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AmeriCymru: Hi Tywysog Llywelyn and many thanks for agreeing to this interview. Care to tell us a little about the genealogical background to your claim and title?

Llywelyn: Hello Ceri, and thank you for the opportunity and for what you have done with AmeriCymru. I recognize the duality of national identity and ethnic identity. AmeriCymru has done wonderful things for Welsh-Americans and the preservation of Cymraeg in the United States.

Yes, I would be glad to expand on this for you. I wish more people would take notice of what I am doing with the titles rather than be so fascinated with them, but I do understand the curiosity surrounding them. My claim to the native incorporeal hereditaments of Wales is based on Welsh law, common law, and international laws. Because I was the first Welshman since Owain Glyndwr to claim the titles, and being that the Welsh law states that “the office itself is not divisible”; jurists around the world have recognized me as the de jure or “rightful” owner of the titles. This is also based on the common law principles of estoppel and laches. A party that attempts to claim the titles now is precluded or barred from doing so, because the titles are no longer in abeyance; they have already been claimed and redeemed. The legal principle of laches essentially states failure to assert one’s rights in a timely manner can result in a claim being barred by laches, or by sleeping on one’s rights you can lose your rights. According to the Welsh law it was the right of every Welshman to claim this position if it were ever left vacant so that Wales could always be free. This is a right granted by blood (jus sanguinis) so every Welshman in the world theoretically was a claimant prior to the titles being called out of abeyance. Chwarae teg.

When I first began this endeavor I attempted to locate who the rightful claimant could be. My plan was to lend them my understanding of Welsh and international laws pertaining to de jure sovereignty so that things could be made right in Wales. The search led me to Evan Vaughn, who is a descendent of the House of Aberffraw with a well documented pedigree. Mr. Vaughn was born in Wales, lives in Wales and speaks Welsh, which ideally made him the perfect candidate for people to rally behind. However, after researching him further I was gutted to discover that he stated in interviews he “had no interest” in claiming the titles, and his son had “even less interest” than he did. (Rogers, Byron, “Three Journeys”, “Cambria Magazine” (June 2011), p.30-31) I think most people wanted the next pretender prince to have been born in Wales and fluent in Welsh, as I myself did. However, in over 600 years no one had stepped forward to do what needed to be done and what needed to be done was quite clear to me. I cannot speculate as to why no one else took up this position to finish this fight, but I can tell you from my personal experience this position comes with a great deal of scrutiny and criticism. My whole life I have always been a leader. I’ve studied leadership in university. Whether it was in sports, martial arts, the military, or in my professional life, I have always played the role of the leader. Leaders have to be thick skinned and deal with constant criticism. You have to be able to intelligently defend the decisions you make for your organization, and be able to explain them. Leaders have a birds-eye view of the issues, and when they see a problem they fix it. After discovering the titles were in abeyance and I had a right to claim them I sought out to do so. Elected leaders aside, leaders in other natural circumstances don’t ask to be the leader; they naturally fall into the position. Welsh monarchy is not elective and there is nothing in the Welsh laws to suggest that if the titles were ever in abeyance a conclave should be held to determine who the heir should be. On the contrary the laws on the “edling” or heir are very clearly detailed.

There are a plethora of reasons the titles needed to be taken out of abeyance. Firstly to harness the international legal powers for Wales available to a government-in-exile. To take back the rightful place as a free, sovereign, and independent nation. According to Phillip Marshall Brown, an international lawyer as he is quoted as stating in the “American Journal of International Law”, “There is no automatic extinction of nations. Military occupation may seem final and permanent, and yet prove to be only an interregnum, though a prolonged nightmare for the inhabitants. A nation is much more than an outward form of territory and government. It consists of the men and women in whom sovereignty resides. So long as they cherish sovereignty in their hearts their nation is not dead. It may be prostrate and helpless and yet revive. It is not to be denied the symbols or forms of sovereignty on foreign soil or diplomatic relations with other nations”.

I also sought out to protect the titles from anyone who would attempt to use them for improper reasons, rather than their true noble purposes. In 2007 a man claimed the fons honorum (fount of honor) and kingship to the Isle of Mann and immediately attempted to exchange noble titles for donations to a charity of his choice (David of Mann, Foxnews). I wanted to ensure Welsh titles and honors would be protected, respected, and reserved for individuals who demonstrate true noble and honorable characteristics, and contribute to Welsh culture and independence; not simply sold to the highest bidder.

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Petition for name change: Tywysog Llywelyn Cymru


AmeriCymru: What can you tell us about recent legal developments in Japan?

Llywelyn: Well, there is not a court in the world that you can go to that can grant you a royal title or grant you sovereignty. However, courts can recognize facts in a case as a matter of law (international law). The jurist in the international arbitration in Tokyo recognized my possession of the incorporeal hereditaments as a fact in the matter, and a fact of law pertaining to Welsh, common, and international laws. I was the first qualified person to claim the titles in six centuries and being that the office is “indivisible”, with the primary rule being “fitness for the position”, my claim would preclude all other claims, and I was found to be the rightful owner of the incorporeal hereditaments and the powers that went with them.

These same legal facts were also presented and recognized in the United States Superior Court of California. In the petition for my name change my attorneys stated:

“…I have been found to have inherited incorporeal hereditaments and desire my name to reflect my new status.”

There is a widespread belief that in the United States citizens can change their names to just about anything they want, but there are several cases that have been denied on the assumption of a status or noble and royal titles. It is unlawful to change your name to one that could defraud another person.

Petition denied on the basis of a status:

"Courts similarly exhibit concern for members of the public in cases in which the names requested have the potential to confuse or mislead, even in the absence of nefarious intent. For example, in In re Thompson, the New York Superior Court denied a man's petition to change his name to Chief Piankhi Akinbaloye." (57 UCLA Law Review 313 (2009) pg. 313)

Petition denied on the basis of nobility:

"In re Jama, 272 N.Y.S.2d 677 (Civ. Ct. 1966). The petitioner wanted to add "von" before Jama, because his father had told him that “von Jama” was their family name. Id. at 677. The court also noted that it chose to deny the petition because many Germans with "von" in their name were nobles (though the decision does not say that "von" was in fact a title)." (57 UCLA Law Review 313 (2009) pg. 317)

My final ruling from the California court reads, “…It appears to the satisfaction of the court that all the allegations in the petition are true and sufficient and that the petition should be granted. The court orders the name of Lawrence Jones changed to Tywysog Llywelyn Jones Cymru (Prince Llywelyn Jones of Cymru)". It is safe to state that Judge Sim von Kalinowski, who granted the final ruling, concurred with the reason for my name change as the inheritance of royal titles and the change in legal status. Pretender princes, also known as claimants to occupied or usurped thrones are sovereign subjects of public international law.

Subjects of International Law can be described as “those persons or entities that possess international personality”. Ultimately my petition for name change was deemed lawful because I could not be fraudulently impersonating myself. I am who I say I am.

Although now I do have two court orders recognizing my titles, international recognition does not stem from these court orders but rather from countries that adhere to international laws on governments in exile.

AmeriCymru: You believe that Wales is owed billions in reparations by the English government. What specifically do you believe that Wales is owed for? Care to speculate as to the total amount?

Llywelyn: Yes I do. Even by medieval standards Wales did not surrender, meaning there was never debellatio; which would have then made it acceptable under the standards of the time to annex Wales. Since that time Wales has maintained a separate national identity, despite overwhelming attempts to assimilate the culture. The maintenance of that culture and separate national identity has preserved the right to independence. The doctrine of “stole it fair and square” is not an acceptable one. They can try to argue that England annexed Wales by acquiescence after the publishing of the “Laws in Wales Act” but there is overwhelming historical evidence that shows that was a result of direct use of force or threat of force. The doctrine of “might does not make right” has been widely upheld in the modern world. King George VI even stated, “might is right is a primitive notion”. I believe that Wales is owed for centuries of unlawful occupation and subjugation. Owed for the suspension of the operations of the native government, self-determination is the right of every free nation. The act of the suspension of that right by one nation to another, simply in self-interest should lead to sanctions. I believe that Wales is owed for resources that have been removed, and for resources that continue to be removed.

Pertaining to the monetary amount Wales would receive as reparations it would really depend on where the line is drawn for how far back reparations would go. That is something both parties would have to agree on. Even without reparations I feel Wales will be in better shape when she is finally paid a fair price for the water, power, and other exports that are sent to England. The amount of financial aid that England currently supplies to Wales is far eclipsed by the amount of resources that England has been taking at no cost up until now. If Wales was really dragging down their economy they would have freed her long ago.

AmeriCymru: Do you have a legal strategy for reclaiming this money?

Llywelyn: Yes I do have a plan I am following. By re-establishing the native government and quieting the claims of others with the litigation and judgments I have received; I have made it to where the other side cannot deny the current state of the situation any longer.

According to the jurist Oppenheim, once sovereignty is recognized it cannot be withdrawn. External sovereignty cannot be recognized with the initial recognition of the government representing the State, and once recognition of sovereignty is granted it “is incapable of withdrawal”. Now that there is recognition of the reestablishment of this position, reclaiming reparations would happen in mediations with the UK or through sanctions with the United Nations.

AmeriCymru: Do you believe that Wales should pursue full independence?

Llywelyn: Of course I do, I most passionately do. I think that independence is far more important than reparations. There is not a price you could put on what independence will bring. Self-determination is the right of any free government. To be denied that right and to have to ask an invading neighbor for permission to perform normal acts of state is wrong. While at the same time that neighbor is removing your resources, working to eliminate your culture, leaving thousands of you to live in poverty, and teaching a false history about Wales in your schools. Wales was not always a principality, it was not always subjugated. Wales achieving independence corrects the wrongs of the past. It changes the story of our culture from one of being occupied and illegally annexed to one of perseverance and unwavering faith in the face of overwhelming odds. It changes the meaning of all the Edwardian castles in Wales from symbols of English conquest to symbols of the Welsh identity, endurance and overcoming. Freedom and independence for Wales justifies all of the lives that were sacrificed fighting in the pursuit thereof.

There are far too many reasons to mention why Wales should urgently pursue independence; but if only for one reason alone then, that the people of Wales were all born free, free to self-govern and free to self determination. Free to be free from an invading neighbor.

A walk with the Wildlife Wanderer…


By AmeriCymru, 2017-03-23

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One of the UK’s foremost wildlife photographers, David Bailey, will be publishing a striking collection of images in his first book, Wildlife Wanderer

Tireless in his search for species and their habitats, David Bailey is also full of concern and care for those animals he photographs, earning their trust and the right to document their comings and goings.

With a soft spot for squirrels, hares and owls, for kingfishers, foxes and deer, his camera has captured many of the wildlife wonders of Wales and England. In this book alone he features over 50 different species, including otters and beavers, dolphins and dragonflies, hedgehogs and herons, puffins and peregrine falcons, salmon and seals.

Though he likes to let his pictures do the talking, David Bailey also has the odd word of advice for would-be wildlife photographers, some pointers for less experienced naturalists and plenty of personal anecdotes, just to remind us that he really has walked on the wild side.

In the foreword to the book Dr Rhys Jones says that “the life of the wildlife cameraman is anything but glamorous. I’ve spent many a day sat with Dave at remote locations, knowing what it is to be both frozen in winter and eaten alive by mosquitoes in the summer. A wildlife cameraman needs skill, saint-like patience and luck. However I’m a firm believer that people create their own luck in life and Dave’s ability to read the landscape, coupled with his constant research into the lives of animals, puts him in the right place at the right time to secure that coveted photograph.”

David Bailey says “I do witness some odd sights while quietly sitting in the hide: courting couples, drugs drops, joy riders, poachers. I’ve even frightened the life out of some innocent people stood near my well camouflaged hide, as I pop my head out of an opening to say hello.”

“Working in the most beautiful locations, dealing with many wildlife projects and trusts, seeing wildlife which so many people will never set eyes on and meeting those with a love of animals, means that there is no such thing as a normal day. And I’m grateful for this. I often think I’m the luckiest person on the planet, and this book is my chance to share that luck with you.”

David Bailey is hugely respected for his enthusiasm and expertise in the field – he has been cameraman and consultant on the BBC series Rhys Jones’s Wildlife Patrol and has appeared on Springwatch with Nick Baker. Such is his reputation that he received the Brand Laureate International Personality Award in 2016 in recognition of his photography. Though Dorset and the New Forest have claims on him, he now lives in mid-Wales.

Wildlife Wanderer is now available from all good bookshops and online retailers or directly from the publishers Gomer Press on www.gomer.co.uk

It will be launched at the Drill Hall in Chepstow on 27 April. Tickets (£2) for the event are available from the Chepstow Bookshop on www.chepstowbooks.co.uk

David Bailey will also be in conversation with Dr Rhys Jones at the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth on 6 May. Tickets (£6) are available from www.nlw.org.uk

"Stunning photography by a man who really understands his subject” Iolo Williams



Bibliographic details

Wildlife Wanderer

David Bailey

Published by Gomer Press

ISBN 9781785621833

£19.99

Hardback, 144 pages

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WHAT IS THE TRUE NATIONAL SPORT OF WALES?


By AmeriCymru, 2017-03-20

handball.jpgThe debate about the true national sport of Wales has been raging for years between rugby and football fans. But a new book claims that the first and true national sport of Wales is neither of these, but the little less know sport of Handball.

In industrial Wales Hanbdball (or Pêl-law) was the predominant sport – drawing crowds of thousands to watch the game that could be described as similar to squash, but without the rackets. Courts were to be seen in many parts of the Welsh valleys and it was played in yards of pubs in front of betting spectators. The game was a national obsession, with people travelling from far and wide to watch thrilling matches between the sporting heroes of the day, and fortunes being won and lost through side stakes and gambling.

Today only one ball court survives, in the village of Nelson in the Caerphilly Borough.

In Handball - The Story of Wales' First National Sport, handball player and former miner Kevin Dicks’ meticulous research traces the long history of this folk sport played with any ball on any wall, from Welsh myth and folklore and the outlawed ‘devil’s game’ of the churchyard, through its glory years in the 18th and 19th centuries and strong links with the mining industry, to its decline in the 20th century as it failed to modernise, and its reboot in the present day. He questions the origins of the grammar school version of the game known as fives, and precisely dates the Nelson ball court – a date that has eluded historians for years.

The book also shatters a widespread modern myth regarding an Irish origin to the court and therefore to the sport in Wales.

‘This is untold story of Wales deserves a wider audience’ said Kevin Dicks, ‘Nothing has been written as in depth as this on any folk sport in the UK’.

‘After a while it dawned upon me that I’m the last miner to play handball in Wales, and it then became somewhat of duty continue the research and complete a work on the subject. It was as if the last man left in had to tell the tale’ added Kevin.

The cover of the book feature the classic 1906 handball at Nelson. Two players and two officials stand on the ball court with a crowd of 1,200 in attendance.

The author Kevin Dicks has been a Welsh handball player and official for nearly fifty years. He has written extensively on handball for various outlets including the BBC, the Daily Mail, the American Welsh paper Y Drych and the Caerphilly Campaign. He has also spoken on the subject abroad in Ireland, Canada and Italy and has contributed to the United States Handball magazine, and this book is the product of 22 years of trawling the archives. An ex-miner, he formerly worked as a Surveyor’s Assistant at Deep Navigation, Treharris. A part-time writer he now works for Admiral and currently lives in Ystrad Mynach, Hengoed.

A refreshing look at a sport devoid of modern commercialism, this is a lively story full of colourful characters, a revealing glimpse into social history, folk sport and the passions of the working man, and a fascinating insight into what can fairly be claimed as Wales’ first national sport.

Handball - The Story of Wales' First National Sport by Kevin Dicks (£14.99, Y Lolfa) is available now.

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 Welsh author Mari GriffithAmeriCymru: Hi Mari, it's been a while since we last interviewed you on the site and you have an exciting announcement to make, yes?

Mari: Yes, to both parts of that question, Ceri. You last interviewed me on the web site in August of last year, on the publication of my second novel The Witch of Eye. But the reason why I have an exciting announcement has more to do with my very first novel, Root of the Tudor Rose. When you interviewed me about that one, I told you that I was committed to spreading the gospel about the Welsh origins of the Tudors, the most famous dynasty in "English" history. And it's this missionary zeal that's bringing me to the US at the end of June, to address the American Conference of the Historical Novel Society with a presentation entitled The Tudors: an English dynasty? (I shall be saying this with the same imperious expression used by Dame Edith Evans as Lady Bracknell in the Importance of Being Earnest when she pauses, looks down her nose and says disdainfully "... a handbag!" If you don't know it, you'll find it on YouTube -  A Handbag )

AmeriCymru: What can you tell us about the HNS and the conference?

Mari: The HNS is the international Historical Novel Society, which exists to promote and encourage the reading and writing of historical fiction. They bring out a review every quarter devoted to new historical fiction and they've said some nice things about both my books in that.

Root of the Tudor Rose was featured in their 'New Fiction' section and the review of The Witch of Eye in November last year hailed the book as "... a thoroughly enjoyable read, a very well-researched story, where the narrative licks along irresistibly." I was delighted by that, of course. The Society holds a conference every year, alternately in the UK and in the States. Last year it was held in Oxford and the American visitors raved about the magical 'dreaming spires' of that lovely old university city. This year the conference takes place in Portland, Oregon, which gives me the opportunity of visiting a part of America I've never seen before. I'm told it's wonderful and I look forward tremendously to seeing it for myself.

Thomas Ll. ThomasAmeriCymru: So this is not your first visit to the States?

Mari: No, it will actually be my fourth. The first three were all in order to make programmes and I particularly enjoyed making a documentary programme for S4C about the Welsh/American baritone Thomas Ll. Thomas. His middle name was Llyfnwy but not many Americans could manage that! The reason why I was so interested in him was that he came from my own home town of Maesteg in the Llynfi Valley and the family emigrated to Scranton, Pennsylvania in the 1920's when Welsh mining engineers were much in demand. "Llyf", as the family called him, didn't go into mining: instead he became one of the most famous singers of his generation, often featuring in opera and concerts in New York and all over the country. Eventually, he became known as "The Voice of Firestone" because he presented and sang in "The Firestone Hour", the hugely popular television programme of light music, transmitted live every Sunday evening and seen from coast-to-coast. Not bad for a little Maesteg boy! You've never heard of him? Tell you what, I'll write an article for you one of these days ... or perhaps he should be the subject of my next historical novel? Now, there's a thought!

AmeriCymru: Sounds like a fascinating story. But, to get back to what we were talking about - do you have any other plans while you are in the States?

Mari: Well, the HNS Conference itself only lasts for three days which means that I'm going to have quite a lot of free time on my hands, depending on how long I decide to stay. I rather fancy making that wonderful train journey down the coast to California to take in a few places I've heard of but never visited. Then perhaps a week in San Francisco before flying home because my other half, Jonah, describes himself as an ageing hippie and nothing would please him more than to have his photograph taken somewhere significant in Haight-Ashbury. So we're likely to be kicking around the area for a week or so and, of course, this gives me the opportunity of visiting some Welsh Societies in the area if anyone would like to invite me to come along and talk to them. Believe me, I could talk the hind leg off a Welsh dragon about all sorts of things - my old career as a broadcaster, my 'new' career as a writer, the origins of the Tudor dynasty and why I wanted to write the first book ... or even Thomas Ll. Thomas' career if need be. In Welsh or in English, of course. Just get in touch via my web site at Mari Griffith

AmeriCymru: Any final message for our readers?

Mari: My best regards to them all, as ever. And if anyone takes a particular delight in historical fiction, they can find out a lot more about the Historical Novel Society and its American conference by following the link below. And, if you do decide to come along, be sure to come and find me to say "hello". Historical Novel Society


return from darkness.jpgA famous Welsh legend has inspired a new novel which is published this week.

Return from Darkness by Graham Jones is based on the story of the Twrch Trwyth, a deep vein in Welsh Mabinogi folklore.

The publishing of the novel follows the Welsh Government’s 2017 tourism campaign celebrating the ‘Year of Legends’.

‘I learned Welsh after I moved to Pembrokeshire and relished exploring the county and beyond on foot. As time passed I learned more about the myths and traditions associated with Wales until it became such a fascination that the seeds of this book were sown’ explained Graham.

‘The American writer and mythologist Joseph Campbell said once, ‘Myths live in all of us, in our darkness’ I realised that my novel had been waiting in my own darkness for the right time to re-emerge’ said Graham, ‘I then started to write inspired by the Mabinogi story’.

The novel begins when schoolboy David’s life is changed for the better by an encounter with the guarded and mysterious headmaster of his school. A storyteller and mystic, he opens the timid boy’s eyes to the reality of ‘other worlds’ beyond our own. Twenty-five years later, having returned to Pembrokeshire, David embarks on a quest that will take him deeper into these alien realms.

Pressing into the darkness, he is menaced by cruel ancient enemies desperate to possess his power for their own ends. And following him is a beast formed from the very fabric of Celtic mythology − the animistic form of a great boar, Twrch Trwyth.

An adventure story of a journey into Celtic mythology, Return from Darkness has been described as ‘a spellbinding journey to find the shining light inside all our darknesses’.

‘Mythology can be seen as a series of ancient messages passed down by our ancestors to help future generations through the challenges of life’ added Graham, ‘and perhaps this book may help to draw some of these messages out of the darkness so we can ‘read’ and understand them’.

Graham Jones was born in Cardiff. He taught Physical Education and Outdoor Pursuits before taking early retirement and settling down in north Pembrokeshire. He now lives in the White Mountains of Crete.

Return from Darkness by Graham Jones (£9.99, Y Lolfa) is available now.

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thomas jones of pencerrig.jpgThis first biography of the famous Welsh painter Thomas Jones has been published this week.

Thomas Jones of Pencerrig: artist, traveller, country squire by Richard Veasey is the full-length biography of the eighteenth-century landscape painter and seeks to draw together the different threads of his life.

Born in September 1742, Thomas Jones moved with his parents from Llandrindod Wells to Pencerrig close to Builth Wells when he was around seven years old. He was educated first by Dissenting ministers before being sent with his elder brother to Christ College in Brecon.

Following in the footsteps of his master Richard Wilson, he travelled to Italy and spent six and a half years there first in Rome among English artists then in Naples where he was welcomed into the local artistic milieu.

His career led him to return to London in 1783 until the unexpected death of his elder brother in 1787. Thereafter he had to assume responsibility for the running of the family estate of Pencerrig in Radnorshire, where he remained until his death in 1803.

Two of his most prominent works include The Bard (1774) and A Wall in Naples (1782).

He was the first Welsh - and British, artist to write his memoirs.

‘As an artist Jones has come to be recognised above all for his striking images of buildings in Naples and for the freshness of his pictures of the Radnorshire countryside’ said author Richard Veasey, ‘But the view we now have of him runs somewhat counter to the story he tells in his memoirs of a thwarted professional career.’

‘There is indeed a tension between the pictures he produced largely for his own pleasure and what he achieved as a pupil and follower of Richard Wilson. It is the difference between his own direct and personal vision and a classically derived and idealised one’ explained Richard.

The memoirs, which he wrote when he was settled at Pencerrig, offer a vivid account of his life in London, of his travels through France to Italy, of what he did in Rome and Naples and of the long journey home by boat. The Day Book provides a similar record of life on the estate in Wales.

Together with a handful of other documents, these give us further insights into the life Jones led when he set up home with Maria in Naples and what was involved in the running of a large country estate.

Richard Veasey was a lecturer in French and European Studies at the University of Sussex. After he retired, he lived for a number of years in converted farm buildings on the former estate of Thomas Jones and became familiar with the landscape the artist both transformed and painted. He currently lives in Kington, Herefordshire.

Thomas Jones of Pencerrig: artist, traveller, country squire by Richard Veasey (£12.99, Y Lolfa) is available now.

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AmeriCymru: How did Estron come to be formed?

John: We're basically a family and friends band - I've been doing stuff with my daughters, Micky and Danny ever since they were quite small but in 2012 we started playing with Holly Robinson, a really talented and well known fiddler here in Pembrokeshire, and coined the name Estron for the band. Jess Ward joined us with her harp two years later. I suppose the band really got going after Micky and Danny moved on from the instruments they'd learned at school to things they wanted to play for themselves. Micky learned clarinet to begin with but took up the ukulele and now she plays both with Estron, while Danny abandoned the trombone for the Welsh pipes - she borrowed a spare set I had and taught herself how to play surprisingly quickly. I suppose it helped that she'd been exposed to my own playing her whole life!

AmeriCymru: What can you tell us about your most recent album 'Gwawr'?

John: We recorded Gwawr in May 2015. We wanted to capture the music we had been playing since we started and before we moved on to new material. I've been playing this music for a long time now and I guess the reason we're playing this stuff is mostly that the girls have been exposed to it all their lives so that to them this is what they associate with Welsh pipes, whereas for Holly and Jess it was all new and exciting. To Micky and Danny this music is just `normal' everyday stuff. I suppose that's what makes it `folk' music.

AmeriCymru: When did you first become interested in the Welsh pipes?

John: I started playing bagpipes in about 1990. The first set I had was a set of smallpipes from the Early Music Shop which I made from a kit. After putting it together I realised that I could make these things so I then went on to make a set of, I suppose you could describe them as `Border pipes' in G which I mostly played for the Morris team I was a member of. Then in '97 or '98 I met Ceri Rhys Matthews and became a member of Pibau Pencader, a Welsh piping club he'd started. There was something like ten people in it, a mixture of raw beginners and experienced pipers. There was a need for instruments and myself and John Glenydd started making pipes for the other members, and later to sell to other people as well. We were making all kinds of things from simple diatonic clarinets to bombardes and pibgorns, and bagpipes based either on the Breton veuze or ones which used a pibgorn as the chanter. Meanwhile Ceri was teaching us all his Welsh pipe music which by the nature of the instruments is quite a lot different from much other Welsh folk music. It was a great time and later I also played with Ceri in a pipes and drum band called Pibe Bach, playing both here in Wales and further afield. We even got touring work with the British Council in places like Oman, Palestine and Libya.

AmeriCymru: If someone wished to master the instrument, where would they go to acquire a set of Welsh pipes? How hard is it to learn to play the pipes?

John: Acquiring a set of Welsh pipes is not so easy at the moment. I don't know whether John Glenydd in Llanfihangel ar Arth in Carmarthenshire is still making pipes - I don't have his contact details but you could probably find out by contacting Ceri Matthews. I was making pipes myself until a few years ago but I went down with asthma which is very sensitive to wood dust so I've had to keep out of the workshop. Having said that, recently I've been teaching Danny how to make pipes and she's managed to acquire very good woodturning skills so we'll have to see how this develops. There are other people making pibgorns - Gavin Morgan in Merthyr Tydfil springs to mind. A lot of pipers here also play the Spanish Gaita which is pretty good for playing Welsh music on.

The pipes aren't particularly hard to play - they have open fingering much like a tin whistle which beginners find much easier than that of other pipes, such as Scottish ones. The hardest part is disassociating the blowing from playing the tune - with a bagpipe you play the instrument with a constant pressure on the bag with your arm and you only blow into the instrument when you need to keep it topped up with air.

AmeriCymru: Where can readers go online to buy or listen to your music?

John: Gwawr is available as a download (or as a CD) from Bandcamp. There's a link to it from our website (www.estronband.blogspot.co.uk). You can also find a solo album I made a few years ago, `Cerrig Dymuniad' on there as well as Jess's first solo harp album `The Mermaid's Lament'.

AmeriCymru: Any final message for the readers and members of AmeriCymru?

John: It's important that we keep this music going in this age of globalisation - otherwise we're going to lose it. Welsh culture has always been under a lot of pressure from across the border in England and it's important that we keep our cultural differences. We all need our roots, our differences.


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The original idea for a banner for every county in Wales was conceived by Gwenno Dafydd. Her vision was of hand-made banners the size of the coal mining lodge banners, based on the words and images of the Saint David’s Day Anthem, Cenwch y Clychau i Dewi – Ring out the bells for Saint David (Lyrics: Gwenno Dafydd. Music: Heulwen Thomas) and elements of local county history with the aim that they be paraded every Saint David’s Day in their respective local communities.

The first of these banners was the Pembrokeshire Banner, which is on permanent display in the East Cloister, Saint David’s Cathedral, Pembrokeshire. Every year the Pembrokeshire Banner is paraded around the Cathedral in the Saint David’s Day Service by the Head Boy and Head Girl of Ysgol Dewi Sant whilst the children of Ysgol Bro Dewi Primary School sing the Saint David’s Day Anthem.

The Pembrokeshire Banner

The second of these County Banners is the Montgomeryshire Banner. Two textile artists Patricia Huggins and Angela Morris designed and made the banner to depict life in Montgomeryshire and the legacy left by St David. Contributions were also made by Pamela Higgs (drawing of Market Hall), Mavis Jones (Needle lace flowers), Shirley Kinsley (dove), Maureen Morris (dyed silk fabric) Also featured are elements from the tomb of the Herbert family to be found in the church of St Nicholas in the old county town of Montgomery.

Montgomeryshire St David's Day Banner

The third County Banner is the Carmarthenshire Banner and it was designed by Eirian Davies from Whitland and the fine handwork was done by Meinir Eynon from Gwm-Miles. The wooden frame supporting the banner and the wooden acorns on the top of the poles have been made by Denzil Davies from Whitland. The bells have been adapted by Dylan Bowen from Pant-bwlch near Newcastle Emlyn and Natalie Dennis, an ex-student from the Trinity Art Department embroidered the bees (University of Wales Trinity Saint David) Gwenllian Beynon of the Trinity Art Department was very supportive throughout the whole banner making development.

It was created to be paraded in the Carmarthen town Saint David’s Day Parade and will be carried for the very first time on the 24th February 2017 by Gwenno Dafydd and Eirian Davies in the second town parade.

Some of the symbols The stones across the top and bottom represent castles and bridges across the county. Some of the most obvious examples would be Dinevor Castle and the Cynghordy Aqueduct.

The gold colour represents the gold mines of Dolaucothi.

The black colour represents the cover of the Black Book of Carmarthen and the coal industry in the East of the county.

The triangular shape in the middle is a Celtic symbol (Triskele /Triskelion) that can be seen in the Book of Llandelio (St. Chad’s Book or the Lichfield Gospels).

The coracles are a sign of the ancient craft which is connected to the Taff, Tywi and Teifi rivers.

In the middle of the net the circle formed represents the famous Glass House in the Welsh National Botanical Gardens in Llanarthne.

The oak represents the wizard Merlin’s oak. In addition see the beautiful hand carved acorns on top of the poles that carry the banner.

You can see the blue Celtic patterns on Eiudon’s Celtic Cross, a cross from Llan -Sannan-Isaf, Llanfynydd.

The blue colour represents water as Saint David was also known as Dewi Ddyfrwr (The water drinker) The blue also represents the lakes in the tales of ‘Llyn y Fan Fach’ (lake of the small place) and Llyn Llech Owain.(Llech Owain’s lake)

The bees are part of the tales about Saint David and also make a very prominent appearance on the Pembrokeshire Banner. They have been added to the Carmarthenshire Banner to symbolise the fact that Saint David’s message has spread from the city of Saint David to Carmarthen.

The bells play an important part in the Saint David’s Day Anthem (Ring out the bells for Saint David) and there are five bells, each one representing the five ‘cantref’ or ‘hundred towns’ or areas of Carmarthenshire, that of Cantref Gwarthaf, Cantref Emlyn, Cantref Mawr,(Big) Cantref Bychan (Small) and Cantref Eginog. The raw appearance of the bells also represent the tinplate and steel industries of Llanelli.

© Gwenno Dafydd & Eirian Davies. 24th February 2017.


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Gwenno Dafydd - St David's Day Ambassador To The World



Gwenno Dafydd is the instigator of the Saint David's Day Anthem (Lyrics: Gwenno Dafydd Music: Heulwen Thomas) which was launched by The Presiding Officer of the Welsh Assembly Government, Lord Dafydd Elis Thomas in 2008. She has been promoting and developing Saint David's Day activities worldwide since 2006 when the Saint David's Day Anthem 'Cenwch y Clychau i Dewi' (Ring out the bells for Saint David) was performed in public for the very first time in the National Saint David's Day Parade in Cardiff. She has instigated the tradition of 'County Banners' throughout Wales to celebrate Saint David's Day. This year, the first County Banner, The Pembrokeshire Banner, which is kept on permanent display in the East Cloister in Saint David's Cathedral, will be joined by two new County Banners, those of Montgomeryshire and Carmartheshire.

The Saint David's Day Anthem, which will this year be sold from the very prestigious Ty Cerdd website, patron Karl Jenkins, alongside the music of Welsh composers such as Grace Williams, William Mathias, Morfydd Llwyn Owen and Gareth Glyn. The Saint David's Day Anthem has been performed not only in Wales but also numerous times in Canada, Los Angeles, Patagonia, Disneyland Paris and the Houses of Parliament. Every year the Pembrokeshire Banner is paraded around Saint David's Cathedral whilst local school children sing the Saint David's Day Anthem.

She has created an Iphone App to learn the Welsh National Anthem and is the author of 'Stand Up & Sock it to them Sister. Funny Feisty Females' which had been described by Funny Women, the UK's leading female comedy community as 'the ultimate canon of female stand-up comics'. She is a Leadership and Public Speaking Coach and works extensively via Skype and even has some clients in Los Angeles.


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