tradition, the entire body of the Manx government assembles in public every 5th of July on “Tynwald Day” to hear the body of Manx laws read aloud in Manx and in English to receive the assent of the assembled populace. The Bank of Man retains the right to issue its own coins and paper currency, and the Manx Post Office prints its own stamps.

Mann’s fragile independence has in recent years been threatened by the island’s existence as an off-shore financial and tax haven, which has caused nearly half the island’s population be be outlanders come to take advantage of the low income tax rates, and by international economic organizations that have cast a cold eye on the island’s potential as a base for financial shenannigans. The large number of foreign banks and corporations that have set up on Mann to take advantage of the island’s political status have also been opposed by many native Manx, who fear the loss of the island’s independence and identity. Mann maintains its own nationalist party, MecVannin (“Sons of Mann”).

Since the death in 1948 of the last reputed native speaker of Manx, efforts have been underway to revive the language, resulting today in a small but growing number of native Manx for whom Manx is their cradle language.

Named for the Celtic sea god Mannan mac Lir, Mann’s foremost patriotic hero is Illiam Dhonne, who led an uprising against the island’s English overlords in 1651. Today, the Celtic League’s General Secretary and a lively Manx Branch continue to defend their country’s interests in the face of such issues as military exploitation and radioactive (and other) pollution of the Irish Sea.

For more information about Manx history, click on the links below:
Potato Riots on the Isle of Mann
The Novelist of Mannin
The Manx Have Landed