• May 19, 2013

News from Celtic League Press

Deirdre Catherine Moffatt (nee Moore) was a longstanding member of the Celtic League for almost forty years, joining the League in the mid 1970s. She was an active Manx nationalist through her membership of Mec Vannin and several prominent Manx cultural groups.

Deirdre Catherine Moffatt (nee Moore)

Deirdre Catherine Moffatt (nee Moore) (Source: Bernard Moffatt)

Born in Douglas, Isle of Man in February 1951, Dee was the only daughter of Frank Moore, a Manx publican and his Irish wife Monica (nee Blanchfield) from Athy in Co Kildare. As a consequence, her pan-Celtic connections at birth were strong and further reinforced through holidays she and her brothers spent at her mother’s family home in Athy and also with other relatives in Oswestry which was then, and still is, very much an Anglo-Welsh town. After completing her education on the Isle of Man, she undertook teacher training in England. After a brief period of employment there, she returned to the Isle of Man and worked for the Board (later Department) of Education until her retirement three years ago.

At this time, she started to become involved in Manx cultural activities, joining Banglane Twoaie (the Northern Branch of Yn Cheshaght Ghailckagh, the Manx Language Society) and also various Manx dance groups. Dee’s contribution and commitment to traditional dance ensured she became a recognisable face on and off the island, through public performances at home and abroad – most notably Celtic festivals in Brittany and Ireland. Politically she was active from the late seventies onwards in the Celtic League
and Mec Vannin. She participated in the campaign by the Manx branch of the Celtic League and the AMA (Anti-Militarist-Alliance) against the expansion of the Jurby Sea-Bombing Range used by NATO. With her future husband Bernard
Moffatt, she was involved in the distribution of thousands of leaflets, attacking plans to extend the off-shore range, around homes in the north-west of the Isle of Man. As a result, these expansion plans, initially seen by the Manx government as a `rubber-stamp’ exercise, were eventually dropped.

Dee did not have a parochial vision. As part of the IOM Peace Group, she joined the Europe wide campaign against the deployment of Cruise missiles in the UK and Germany in the early 1980s. This involved trudging around on winter nights gathering signatures for a petition against such moves. After one evening spent canvassing, she returned home astounded that a women had told her that she supported the campaign – but could not sign the petition because `her husband was not in’ to approve it.

Deirdre Catherine Moffatt (nee Moore)

Deirdre Catherine Moffatt (nee Moore) (Source: Bernard Moffatt)

Dee was a committed feminist. She was a supporter of the Manx feminist group EVE. Writing in the Celtic League journal Carn (Issue 34 Summer 1981) she stated:

“The Women’s Group Eve (Equality versus Exploitation) established on the Island in 1978, to investigate discrimination, pointed out that legislation in Britain – The Sex Discrimination Act and Equal Pay Act were deemed necessary for Manx women and rejected by Tynwald. The E.V.E view failed to make any impression on the male dominated Manx hierarchy.”

The article went on to call for the establishment of an Equal Opportunities Commission. She directly inspired her stepdaughter Angela – who with others later successfully campaigned for the introduction of the self same legislation.

When the Celtic League (Mannin branch) campaign against militarisation was adopted by the League centrally as the Celtic League Military Monitoring Campaign, Dee was also involved. She was the unwitting architect of the first major success for the campaign, when in 1982 she photographed the UK submarine HMS Porpoise off the west coast of the Isle of Man hours before it sank the
Irish motor fishing vessel (MFV) Sheralga. The Ministry of Defence was forced to retract its denials of submarine activity in the Irish Sea, when the visual evidence of the photograph was publicised.

Subsequently, her photograph (one of a series of three) was regularly featured in numerous national and international media over a prolonged period. Almost 20 years after its first publication, the shot featured in a documentary made for the French TV World Service (TV Monde).

Another of Dee’s escapades in the mid eighties, was a foray (much to the alarm of former Celtic League General Secretary Alan Heusaff) inside the security perimeter of the French Naval base at Lorient during a League AGM in Brittany, to photograph the nuclear submarine pens.

She was also involved in a protest along with other League women members when the French warship Narvik visited the Isle of Man. The protest in this instance was regarding the detention and treatment of Breton political prisoners.

Dee was a stalwart of the Celtic League. Her contribution was generally not visible, but it was no less important or valuable – in fact more so. Dee exuded the no fuss, stubborn determination and hard work that is the hallmark of those most passionate and committed to their cause. Over many years, she quietly and without recognition helped organise the annual schools’ art and crafts
exhibition at Yn Chruinnaght and fund raisers for Mec Vannin and the Celtic League and was active with the group established to provide financial assistance to Yn Troor (or Ny Troor Tromode) and was a Manx branch delegate to Celtic League AGMs.

Her final few months were marked by a crippling and debilitating illness, and she died, early morning, on the 16 May 2013. She leaves behind her husband Bernard, daughter Celia and 3 grandchildren. She will be sorely missed by all who knew her but her character, contribution and determination will not be forgotten.

Her burial will take place at Peel cemetery on Friday May 24th at midday.


Carn Issue 34

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