Tuesday, July 05, 2011

July 5: Tynwald Day

Today they will be partying off the coast of Ireland … or is it off the coast of England … or of Scotland? In the Irish Sea between Britain and Ireland lies the Isle of Man, where men are Manx and proud of it (and so are the women). Man (or Mann) is famous for Manx cats and Grand Prix motor sports, and it is a small island with a big history.

The Isle of Man is not part of the United Kingdom, but a Crown Dependency. Queen Elizabeth II is acknowledged as Lord of Mann, and in 1979 she presided over the millennial celebrations of the Tynwald, the Manx parliament, which is commemorated each year on July 5.
The High Court of Tynwald, as the parliament is known, is of Norse (Viking) origin and at over 1,000 years old is thus the oldest parliament in the world to enjoy an unbroken existence. (Iceland's Althing was founded earlier but its existence was interrupted.) Tynwald has two branches, the Legislative Council and the House of Keys.

The Legislative Council is the upper branch of Tynwald and its eleven members are either indirectly elected or sit ex officio. The principal function of the Council is the consideration of legislation. The House of Keys is the lower, directly elected branch of Tynwald and originally had 32 members but since about 1156 it has seated a constant membership of 24 'Keys' with a varying size and distribution of constituencies.

The Chronicles of the Kings of Mann and the Isles (held by the British Library despite the requests of the Manx people for their return) tell us that Godred Crovan (who helped Harold invade Britain in 1066) was successful in 1079, on his third attempt, in his invasion of the Isle of Man, and ruled it for 16 years. It is believed that the institution of Tynwald was finally and permanently established during his reign ...
Read on at the Tynwald Day page in the Scriptorium
National symbol: the 3-in-1
The national flag of Man is a plain red field with the triskel (triskell, triskelion or trinacria) emblem at its centre. This symbol dates back to the 13th Century and is believed to be connected with Sicily, where a similar image was used during the Norman period. In Emblemes et symboles des Bretons et des Celtes (Coop Breizh, 1998), Divy Kervella suggests the triskell is a pagan Celtic symbol of triplicity in unity, and probably originally a solar symbol. Other Celtic examples of the three-in-one include the shamrock; the staff of the Celtic pantheon: Lugh, Daghda (Taran) and Ogme; the triune goddess of three aspects: daughter, wife, and mother; and the three dynamic elements: water, air, and fire.

The triskell is similar to the hevoud, another Celtic symbol, and the Basque lauburu, and might even precede Celtic origins (for instance on the cairn of Bru na Boinne in Ireland) ...

Read on at the Tynwald Day page in the Scriptorium


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