I saw this item recently on Manx Radio and was struck by the reference to Aeglagh Vannin established by Mona Douglas being set up to inspire a generation of ‘cultural’ nationalists:
I’m not sure if the term ‘cultural nationalist’ was coined by Culture Vannin or whether it was the concoction of the news writer but one thing is very clear and that is the founder of the Manx version of ‘Na Fianna Eireann’, Mona Douglas, was very much a ‘political nationalist’ in her youth at the time Aeglagh Vannin was founded.
There is a common misconception that political nationalism started and presumably will end with Mec Vannin but that is far from the case. However that said even as late in her life as the early 1960s Mona Douglas was there at the conception (or formative meeting) of Mec Vannin. You’ll find that documented in the first minute book of Mec Vannin which is lodged with MNH. In any case I know because I was there to.
Mona Douglas wasn’t a shrinking violet either and did not conceal her involvement being centre stage in the establishment of Ny Manninee Dooie in the 1940s and the compilation of leaflets and the printing of same. As I remarked in this article for Celtic News three years ago this resulted in her and others being brought to Court by the colonial authorities who seemed to regard the intent as seditious:
“‘Become a Manninagh Dooie and help us preserve our birthright as Manx Gaels!’
A meeting was scheduled for April 26th 1947 in Cronk Bane, Falklands Drive, Onchan.
Twelve people attended the meeting and formed the new society whose objectives were threefold;
1) Mann for the Manx people
2) Self-dependence as a nation
3) Co-operation with the Gaelic nations of Ireland and Scotland.
At the first meeting a letter of support was read out from Mr W Cubbon, former Director of the Manx Museum congratulating the sponsors on the movement and wishing every success.
The Manx colonial establishment however were not as welcoming and just a month later the main movers of the organisation (including Mona Douglas) were in Court charged with printing a pamphlet without a printers indent and threatened with a £1000 fine (a quite enormous sum in those days) the case dragged on and eventually a token fine of £5 for one of the pamphlets plus costs were imposed.”
Full link here:
Mona Douglas understood that there was no such thing as political nationalism without the culture and vice versa. She enjoyed the support of senior political figures not least Sir Charles Kerruish.
Mona was generally first through the door at fundraisers for groups like Mec Vannin and the Celtic League and I well recall as myself and my late wife Dee were setting up materias ahead of a CL fund raiser at the Creg Malin some years ago a voice saying sharply ‘where is everybody?’ It was Mona.
You can’t differentiate ‘the political from the cultural’ when it comes to nationalism. It would be ‘nice’ if you could pop them in separate boxes but you can’t. I mean even Culture Vannin see that and very sensibly gave the present Chief Minister an effusive welcome when he visited their HQ. A move incidentally that you will see from our pages we applauded. The strength of the current cultural movement is predicated on decisions taken politically over the years.
Finally if you think that the concept of Aeglagh Vannin was founded on a strictly cultural ethos rather than ‘Na Fianna’ I suggest you read between the lines of the 1981 Mona Douglas novel ‘Rallying Song’.
Image: A great picture of Mona with some daffodils – she was no ‘shrinking violet’ when it came to political nationalism either!
pp Celtic League Mannin Branch