Finding the Real ‘St Patrick’s Chair’

St Patrick's Chair

St Patrick’s Chair ©David Radcliffe

Finding a site clearly labelled on a map would seem like a no brainer to most, but St Patrick’s Chair is one of the sites that is complex and shows how traditions change and develop through time.[1] The ‘current’ St. Patrick’s Chair, which stands in a field called Magher y Chairn (‘Field of the Lord’) on the Garth in Marown (SC3165577946), has long baffled Manx archaeologists and antiquarians. For those who haven’t visited the monument it is formed from a mass of earth and stones into which a series of stone slabs have been set on edge (see picture). While the monument has been heavily damaged by later activities, the keen observer will notice that the mound hides evidence of a roughly rectangular structure constructed from dry-stone into which three slabs have been placed vertically. The earliest description comes from a local antiquarian Joseph Cumming who reports:

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Castletown School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

Witches Mill Pamphlet

Long before Rowling, Potter and Hogwarts, the Isle of Man could itself, if only for a brief period, boast a position as the focal point of British witchcraft. Many of the leading figures in witchcraft were attracted to the disused mill on the outskirts of Castletown where they came to meet, learn and practice with one of the leading figures in the modern witchcraft tradition, or Wicca, Gerald Gardner. Despite being one of the most (in)famous individuals in post-war Britain, Gardner has been largely been forgotten in the Isle of Man. More memorable was Gardner’s other legacy, The Museum of Magic and Witchcraft.

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I have just come across this version of the Hop-tu-Naa song from Castletown. It is from Wikipedia and contains no source other than it is “The 1970s Southern version from Castletown.” It was either sung them and remebered by the contributor or was “cooked up” in the 1970s.

Does any one have any further information on this version? I have tried to reformat it as best as I can.

This is ’Ald Hallow-tine Night
The moon shines clear and bright
Hop-tu-naa, traa-la-laa
Jinnie the Witch jumped over the College
To fetch the stick to stir the porridge
Hop-tu-naa, traa-la-laa
Castletown Square is mighty bare,
There isn’t a statue that should have been there
Hop-tu-naa, traa-la-laa
The castle is grey, and Parliament gone,
The harbour is quiet, no smugglers run
Hop-tu-naa, traa-la-laa

When [the] lights were turned out and no sweets were given we also sang a further chorus:

This is Old Hallow-tine Night
The moon is shining bright
If you’re going to bring us money
You better bring it quick
As we may start to sing again
And your neighbors will think you’re thick
Hop-tu-naa, traa-la-laa

Jinnie the Witch is over the mill
If you don’t give us something quick
She will come and get you.

It does suggest to me to be a contemporary piece, the mention of Parliament and not the Keys or Tynwald seems to be to be a little odd and the reference to the missing statue of Governor Smelt seems well out of place.

Does any one have any further information at all?


Memorials at the Isle of Man TT Races

Guy Martin. ©Fran Caley

Raced over the 37¾ mile ‘Mountain Circuit’, where speeds reach in excess of 200mph, where the lap record stands at 17m 12.3s and where participants pass within inches of stone walls, lamp posts and other street furniture; the Isle of Man TT (or Tourist Trophy) Races remain one of the oldest and most prestigious events in the motorcycle racing calendar. The danger associated with racing at such high speeds over what are essentially public roads has seen as many column inches within the press devoted to reporting accident and injury to any other aspect of the event, or its results. To date over  136 competitors have been killed in the events 105 year history (with a total of 239 killed if those killed at the Manx Grand Prix (MGP) are included). It is no wonder, therefore, that there have seen repeated calls for the event to be scrapped. Yet, while death and danger are pervasive realities at the TT Races; fans, residents and competitors vehemently defend the event as one of the last bastions of personal freedom, indeed the event has been hailed as ‘the greatest motor sport event in the world’.

Following fatality the bereaved often feel compelled to mark the location of death, feeling a close connection with the place where the deceased was last alive. The scene of the accident may be marked by memorials that can last from a few hours to a matter of weeks, whilst sometimes these ‘temporary’ monuments may be replaced by more permanent monuments that become the focus for successive visits. Initially these memorials are transient, comprising those objects close at hand (including programmes, beer or cigarettes laid by fans and locals), but are soon replaced by more ‘traditional’ tributes (cards, flowers or wreaths) laid by those closer to the deceased.Sometimes the bereaved feel compelled to construct more permanent memorials to the deceased; these vary considerably in form from simple plaques and benches, to more elaborate monuments, statues and gardens.

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