Sunday thoughts : July 2019

By Monsignor John Devine

Before I came to the Isle of Man nearly four years ago, I assumed the island was populated by native Manx residents with a few extra British and Irish people. But at Mass every Sunday I meet parishioners from every nation on earth. It’s good to have our assumptions overturned.

As I write this, the annual TT motorcycle races are under way. The weather this year has been atrocious. Cloud cover on the mountain course has meant that injured riders can’t be safely airlifted by helicopter to Noble’s Hospital for emergency treatment. When this happens, practice sessions have to be curtailed and races postponed.

The island hosts over 40,000 visitors for the TT (to put that in perspective, the permanent population is only 85,000). Most of the visitors are bikers and they bring their bikes with them. I derive as much satisfaction from looking at the variety of bikes and reading their number plates as I do from watching the racing itself.

Many might assume that an influx of bikers would spell trouble for the island. That isn’t the case. Contrary to the stereotype, bikers aren’t hooligans. When they take off their helmets and peel off their leathers you discover they are respectful, courteous and considerate visitors. The Manx people love them. There are people on the island who accommodate the same bikers every year in their own homes. They consider them to be family friends. Many more bikers live under canvas. This year the campsites are awash and so they fill the bars and cafes.

When you welcome the stranger, you welcome an angel in disguise.