• September 8, 2015


In August 2015 I reproduced an article written some years ago for the Celtic History Review in it I referred to the fact that there had been Nationalist movements on the Island, albeit short lived, which predated Mec Vannin’s formation in the 1960s.

Today I receive by email (I have not identified the sender) a series of references to both Manninee Dooie and the Manx Freedom League.

It seems an attempt was made to form Manninee Dooie in 1947, although this could have been a second outing for the body which I was told many years ago by a reliable source had originally tried to establish itself just prior to the second war (an event which stymied the effort).

Anyway a definite attempt was made to set it up in 1947 and leaflets were printed by Mona Douglas and distributed to Nationalists via post and Manx language classes.

The organisations founders were certainly ‘fundamentalist nationalists’ and make our (Mec Vannin’s) current railing against the Lt Governor and the military seem quite tame.

Here’s a flavour from the pamphlet which led to a Court action by the Manx Colonial authorities:

“You belong to a nation which though probably the smallest one in the world has never been conquered or absorbed, despite many invasions, both hostile and peaceable, from the greater powers surrounding it. Through many stormy centuries we, the Manx nation, have kept our integrity, our ancient constitution and Tynwald, and our Gaelic language until now.

But in these latter days we are faced with grave danger to that nationality of which we are so justly proud, in that we are allowing the control of our Island to pass, little by little, into foreign hands. To-day, despite our proud and ancient heritage, we suffer almost without realising it from a bad inferiority complex which persuades us that strangers are more wise and clever and efficient than ourselves – an attitude which the English in particular, have been trying to drill into us ever since the days of the Derbys; and its insidious poison is seen working in the way in which we allow English and other foreigners to be appointed to all the more important posts in the Government, the Civil Service, business enterprises and even such a truly national institution as the Manx Museum.

The pamphlet went on to outline the ‘cooperation with our sister gaelic nations of Ireland and Scotland’ expressing the hope for ‘an effective Gaelic combination in the future based on similarity of race and ideals’ (an early Celtic League perhaps?)

The society was to be named ‘Manninee Dooie (True Manxfolk)’ and rather portentously it concluded ‘it will be expected of all members that they will be ready and willing to work. It will NOT be a social club or learned society but an organisation of patriots prepared to pull their weight in any task which may be undertaken no matter how heavy’

Concluding with the rallying call;

‘Become a Manninagh Dooie and help us preserve our birthright as Manx Gaels!’

A meeting was scheduled for April 26th 1947 in Cronk Bane, Falklands Drive, Onchan.

Twelve people attended the meeting and formed the new society whose objectives were threefold;

1) Mann for the Manx people
2) Self-dependence as a nation
3) Co-operation with the Gaelic nations of Ireland and Scotland.

At the first meeting a letter of support was read out from Mr W Cubbon, former Director of the Manx Museum congratulating the sponsors on the movement and wishing every success.

The Manx colonial establishment however were not as welcoming and just a month later the main movers of the organisation (including Mona Douglas) were in Court charged with printing a pamphlet without a printers indent and threatened with a £1000 fine (a quite enormous sum in those days) the case dragged on and eventually a token fine of £5 for one of the pamphlets plus costs were imposed.

However the authorities had made their point Manninee Dooie seems to have sunk without trace until three years later.

In February 1950 the Ramsey Courier and Northern Advertiser announced the formation of the Manx Freedom League. However if Manninee Dooie had been ‘fundamentalist nationalism’ the Freedom League was ‘nationalism lite. It focused on economic issues making the Island a ‘happy place’ and making sure that its objective was in addition to securing self government (note not the self dependence of three years earlier) to be ‘a full member of the British Commonwealth’. Mona Douglas was present for its formative meeting although I don’t recall her mentioning it 13 years later when she joined Mec Vannin the present nationalist movement.

Anyway the ‘Freedom League’ does not seem to have upset the establishment to much and there were no Court cases or threats of massive fines that had attended the formation of Manninee Dooie.

Almost seventy years after those tentative moves by 12 people in a house in Onchan the Isle of Man still has not plucked up the courage to seek full independence. Perhaps they were right and we do;

‘suffer almost without realising it from a bad inferiority complex which persuades us that strangers are more wise and clever and efficient than ourselves’!


Issued by: The Celtic News



The Celtic League established in 1961 has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It promotes cooperation between the countries and campaigns on a range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, military activity and socio-economic issues


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