The event may not have been bathed in sunshine but Manx May Day was celebrated with eye-catching traditional song and dance performances at Cregneash.

The annual celebration of Manx May Day (Laa Boaldyn) took place at Cregneash on Monday.

It may have been rather an overcast day but it was brightened up by the colourful entertainment enjoyed by visitors.

The event included a variety of activities for visitors throughout the afternoon, including the opportunity to learn about the folklore and traditions of the Manx May Day through music, dance and storytelling.

Plenty of people flocked to the historic village to learn about the traditions and get involved in crafts and the folklore of the island as it said goodbye to winter and ushered in the warmer summer months.

Vicky Dale, Event Manager for Laa Boaldyn said: ‘Manx May Day (Laa Boaldyn) was a great success this year and, despite the weather, the celebration was well attended my locals and visitor alike.

‘It was lovely to see many of our visitors joining in with the dancing and music provided by the very talented Perree Bane.

‘It was also great to see so many crosh cuirns being made in Harry Kelly’s Cottage. Hopefully these will be placed on the back doors of our attendees’ houses to protected them against the mischievous fairies for the coming year.’

While the May Day event today is more about family fun and entertainment, the festival was very important to the superstitious Manx folk of the past.

Traditionally at May eve, primroses would be strewn across the threshold of cottages and crosh cuirns would be placed over the doors of cottages and cowsheds to stop evil spirits from entering.

They would also be tied to the tails of cattle, to stop the cattle being bewitched. Most people no longer believe in ill-spirits and witches being about on May eve, but many Manx folk still put up crosh cuirns every year including at Cregneash.

A croish curin is traditionally used to ward off evil spirits
A croish curin is traditionally used to ward off evil spirits (Manx National Heritage)

The crosh cuirn is a wooden cross, made from twigs of mountain ash (Rowan) bound together with sheep's wool gathered from the hedgerows. The Rowan tree was seen as having magical powers which made it a powerful charm against evil spirits, but only if broken by hand and not cut with a knife.

Vicky said: ‘Manx May Day celebrations represent a time between the death of winter and the rebirth of summer, which was thought to be a particularly dangerous time in Manx folklore.

‘Midnight on May Day Eve was a time when witches and fairies were considered to be at their most threatening and a series of traditions arose to allay fears and protect the Manx people and their livestock from danger.

‘The principal form of protection against mischievous fairies was the crosh cuirn, made from a rowan or mountain ash and placed above the door of the house, the cow shed and even tied to the cows’ tails. That certainly must have been an unusual sight.’

The Village Tearooms also offered traditional Manx fare including freshly-made bonnag.