Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Loaghtan Manx

Once upon a time there were lots of kings who chased around the world robbing whatever land they fancied, locking people are in towers and hitting everyone with their swords/ sticks / spiky metaL balls on chains. It seems that at one point many kingdoms had a passion for claiming islands that were close enough to them in nature where sheep, climate and jumpers matched their homelands. Just because something is closest to me does it make it mine. Just because I run around shouting at everyone "Mine..mine..mine" does it actually mean that I have ownership? Unfortunately positioned in the middle of the Irish sea pretty close to Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales and not too far from Scandinavian, it seems that Isle of Man was fair game for anyone with a boat. With boats there's not only the threat of invasion but smuggling is made a whole lot easier especially when you are surrounded by coast.

However this is an Isle of character, resilience against the takers of the earth and a flag flyer of individuality. The Manx triskellion - three conjoined armoured legs with spurs is not your average symbol. Then there's the link between the name, Isle of Man and an ancient sea God. Manx stands for everything from the Isle of Man. They have their own language, government and an emerging private space travel industry.

Most people have heard of the Manx cat. This cat, with its naturally occurring mutation resulting In a very short tail, is a native but not no.1 on my list of reasons for wanting to visit. The most influential factor in my fascination in everything Manx is the Loaghtan Manx Sheep. The legendary tale is that marauding Vikings with their imagined horned helmets brought the Loaghtan Manx with them on their escapades around the Northern part of the British Isles. Perhaps the writers of history got the stories muddled as they wrote by candlelight and mistook horned sheep for horned men. Unlike the evidence for horned Viking Helmets, the horns of the Loaghtan Manx are plentiful. It is not unusual for both the ladies and gentlemen of this breed to have anything between two and six horns. With their fabulous brown fleece and skinny legs, they look almost mythical. Apparently they have neared extinction three times but these guys are made of sturdy stuff. They hang out on bleak hills in the middle of the Irish Sea with all the weathers testing the durability of their wool. It bleaches in the sun providing an array of natural sheepy colours as a sustainable resource for knitters like me.


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