This year’s dates: 15 – 21 July 2019
Yn Chruinnaght (meaning ‘the gathering’) is a celebration of Manx culture and the relationship between the Isle of Man and the other five Celtic countries (Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Cornwall and Brittany). It includes a number of events with music, dance, language, arts and crafts, lectures and much more.
The forerunner of Yn Chruinnaght was founded in 1924, and was known as Cruinnaght Vanninagh Ashoonagh (“Manx national gathering”). It was the idea of William Cubbon, the first director of the Manx Museum, who was also the Honorary Treasurer of both Yn Çheshaght Ghailckagh (The Manx Gaelic Society) and the World Manx Association (WMA).
Programmes from the early festivals state that “Yn Cruinnaght Vanninagh Ashoonagh is held under the auspices of The World Manx Association and The Manx [Gaelic] Society in commemoration of our great National Poet and with the object of preserving national sentiment.” The “great National Poet” referred to is Thomas Edward Brown (1830–1897) whose poems, including lengthy verse-stories in Manx dialect (of English, though with some Gaelic words), were published by Macmillan.
The Cruinnaght Vanninagh Ashoonagh was organised by William Cubbon through the WMA’s Ellan Vannin magazine, which he edited. The festival was a one-day, competitive event held at Hollantide, with participants from the Island (though at least one of the judges, Dr J E Lyon, came from across (that is, from outside the Island). Members of the various sub-committees included Archibald Knox, J J Kneen and Mona Douglas. The event included singing (including in the Manx Gaelic language), music (including a grand concert as a finale), arts, crafts and cookery. The festival came to an end with the outbreak of the Second World War.
It was the aim of one of the leading figures in Manx traditional cultural affairs, Mona Douglas, to revive Yn Chruinnaght as a Manx national festival. A cultural revival starting in the late 1960s led to renewed vigour in the Manx language, traditional music, and particularly in Manx dancing. Mona recognised that Yn Chruinnaght could provide a focus for cultural activities and a way to give greater recognition to Manx traditional culture, particularly in the wider context of an inter-Celtic festival.
In 1977, Mona Douglas organised Feailley Vanninagh Rhumsaa (the “Ramsey Manx Festival”) which was held on 1 September in collaboration with the Ellynyn ny Gael (Arts of the Gaels) organization. The programme’s front cover bore the modern symbol of Yn Chruinnaght. The programme announced that the festival “will be revived in Ramsey August–September 1978, and this time it will be a five-day Inter-Celtic Festival”. It was held on 21–25 August 1978. Mona Douglas’s programme note in 1979 states that “It was decided to stage Yn Chruinnaght in Ramsey, the only town in the Island which had no important festival of its own, and which, like Peel, was a recognized centre of the national revival.”
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