• February 22, 2015


Illiam Dhone patriot or traitor – the question appears to be posed around the time of every annual commemoration and the latter concept was soundly castigated by Bernard Moffatt at this years commemoration.

One man however certainly thought Illiam Dhone was a patriot and he paid unusual homage to the Manx hero many years prior to the current National Illiam Dhone commemoration being initiated in 1963.

The person in question was also an unlikely admirer of the executed Manx patriot.

In November 1989 some correspondence and a manuscript poem were passed to the General Secretary (J B Moffatt) of the Celtic League.

The correspondence was from a serviceman (a member of the RAF Police) stationed on the Isle of Man during World War 2 and was sent in 1973 to a family he had stayed with.

The poem – a tribute to Illiam Dhone – was written by the tomb of Illiam Dhone at Malew Church on the 2nd of January 1942 by Ivan S P Thornton. It’s a narrative poem, movingly written and it clearly conveys the young serviceman’s view of the Manx Martyr as a great patriot indeed one verse of the poem almost beatifies him:
‘Dachonna, German, Brendan, Maughold, Conchan, Bride and Lua
Await their fellow Lord of Man.’

The correspondence accompanying the text indicates that Ivan Thornton lodged the original manuscript with the ‘Manx Museum and National Trust’ and also indicates his love for the Isle of Man. He says:

‘It pleases me to say that I sent the original to His Honour Deemster S J Kneale who in turn presented it to the Manx Museum and National trust by way of Mr Marshall Cubbon where it will remain in perpetuity. By such gesture I find pride in having contributed a modicum of tribute to the little nation I love so well.’

At a time that Manx National Heritage (or is it Culture Vannin these days?) seem to wish to celebrate Mann’s military ties to the World Wars perhaps they could dust off the work of this young RAF Policeman who had such an affection for the Island and its history and put it on show?

In the meantime I set out a copy below – apologies for any errors in transcription it was written in an unusual style:

“(With the RAF) By the Tomb of William Christian (Illiam Dhone) on the 2nd of January A.D 1942 ~ being the 279th anniversary of his death.

Narrative Poem on the execution of the Manx Patriot Illiam Dhone (Swarthy William) by Charles Stanley, 8th Earl of Derby, at Hango Hill, Castletown, Isle of Man, on the 2nd of January A.D 1663


A Manxman

(Die I Januarii.)

Kalendis, Keeper of the Years, reveals his opening page
Of ‘Sixteen, sixty-three, AD’

And stilly neath her white dalmatic Mannin waits!

To-morrows cortege ~ cloudbanks draped in sombre black ~
Move o’er the weeping glens from Kimmeragh to ‘verge on Burroo-hed.

Within their mausoleum of pristine snow
Reposing Cushags, germinant, beget their newer kind.

Imprison’d in the dungeon of the fortress by the claddagh wall
A Patriot contemplates his coming tryst within
The Final Deemster’s Court at Manhood’s End.

And somewhere by the Seraphim The Donor of Terestrial Light
His Tenebrae decrees
And Darkness, all obedient, casts her mantle o’er the Isle

Unseen upon the ramparts by the barbican
Dooinney-oie, the ancient Harbinger of Doom,
His vigil consummates.

(Die II Januarii.)

An early dawn concedes her grudging modicum of grey.

Emergeth from the Rushen keep in cavalcade
A Patriot, hem’d by Counsellors and Militiamen
To march on Hango Hill.

The Silver Burn slows down her running tides
In homage to the Champion’s crowning show
And overhead a flight of gulls their raucid protests loose.
Mannanin, impotent, before her chilloch weeps
And wallads rising from their sodden dykes at Arragon Mooar
Unleash invective on the alien brows.

A musket – volley violates the morning’s brittle air…….
A Swarthy William entereth into History.

A Lhondoo squats upon the Gateway of the Dead at Kirk Malew
His lone bardoon to tell
Ere shews the pall – men with the warrior slain.

And coming down the ages on the wings of everlasting sound
An ancient Spirit breathes anew : –
“I Am The Resurrexion And The Life……..

‘Tis eventide.
Far off the coast Mannan-beg inciteth fury mid the tides
And hurls his raging breakers ‘against the rugged Scarlett Stack.

A tribe of Laochtyn on the slopes of Irrey-Lhaa
Release a tremulous dirge
As Kieran boughs interpret ‘con sordina’ latent winds
In Requiem for the parted Uachtarain

A solemn compline steals from Rushen’s ghostly choirs
Across the the evening fields of Billown Mooar.

Alert Bugganes at Cronk Sumark a spectral Wake decree.
By Slieu Freoghane the Shen-vens votive lights appear
Against the velvet reredos of night
In vigil til the Newer Dawn…….


Dachonna, German, Brendan, Maughold, Conchan, Bride and Lua
Await their fellow Lord of Man.


And now the hours of dark their measured spans have told ;
Matuta, Godess of the Dawn, her lanthorn shews to guide anew
A ghostly cortege from the Cronk-ny-Merrieu
Towards the Kiemach’s Rhullick neath
The keening Trammons at Malew.

Mannanan, Deemster of the Tides, his orisons unloose
Upon the sea windswest of Spanish Head ~
That Vannin’s heart interreth ne’er
Her mem’ries with the dead

Before the Patriots tomb this latter day
And chap’roned by Lhiannan – shee;
Asperg’ed with the drifting rains ~ a little Nation’s tears ~
From somewhere ‘cross the Sheading of Marown ;
I, unproud successor of his foes,
And martial – clad as they,
Saluteth Illiam Dhone.

Ivan S P Thornton.”

J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information


(Please note that replies to correspondence received by the League and posted on CL News are usually scanned hard copies. Obviously every effort is made to ensure the scanning process is accurate but sometimes errors do occur).


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