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Smuggling Trade Exhibition 2 December 2004

On Saturday afternoon the House of Manannan reverberated to the sound of a lively Sea Shanty band which was performing as part of the weekend of celebrations launching Frances Wilkins' latest book, 'The Smuggling Trade Revisited'. Frances gave a public lecture followed by book signing at the Manx Museum on Friday evening (26 November) and also signed books at the House of Manannan on Saturday afternoon. Visitors also enjoyed a free tot of rum - duty paid of course!

These celebrations also marked the opening of a small exhibition on 18th Century smuggling in the Irish Sea, in the foyer of the House of Manannan, Peel. The exhibition is designed to introduce visitors to the smuggling of that era by explaining the trade connections of the Isle of Man and the conditions that made it an attractive location to store goods prior to smuggling them into England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

The display shows how the smuggling trade attracted non-Manx merchants to the Island as well as Irish boat men who were favoured to transport the cargoes of tea, rum, brandy, tobacco and silks and land them as contraband on the shores of the Irish sea. It touches on the importance of smuggling in bringing about the political changes of 1765 when the Duke of Atholl with financial compensation lost possession of the Island to the English Crown.

Wendy Thirkettle, Assistant Archivist at Manx National Heritage commented:

"The display has been mounted in conjunction with Frances's book launch to highlight a fascinating aspect of Manx history. Frances has drawn extensively on the archives in the care of the Manx National Heritage Library in preparation for this book. In so doing she has made use of newly available source material which casts fresh light on the truly international links of the Manx merchants who supplied the smugglers."

Frances Wilkins added:

"The weekend's celebrations went very well, a highlight being the contribution of the band at the House of Manannan on Saturday afternoon which played atmospheric and uplifting music. Seeing visitors enjoy the exhibition and then ask me genuinely interested questions helped make all the research and writing worthwhile."

The exhibition runs until the end of January 2005 at the House of Manannan. Entrance to 'The Smuggling Trade' exhibition is free.

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