Manx Litfest 2016Celtic literature will be celebrated with a night of storytelling, myths and fairy tales at Peel Masonic Club on Saturday, October 1 reports The festival is striving to develop a strong Celtic influence through each Litfest, and this year, they welcome two fine Celtic writers to the festival, Dr. Sharon Blackie and Kevin MacNeil. The event – Celtic Stories, Myths and Fairy Tales – is part of Manx Litfest 2016 and is being sponsored by Isle of Man satellite firm ManSat Ltd.

It will feature visiting Celtic authors Dr Sharon Blackie and Kevin MacNeil, in conversation with lecturer Dr Catriona Mackie, along with readings of myths and poetry, with some live Celtic music for good measure.

The night marks an initiative by Manx Litfest to develop a Celtic theme within each festival. Other events within the six-day Litfest, which gets underway on Tuesday, September 27, include a talk on the life and writing of Sophia Morrison (2.00pm – House of Manannan – Thursday, September 29), a writing workshop being run by Sharon (now sold out) and an event on the afternoon of Friday, September 30 when Sharon will talk about her new book, If Women Rose Rooted (2.30pm at St John’s Mill).

Festival Director John Quirk explained:

‘The idea for developing a mini “Celtic Fest” within Litfest came about following the visit to Litfest 2014 by Shetland-based author Donald Murray, who sat on a panel discussion about the Celtic influence in literature, alongside Catriona and other IOM scholars. Donald suggested that, given the Island’s location in the centre of the Celtic nations, we could build on the idea in future years. The event at Peel Masonic Club should be a fascinating evening’s entertainment of talks, stories, myths and music, all rooted deep in the Celtic way of life.’

Storytelling, Mythology, and identity

Sharon Blackie is a writer, psychologist, and mythologist, specialising in Celtic Studies, whose book If Women Rose Rooted interweaves myth and memoir. At one time a crofter on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, Sharon now lives in the hills of Donegal. The founder of Earthlines magazine, she says her experiences on the westernmost edges of the Celtic fringe have given her a unique perspective on the psychology of belonging, and our relationship with place. Originally trained as a psychologist and neuroscientist, Sharon has also practiced as a therapist specialising in narrative, storytelling, creative imagination and clinical hypnotherapeutic techniques. She runs creative courses and retreats for women.

Born in the Outer Hebrides, Kevin now lives in London, but hasn’t lost that Celtic influence. A novelist, poet, playwright, journalist and writing tutor, his work includes Struileag: Shore to Shore, a collection celebrating the Gaelic diaspora to be published in May, and These Islands, We Sing, a collection of poetry from the Scottish islands. Kevin’s latest novel is The Brilliant & Forever, which is based around a short story festival on a remote Scottish island, and which he will talk about at the final event of Litfest 2016, the Short Story Slam at Noa Bakehouse on Sunday, October 2.

Chris Stott, CEO of ManSat, said:

‘Storytelling is at the very heart of our culture – it is what defines us and gives us identity. We are thrilled to be sponsoring this evening at Litfest and to see the festival doing so well. I’m still scared by the stories of the Moddey Doo… and in the nicest possible way, I hope you are too!’

Unveiling of the new Manx Bard

Manx Bard: Stacey Astill

Manx Bard: Stacey Astill

The Manx Bard is an exciting cultural initiative for the Isle of Man that launched in 2014 and is generously supported by Isle of Man Arts Council and Culture Vannin. Each year sees the Island’s most worthy poet being appointed as Manx Bard, with the remit of engaging the public with poetry and Manx culture, both on and off the Island. At last year’s festival, Stacey Astill was unveiled as the 2nd Manx Bard, following Manx national poet TE Brown, who had been posthumously named 1st Manx Bard the year before. With Stacey’s year in the post now at an end, it is time to announce her successor, the 3rd Manx Bard.


Bridge Carter, chair of the Manx Bard Committee, says:

“Stacey fulfilled her tenure as the first living Manx Bard with exceptional commitment. Henry Bloom Noble Library has had one of Stacey’s poems set on the large front window – it’s the poem she wrote and performed to celebrate the opening of the new library, at which she was a special guest. Stacey has been both judge and tutor of poetry in schools and also in America, where she hosted a writing workshop at Oregon State Penitentiary. While in America, Stacey went on to further host a Poetry Slam at the Santiam Correctional Institution. We couldn’t be more proud of Stacey’s achievements, she has excelled and gone above and beyond the call of duty.”

Tickets for Celtic Stories, Myths and Fairy Tales cost £7.50 and are available from the Villa Gaiety box office – along with other ticketed Litfest events – at or by calling 600555.

To view the full Manx Litfest 2016 programme, visit:

Manx Litfest is a registered charity (#1100) and receives financial assistance from Isle of Man Arts Council and Culture Vannin, along with several corporate sponsors and private individuals.



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