Illiam Dhone and the Sheep under the Snow Dr. Jennifer Kewley Draskau

– Posted on Friday 2nd August 2013

The most controversial legal case and the most public violent death in recorded Manx history was that of Illiam Dhone.

On Saturday 17th August Manx National Heritage and the Centre for Manx Studies invite you to discover more about this controversial story to mark the 350th year since his execution in this rescheduled illustrated public lecture, delivered by Dr Jennifer Kewley Draskau at the Manx Museum. Doors will open at 10.30am for 11am start.

The lecture was rescheduled following the unprecedented snow fall, which fell upon the Island earlier this year resulting in a “catastrophic losses” for the Island’s farming community.  To continue to support famers affected by the extreme weather conditions in March this year, Dr. Jennifer Kewley Draskau has requested that attendees to the lecture, make a charitable donation to the ‘Isle of Man Agricultural Benevolent Trust’.  Collection boxes will be available at the Manx Museum on the day to receive donations for the Trust.

Dr. Jennifer Kewley Draskau said;

“When the unexpected blizzard this spring struck the West of the Island, with tragic consequences, I wanted to join the volunteers digging for trapped livestock. Unfortunately, I was unable to get out of my yard for five days or out of my front door for two weeks, had no heating and only occasional broadband and electricity. My talk on Illiam Dhone at the Manx Museum had to be cancelled too”.

She continued;

“But I got off lightly. My animals and I were safe. By contrast, the agricultural community with which I have many links, suffered appallingly. I may not be a farmer in the true sense, but farming is in my blood, as it is in the blood of most Manx people. Farmers provide sustenance to the community. They also help maintain the glory of the Manx countryside. Their work is compromised not only by fluctuations in the economy but by weather conditions. It’s too late to dig for sheep: but the farming community will still be suffering the consequences of these appalling events when the rest of us have moved on to the next crisis.

So I asked the Manx Museum if they would allow me to give my rescheduled talk about Illiam Dhone for no fee, and without charging for it, in the hopes that those who attend would generously make a donation to be presented to the agricultural benevolent fund. They kindly agreed. Now it’s up to the rest of us.”

Dr Kewley Draskau is author of the recent publication ‘Illiam Dhone: Patriot or Traitor?: Life, Death and Legacy of William Christian’. She is also a researcher at the Centre for Manx Studies as well as an award-winning fiction writer, playwright and poet. Her research interests include the Goidelic languages, linguistics, translation, stylistics, literature and terminology.

Since his execution at Hango Hill on January 2 1663, Illiam Dhone has become a legendary political figure, his name often equated with rebellion, Manx independence and revolution. But he remains an elusive and controversial character, remembered also for his ambition, nepotism and his ruthlessness, even toward former allies.

Variously interpreted as a self-serving turncoat who betrayed his English feudal masters, and, conversely, as a devoted Manx nationalist, he is celebrated in song, legend and tradition as a Manxman who sought to throw off the English yoke and strike a blow for Manx independence. His death is commemorated annually by large numbers of people near the site of his execution. Was his death judicial murder? Was it an act of vengeance by Charles, 8th Earl of Derby? Was Illiam universally regarded as hero and patriot by the Manx clans of the day? How much can we know of this most remarkable of Manxmen?

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