The Isle of Man has a lot of things to boast about, for example, the kippers, the TTs, the no tailed kittens and the regular mentions on HBO shows (normally in relation to being a good place for gangsters to hide money). But there’s one area in particular where we really shine, the mental old traditions.
Most of them have been lost through the annals of time, but step onto Peel Promenade on St Swithen’s Day and you’ll still see the annual egging of the dwarf, or head to Bride on Easter Sunday and you can join in with the sponsored tickling of the pig.
Concerned however that the greater majority of these traditions are falling by the wayside, Gef The Mongoose gang have decided to resurrect perhaps the craziest of the lot – the St Catherine’s Day tradition of parading a dead chicken through the village, and then retiring to the pub for its funeral and subsequent wake.
Folklore tells how the young men of the village would trap and kill the feathered sacrifice, and walk it down to their local tavern with a man at each corner, presumably sobbing for added effect.
You can imagine the scene, old Arthur Moore’s wife Bessie fires him a death ray stare, ‘you’re going to the pub again? Are you for f*cking real Arthur!?’ ‘Jesus Christ Bessie! A hen has died can you show some respect!’, with that Bessie was guilted into submission, she probably even tossed Arthur a shackle to buy his first pint.
Once the poor clucker arrived at the pub it had its head and feet removed and was cooked up for the revelers – in an effort to eek out the session the uneaten remains were buried the next day.
Let’s face it, strip away all the pomp and ceremony and it was just an elaborate ruse to justify another night on the ale, long before the days of ‘wetting the babies head’ and the one drink after work that ends up with you snogging the intern in the Star Wars bar at 4am.
And please, spare a thought for the poor feathered friends of whichever unfortunate beast gets plucked from their pen to be our ‘La’al Catreeney’ sacrifice and amidst all the frivolity, just think how this might be affecting them.