Isle of Man 2016

An island nation in the middle of the Irish Sea.

This is part two of a series of three galleries, from a multi-part holiday taking in three completely unrelated destinations. Part 1 (Lake District) and part 3 (Chester Zoo) can be viewed separately.

The Isle of Man (or just Mann) is an island nation located in the Irish Sea, in the wide bay surrounded by Scotland, England, Wales, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, a similar distance from each of them. It is a country all to itself, with its own government, and going there is like going abroad to any other European country. (Most like the Repulblic of Ireland, since Brits do not need a passport.)

Except that it isn't. Rather than being an independent nation, Mann is a Crown Dependency; a country that relies on the United Kingdom for some things. Like Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, except without being directly governed by the British government. The British monarch is also the Manx monarch, similar to commonwealth countries like Australia and Canada. But Mann is a very small country with a population of under 85'000 at the time of writing. With such a small population, it cannot provide an effective military, so this is provided by the United Kingdom. It does not manage its own international representation; it is represented by the British government. As such it has never been a part of the European Union, and residents have never been elligible for EU freedom of movement unless they are also resident (past or present) of the United Kingdom. Many British laws are adopted, which in turn means that EU laws also make their way into Manx law. On Mann, you may hear the view that the British government would not want to grant them full independence for various reasons. I will stay out of that political quagmire.

The island is quite small, just 52 km long, and a maximum of 22 km wide, 85% of the size of Ynys Môn (Anglesey island). You could drive around it in less than an hour. In terms of heritage, it was settled by Gaelic Celts, the same family as those of Ireland and Scotland, and they have their own Gaelic language; Manx (though you may struggle to find someone who actually speaks it - only 2% of the population have a passing knowledge, with even fewer fluent speakers). However, due to its location, the English and southern Irish accents seem to dominate. In particular, the most common accent is Scouse, due to the island's history of shipping ties with Liverpool. The island's name originates in Manx as older versions of the word "mannin", and is not related to the English word "man".

Long regarded as having everything that you might wish to find on the "Mainland" (referring to Great Britain, itself an island), all packed neatly into a tiny space, it became a popular Victorian tourist destination. This remains a major source of income, with the various road races being large draws. As a tax haven with extremely low tax rates, it also makes its money from providing offshore banking. This tax status means that on the island, social benefits and securities are kept to a minimum (and as we were told, this is how they like it). However, unlike the Channel Islands, it shares import revenue with the United Kingdom, so importation taxes are as high as in the UK.

The pictures here are presented out of sequence, since the tiny size of the island meant that we drove around it several times, visiting random sites in random orders. Hopefuly, the orderly progression of the gallery makes more sense. If you are interested, the actual order was: Douglas, Port St. Mary and Port Erin, Snaefell, mountain railway, Ramsey, electric railway, Ballaglass Glen, Dhoon Glen, Glen Mooar, magnetic hill, steam railway, Mull Hill, Calf of Man, Douglas, Laxey Wheel, Peel Castle, Douglas horse trams, electric railway, Groudle Glen, Laxey, Douglas and Old Kirk Braddan. Take a deep breath, it's going to be a big gallery.