In North America, a review of various Celtic festivals portray an image of Celtic games as distinctly Scottish and of Irish music as disproportionately dominant in the Celtic music scene, and as the Welsh as having almost no music of their own. or much other presence.
Yet, although a survey of Celtic festivals may give these impressions, the actual presence of sports in Ireland and Wales offers very different portrayals of culture in these countries. Likewise, anyone who listens to the radio program, "Thistle and Shamrock," knows full well a rich music tradition in Scotland thrives in both the traditional and contemporary-popular modes. Highland dance in Scotland may lack PBS specials on American television, but is also nonetheless alive today. The Irish love of horses and the games mentioned in still surviving fairy lore also demonstrates a love of sport with ancient roots. And the Welsh, are today passionate about sport and have thriving interest in their own contemporary music scene and have for two generations been reconstructing traditional modes of their own music after centuries of religious persecution left those traditions in shambles. Ar Log, for instance, left a magnificent body of work focusing on distinctly Welsh music in a Celtic mode.
Among the survivals in modern Wales, although only after completely modern reinvention is the modern bardic scene, complete with an annual National Eisteddfod, a Welsh-language only event. In England as well, drawing on the history of the ancient Britons, the desire to resurrect bardic competitions has begun to produce results, although often amongst strong religious overtones.
In the United States and Canada, we have continuing opportunities to re-examine the influence of Celtic cultures and immigrants on culture here. And, yes, one difficulty with popular culture is the tendency to embrace stereotypes often due purely to commercial reasons. Bringing the full range of the older and contemporary Celtic experiences to North American audiencesdeserves constant attention and review. Recognizing smaller groups and nations, such as the Isle of Mann, the Cornish, Bretons of Brittany, andattempts to revive the Celtic flame in old Cumbria in northwest England and southwest Scotland and among the peoples of Galicia in northwest Spain also have gained some smaller followings on this side of the atlantic.
North American Gorsedd Association Celebrates Contemporary Culture
In the United States and Canada, and eventually in Latin North America and the Caribbean, new interests in Welsh culture, past and present, may be on the edge of full participation in the more than century-long Celtic revival. What William Butler Yeats called the Celtic Twilight does today seem a twilight of a new dawn. over two hundred years ago, renewed interest in bardic traditions began to slowly take hold in Wales. Now a new North American Eisteddfod Association has begun to form to assist Celtic festivals and events to reconsider distinctly Welsh contributions to the contemporary Celtic scene. Moving apart from religious considerations, focusing on secular-cultural values, the member eisteddfodau will promote bardic and other arts and civic ceremonies at events throughout the continent. It presents opportunities to rediscover the trditional, but also to appreciate and participate with or even in living cultures of Wales and other Celtic peoples today. NAGA is currently developing four regional gorseddau--Welsh, plural for gorsedd, Breton, goursez; English or Cornish gorseth or gathering.
Region 1, Western North American Gorsedd.
Region 2, Mid-North American Gorsedd.
Region 3, Northeastern North American Gorsedd.
Region 4, Southern North American Gorsedd.
The member gorseddau serve on three levels. First they focus on the Welsh and other related descendants of the Celtic peoples of ancient Britain: Cornish and Breton, and eventually on the Celtic revival of the old Celtic culture and language of Cumbria. Second, they promote a broader Celtic vision of traditional and modern herbal lore and healthing practices, sciences for predicting future events, and using the arts to promote understanding. They also bring a particularly Celtic appreciation for an integrated view of land, sea, and sky, environmental science, and philosophy. Finally, on a third level, they celebrate these values in the living cultures of North America today. Just as the old Celts formed their cultures amidst the traditions of the peoples they encountered as they migrated west across Europe, the process continues today in the Americas. Hence, according to the Gorsedd Association, a person need not be Welsh or even Celtic to appreciate the impact and influence of Celtic ideals in the world today.
For listings of various Celtic events in North America and elsewhere, a useful site is the Arizona Irish Music Society
Information on the North American Gorsedd Association is available at,