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Obit: Colin Jerry, Isle of Man (19 Dec 2008)

GUEST,Bobby Bob, Ellan Vannin 01 Jan 09 - 03:47 PM
katlaughing 01 Jan 09 - 04:24 PM
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Subject: Obit: Colin Jerry, Isle of Man
From: GUEST,Bobby Bob, Ellan Vannin
Date: 01 Jan 09 - 03:47 PM

With the sudden death of Colin Jerry on Friday 19th December, the Isle of Man has lost a good friend who devoted himself to promoting the Island's traditional music and language. Colin had been enjoying one of the regular pub music sessions with friends when he collapsed at about 10.45pm.

Colin and his wife, Cristl, made the Island their home, settling in Peel, where Colin was for many years a primary school teacher. Colin's first love was jazz, by which he meant strictly New Orleans style, and he played trumpet for some years with the Island's Garff City Stompers. However, his musical interests were wide, and Colin and Cristl became enthusiastic participants in traditional music sessions in Peel. That session developed into the musical group, Celtic Tradition.

With playing traditional music in the Island, Colin looked into the Island's own traditional music. Some dance tunes were well-known, but much less well-known was the body of songs in the Manx Gaelic language. To gain access to this body of material, Colin and Cristl both became fluent in the Manx language.

As well as the 20th century collections of Mona Douglas, Colin delved into the 1896 collection of A W Moore ('Manx Ballads and Music') and the 1898 collection by W H Gill, 'Manx National Music'. The manuscript collection of Dr John Clague and the Gill brothers in the Manx Museum was a particularly important source.

In view of the difficulty that Colin had had in finding out about this music, he wanted to make it easily accessible to others. This he did by hand – staves, lyrics and also some illustrations. His autograph work was then copied by the printer and issued in attractive and inexpensive editions as 'Kiaull yn Theay' ('Music of the Folk') and 'Kiaull yn Theay 2', but more usually referred to as 'the yellow book' and 'the red book'. These books are now widely used in all of the Island's schools as well as by musicians in many countries. Colin also produced other music publications, including his versions of a number of folk songs and some hymns into Manx, as well as writing some original song lyrics. He sang one of these at the Pan-Celtic Festival in Ireland.

Following a discussion with Mona Douglas in 1975 about reviving the dance, 'Mylecharaine's March' for six men with two sticks apiece, Colin recruited a team for which he suggested the name, 'Bock Yuan Fannee' – literally 'the buck of John the Flayer', an expression referring to walking (Shanks's Pony) or a walking stick. The name stuck, and the dance group, now mixed, is still going strong. The original men's team also performed 'The White Boys' play at Christmas, including a six hand longsword dance. Practices were held in the kipper yards in Peel.

In order to promote a Manx repertoire, Colin was single-minded, not to say bloody-minded, about what was played at the Saturday session. Celtic Tradition transmogrified from an Irish/Scottish repertoire (Planxty, Boys of the Lough, etc) to Bwoaie Doal ('Blind Boy') playing only tunes with a Manx provenance. Without Colin's determined stance, as well as his sheer hard work, traditional music would probably not have flowered as it has in the Isle of Man in recent years.

Colin's work was recognised in 1991 by his recognistion as Reih Bleeaney Vanannan ('Manannan's Choice of the Year'), an annual award in respect of Manx cultural activities.

Colin leaves his wife Cristl, son Patrick and daughters Bridget and Kate and grandchildren.

Bobby Bob.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Colin Jerry, Isle of Man
From: katlaughing
Date: 01 Jan 09 - 04:24 PM

Sorry to hear of the loss of such a wonderful champion of traditional music, language, etc. My condolences to his family and friends.


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