Singer Sarah Mercer and harpist Mera Royle will represent the Isle of Man at the Pan-Celtic Festival in Carlow, Ireland, in April.

They will compete in the international song competition after winning the contest at Peel Masonic Hall to find a new Song for Mann, Arrane son Mannin.

Sarah and Mera performed Paper Boats (Baatyn Pabyr), composed by Sarah’s partner Matthew Warren and translated into Manx by Bob Carswell.

Matthew told Island Life: ‘We are all so excited to be playing in Carlow.

‘I went along to Arrane son Mannin as a first-time entrant with the idea that we’d just have a great evening sharing the song with everyone.

‘Seeing the other performances blew me away - to bring together such a variety of fabulous musicians to sing in Manx is a truly remarkable thing.

‘In the company of such brilliant other performances, I think we all felt genuine disbelief when we were announced as the winners.’

The duo was one of six entries into the competition.

Sue Harrison’s song Jenny Rosemary McFee won the competition for a new song in traditional style.

The song was performed by Sue and her son Jamys. They were awarded £100, sponsored by Fiona McArdle.

Cara Rowles sang With Me Now (Marym Aynshoh), with the melody by Dave Rowles and words by Laura and Cara Rowles.

Scroll through this gallery of photos courtesy of Valerie Caine

Mera Royle and Sarah Mercer, winners of this year’s Arrane son Mannin with a song composed by Matthew Warren

Love and War (Caggey as Graih) with the melody and words by Doug Francisco, was sung by Ruby Biscoe-Taylor and with instrumentals by David ‘Kin’ Kinley and Doug.

The choir Un Choraa performed Give me your Hand (Cur dou dty Laue), with the melody, arrangement and Manx words by Aalin Clague.

And Owen Williams sang his own song, This is the Time (She Nish yn Traa).

Matthew explained he wrote Paper Boats alongside a poem of the same name about three years ago.

‘Both of them reflect on yearning for an absent loved one,’ he said.

‘At the time, Sarah was away travelling for several months, so for me it grew out of that absence.

‘It described the experience of missing her in moments of idle thought in which inconsequential things seemed to remind me of her and sparked thoughts of longing that drifted lightly out into the world with little sense of direction.’

He added: ‘When Sarah did return, she loved the song and began to sing it.

‘It suited the gentleness of her voice perfectly and it became a favourite of hers, so much so that she persuaded me to enter it for Arrane son Mannin this year.’

Matthew said that he was initially ‘slightly reluctant’: ‘I’m mainly a classical composer, and entering the composition class of the Guild last year was much more my home turf than this,’ he said. ‘I don’t write many songs - this is one of only a handful I’ve ever composed.

‘But, I eventually agreed on the proviso that Sarah had to sing it herself, which is also not her home turf, but I couldn’t imagine anyone else’s voice suiting it as well as hers.’

Matthew praised Bob for his generosity and skill in creating a translation which fitted the song seamlessly and captured its meaning perfectly.

He asked Mera to come on board once they entered the competition.

‘Mera’s lovely harp playing and Sarah’s voice, I think, balanced each other with a real delicacy,’ he said.

As well as representing the island in Carlow, they received £300, sponsored by Culture Vannin.

Adjudicators were Annie Kissack, Peddyr Crellin and Julie Matthews.

The evening saw Pan-Celtic Manx delegate and organiser of the Arrane son Mannin Fiona McArdle step down from the role after many years.

She was presented with a bouquet.

There was also a Manx concert featuring David Kilgallon and Scran, poetry by Annie Kissack, Ruth Keggin, Phil Gawne, Ruby Biscoe-Taylor and Owen Williams as Caarjyn.