The Peel Car Turns 50

Sep 11, 2014 by

Long before the Prius or the Smart Car, a small company on the Isle of Man was producing the Peel car, a three-wheeled, energy efficient microcar. 

In the early 1960’s, the Peel Engineering company began making the Peel car, with fiberglass construction—a pioneering use of that material— at a facility near Peel Harbor on the Isle of Man (IOM).  The P50, the first model of the Peel car, rolled out in 1964 , was produced for just a few years, but it is still highly popular with collectors and car fans around the world.


Designed as a city car, the Peel car P50 was advertised as capable of seating “one adult and a shopping bag”.  The vehicle’s only door was on its left side, and equipment included a single windscreen wiper and one headlight. The available colors were Daytona White, Dragon Red, Capri Blue and Sunshine Yellow.  The 1963 model retailed for £199 when new (about £1,400 in 2010, or $2,200 USD).

50 of them were produced, and only 27 of them are known to be still in existence.



The Peel Trident featured a clear bubble top, red or pale blue paint and either two seats or one seat with a detachable shopping basket.   This Peel car was marketed as a “shopping car” and said to get 83 MPG.  Approximately 82 Tridents were produced between 1964 and 1966.  TIME magazine has the Peel Trident on its list of the 50 Worst Cars of All Time, noting

“The Trident is a good example of why all those futuristic bubbletop cars of GM’s Motorama period would never work: The sun would cook you alive under the Plexiglas. We in the car business call the phenomenon “solar gain.” You have to love the heroic name: Trident! More like Doofus on the half-shell.”


Peel car peel trident

1965 Peel Trident, the two seater Peel Car


IOM was once ruled by Vikings and has a unique blend of Celtic and Viking culture, place names and government structure.  Thus, it should come as no surprise that the next Peel car to be made had a Viking name.

The Peel Viking Sport, which was soon renamed the Peel Viking Minisport, debuted in 1966.   About 22 examples are thought to have been built before production ended in 1970, and only seven are believed to still exist.


1964 Peel Car Peel Viking

1964 Peel Viking, a Peel car worthy of Emma Peel


2014 is the 50th anniversary of the intro of the Peel cars and IOM held a big celebration last month.

The Peels to Peel Festival was organized by Peel car owners and enthusiasts in partnership with The Manx Transport Museum:


The IOM post office joined in by issuing a special limited edition stamp depicting the micromini cars.


peel car anniversary stamp

Commemorative stamp set issued in honor of the Peel car’s 50th anniversary


The Peel P50 was and still is street-legal in the UK, as well as the US, surprisingly.  The Manx Peel car still holds the record for world’s smallest production car.

The original company has been out of business for years, but an English company (also called Peel Engineering) began producing replicas in 2011.  That’s right, you can now CUSTOM order your own Peel car–with prices starting at $21,530. Take a look at this little purple number designed for Cadbury’s Joyville campaign:


FYI: the ORIGINAL Peel cars, depending on condition, can command prices of $100,000 and more at auctions.

Too hefty a sum for such a tiny car? Maybe, or perhaps paying that much for a Peel car is just a worthy amount for a rare piece of Manx heritage.

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Songs in Manx Gaelic

Jul 10, 2014 by

The last native speaker of Manx, the language of the Isle of Man, was Ned Maddrell, a fisherman born in 1877 who died in 1974. This unique Gaelic ( Gailck, in Manx) language is not extinct, and a small portion of the island’s inhabitants do speak it, with an even greater number having at least a basic familiarity with Manx. As with many of the Celtic languages, there has been a strong effort to revive Manx, an undertaking aided by the fact there is both written and audio documentation of the language.

Manx is a beautiful language, as you’ll hear in the following videos, lyrical and unique, with hints of Ulster Irish and northern Scots Gaelic, all flowing together to give voice to the ancient Celtic culture of the Isle of Man.


This is a traditional Manx folk song,  a woman’s invocation to the sea gods to bring her fisherman home safely. The English and Manx lyrics are contained in the comments section of the video.



Ushag Veg Ruy( Little Red Bird) is a Manx lullaby, sung here in Manx and English. Click HERE to see the full lyrics in both languages.



This lovely track, Fin as Oshin, is from Ruth Keggin’s debut album of Manx Gaelic songs, Sheear (“Westward”).  Click HERE to go to Ruth’s website and HERE to to preview/purchase  the album.



 My Caillin Veg Dhone (My Little Brown Girl) is performed here by Caarjyn Cooidjagh (“Friends Together”), a group of singers based on the Isle of Man.  Click HERE to see the lyrics in English and Manx and HERE to preview another track from the group.


Sources and more information on Manx Gaelic:

A Wooden Crate Preserved the Manx Language, BBC

Audio recording of Ned Maddrell, last native speaker of Manx

Basic Manx Phrases, Manx National Heritage

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Nollick Ghennal–A Manx Christmas Greeting

Dec 24, 2013 by

Happy Christmas and A Good New Year from beautiful Ellan Vannin, the Isle of Man

Nollick Ghennal

Nollick Ghennal

Nollick Ghennal as Blein Vie Noa is Manx Gaelic for Happy Christmas and A Good New Year.

This little castle is known as the Tower of Refuge and is in Douglas Bay, off the coast of the Isle of Man.  Completed in 1832, the tower sits atop Conister Rock (also known as St Mary’s Isle) at the far end of Douglas Bay.  Sir William Hillary, founder of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, moved to Man in 1808.  He  realized that waters of the Irish Sea were too treacherous for any sailor washed overboard to swim safely to shore.  Hillary paid for the small granite tower to be built on Conister Rock, as refuge for sailors waiting to be rescued.   He made sure it provided shelter for  sailors, and also kept it stocked with fresh water and bread.

It’s possible to walk to the The Tower of Refuge when the tide is out, but it is not advised, as the tide comes in quickly  and could leave you stranded.  Locals recommend you view it from a distance, just to be safe.



Isle of Man Steam Packet Company vessel, Mona aground on St Mary’s Isle, July 2nd, 1930.

The Tower of Refuge, Isle of Man

The Tower of Refuge, Isle of Man


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Celtic–and Viking–Blood Runs in My Veins

Nov 14, 2013 by

Viking Jarl Squad at 2013 Up Helly Aa fest in Lerwick, Shetland, Scotland-(Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images)

Viking Jarl Squad at 2013 Up Helly Aa fest in Lerwick, Shetland, Scotland-(Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images)

I like Vikings. They haven’t always placed nice with us Celts, but they have certainly left their mark(and their DNA fingerprints) on Celtic life, history and culture. As many of you know, every Thursday(Thorsday), I try to post something about the Vikings. Why? Because of the connection between Vikings and Celts. Yes, there IS one, and I’ve talked about it many times since I began blogging about the Celtic nations.


Some confusion remains, however, about the Viking-Celt link, so here are some basic truths as I see them:

1) Vikings had a significant physical, historical, and cultural effect on the Celtic nations, especially in Scotland, Ireland and the Isle of Man(IOM), but to some degree in the other nations as well. Read back through my numerous posts here and on Facebook about this issue or google it, and you’ll get a wealth of info about the many ways our two cultures are linked.

2) The Celts existed BEFORE Viking invasions of the Celtic lands, thus we, as Celts, do NOT originate from the Scandinavian lands–we are of Indo-European origin.

3) As will happen when two cultures come in contact, Viking boy meets Celtic girl(or vice versa), willingly or not sometimes, and BAM! Lars yer uncle and CeltoVike tyke is born! He/she grows up in Scotland, Ireland, IOM or some other Celtic country and passes down that genetic heritage to YOU, beautiful Celtic people.

In modern terms, you MAY have DNA that connects you to both Celtic and Viking ancestors. Many of you have told me of just such DNA evidence in your family trees, which is consistent with what genetic researchers have found. Not everyone has Scandinavian DNA, but many do, including myself–I’m basically 3/4 Celt, 1/4 Viking, to put it in VERY simple terms. Again, read my previous blog or Facebook posts.

Viking Voyages and Territories in the Celtic Realm

Viking Voyages and Territories in the Celtic Realm

This map shows where the Northmen established solid control of certain territories(those areas are in bright green)–in Ireland, particularly around Dublin, in northern Scotland, in Shetland, Orkney and in Celtic France, near Normandy. The entire Isle of Man was ruled by Vikings for several hundred years, before being handed over to Scotland–IOM is too small to see clearly on the map.

The blue lines indicate known Viking voyages and trading routes–you can see that EVERY Celtic country was raided/visited/traded with by Vikings to some degree.

So, in light of the above, and because I am the monarch of this page(what do you mean, nobody told you?! It says it right up there, in the royal edicts) and because VIKINGS ARE AWESOME, I will continue to share my Viking fascination with you, fellow Celts. Even better, you can now impress friends and relatives with your knowledge about the Celtic-Viking connection, a bit of our rich heritage with which relatively few Celts are familiar. In return, they can toast you with a big horn of mead.

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It’s NOT Halloween, it’s Hop-tu-Naa on the Isle of Man

Oct 29, 2013 by

On the Isle of Man, October 31st is celebrated as Hop-tu-Naa, an ancient Manx tradition that predates Halloween. As with Samhain, hop-tu-naa marks the end of the harvest season, the onset of the cold, dark days of winter, and the start of a new year.

Manx Hop-tu-Naa Turnip Lanterns

Manx Hop-tu-Naa Turnip Lanterns

This is old Sauin night; Hop-tu-naa
The moon shines bright; Trol-la-laa…

Shoh shenn oie Houiney
T’an eayst soilshean; Trol-la-laa…

from The Hop-Tu-Naa Song

The name “Hop-tu-Naa” (pronounced hop two nay) is a derivation of the Manx Gaelic phrase  “Shogh ta’n Oie”, meaning “this is the night”.  Like Hogmanay in Scotland, hop-tu-naa is a Celtic festival in honor of the new year,  “Oie Houney”, but the Manx fest has not been moved to January, as has the Scottish fest.  Manx people continue to ring in their Celtic New Year on the eve of October 31st, just before “mee houney”, Manx for November, begins.

Some Manx hop-tu-naa traditions are similar to Halloween customs.  As with American trick or treaters, Manx children today don disguises and happily go door to door in search of sweet treats.  They may also bring along their carved turnip lanterns–pumpkins are a New World luxury that would have been too expensive to purchase, even if available, so turnips(called moots or swedes) became the practical choice for hop-tu-naa revelers about 100 years ago.  I can tell you from personal experience that carving a turnip is MUCH harder than carving a pumpkin, and requires a good deal of commitment to your art.



In the old days, children would sing the Manx Gaelic Hop-tu-Naa Song (see above), as they roamed door to door, seeking apples, salted herring, old coins or other goodies. Sadly, the song is rarely heard sung in Manx these days, but recent efforts to increase Manx Gaelic use throughout the island may give the Hop-tu-Naa Song a rebirth. I searched in vain for a video or sound clip of the song being sung in Manx.

Another musical  hop-tu-naa tradition involves singing a song about a local lady, Jinny the witch, as the children go from house to house. Not to be confused with just any old Halloween witch, this Jinny is unique to the Isle of Man and predates  Halloween by several centuries. She lived  in the town of Braddan and was tried for witchcraft in the early 18th century, for using magic to shut down the local corn mill.  Fortunately for her, local authorities did not have the same zealousness for punishing witches as was seen in 18th century Scotland and America.  Jinny was sentenced to 14 days’ imprisonment, fined £3 and made to stand at the four market crosses dressed in sackcloth–not fun, but much better than being burned at the stake.



There are numerous versions of the Jinny the Witch song, but a common one has the following lyrics:

Hop-tu-Naa, Tra-la-laa
Jinny the Witch flew over the house
To catch a stick to lather the mouse
Hop-tu-Naa, Tra-la-laa
If you don’t give us something we’ll run away
With the light of the moon.


Here is short video from the Manx Heritage Center in 2011, showing some of the dancing, music and activities traditionally associated with hop-tu-naa–watch for the little guy dancing with a candy cigarette in his mouth:


To learn more about the Isle of Man:

The Isle of Man: Portrait of A Nation, John Grimson, 2010 ISBN-10: 0709081030

Manx Heritage Center

The Folk-Lore of the Isle of Man: Being an Account of its Myths, Legends, Superstitions, Customs & Proverbs(Forgotten Books), A. W. Moore, 1891,
ISBN-10: 1605061832

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May 2, 2013 by

The Children of Pride , the Adhene: These are the fairies of the Isle of Man – the word means ‘themselves’ in Manx Gaelic. They were easily offended when called by the wrong name or by invoking them; extremely malicious when they thought themselves wronged by humans.

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Apr 29, 2013 by


TT poster 1961

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