The Kathleen Faragher Project

Thanks to Culture Vannin funding, a project is underway to try and record the memories of one of the Isle of Man’s greatest writers; the Manx dialect poet, short-story writer and playwright, Kathleen Faragher.

A project is underway with the aim of recording the memories of anyone who knew or had contact with Kathleen Faragher. Despite being one of the Isle of Man’s greatest writers, very little was written of her, and so all that is now left are the memories of those who knew her. This project aims to record and preserve those memories for future generations. No contact is too slight or memory too insignificant – everyone is encouraged to get in contact: manxliterature@gmail.com

Kathleen Faragher was born in Ramsey in 1904 and emerged in the 1950s as an incredibly popular writer and performer, particularly through her humorous poems written in Manx dialect. She published seven books and hundreds of poems and stories in the Manx newspapers over a 25 year period before her death in Glen Mona in 1974. During her lifetime she established herself as one the Island’s most published poets, its most prolific author of short stories, and one of the most important writers that the Isle of Man has ever known.

However, despite her popularity and importance, very little was written of her and her life. Now, over 40 years since her death, it is of paramount importance to collect and record the memories of those who knew her or came into contact with her, so that they can be preserved for posterity.

“In reading any of her poems, stories or plays, it is clear that you are reading something very special. The quality is obvious, and the importance of her work to the Isle of Man would be hard to overestimate. It would be a tragedy for Manx culture if we did not do everything in our power to preserve all we can of her memory.”    [James Franklin, project organiser]

Although she gravitated towards her home in the north, Kathleen Faragher was well known all over the Island through her published work and recitals. She was involved in a great deal of organisations, including: the Manx newspapers, the World Manx Association, the Guild, the church and schools in Ramsey and Glen Mona, the Women’s Institute, and the Ramsey Male Choir. Many people still on the Island today will have known her and will have information which we very much want to record and preserve for future generations.

If you wish to contribute to this project to preserve the memory of one of the Island’s greatest writers, please get in touch. We would very much like to arrange a time convenient to you to come and listen to and record your stories.

Please get in contact: manxliterature@gmail.com

Available interviews

Mary Midwood

Kathleen Faragher’s manuscripts; featuring in ‘A Good Cooish’; visiting Kathleen Faragher’s home in Glen Mona; old Ramsey; the Mooragh Internment Camp; the Midwood photography studio; Laureston Boarding House etc.

Kathline Callister

Kathleen Faragher’s life at Glen Mona; her performances at the Maughold W.I. meetings; memories of one of Faragher’s unpublished plays; featuring in ‘The Manx Weddin”; the Manx cultural revival of the 1970s etc.

Geoff Christian

The Ramsey Male Voice Choir; Kathleen Faragher’s relationship to the choir; their regular joint performances; Kathleen Faragher’s performance style; her participation in the annual dinner; an estimation of her importance.

Clare Christian OBE

Clare Christian remembers Kathleen Faragher in connection to her mother, Margaret Kerruish, and their participation in the Maughold W.I. She also explains the context of her appearing in one of Faragher’s poems.

Robert Radcliffe

Delivering proof copies of poems to Kathleen Faragher; Faragher’s role as a crossword setter in the Ramsey Courier; printing Faragher’s books; attitudes towards Faragher in the printers; printing in Ramsey in the 1960s.

Marion Lawrence

Mother as Kathleen Faragher’s sister-in-law; Faragher’s grocery shop; helping to clear Kathleen Faragher’s home after her death; possessions inherited; annotated books; unpublished play script.

Ann Poole

Kathleen Faragher at the Maughold W.I.; her performances in the Maughold church hall; her personality; the significance of Faragher’s The Song of the Women’s Institute to the Maughold branch of the W.I.

Available readings

Constance Radcliffe

Kathleen Faragher’s great friend and collaborator, reading Kathleen Faragher’s dialect poetry at her home in Maughold in 1986.

The Michael Players

The first known recording of a Kathleen Faragher play: “A Cat-and-Dog Life” performed by Marilyn and Chrissy Cannell in 2016.

Mraane ayns Arrane

The Isle of Man Women’s Institute Choir perform Kathleen Faragher’s The Song of the Women’s Institute.

Aimée Corlett

Three poems by Kathleen Faragher recited by one of the island’s leading Manx dialect readers.

Kathline Callister

A reading of Kathleen Faragher’s At the Airport, by someone who recalls her own particular way of performing her verse.

Dollin Kelly

Three poems by Kathleen Faragher performed by one of the Isle of Man’s best renowned reciters of Manx dialect poetry.

To My Countrymen

For mine own people do I sing
These simple songs – that they may bring
The heathered hills and rocky shores,
The gulls, the glens, the gorse, the flowers
Before their eyes; and exiles tread
Once more these island paths outspread
In beauty – as from age to age
Is passed our glorious heritage.

The Homecomer

“It isn’ me dyin’ that I min’, boy,”
She said as he sat by her bed;
“I’d go peaceful if it wasn’ for thinkin’
Ye’ll be managin’ so maul when I’m dead.”
An’ Billy sthroked her cheek – so the tale goes –
An’ whispered all lovin’ an’ low,
“Dunt be grievin’, Nellie Kate; theer’s no need to gel,
To worry about me when yer go!

For theer’s the nices’ li’l wumman in Laxaa
That I’ve had me eye on this las’ bit;
She’ll look after me well, I can tell yer,
So take yer res’, Nellie Kate, an’ dunt fret!”
My gough! She gorrup from that bed theer
Like an arra shot straight from the bow!
Ay! an’ Billy himself was years buried
‘Fore herself in the en’ had to go!

[Extract]

Photograph by Dennis Reed

An Exile’s Childhood Memories

When the curtain went up again – the stage was set like a Manx kitchen – I heard her catch her breath at the mem’ries it mus’ a brung.
That play was good mighty. Lawse! we laughed arrit! When it ended, with the li’l fam’ly sittin’ roun’ the chiollagh, an’ the mother, a baby in her arms, singing “Hush Little Darlin'”, Mrs Quilliam’s lips trembled; an’ when th’ audience sung “Ellan Vannin”, tears sthreamed down her cheeks an’ she gripped me han’ tight. I knew whithout tellin’ that no matther wheer she’d been, nor how happy she was, her heart had naver really lef’ our own lovely islan’, with its “green hills by the sea”.

[Extract]