The Status of the IOM
The Isle of Mann (IOM) is in the middle of the Irish Sea, north of Wales, between Britain and the Republic of Island. Its population of around 86,000 (although probably less than ½ are actually born on the island) are known around the world for hosting the annual Isle of Mann TT Motorbike Race (on the twisty and hilly main roads of the island) and for until recently being a ‘tax haven’.
It has a somewhat unusual legal status and relationship to the rest of the UK. Its described by the BBC as follows “The island is not part of the United Kingdom or European Union, but has the status of ‘crown dependency’, similar to Jersey and Guernsey, with an independent administration. Its inhabitants are British citizens”.
If you take the long standing historic route of the Isle of Man Ferry from Liverpool to the Isle of Man a statue of Liverools Fab Four will be near the harbor to bid you fare.
Impressively, its Parliament, The Tynwald, has been running continuously for over 1000 years, making it the oldest one in the world. Hands up – how many knew that?
Anyway, a good place to start in planning a trip, is to check when the week or so, of racing is – and avoid it as much as possible (unless you are really a pure racing enthusiast)! The island will be mobbed, noisy and expensive.
A Very Early Tourist Destination
With a rugged coastline, hills and a mountain (Snaefell), old towns and ports, a rich past encompassing its time as a very popular upscale tourist resort, for well heeled visitors from Britain, a hundred years back, its simply a lovely place to explore.
It is some of its old, now well preserved, tourism infrastructure which forms the base for much of today’s visitor industry. With a range of individual hotels and seaside B&B’s on ‘the front’ in the capital, Douglas and its excellent public transport system, you really don’t need a car and indeed, you’ll probably explore more without one. We traveled extensively over a long weekend with great ease to all the main towns, up SnaeFell, hiked headlands, visited museums coffee shops and nice Pubs.
Visiting The IOM
Where else can you buy a single inexpensive Travel Pass as you walk off the ferry from Liverpool, which gives you travel on steam railways, horse drawn trams, an old electric tramway network, including a dramatic trip to the top of SnaeFell – oh, and of course modern buses, all in one pleasurable day.
It does not ‘suffer’ from weather like some of those Mediterranean islands Brits holiday in – so its going to be wise to pack a woolley, boots and rain gear, as well as sun crème – as it varies a lot! It was simply beautiful when I was there very early in May (before cycling mayhem).
As well as motorbike racing the IOM for years provided employment as one of those ‘offshore banking ‘ islands. Frankly it always seemed dubious to me. Just because it’s 50 miles or so from Ireland or the UK never seemed a good reason to let it have dark secrets, presumably so as to protect nefarious activities of Bank Account holders living far away.
Anyway, conversation revealed that the recent global clampdown on such tax havens has rather dampened that business activity.
But being ‘good with money’, the latest ruse is that it is a base for on line gambling management mostly for people in Asia. Entertaining visitors is surely a much more wholesome pastime for islanders!
If you are going to Britain put this on your list, it’s a bit of a Route Beyond to get there, but I thought it well worth the effort.