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Page last updated at 16:21 GMT, Wednesday, 27 January 2010
A Wooden Crate which preserved the Manx Language
Wooden crate: Manx National Heritage

Over sixty years ago, the Irish Folklore Commission made recordings of the last native Manx speakers.

In doing so, the Commission ensured the preservation of the Manx language for generations to come.

The invaluable recordings arrived at the Manx Museum in this simple wooden crate which today symbolises the preservation of our Manx heritage.

The crate has been chosen as one of the most significant items of historical interest on the Isle of Man today.

It was summer 1947 and Irish Taeshoch, Eamon de Valera was visiting the Isle of Man as part of a tour around the Irish Sea. During his sojourn on the island, de Valera, a fervent advocate of Irish Gaelic, met and spoke with Ned Maddrell, a native Manx speaker.

Recording unit arrives in Mann

De Valera spoke Irish; Maddrell Manx but the languages were close enough for communication. What de Valera learnt alarmed him: the Manx language was dying out and the Manx museum had no technical means to record the last speakers.

On returning to Ireland, de Valera demanded that the Irish Folklore Commission immediately send a mobile recording unit to the island and in 1948 this van trundled into Douglas, fresh off an Irish Cattle boat and covered with cow dung.

Mother tongue recordings

The van made its way up to remote farms in Ballaugh and Bride, as well as to the village of Cregneash where Danaher recorded speakers whose mother tongue was 19th century Manx.

The recordings that were made have been crucial to the preservation of the Manx language because they captured Manx as it was naturally spoken in the past.

The object itself is very rough and very humble
Kirsty Neate

The crate they came is a reminder to us all of the importance of our rich heritage.

Manx Museum's Kirsty Neate said "The object itself is very rough and very humble. Perhaps it's not something we would immediately associate with importance in world history but what it brought back to the Isle of Man was invaluable.

"The cultural goodies carried inside have helped many people in their quest to learn Manx. The recordings have now been digitised and published."

"Today these recordings have been re-mastered, digitised and published with full transcriptions and translations and have proved a priceless link back to the native Manx speakers for modern Manx linguists and have ensured the survival of the language".

The recordings are available at Manx National Heritage.

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