Photos courtesy of Rob Tysall
The Isle of Man is synonymous with the TT Races, but it’s also steeped in history and folklore – Oh yes, and kippers and queenies as Ann Evans discovered when visiting the island.
There’s an air of mystery surrounding the Isle of Man. This tiny island midway between the Irish and English coastlines is steeped in myths, magic and folklore. Legend tells of Manannan, a mythical Celtic sea god who would cloak the island in a magical fog to hide it from marauding invaders. Even today this vale of mist still shrouds the island from time to time.
The island, famous for its TT races, measures just 35 x 15 miles and you can explore by a variety of means. By road, bus, train, cycle or on foot. There’s a Victorian Steam Railway, a Victorian Electric Tramway, lots of paths for walking, from a 10-mile jaunt right up to a 100-mile coastal walk with all its stunning views.
For history lovers there are castles such as Peel Castle on St Patrick’s Isle which is connected to the town by a causeway. The castle was built by the Vikings in the 11th century, under the rule of King Magnus Barefoot. It is now owned by Manx National Heritage and open to visitors during the summer. Also Castle Rushen, one of the best examples of a medieval castle in Europe. Or you can soak up Manx history from Celtic times to present day at The House of Manannan Heritage Centre in Peel.
The Isle of Man is also something of a tax haven with its own Parliament, language, stamps and currency. And for those who love the great outdoors this is a tiny piece of heaven. Around its rugged coastline you can spot whales, basking sharks, dolphins and seals plus there’s a rich diversity of wildlife and birdlife that inhabit this unspoilt piece of land.
However, there’s something else that the Isle of Man is not quite so well known for – and that’s its queenies. Isle of Man queenies are small scallops which have been fished for generations around the coastline and eaten locally or exported abroad to be sold in top restaurants. King scallops are another island delicacy, but it’s the queenies which locals pay homage to and even hold an annual festival in their honour every summer.
This year the event is hoping to take place from 18-19 September 2021 in the Villa Marina Gardens, Douglas and it’s expected that around 60 local food and drink producers will be taking part. There will be beach parties, BBQs, competitions, family fun and a great atmosphere all around.
If you’re partial to a tasty kipper, then be sure to visit the Manx kipper factory. Since 1770 Manx kippers have been smoked in the traditional long red herring houses on the island. Moores Traditional Curers at Peel is the last of the old-style curing yards and is now a living museum where visitors can experience a tour to see this culinary art in action – and buy their fish too.
Herrings are hung from racks inside the original chimneys. Bonfires made from oak and wood chips are lit and the fish are smoked for about four hours, moved strategically higher or lower to ensure each fish gets the right amount of smoke to give it that perfect Manx kipper taste.
So, whether you’re into fresh air and nature, history and tradition, or some genuine local seafood, the Isle of Man is the place to visit.
Further details: www.visitisleofman.com