If you’ve ever been to the Isle of Man, you’ll already know it’s a special place. If you haven’t, well, I hope this article will help convince you to visit soon. Either way, this article covers 18 interesting facts about the Isle of Man that are likely to shock and surprise you.
When I first visited the Isle of Man in 2015, I had no idea what to expect. Despite living just across the pond in London all my life, I’d never even heard of the island. Let alone expected I’d be moving here several years later.
Truth be told, I’ve come to adore it here. Not only is the Isle of Man absolutely stunning with a ton of incredible things to see and do. But, without sounding too woo-woo, there’s something quite magical and mysterious about it as well.
Don’t worry if it all sounds a bit out there. By the end of this article, you’re going to understand exactly what I mean. Here are 18 random and interesting facts about the Isle of Man that I promise will blow your mind. (Well, some of them will, at least.)
18 Interesting Facts about the Isle of Man
1. Where is the Isle of Man?
Generally, there are two types of people who’ve heard of the Isle of Man. Those who love motorbikes and those who know somebody who lives here. Considering I’d never heard of the Isle of Man until meeting Natalie, I gathered it made sense to cover this one off first.
Located in the middle of the Irish Sea, the island is roughly equidistant between Liverpool and Ireland. At only 33 miles long and 13 miles wide, it is by no means a large island. But with 40% of the land unoccupied, it feels a lot bigger than it is.
As of November 2021, the Manx population stands at 85,656.
2. The Isle of Man isn’t part of the UK.
While the Isle of Man is geographically a British island, it isn’t, and never has been, a part of the United Kingdom. Instead, it is a self-governing crown dependency, along with Guernsey and Jersey.
That means that the island has its own parliament, government and laws; However, it works in conjunction with the UK on matters of defence and international relations.
Until the 1700s, the Lord of Mann was an appointed ruler on the island. Now, the title belongs to the Queen, and despite being a woman, she is still regarded as a Lord.
The local currency of the island is the Manx pound, although the British pound is also accepted. Conversely, you cannot use Manx currency elsewhere in the UK.
3. The Island hosts the biggest motorcycle race in the world.
If you know, then you know, and you don’t need me to explain. However, for those who don’t, I am referring to the prestigious TT races.
The TT races are a 2-week annual motorbike event that attracts over 40,000 people from all over the world. Since its inception in 1907, the competition has been a primary factor in shaping the island’s economy.
With competitors racing across the island at speeds exceeding 200mph, this often fatal event is considered one of the most dangerous motorsport races in the world. The course consists of a series of dramatic hills, turns, and corners that racers must commit to memory if they hope to finish in one piece.
It might sound brutal, but the TT is one of the most anticipated events of the year for both the competitors and the spectators. And if you want to witness the island come to life like never before, then there’s no better time to do it.
4. The Manx Language
Here’s an interesting fact for you: The Isle of Man has its own language. Here’s another one: It’s critically endangered.
The Manx language, otherwise known as Manx Gaelic, is an ancient language that originates from the islands Celtic past. It closely resembles that of Irish and Scottish Gaelic, but with a hint of Old Norse from when the Vikings came here.
Up until 1765, when the island became a British crown dependency, it’s believed that the entire population still spoke Manx. A combination of immigration and tourism eventually led to the language decline, and in 2009 Unesco declared Manx Gaelic extinct.
In an attempt to revive the mother-tongue of the island, local schools began to teach Manx Gaelic to pupils once again. And following a series of letters and pleas, the organisation reversed their decision and changed the classification to “critically endangered”.
5. The Manx are highly superstitious.
With such a rich and vibrant history, it’s no surprise that folklore and superstition are woven deep into the Manx culture. Even today, certain traditions and rituals are meticulously upheld to keep the bad omens at bay.
Take the word ‘rat’, for example. When I first said this in front of Natalie, she was utterly outraged and demanded that I whistle immediately. It’s odd, but the Manx believe that if you dare to mutter this word, you will be overcome with misfortune. Instead, we say ‘longtail’ or ‘ringey’.
Then, of course, there are the mischievous ‘little people’, more widely known as ‘fairies’. There’s a bridge on the A5 Port Erin to Douglas road, that when you cross it, you must say ‘hello fairies’. If you don’t, well, you don’t even want to know what happens. But it ain’t good!
And on May Day eve, to ward off the extra malicious fairies, some locals fix a wooden cross bound with sheep’s wool to their front door. On the same night, they blow horns on Peel Hill to banish evil spirits.
But it doesn’t end there. There’s also many a ghost that inhabit the Isle of Man, including The Moddey Dhoo of Peel Castle and Gef the talking mongoose. You can learn all about the islands mysterious nature on the popular ghost walking tours.
6. Significant archaeological discoveries were made here.
Again, this fact about the Isle of Man is hardly surprising when you consider its history and predecessors. However, it’s a mind-blowing revelation nonetheless.
During a significant excavation on the site of Peel Castle during the 1980s, the dig uncovered a realm of historical finds. With some discoveries dating back over 8000 years, it remains the most significant archaeological dig to happen on the Isle of Man.
One of the most notable finds, however, was that of the Pagan Lady’s grave. The grave, which dates back to 950 AD, indicated that the woman may have been a shaman or a witch of some kind. It contained a beaded neckless that is now on display in the Manx Museum.
Alongside other treasures such as ancient coins and ornaments, the grave of the pagan lady turned out to be the richest Viking female grave found outside of Scandinavia.
7. The Isle of Man has a diverse natural world.
For nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, the Isle of Man is a dream destination. Over 40% of the island is unpopulated, exposing a diverse natural world comparable to the likes of the Lake District or Ireland.
From the rugged coastlines and beautiful beaches to enchanting glens and majestic waterfalls, I’m forever in awe of the islands endless beauty. I’ve lived here full-time for almost two years and still not uncovered all that there is to see.
Where possible, I recommend that you explore on foot. That way, you can enjoy adventurous hikes and exciting walking trails through some of the most beautiful landscapes that the British isles have to offer.
8. The Isle of Man is a UNESCO Biosphere region
Not only is the Isle of Man a UNESCO Biosphere region, but it’s is the only entire nation in the world to have been awarded that title. Pretty impressive, huh?
Well, it sounds cool, but what does it actually mean? It means that UNESCO recognises the Isle of Man as a place where nature and people co-exist harmoniously.
There are several safeguards in place to ensure that not only the culture and economy are protected, but the environment and wildlife as well.
That’s why our oceans attract an array of marine life, including seals, dolphins, and basking sharks. We have some of the freshest water to drink and the cleanest air to breathe in the entire world. It’s truly an extraordinary place.
9. The Isle of Man night sky is out of this world.
With this in mind, never would I have imagined the Isle of Man to become one of my favourite places to see the stars.
On a clear night, at one of the 26 dark sky sites on the island, you can easily spot the milky way and various other astronomical sights that light up the sky like glitter.
Not only that, it’s not unheard of to see the Northern Lights from the island. As of November 2021, there have already been various sightings this year.
10. There’s a history of witchcraft.
As a committed Harry Potter fan, this is probably my favourite random fact about the Isle of Man. I’m still waiting for my letter from the local Hogwarts to arrive, but I expect it’ll come any day now.
Unfortunately, this glamorised attitude towards witchcraft is far from the beliefs and traditions 500 years ago. There was no such thing as good witches, and any perpetrators of magic were barbarically burned to death in Castletown square.
Today, the Smelt monument in Castletown Square reads:
“The Ancient Market Crosse, on this site until early in the 18th century, stood the market cross. In the year 1617 Margaret Ineqane and her son were condemned to death for witchcraft, and burned to death at the stake close to the Crosse”.
Some reports believe that Margaret and her son were the first and last people killed for witchcraft on the island. However, local legend suggests that others were rolled down Slieau Whallian (Witches Hill) in a barrel.
11. Vampires are buried here.
After everything you’ve heard so far, I’ll be surprised if you’re surprised by this one. But you can’t deny it’s a pretty damn exciting fact all the same.
The story goes that the grave belongs to Mr & Mrs Hassal. The locals believed them to be vampires after Mr Hassal let out a scream during his wake.
When it came to bury him, they drove a stake through his heart, put a stone slab over his grave, pinned iron stakes into the ground and draped them with heavy chains. Poor chap – he’ll be turning in his grave!
For those brave enough to visit, you can find the vampire grave at Malew Church, Ballasalla.
12. Manx cats have no tails.
This little known fact about the Isle of Man is an unusual one. Manx cats are indeed famous for their tail – or lack of, should I say.
It’s not entirely clear how the local cats came to be this way, although science suggests that it’s some kind of genetic mutation.
Interestingly, not all Manx cats are born without tails. In fact, some litters are born with a mix of tailless and tailed kittens. Normal-length tails are known as “longies”, tailless are called “rumpies” while others with stumps are called “stumpies”.
13. Home to a realm of unique wildlife.
While on the subject of unusual animal activity, let’s talk about the other unique wildlife that resides on and around the island.
First off, there’s the native Loaghtan sheep. With their dark brown wool and up to six horns, they make for an interesting sight indeed.
Then there are the wild wallabies that escaped a local wildlife park some decades ago. The park rangers could never catch them, and it’s believed there are around 120 of them roaming around now. Your best chance of spotting them is by taking the ‘wallaby walk’ in Curragh.
Finally, there’s the thriving marine life that occupies our oceans. It’s not uncommon to spot seals and dolphins in the water and even basking sharks and the odd whale during the summer.
14. The Isle of Man is a tax haven.
This following fact about the Isle of Man requires little explanation, but yes, indeed, the island is considered a tax haven.
Our standard tax rates are 10%, while higher rates are just 20%.
15. The Bee Gees are from the Isle of Man.
That’s right; the legendary 50s boy band were born and bred here on the Isle of Man. Many people mistake Maurice, Robin, and Barry for being Australian, but they are as ‘Manx as the hills yessir’.
Naturally, the island is extremely proud of this legacy and recently unveiled a monument in their honour. We won’t forget to remember you, lads!
Other notable people from the Isle of Man include Mark Cavendish and Neil Bennet. Sir Norman Wisdom also fell in love with the island and moved here back in the 1980s.
16. The Isle of Man is a Foraging Heaven
There’s something incredibly appealing about foraging for your food. It’s an opportunity to strip back to basics. Forget about the conveniences at our fingertips and connect with our inner survival instincts.
In the Isle of Man, you can do just that. There are specialised foraging tours that take you on a hunt for edible plants, berries, and seaweeds. Or there are mushroom foraging groups on Facebook that forage for mushrooms (funnily enough!).
Of course, unless you’re highly experienced, I don’t recommend going out foraging alone. Some stuff is highly toxic and poisonous.
17. Explore Megalith sites
A megalith is a large stone or collection of stones that have been used to construct a prehistoric structure or monument. A famous example of a megalith site is Stonehenge, which remains one of the most significant historical mysteries of all time.
Interestingly, however, most of these ancient sites have been found to align with the sun on Summer Solstice, indicating there is a deep and maybe even mystical meaning behind them. And the cool thing is, there are several megalithic sites dotted around the Isle of Man.
18. There’s a magnetic hill
If you’re looking for something fun and quirky to do on the Isle of Man with your kids, take them to this magnetic hill on Ronague road. When you get there, stick the car in neutral, and watch in awe as the car rolls UP the hill.
Unfortunately, this magic trick just so happens to be the result of an optical illusion. However, your kids won’t know that, and you can have them believe you’re the next David Copperfield!
Thank you for Reading
Well, that concludes my list of fun and interesting facts about the Isle of Man. I hope you’ve learnt a thing or two!
Which fact surprised you the most? Have I missed anything that you think deserves to be on the list? Do you have any other questions or feedback? Let us know! We love hearing from you.
If you plan on visiting the Isle of Man soon, perhaps our other articles will help you to plan your trip:
- 30 Best Restaurants on the Isle of Man – The Ultimate Guide
- 65 Things to do on the Isle of Man – An Insider (Local) Guide
- The 15 Best Beaches on the Isle of Man
- Places to Stay on the Isle of Man – The Best Hotels & Accommodation
Stay adventurous and happy travels.
Charlotte & Natalie x
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