IMG_20160503_162346Last week I went to the Isle of Man for a second time and enjoyed myself thoroughly. Everywhere I went I encountered the distinctive Manx flag: a triskelion of three armoured legs with golden spurs upon a red background.

In my view, the Isle of Man has the second-best flag in the British Isles (after Y Ddraig Goch of course). It is a striking feature for any visitor that comes down to us in heraldic use since the Middle Ages.

Last year, I saw its earliest known use on the medieval churchyard cross, now moved inside the church at Maughold. This is a good example of modern identities and their symbols being rooted in the medieval past, even though the flag itself dates back only to the 1930s.

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Memorial contexts

It is notable to see how it is used in so many touristic but also public contexts to denote identity and affinity to the island. There is also a prominent sculpture across from the Arrivals section of Ronaldsway airport (pictured above).

This use of the treskelion includes graves and other memorial contexts, including the Fairy Bridge discussed in a previous. : a topic for another post methinks!

Then there are those utilised in mortuary environments: I visited the new extension to Maughold cemetery and saw numerous examples of the motif utilised on gravestones. Evidently, and I would suggest far more than other nations in these islands, a flag is going onto graves to connect people to place. Here are a few examples:


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Souvenir stories

Manx flags are not just to be seen on the island; they are to be acquired and taken away.

I bought a Manx flag and a fridge magnet for the family home.

My kids were fascinated by it and I used it as a point of reference to discuss Manx geography, history and culture. More importantly, they wanted to know answers to the following questions:

  • How did it walk? My son attempted a demonstration;
  • How did it see where it was going? I had no answer and suggested that it just guessed or might knock into stuff a lot: hence the need for armour;
  • It has three groins, so how does it pee? In all directions I suggested and the armour would make it more difficult;
  • How does it poo? I said I didn’t know, but a colleague has subsequently stated the obvious answer: like poo hitting a fan..

Stewy

 

 

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