Over 100 Americans, Canadians and Scandinavians are set to visit the Isle of Man during July to celebrate their Manx connections.
The 52nd North American Manx Association Convention will see a 70 strong delegation arrive on the Island this week.
Founded in 1928, the North American Manx Association (NAMA) was originally established as a direct outcome of the great homecoming of 1927 when many Manx people visited their homeland from all corners of the world. The hospitality and kindness extended at the time was cherished by all who made the trip and from this homecoming sprang the idea of a similar gathering in the United States in 1928, Canada in 1929 and a greater homecoming to the island in 1930. The convention has been running ever since, although 2014 is their first visit to the Isle of Man since the Millennium Year 2000.
Today, NAMA consists of over 850 members dedicated to the preservation and appreciation of the Manx culture with groups meeting in Chicago, Illinois; Cleveland, Ohio; Rocky Mountain; Galva; Illinois; the Greater Washington D.C. area; Minnesota; Nebraska; Northern California; San Diego, California; and Wisconsin, whilst in Canada you will find Manx groups in Ontario and in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Members of the society will be warmly welcomed to the Isle of Man at a VIP reception at the Manx Museum in their honour. The group’s itinerary includes a tour of Tynwald Chambers, visits to Manx National Heritage sites and attractions around the Island, and a visit to Tynwald Day on Monday 7 July.
The visit will be followed by the arrival of the Dragon Harald Fairhair, the largest replica Viking ship built in modern times, which is set to arrive on the Isle of Man on 15th July 2014 (or 16th July depending on the weather). Named after Harald Fairhair, the king who unified Norway into one kingdom, the great dragon ship was built in Haugesund in Western Norway.
At a hundred and fourteen feet of crafted oak, twenty-seven feet on the beam, displacing seventy tons, and with a thirty-two hundred square foot sail of pure silk, this magnificent ship is indeed worthy of a king.
The Dragon Harald Fairhair has 25 pairs of oars! Arrangements are currently being made for public visits to the ship, which will be moored in Peel Harbour. Further details will be announced soon.
The visit of the Dragon Harald Fairhair follows visits by the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland and the MS Nybakk Venner who both visited in June. MS Nybakk Venner is a fishing boat turned floating museum exhibition which is currently sailing on a Viking ‘Thing Trail’. The vessel has a crew of 20 including members of the Nybakk family from Norway.
Editor’s Notes: Things – from the Old Norse word þing, meaning assembly – were an early system of justice and administration. When the Vikings arrived in a new place they brought with them their customs and legal systems. Thing assemblies were where political decisions were made, laws upheld and disputes settled. They acted as meeting places and were often the focus for trade and religious activity. Thing sites existed throughout the Viking world, with some still in existence today and in the case of Tynwald Hill, still in active use today as home of the longest, continuous parliament in the world.