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SNSBI 2001 Douglas meeting (Empress Hotel, Isle of Man, April 6–9)

A report is in Nomima 24, 101–102.

Friday 6th April

  • Dr Kay Muhr, President SNSBI: Welcome

  • Sir David Wilson: The Viking Age in the Isle of Man  —  an introduction

Saturday 7th April

  • Dr Margaret Gelling: An overview of Manx place-names

  • Dónall Mac Giolla Easpaig: The element man in Irish and Welsh

  • Dr George Broderick: Goidelic elements in Manx place-names

  • steam train visit to Castletown

  • Mr Robert Thomson: Manx surnames

Sunday 8th April

  • Dr Gillian Fellows-Jensen: The mystery of -names in Man (Nomina 24, 33–46)

  • Ms Eilis Fitsimons: St Maughold of Kirk Maughold

  • Bill Richardson: The Owers, Les Ours, Weenbrug and 'The Old City’

  • Dr Peder Gammeltoft: 'I sauh a tour on a toft, tryelyche i-maket’  —  on place-names in -toft, -tote and tobhta from Shetland to Isle of Man

  • visit to Manx Crosses

  • Dr Rosemary Power: Man and contacts in the Middle Ages

photos

Saturday 7 April 2001 Excursion to Castletown
train in Douglas station delegates head for the train
train in Douglas station delegates head for the train
Castletown - Castle Rushen and harbour Old Grammar School in Castletown
Castletown - Castle Rushen and harbour Old Grammar School in Castletown
Looking out to sea The 'Peggy' Museum in Castletown
Looking out to sea The 'Peggy' Museum in Castletown
Castletown harbour Steam engine back in Douglas station
Castletown harbour Steam engine back in Douglas station
Sunday 8 April 2001 Visit to Manx crosses.
Crosses in Maughold Churchyard Crowding in to look at the crosses
Crosses in Maughold Churchyard Crowding in to look at the crosses
View from Maughold churchyard Keeils in Maughold churchyard
View from Maughold churchyard Keeils in Maughold churchyard
Keeils in Maughold churchyard Keeils in Maughold churchyard
Keeils in Maughold churchyard Keeils in Maughold churchyard
Carved stones inside Kirk Michael church Carved stones inside Kirk Michael church
Carved stones inside Kirk Michael church Carved stones inside Kirk Michael church
Coaches outside Kirk Michael church Tynwald Hill
Coaches outside Kirk Michael church Tynwald Hill

poem

A Mingling of Mischiefs in Man
by Peter Kitson

A new thing after thirty years
Brave onomasts began,
When they decided they would hold
Their conference in Man.
Not in a college would it be
But in a swank hotel,
Which would provide no decent lamps
But at least fed us well.
The room costs and the conference fee
No separate slots should fill.
As if at this anomaly,
Our Treasurer fell ill.
How should one reach Manannan's isle?
Some people chose to fly,
For ferry-boats may fail to run,
And no-one tells us why.
O perils of the Irish Sea!
The princes of the South
Sought to detain their folk at home
Because of foot and mouth.
Little success with anyone
Their machinations found.
Rare is the civil servant who
Could push Donall around.
Certain of those who came by flight
Were caught another way:
They were compelled to fly by night,
So they must sleep by day.
The Heysham luggage carousel
Made ferry-landing hard,
Then taxis whisked us - just as well -
Along the promenade.
Whether we came from close-set isles
Or half the world around,
Dinner proved a great leveller
In caverns under ground.
First talent-test for onomasts
In form of menus came:
To what degree are sauce anglaise
And custard quite the same?
Thus fortified, we rose to get
Proceedings under way.
A Viking and museum man
Followed a word from Kay.
In colours bright he showed us sites
Where men served kings and God.
So hot and stuffy was the room
Even Homer would nod.
Seek not to know what gems of speech
On that first night were said.
This bard enjoyed what is ascribed
Unto the just, or dead.
Refreshment logged, on the next morn
Much sharper-eared he rose.
Ice-cold debate of decades gone
Through Crosby's affix flows.
The Vikings here, it may appear,
Practised in numbers vast
Damnatio memoriae
Of monumental past.
Black was the water which through this
Linguistic sieve could fall.
The longest river on the isle
Had no good name at all.
When monks enclosed the tofts of trolls
Minor dispute began,
Transcended when there rose to speak
The man of Man of Man.
No humble chieftain with an awl
Through his high pages runs,
But sea-god's ramparts four miles long
Foam on his native Tuns.
The god's and isle's names must bear some
Relation, but just what?
First came the isle, which as you know
Is a well-mountained spot.
Its patron deity was veiled
In noa-terms' tabu
(If you must have a candidate,
Our Donall's would be Lugh).
William of Ockham would not like
How ns were multiplied:
Irish reshaped declensions, plus
A suffix on each side.
Upon the Welsh, one old dispute
'Neath his winged words lay hid:
His etymology would yield
Directly -wydd, not -wyd(-).
After this heavenly tour de force
Came contrasts great indeed.
The next two papers saw extremes
Of fast and stately speed.
Manx ground is dangerous for names,
Both showed, to general shock,
For it could make an utter Cronk
Out of one little Cnoc.
Once red-haired George believed an Old
Welsh township some thought fooling,
And pleased the low sort with the parts
That make up Lagavhulin.
The Reverend Thomson sermonized
A professorial line
From Cubbon, Kerruish, and Kermode
To Quiggin, Quirk, and Quine.
Between these two, full steam ahead
In different mode obtains
To take us all to Castletown
By Man's Victorian trains.
There was found something for all tastes:
Machicolated halls,
Inventive yachtsmen's smuggling safes,
And beachside ruined walls.
When the day's work had yielded place
To scholars' mild carouse,
Soroptimistic music came
And overfilled the house
With electronic pianists.
(The desk girl said "We had,
Before, one who was not that loud
But really was that bad.")
Sunday began with AGM
Of unaccustomed gloom,
For who should fill the Treasurer's
And Membership Sec.'s room?
The Great Detective's Danelaw fan
Made sure that we should know
Of old unhappy far-off things
And battles long ago.
To find whence Viking farm-names were
Transferred to Man she'd try;
The Danelaw furnished something like
An answer by and by.
This soulful juring discourse passed
Into more holy talk,
How saints of Nendrum sailed to Man
On quernstones made in Cork.
We think these good men's holy state
Would serve to save their souls
From where for sailors lie in wait
Women and like-named shoals.
Our hoar-bearded cartographer
Diminished an Old Town
To just a navigation-aid
Lest the White Ship should drown.
Then by a stony ancient toft
His namesakes' map was spread,
Their banner in the Outer Isles
Less yellow or blue than red.
Now if you looked at etyma,
From two to five were green,
And Rufty Tufty was the tune
His asterisk might mean.
That afternoon the onomasts
From Douglas ventured forth
To see in situ and in rain
Manx crosses further north.
Twenty-eight-seater buses, paired,
Developed as they rolled
The theme stated in railway cars
That island transport's old.
Less sage advice from native guides
Was heard than in some years.
Long walks were banned (officialdom
Nursed pedal-buccal fears).
Rune-reading needed flashlight eyes
Or Ogma Face-of-Sun;
If lamplight in our rooms was dim,
A dark kirk offered none.
Ran at high speed down Tynwald hill
To test his charmed life
At brink of drop to tourist paths
A chappie from East Fife.
Back on the Empress's parade
The final witching hour
Produced a sharpish seminar
On politics of power.
Race is not always to the swift
Nor battle to the strong;
It's best if you and your branch clan
Have allies and live long.
The barelegged viking found this out
Who by some scouting dire
Dealt at Downpatrick once too oft
In fatal friendly fire.
Now if you thought the grand brigades
Had won the fight for truth,
Just listen to the rapid-fire
Guerrilla from Maynooth.
Judicious chairmanship soon put
The parties out of range,
But to the Boer behind the bar
Glenmorangie was strange.
For onomasts as well, the bard
Could fancy that the mood
Was for a conference-final night
Unusually subdued.
One plain contributory cause
Was consciousness of time
Of ships and flights so ill-ordained
It must be cursed in rhyme.
Whether you left ere crack of dawn
Or after afternoon,
The farewell symphony this made
Had a discordant tune;
And if your port was Liverpool
You reached the harbour mouth
A scant few minutes later than
The last train had gone south.
Forget these draughty station nights,
The day was fine (in parts);
Replica runestones and cliff walks
Could gladden varied hearts.
So as our parting memories
Waft gently o'er the brine,
We hope to see at next year's moot
More onomasts on Tyne.