• January 18, 2016


My OUTSIDE LEFT column this week in Manx Independent reflected on Illiam Dhone Day and how the message echoes far beyond those who gather at the hill in a manner undreamed of three and half decades ago when a mere handful turned out to revive the commemoration.

This year’s ceremony also was epitomised by a message from younger nationalists that they want and will have a say in their future.

It was also held against a back drop of the most unpopular Manx government in living memory. I have used the title I submitted to the paper with the article not the title they used as I think it’s more in keeping with the mood on the day:


“I’ve been a bit of a dinosaur for years at Hango Hill every January 2 doing the intro to the Illiam Dhone Day commemoration.

Over the almost 40 years since the commemorations started the messages from each speaker have become more nuanced but I stuck to my boring old script i.e. England and its government are the enemies and if only we were rid of them all would be well and good – or at least the mess we made would be our own.

Periodically a shot was also fired at the Lieutenant Governor just to remind him that the natives had not been tamed and also to stir up the ‘Empire Loyalist brigade’ in our midst who for some reason always seem to qualify their subservience to the Crown by asserting their ‘Manxness’.

This year was different. I eschewed reference to ‘the old enemy’ and even made soothing noises about the Manx government. So what happened? Have I gone slightly ‘gaga’ in my old age?

No. The reason for my quieter script was I had seen the future for nationalism and I was most pleased with what I saw.

Over the years nationalism, both of the political and cultural variety, has had a rough time. Back in the seventies people advocating the revival of the Manx language were invariably told it was a waste of time. I even recall when it was likened to Latin – a dead language. But despite all the odds we are where we are now and that’s a good place because it’s soundly based in a new generation of young Manx speakers.
Political nationalism too has had a bumpy ride. After the initial euphoria of the 1960s and a mass movement in the mid seventies, there was decline and a period very much in the wilderness but all the time Mec Vannin policies were adopted by government, so that the only major plank of MV policy the government has to seize is sovereign independence. However, there’s no sign they will do that despite the obvious sound fiscal case for doing so.

‘Enter stage right’ at Hango Hill the new younger voice of nationalism spoken in both Manx and English and spoken with a confidence and self assurance that resonated far beyond the few gathered at the Hill. Isla Callister, whose Manx oration was not confined to the cultural despite the media reports, and Peter Crellin spoke forcefully about an island which they and their generation want to shape. It was Peter who coined the phrase ‘We’re not here to play by their rules, we’re here to play by our rules’.

I note it’s been derided by some but they could yet choke on their derision.
January 2 2016 was a dank miserable day particularly as a strong south-easterly wind blew in on to Hango Hill but spirits were not dampened. Indeed, I remarked at the conclusion of the event that the rendition of the national anthem was the most strident and pleasant I had heard for several years.

The Dhone ceremony matters!

Although it was virtually ignored in its early days and then fairly well reported on in the 1990s, the medium for getting the message beyond the small band who gather at the Hill was limited. You were dependent on the paper of radio and indeed the slant put on its message by their respective news editors.

These days the message goes out clear and unadulterated via the internet and social media.

Paul Moulton was broadcasting the full text of all the speakers unedited on MTTV within hours. That message was later recycled via Facebook etc.

On the Celtic League Manx site alone the ‘reach’ was well over 10,000 people.

Couple that with the traditional media coverage papers/radio and you have a ‘reach’ the early band of about eight people who gathered in 1979 could not have dreamed of.
But it’s the message this year that was important.

It was a message from a new generation of young nationalists saying to government ‘you are not the future – we are. And we intend to shape it!’”

Paul Moulton’s coverage of this year event and previous years can be found here:



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


Mannin Branch Celtic League's photo.
About Author


0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
The Celtic League
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x