One of the biggest pioneers in the revival is Brian Stowell, who decided to learn the Manx language in 1953 after reading an article about a man called Douglas Faragher, who was lamenting the rapid decline of his mother tongue.
Stowell joined Faragher, and along with several other people, they spent the following weekends driving around the island in a van listening to old Manx tape recordings. “Initially I was seen to be a bit of a nut job,” said Stowell. “But it became clear that beneath the surface there was huge support for the language from many people.”
Stowell believes one of the biggest obstacles has been the old Manx speakers themselves. “Manx to a large extent dumped their own language. There was a strong fear of the language and many people thought it to be backward and associated it with poverty,” said Stowell. A common saying among the old Manx speakers was Cha jean oo cosney ping lesh y Ghailck, meaning: “You will not earn a penny with Manx.”
There’s a nice audio clip of Ned Maddrell, the last native speaker of Manx (he died in 1974), and a description of Bunscoill Ghaelgagh, a primary school that teaches almost entirely in Manx. (Thanks, Trevor!)