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Sage Kinvig

Epithet: Native Manx speaker (c.1870-1962)

Record type: Biographies

Biography: “I’ll tell you how I’ve lived so long…common good food and no tin-openers. A big pot of spuds, a pound of butter in with it - strong feeding. A hundred-weight of foodstuff in those days was better than 3 hundred-weight, now…” (Sage Kinvig)

Sage was born at Garey Hollin (The Holly Garden) in Ronague. Three generations of her family had also been born and raised on the small croft.

While her husband, John Kinvig, took on a variety of occupations including fisherman, mason and Common Lands Inspector, Mrs Kinvig combined the running of the croft with rearing ten children. When Sage first married she trained as a dress maker, walking to Castletown everyday, leaving at 8:00 in the morning and reaching Castletown Square as the clock struck 9:00.

Mrs Kinvig, like many other Manx women living on small crofts, had an exhausting list of tasks to complete on a weekly basis. She remembers docking turnips, milking cows and preparing meals for the rest of the family. She would frequently get up at six in the morning to tend the chickens and thin turnips.

Household chores also had to be completed. Monday was for baking; Tuesday was wash-day; Wednesday there might be time for spinning and knitting; Thursday was churning day and on Friday Mrs Kinvig would take spare eggs and butter to market in Castletown, Port Erin and Port St. Mary. If there were any goods left over she would take the train from Ballabeg to Douglas for the Saturday market.

“You would be going down in a row to the quay…If you didn’t get there early you would miss your stand and you would miss your chance of selling your stuff…” (Sage Kinvig)

Any money made from the market would go straight back into the house-keeping.

Both Mr and Mrs Kinvig spoke the Manx language fluently. They were able to remember the days when most of the people in the Ronague area spoke nothing else but Manx. However, they also recalled that there were very few that could read a Manx Bible.

“This last fifty or sixty years the country is looking to have a different look of life to what it had before…” (Sage Kinvig)

The Kinvigs were very conscious of the changes that had occurred in their lifetime and the threats these changes posed to the future of the Manx language. They were keen to encourage students of Manx Gaelic and many visited them to study pronunciation. Lola Kinvig, youngest daughter of Sage and John Kinvig, recalls that the house was always busy, but not just with Manx students. All the farmers and young men in the area would congregate in the evening at Garey Hollin to hear the latest news gathered by John Kinvig as he worked his way around the south fulfilling his various contracts with the Common Lands Board. John would even cut their hair and mend their shoes when required.

Gender: Female


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A fascinating insight into islands history, thank you - Peter squires Report this

A fascinating insight into islands history, thank you - Peter squires Report this

A fascinating insight into islands history, thank you - Peter squires Report this

A fascinating insight into islands history, thank you - Peter squires Report this