Yn Chruinnaght (meaning 'the gathering') is a festival of events including arts, crafts, dance, language, lectures and music and is a celebration of Manx culture and the relationship between the Isle of Man and the other five Celtic countries (Brittany, Cornwall, Ireland, Scotland and Wales).
In its original form in 1925, Cruinnaght Vanninagh Ashoonagh ('Manx national gathering') was largely the idea of William Cubbon, the first director of the Manx Museum. He was also the Honorary Treasurer of both Yn Çheshaght Ghailckagh (The Manx Gaelic Society) and the World Manx Association.
As early programmes tell us, 'Yn Cruinnaght Vanninagh Ashoonagh is held under the auspices of The World Manx Association and The Manx [Gaelic] Society in commemoration of our great National Poet and with the object of preserving national sentiment.'
It was organised, largely through the WMA's Ellan Vannin magazine (William Cubbon, editor), as a one-day event held at Hollantide, with participants from the Island (though at least one of the judges, Dr J E Lyon, came from across). Members of the various sub-committees included Archibald Knox, J J Kneen and Mona Douglas. The event came to an end with the outbreak of the Second World War.
In 1977, Mona Douglas organised Feailley Vanninagh Rhumsaa, the Ramsey Manx Festival which was held on Thursday 1st September in collaboration with the Ellynyn ny Gael (Arts of the Gaels) organization. The front cover included the modern symbol of Yn Chruinnaght, which also appeared inside, together with an announcement that Yn Chruinnaght 'will be revived in Ramsey August-September 1978, and this time it will be a five-day Inter-Celtic Festival . . .'. It was held 21st - 25th August 1978.
The programme for 1979 reveals that 'It was decided to stage Yn Chruinnaght in Ramsey, the only town in the Island which had no important festival of its own, and which, like Peel, was a recognized centre of the national revival.'
The relationship of Yn Chruinnaght with Ramsey has been an important factor over the years. Yn Chruinnaght has enjoyed venues and facilities throughout the town, including a variety of hotels and the Town Hall, various churches and the livestock mart. As many of these venues and facilities became no longer available, a marquee became a feature of the festival, with bar and catering facilities as well as the all-important dance-floor.
With the usual plot for a marquee no longer available either in Ramsey, Yn Chruinnaght has had to approach its remit as the Manx National and Inter-Celtic Festival in a different way. Over the years, events have been held throughout the Island, though the main focus was on Ramsey. In 2007, the main focus moved to Peel, where the facilities of the Centenary Centre provided an excellent venue. However, the festival organizers are determined that the long-established link with Ramsey will not be broken.
The development of traditional arts in the Island has continued apace over the past thirty years. Mona Douglas felt that the energy could be harnessed to revive Yn Chruinnaght. Further development would undoubtedly have taken place in its own way. However, Yn Chruinnaght has provided a focus for thinking about and arranging traditional music, and has been the spur for new creative work drawing on traditional themes.