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John Tom Kaighin

Epithet: Native Manx speaker (c.1862-1964)

Record type: Biographies

Biography: John Tom Kaighin farmed in Bride. His sister, Annie Kneale, was also recorded by the Irish Folklore Commission. They came from a large family (also had sisters called Esther and Nellie), but not all the children were Manx speakers. John Kaighin’s command of the Manx language was reinforced by staying with his Manx-speaking grandparents every summer. John Kaighin would drive a flock of sheep to their croft in the hills in order to preserve the lowland pastures for winter grazing. As a youngster he was the go between for his grandparents for anything that was going on in English.

John Tom Kaighin was a life-long farmer following the horses and sowing the corn. Notes from Eric Cregeen’s notebook record him as ‘Blind, aged 85, very lively and with an enormous voice. Still a fluent Manx speaker - gave an hour’s continuous Manx conversation for recording when Kevin Danaher of the Irish Folklore Commission came.’Walter Clarke recalls that during later recordings made by Yn Cheshaght Ghailckagh John Tom Kaighin had an overpowering voice and the story went if he was ploughing at Ballagarrett you could hear him shouting to the horses in Bride village three or four miles away.

Kaighin was very conscious of the passing of time and particularly the new technology employed in farming,

“…but now they are lazy, there is a thing at them to sow the corn…there’s a thing at them for putting manure on the land. They are not wanting to put it on with the hands at them…The world’s going far speedier than it used to be…” (John Thomas Kaighin 1948)

Gender: Male

Name Variant: Kaighin, John Tom, Mr


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