After a break of nearly three years, the Three Legs of Mann will once be paraded down the streets of Lorient, along with the other flags of the Gaelic nations, as the Isle of Man takes part in a major European festival.
The Lorient Inter-Celtic Festival of Music and Culture begins today (Friday) and runs until Sunday, August 14, and will see groups an delegates from each of the Celtic nations, plus affiliated regions, take part in a week-log festival of music, dance, arts, language and culture, celebrating the variety and the vivid spectacle of Celtic culture.
As with every other year, despite being one of the smaller nations to take part, the Isle of Man will play its much valued part in the proceedings and the local music, dance and arts will stand along side its counterparts from the bigger nations of Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Brittany, as well as Cornwall, Asturias, Galicia and Celtic areas of America and Australia.
Among the Manx groups taking part are Clash Vooar, who were set to go in 2020, Mec Lir, who are flying high after the success of their latest album, Live Wire, and Biskee Brisht.
A dance troupe, Ny Manninee, put together especially for the festival will also perform, and the local artists Beth Louella and Helen Winter will also take part in exhibitions.
The island’s representatives are led by delegate Grainney Sheard, who will organise and coordinate the Manx contingent at the festival.
She said that they are keen to get back to the festival after the experiences of the past three years.
‘We are very excited to go back, as thanks to the pandemic we haven’t been there since 2019, so it’s been three years since the Manx stepped foot on Breton soil,’ said Grainney.
‘I was the chief delegate in 2019, along with Sarah Hendy and after the success of that year, we were raring to go in 2020, but it wasn’t to be.
‘It feels like we will have to relearn everything we are doing again, as there has been this three year gap.
‘I think the first few days we’ll have to find our feet again and we’ll just have to see how it goes, but I’m sure it will fine once we’re there and got our feet on the ground.’
There will be many changes to navigate this year, and the advent of Brexit has meant changes had to be made to the national pavilions, that served Manx food and drink.
However, Grainney is keen to make sure that the Manx make themselves seen and heard at the huge festival, which will attract more than 200,000 people over the week and a bit.
‘There is loads of representation for the island at this huge festival, which is awesome,’ said Grainney.
‘We are also seen as culturally independent from Britain, and our identity and language, and the music that comes out of this small little island, is recognised as holding its weight alongside these other nations.
‘We have so many amazing musicians going this year and they are really revered by this festival.
‘I think the Isle of Man more than pulls its weight and more in Brittany, and that is really nice to have that recognised there.’