“hyphenated Anglo-Manx” & “living on my own hyphen”

These phrases caught my eye in a piece by Frank Kermode when writing about Yeats and Anglo-Irish: “I myself, if I may intrude for a moment, am hyphenated Anglo-Manx with strong Irish sympathies […].” [p.100]. Once when visiting Sligo in 1960 he an even in honour of Yeats: “There were dancing and singing and reciting before the grand finale, a patriotic display […]. And then: “A detachment of musicians from the Irish Army played inflammatory trumpet music. Patriotic uproar ensued. When it was over everybody sat down and the Mayor, my host, apologized to me for what, to a visiting Englishman, could well have seemed a hostile demonstration. I hastily explained that I was a Celt myself, from the Isle of Man, Anglo-Manx in fact, living on my own hyphen but with a certain preference for the part of the description that followed the hyphen; an emigrant from another Celtic colony, where the last Rising, needless to say a failure, took place nearly four hundred years ago. Though we Manx are mostly Protestant we are in other ways kindred—for instance, Irish is closer to Manx than to any other Celtic language. Like our Irish cousins we had adopted the conqueror’s language and some of us had sought our livings in England, a country we had no strong reason to trust.“ [p.109]

Kermode, Frank. “The Anglo-Irish Hyphen.” The Hopkins Review (New Series) 1.1 (2008): 97–116.


3 thoughts on ““hyphenated Anglo-Manx” & “living on my own hyphen”

  1. This is a piece by Sir David Wilson which caught my eye recently: “Scratch a Manxman today and he will automatically describe his ethnicity as ‘Celtic,’ implying a close cultural and linguistic bond with the Scots, Irish, Welsh, Cornish and Bretons. In doing so he is emphasising his separation from the English; he is, however, more ambivalent about his relationship with Scandinavia (proud perhaps of a rather rakish image of Norse descent). The Manx are separate and distinct, that is the source of their strengths and of their weaknesses. But it must be pointed out that there are probably now—and were for some time in the past—more English elements in the Manx cultural make-up than Celtic. What the situation was in the Viking Age can only be a matter for conjecture. It is not the purpose of this book to fish in these muddy waters, but readers must be aware of the problem and of the controversial nature of Manx national identity after more than a thousand years of government by a non-Celtic-speaking ruling class, a situation which is much on the Manx political agenda today.” [p.13].

    Wilson, David M. The Vikings in the Isle of Man. Aarhus: Aarhus University Pres, 2008.


  2. Another quote on “Manxness” from J.A. Cain, delegate to the 1929 Celtic Congress:
    “The Manx people tend to regard themselves too much as unique and distinct, instead of regarding themselves as part of a large Celtic and Norse, and perhaps even a British whole.”

    “Report of Delegates to the Celtic Congress.” 30th Annual Meeting held in the Town Hall, Douglas, on Saturday, 23rd Nov., 1929. n.p.: Manx Language Society, 1929. 12–18.

  3. John Berger on the Isle of Man:
    “There are two Isle of Mans. The first is an island of fishermen and small farmers. The second is a ‘tax haven,’ for companies and individual shareholders to shelter from British income tax.”

    “Preface.” Christopher Killip. Isle of Man—A Book about the Manx. London: Arts Council of Great Britain, 1980. [unpaged].

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