I think it is pretty safe to say that Sir John Lorimer is the first governor to complete the Parish Walk.

The first competitive parish was in 1913 and the governor then was Lord Raglan, an awkward, controversial character who was as likely to take part in it as your car-loving correspondent John Lavender is about to don a pair of cycling shorts!

The origins of the Parish Walk goes back into folklore when a Norseman named Alswith the Swift undertook to walk around all the keeills (kialteenyn) in a day.

He started from Kirk Michael and was going well as the sun began to set.

As he headed back to Michael via the Staarvey road, off the Poortown Road, he stumbled and fell and was unable to go any further.

The hill is known as Ushtag Brish my Chree or Break my Heart Hill. So he never completed it.

Two colourful MHKs did though, a Colonel Anderson did so in the 1880s and the following day round the Manx Agricultural Show showing no ill effects.

Gerald Bridson did so in 1923 and 1924 wearing a pair of enormous shorts and smoking a pipe.

I spoke with his widow about 30 years ago and she told me that there was a question casually asked in the Keys as to whether he had damaged the highway doing it. He was a rather rotund gentleman.

There are some fascinating stories in Dermot O’Toole’s book ‘A Walk Through Time’, which is a great story of this community event.

John Wright

Bemahague Avenue

This letter was first published in the Isle of Man Examiner of July 4.

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