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Tommy Leece

Epithet: Native Manx speaker (1859-1956)

Record type: Biographies

Biography: Tommy Leece (pictured with Sage Kinvig, also a native Manx speaker) had travelled the world. He began life as a miner at Foxdale, walking from home to arrive at the mines for a 6am start. The working day was long and arduous and it is even reputed that Tommy Leece got married in his lunch break before returning to the mines. He later emigrated to the South African mines in search of a better wage.

Walter Clarke recalls a story that Tommy told about South Africa. “They were all assembled near the mines and one of the overseers came up and said any of you fellas got any experience of hunting? Well Tommy used to hunt a few rabbits in the Isle of Man so he says I used to do a bit like. He was given a gun and told to get out into the wilds and get meat for the rest of the miners. So he spent most of his time stalking wild game.” Tommy eventually returned to the Isle of Man but this time took up fishing, travelling to Kinsale and the Shetlands.

In his interviews with the Folklore Commission Tommy indicates just how reluctant people were to express themselves in Manx.

“There is a man living down there at Ballabeg and he’s as good a Manx man as what I am, but he won’t do anything of it. I suppose he would be better than I am or John Kinvig, if he would only come out.” (Tommy Leece 1948)

Gender: Male

Name Variant: Mr Leece


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