Movie Tourism – Isle of Man (Mann)

Released in 1998, Waking Ned Devine (Waking Ned outside North America) is pure entertainment, with amusing lines, great music, and an Irish cast featuring Ian Bannen as Jackie, David Kelly as Michael, and Fionnula Flanagan as Maggie. A simple story of a lottery winner in a small Irish village, this delightful movie is filmed entirely on the Isle of Man.

Approximately 33 miles long and 10 miles wide, the island is in the Irish Sea about midway between Ireland and Great Britain, less than 20 miles from Scotland. Often considered a haven for offshore banking, as well as a popular tourist destination for travelers from Europe and the UK, the numerous locations and hilarious scenes from the movie have brought many others to the Isle of Man. The island presents a striking diversity, from the rugged seacoast, fortresses, and burial sites to the deep woods of the Glens and fields of wildflowers and heather in the beautiful countryside. Relive the vivid nautical history and adventures of the island in the legends of the Vikings and tales of shipwrecks and smuggling. Enjoy stories of the “wee folk,” and visit the old castles of English nobility. (Readers may recall that Captain Bligh and Fletcher Christian of the HMS Bounty had ties to the island, as well.)

Many scenes from the movie were filmed in the village of Cregneash in the south of Man including Jackie’s farmhouse, the barn, post office, and pub. Many of the villagers in Cregneash still live the traditional Manx way of life from the 19th century, carefully preserved as a National Folk Museum. Here, you’ll see a living small community of farmers, thatched roof cottages, workshops, and the rare 4-horned Loaghtan sheep, native to the island. Enjoy demonstrations of cooking, gardening, weaving, and crafting, explore the footpaths, take time for refreshments in the tea rooms, and perhaps attend a service at St Peters Church in the center of the village.

Museum Admission: Adults – $4.50, Children under 18 & Students – $3.50, Family of 4 -$13. Open: 6 Apt to Oct, 7 days a week, 10am to 5pm, handicap accessible.

Some of the sets for the interiors of Jackie’s house were built at the Old Mill in Laxey, located in the Glen Moaar valley north of Douglas, the capital of Mann. Laxey’s main tourist attraction is the “Lady Isabella,” named at the time for the Lt Governor’s wife, and the largest remaining waterwheel in the world. Designed by Robert Casement and built in 1854 for the Laxey miners, the great wheel, an impressive 72′ in diameter, was completely restored in 1965. Visitors can climb the staircase for an amazing view, enter the old mine, or view the wildlife along the Laxey Mines Trail.

Admission: $2.75 – Children under 18 & Students, $5.50 – Adults, $9.50 – Family of 4.

The Niarbyl Visitors Centre on the bay where the beach scene from the movie was filmed provides audio-visual presentations, spectacular views, and a restaurant offering everything from afternoon tea, salads, and sandwiches to full evening menus and an extensive wine list. Try their famous Chocoholic Wotsit concoction for a special dessert.

Reasonable Prices: Most entrees average $13 to $25 p/p.

Open: Easter to October, 7 days a week, 10am-9pm. Nov to Easter, 11am-3pm Mon thru Fri, & 10am to 5pm Sat & Sun.

For a fascinating, exhilarating ride into the past, ideal for cyclists, take the Marine Drive seen in the movie. Heading south from Douglas, you’ll follow the road beneath the stone archways of the old Victorian gates, which allowed the tramway and carriages to pass. An estimated 2,000 people paid about $1300 each to ride on the open top, double-decker tram at the grand opening in 1893. Through lack of maintenance and money, the tramway was eventually abolished, but you can still see the ruins of old bridges and electrical cable poles in the rocky hillsides as you walk or cycle along Marine Drive, now with “kissing gates” at both ends.

Other Attractions: The Calf of Man, a small island just off the coast, is a nature reserve and a bird observatory. Castle Rushen, situated in the old capital of Castletown, is a well-preserved fortress completely restored from medieval times. You can follow the mapped route within the castle from the drawbridge to the gatehouse and continue through the guardrooms, prison cells, dining hall, chapel, and treasury.

Hours: 10am to 5pm, Easter to October.

Admission: Adults – $7.50, Children under 18 & Students – $4.00

Accommodations: There are a number of hotels on the island including the Ascot at $80-$115, the Regency at $120-$190, and the Sefton at $140 a night. Others recommended are the Hilton, the Town House, and the Gloucester. Prices range from $50 for smaller establishments to $215 for a large apartment type hotel. Lodging is also available at B&Bs, self-catering apartments, holiday cottages, and hostels.

Things to Do: Although Mann is a small island, there is no end of things to see and do from walking, photography, and bird watching to boating, diving, and motorcycle riding. Isle of Man Tourist Trophy – the TT is considered “the” international motorcycle racing event, a 27-mile course, dating back to 1907 and held in May and June each year. Music, drama, art, and crafts play an important part in Manx culture, as well, and travelers will find a number of festivals and other events are held throughout the year. Visitors will find year round entertainment at the Gaiety Theatre & Opera House in Douglas.

Transportation: Several airlines have flights to Ronaldsway Airport from the British Isles. Average Fares: $47 from Dublin, $41 from Liverpool, less than an hour. Rental cars available at the airport.

Ferries: 3 to 4 hour trip, from Liverpool, Haysham, Dublin, and Belfast.

Average Fares: $26 and up, one way, depending on departure time, location, and type of reservation.

This article has covered many of the film locations from Waking Ned Devine, all worth seeing; yet there is a great deal more that awaits travelers to the Isle of Man.

Sharon L Slayton

Filed Under: Movie tourism

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