Hiraeth: An Interview With Welsh Blogger Paul Dicken
By AmeriCymru, 2016-01-09
AmeriCymru: Hi Paul and many thanks for agreeing to this interview. How would you describe your blog 'Hiraeth'? How often can we expect new posts?
Paul: Hiraeth is a collection of articles about Welsh history and politics. To be honest, the politics tend to be rather left-wing, but that reflects Wales’s proud history of socialism marked by events such as the Merthyr and Newport Risings and the proud history of the Labour movement and its connection with Wales. I am aiming for a weekly post but I may not succeed! There will also be a number of pages about the area in which I live and I am currently writing pages on the castles of North Wales, walks on Snowdon and the Llanberis area and on the narrow gauge railways of North Wales.
I am passionate about Wales and when I moved to Snowdonia early in 2007, I felt I had come home for the first time. Although I had lived in various places in England all my life, my mother’s side of the family were all from either in the Welsh valleys or the Llŷn peninsula and I loved my childhood visits to Wales. Moving here, I understood the meaning of hiraeth for the first time. As I say on my blog, it’s “the longing for, and bond with Wales; its timeless past, its language, its call to the spirit and its deep connection with the land: the rocks, the earth, the lakes, the rivers, the mountains, the valleys, the trees, the cliffs and the waves.” I’m sure that many Americymru members will identify with that.
AmeriCymru: I know you have covered this in a recent post but where do you stand on the 'St David's Day' agreement?
Paul: Like many Welsh people, I am angry and disappointed about the proposals of the St David’s Day agreement. Fundamentally, Westminster and Whitehall are firmly England-centric and do not understand that Wales (and of course Scotland and Northern Ireland) have distinct cultures and identities. No value is placed by the politicians and mandarins on that heritage and culture and they totally under-estimate how important they are to people of Wales. I look with envy at your federal system in the United States will which I would like to be the blueprint for the United Kingdom. Unlike the Scots people, Welsh people are generally happy to be in the Union but we would like to have day-to-day control of our own affairs.
AmeriCymru: You have covered many topics on your blog in the past. One such is the 'Cwm y Glo' explosion of 1869. What can you tell our readers about this incident?
Paul: I won’t reprise the content of the Cwm y Glo explosion as readers can click on the link and read about the biggest man-made explosion in Europe up to that point. It’s a good example of an incident in Welsh history that I believe needs to be remembered. I often write on the anniversary of an event taking place, sometimes the anniversary of the birth or death of somebody significant in Welsh history. Look for articles coming shortly on the greatest Prime Minister that Wales never had (NOT Neil Kinnock!) and on the contribution made by the South Wales miners to the Spanish Civil War.
AmeriCymru: In your post 'Why I Am a Welshman' you state that "Being Welsh isn’t a simple matter of your parents’ nationality." Care to expand on this theme a little?
Paul: As part of my Welsh history degree studies we looked at things that made Welsh people Welsh. I was very surprised to find that many of the iconic symbols were relatively recent (the daffodil as a symbol introduced by David Lloyd George in 1911 and the Welsh flag recognised only in 1959, for example) and although, like every other Welsh inhabitant, I am 100% Welsh for 80 minutes during each Six Nations game, rugby is far less part of Welsh culture than people would think.
No, I’m Welsh because I’m Welsh. Hiraeth called me to Wales in 2007 and despite living a life time in England, I knew I had come home. From my many happy holidays as a child spent in South Wales and later when I became the Wales liaison manager for the British Tourist Authority when I really got to know North Wales well and knew I would live here one day. As I said in the original post, “It’s all summed up in a line from our National Anthem (also found on the edge of Welsh £1 coins) - Pleidiol wyf i'm gwlad - True am I to my country. Dwi'n Gymro balch.”
AmeriCymru: You were active with the Occupy movement in Cardiff. Care to tell us a little about your experiences? Would you describe yourself as a left wing nationalist?
Paul: I really smiled at that question. I was delighted to go down to Cardiff and march with the “99%” who were making a stand against greedy capitalism and standing for social justice. I am a proud socialist, so left-wing certainly. However, I’m not a nationalist. As I said earlier whilst I believe passionately in Wales and Welsh identity, I am very happy also to be part of the United Kingdom. In many ways I really like Plaid Cymru as it is the most left-wing of all the political parties serving Wales. The problem is latent racism that I have detected in meeting with Plaid members who are often very anti-English and disparaging of non-Welsh speakers. I am a Welsh learner and can converse in Welsh as long as it doesn’t get too difficult but I’m not accepted in those circles because I’m not first language Welsh.
AmeriCymru: Any final message for the members and readers of AmeriCymru?
Paul: Those of you with Welsh roots, take every opportunity to sell our wonderful country as a place to visit. Tell them about the bara brith, the Welsh cakes, the lamb, the black beef. Tell them about the mountains, the legends, the language, the music and most of all, the hiraeth.
Island Dale - An Interview With Jon Prosser
By Ceri Shaw, 2015-12-02
AmeriCymru spoke to Jon Prosser , CEO of Island Dale , Anglesey/Ynys Mon
AmeriCymru: Hi Jon and many thanks for agreeing to this interview. Care to introduce your company Island Dale for our readers?
Jon: My name is Jon, myself and Karen are partners that has recently formed Island Dale a new and unique on line business. We are both from a retail management background, I have 36 years experience in sales and Karen a little less. During my time in this business I have interacted and spoken to many customers and suppliers alike with regards to Welsh products and the opportunities that are available. After gathering and analysing all the information I was privilege to and after careful consideration I decided to leave my employment and set up this business with Karen, we wanted to shout about Wales, the people, our superb products and our heritage to everyone around the world. Wales has so much to offer.
We set up the business in February this year, our unique website launched in April and is now up and running for you to view. We have had many offers from new potential suppliers since our launch however we are still sieving through them as we only want quality and authentic welsh products as well as products supplied by welsh businesses.
Island Dale website works on a drop shipping programme, and unlike any other E commerce sites we do not charge to list the products as one of our values is to aid welsh businesses as much as possible, this is extremely important to us. With the online sales boom growing we believe it will increase sales for small and large businesses alike and create product awareness on the unique welsh range available.
We are currently talking with and being supported by the Welsh Government / Business Wales / Annog Menter Mon, and hope soon to have a small amount of products, backing and support from the WRU (Welsh rugby union) and the FAW (Football association of Wales) so we can shout even more about our welsh identity and culture.
AmeriCymru: Where in Wales is the company based? Where is HQ?
Jon: We are located on the beautiful island of Anglesey (hence Island Dale ) in North Wales. We are currently in the process of moving premises from near Holyhead to the picturesque seaside village of Trearddur Bay.
Treaddur Bay, Ynys Mon/Anglesey
AmeriCymru: Care to describe the range of products currently available from your online store?
Jon: We have a variety of different products on offer from the famous Anglesey sea salt, other food products, welsh leather items, welsh love spoons, welsh scented candles, and clothing.AmeriCymru: Are there plans to include new products in the future?
Jon: Absolutely.... We are on a mission to seek out and source the best Wales has to offer. We have some unique and exciting products lined up, watch this space!AmeriCymru: Care to tell us a little about the Welsh Slate product range that you currently offer?
Jon: We currently offer some unique hand crafted wall plaques, these hand made plaques are made from the very best welsh slate. We also are currently in negotiation with a supplier of authentic welsh slate dinner plates, which will be available at Island Dale soon.
AmeriCymru: You also sell Anglesey Sea Salt. What can you tell us about this product?
Jon: Halen Môn began with a saucepan of seawater on the Aga in their family kitchen. As the water boiled away and the salt crystals started to form, they knew they had struck culinary gold. Fifteen years later they started by supplying Halen Môn Sea Salt to Swain’s, a local butchers in Menai Bridge on the Island of Anglesey, North Wales. Today their sea salt is enjoyed around the world by chefs, food lovers and even the odd US president!!
AmeriCymru: Where can people find you online?
Jon: We can be found at www.islanddale.com or www.islanddale.co.uk you can also like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter for regular updates and information.
AmeriCymru: Any final message for the readers and members of AmeriCymru?
Jon: Everyone is welcome to browse our web page, feedback is greatly welcome or if a certain product that you guys would like to see available, drop us a line using the 'contact us' tab and we will try our best to suit your needs. I'd also like to thank you all for taking time out to read about Island Dale, we do appreciated it.
Bara Brith Scented Candles
Trevor Fishlock to launch first full telling of the lives of the Davies sisters of Llandinam at the Hay Festival
By Ceri Shaw, 2015-12-02
A Gift of Sunlight: The fortune and quest of the Davies sisters of Llandinam , written by Trevor Fishlock, gives a voice to the shy and wealthy sisters and is the first full telling of an extraordinary story of love and courage.
The book will be launched on Sunday, 25 May at 11.30am at Llwyfan Cymru – Wales Stage, the Hay Festival.
Together, Gwendoline Davies and Margaret Davies amassed one of the greatest art collections of the twentieth century. Between them, they bequeathed 260 works to the National Museum of Wales.
Author Trevor Fishlock was commissioned by the Gwendoline and Margaret Davies Trust to write the book and he explains how he came to learn more about these remarkable sisters:
“I was in my twenties when I first saw the Davies sisters’ collection of art in Cardiff. It was a revelation. I began to see that Gwendoline and Margaret Davies were at the heart of a great story of art, wealth and love.”
“Years later, working on a television programme about them, I began to know more. The sisters had non-speaking parts – they were distant figures, like flowers in the garden. They really were as shy as everyone described them.
They were also the richest unmarried young women in Britain. Where, people asked, and still ask, did their fortune come from?
The answer is at the heart of an extraordinary Welsh family saga. The sisters’ grandfather, David Davies, uneducated son of poor hill farmers in mid-Wales, struck it rich, first in railway building, then as a Rhondda coal pioneer – a Victorian hero of Wales.”
The sisters’ upbringing instilled in them a strict Calvinistic Methodist faith and, with it, an iron sense of social responsibility and philanthropy. They supported great causes, health, education and culture and their gift to the people of Wales was an art collection to rival any in Europe.
“In this volume the unique and thrilling story of the Davies sisters of Llandinam is told in its entirety for the first time. It is a story of love and courage. Despite their shyness and their abundance of wealth, the sisters went bravely to war, gave generously to charity and created for their country a celebrated treasury of captivating and immortal paintings and sculptures. The book is packed with splendid pictures and draws on personal papers to reveal new information about unexpected aspects of the sisters’ story, information that will prove an eye-opener to all,” says a spokesman on behalf of the Gwendoline and Margaret Davies Trust.
Bringing Art to Wales: The Davies Sisters , presented by Trevor Fishlock, will be shown on BBC TWO Wales , Saturday 24 May at 7.30pm .
Trevor Fishlock is a writer and broadcaster who reported as a foreign correspondent from more than seventy countries for The Times and The Daily Telegraph. He is the author of books on Wales, India, Russia, America and on nineteenth-century exploration, and has written and presented more than one hundred and fifty television programmes about life and history in Wales .
A Gift of Sunlight will be available from
all good bookshops and online retailers
For further information about the event at the Hay Festival, please visit hayfestival.org/programme
For more information, please visit www.gomer.co.uk
Top children’s authors at Hay Festival for new Welsh publisher
By Ceri Shaw, 2015-12-02
Event HF144 • Sunday 1 June 2014, 10am • Venue: The Cube
Celebrated illustrator Shoo Rayner, whose drawing tips are a big hit on YouTube, and prize-winning author Heather Dyer, will introduce their new books, Dragon Gold and The Flying Bedroom, at a stories-and-pictures event to celebrate the launch of brand new children’s publisher Firefly Press at the Hay Festival this year.
Shoo will demonstrate top tips on how to draw a dragon like the incredibly cute baby dragon Tân in Dragon Gold. Shoo has illustrated more than 150 books, for the likes of Michael Morpurgo and Rose Impey among others, but this is the first longer-length book that he has written.
‘I find I'm becoming more and more influenced by history and the children I regularly meet in schools. They keep changing in subtle ways, always surprising me and making me question my assumptions about writing for them,’ he said. ‘Dragon Gold ended very differently from how I thought it would originally. Now I think it's a trilogy!’
Dragon Gold is one of two titles for seven to nine year olds, set in contemporary Wales, to be published in the Dragonfly series from Firefly Press. The other is Steve’s Dreams: Steve and the Sabretooth Tiger, by Pembroke-based Dan Anthony, author of the Rugby Zombies series. Three more books will follow in the autumn.
Lucy Thomas of the Welsh Books Council says of this new series: ‘We believe it is important for children in Wales to have books they thoroughly enjoy, that make them laugh and feel a sense of wonder, with which they can also identify. We hope that the children of Wales will feel a real sense of ownership of these fantastic books from Firefly Press.’
Heather Dyer’s The Flying Bedroom, complete with wonderful illustrations from Chloe Douglass, is an enchanting book for five to seven year olds, featuring Elinor, a little girl whose bedroom can fly! From talking snowmen to pirates, magical islands and even the moon, Elinor never knows where her bedroom will take her next. Heather's previous books, such as The Girl with Broken Wings and The Boy in the Biscuit Tin attracted widespread praise, and a commendation from Richard and Judy. Her first book with Firefly, The Flying Bedroom ‘was inspired by a dream that a friend’s daughter had, in which her bedroom had detached from their house and could fly through the sky – with her in it,’ said Heather, and her favourite books as a child. ‘I loved reading books with magic in them – especially stories where something magical happens in the real world. I longed for it to happen to me.’
At Hay earlier in the week on Wednesday 28 May, Pembrokeshire-based Dan Anthony will be talking about his book Steve’s Dreams: Steve and the Sabretooth Tiger, as part of the festival’s Writing Squad events. He’ll be reading from this funny fantasy adventure for seven to nine year olds set in Newport and inspiring children to write themselves.
Dan says: ‘The Hay Festival is an incredible international festival for book makers and book lovers and it's a real pleasure to be hosting a writers squad workshop right at the centre of the action. Hay on Wye is a unique place, it's on the border between real and imagined worlds - that's exactly where we're going to go.'
‘We aim to publish beautifully produced, top-quality books for children and young adults,’ said Firefly editor Janet Thomas. ‘All our first authors have absolutely done us proud. We are so grateful to everyone who has helped us get this exciting adventure underway, particularly the Welsh Books Council.’
All four books will also be available as ebooks. For more details as well as games and puzzles for young readers, go to http://www.fireflypress.co.uk/
A funny and poignant story of an unlikely hero
By Ceri Shaw, 2015-12-02
A funny and poignant story of an unlikely hero…
Newport primary school teacher, Paul Manship will be launching his new book, Charlie Underwood Fights Back , at Millbrook Primary School on Wednesday, 21st of May.
Charlie Underwood is the archetypal victim of bullying, and his move to yet another primary school in year 6 is supposed to be another fresh start for him. But it turns out that TJ Carver has other plans in mind, and the novel is full of twists and disasters as their lives intertwine.
This is the inspiring story of Charlie’s determination to be himself, to handle what school life throws at him and to overcome fears and frightening situations through his own talents. Set in the south Wales Valleys, this engrossing novel addresses the concerns of many young children but is also packed with humour and powerful moments.
Weaving through are four stories in different genres which Charlie narrates to his young brother Oliver as bedtime stories. Charlie is kind, considerate, patient, but not a push-over, a secret amazing guitarist, a story-teller, nervous but also brave – a very likeable survivor.
Paul Manship lives with his wife and three daughters in Rhiwderin Village near Newport. He is a primary school teacher and credits experiences in the classroom with providing inspiration for his stories.
His first novel, Rewind , was short listed for the Glen Dimplex Children's Book Award in 2006 and his second publication, The Cube , was selected by the School Library Association as one of the titles for their Boys Into Books initiative 2008.
In 2010 Dear Mr Author won the Welsh Books Council's Tir na n-Og Award for the best English Language Book of the Year.
Charlie Underwood Fights Back is available to buy from all good bookshops and online retailers.
For more information please visit www.gomer.co.uk
For review copies, jpegs, or any more information, please contact:
Sioned Wyn t: 01559 363090 e: firstname.lastname@example.org
Title: Charlie Underwood Fights Back
Author: Paul Manship Price: £5.99 pb
Dylan Thomas 100 FESTIVAL
By Ceri Shaw, 2015-12-02
Wales Celebrates its Rock Star Poet During His Centenary Year
Additional Programs Announced
New York, May 21, 2014 The centenary celebration of Dylan Thomas’s birth (born Swansea: October 27, 1914; died New York City: November 9, 1953) - Dylan Thomas 100 – continues in Wales with news of additional multi-disciplinary events being added to the festival’s creative mix.
An inspiration for poet-musicians like Bob Dylan and John Lennon and actors like Richard Burton, Dylan Thomas was a bona-fide rock-star before there was such a thing – sometimes playing to crowds of 1,000 – especially in the USA. Welsh actor Matthew Rhys ( The Americans; Brothers and Sisters ) who has channeled the poet (in the film Edge of Love ) hopes you’ll join the festivities, “We’ve been celebrating Dylan Thomas in Wales for decades now. Come to Wales this year and celebrate his centenary.”
The eponymously named digital hub www.dylanthomas100.org makes it easy and fun to discover Dylan Thomas, explore places in Wales he is connected with, engage via social networking and locate festival events via a Timeline tab. The site americas.visitwales.com is a resource for planning your Dylan-themed trip to Wales and for downloading a full list of Dylan Thomas 100 events.
Here is a sampling of the inspired programs on tap during the second half of 2014:
- June 28–Dec 20: Dylan – National Library of Wales – www.dylanthomas100.org/llgc.org.uk :
A combination of dance, poetry and the visual arts will provide a fresh take on Dylan’s life and work. The event will enliven several of the Library’s gallery spaces in Aberystwyth and will include displays of personal items, providing a unique view of Dylan’s world.
- June 28: Dylanathon – 5 Cwmdonkin Drive, Swansea - www.dylanthomasbirthplace.com
Using a camera, smartphone or tablet, entrants are asked to use innovation over picture quality to interpret Dylan-related themes throughout the day.
- July 19: Dylan Thomas’ Swansea Hollywood: The Mummy and the Old Dark Horse – www.literaturewales.org
This Dylan odyssey visits three of Dylan’s childhood cinemas in Swansea with a talk in a secret space at a fourth. The evening culminates with Andrew Davies introducing a screening of his new film, “A Poet in New York,” starring Tom Hollander, followed by a Q & A session.
- Aug-Sept: Bedazzled - A Welshman in New York - www.ffotogallery.org
Celebrating Dylan’s special relationship with the USA, especially New York, a series of live events will “re-imagine” Dylan’s favorite watering hole – New York’s White Horse Tavern. Audiences will be transported to the bohemian world of 1950’s Greenwich Village where Dylan held court.
- Sept 5–Dec 24 Manuscripts Exhibition – Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea – www.dylanthomas.com
Infrequently exhibited items on loan from the University of Buffalo include poems, lists of rhyming words and black and white photographs.
- Oct 26-Oct 27 The Dylathon – The Swansea Grand Theatre – www.dylathon100.com
The Wales Theatre Company stages a non-stop 36 hour marathon reading of Dylan’s work. Performers include Sir Derek Jacobi, Jonathan Pryce, and many more acclaimed personalities together with schools, bands and choirs numbering in the hundreds.
- Oct 27-Nov 9 Dylan Thomas Festival – Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea – www.dylanthomas.com
This 17 th annual eclectic celebration will feature talks, exhibitions, workshops and performances.
Dylan Thomas 100 and www.dylanthomas100.org highlights Welsh locations closely associated with the poet-like his birthplace, Swansea, his old writing shed, and his home -The Boathouse - in the town of Laugharne. And the program ranges across all artistic disciplines – from literature, to opera, theatre and painting. From high profile exhibits and live performances to community-based educational programs.
Business and Tourism Minister Edwina Hart said: “Dylan Thomas is one of the literary giants of the last century.” … “These events will help contribute to a fitting legacy for Dylan’s life and work, but I also hope they will resurrect a passion for literature and inspire people of all ages to connect more actively with our rich cultural heritage. In the spirit of Dylan, it is an opportunity to showcase Wales as a land of artistic excellence to an international audience and raise further the iconic status of this great literary figure.”
To find out more about these landmark events visit www.dylanthoms100.org . To plan your itinerary in Wales and for a downloadable program of Dylan Thomas 100 events: americas.visitwales.com .
Gwyl Safiad Merthyr Rising Festival 2014
By Ceri Shaw, 2015-12-02
Bydd Mai 31ain yn gweld gŵyl sydd yn dathlu un o’r safiadau cynharaf gan weithwyr mewn protest yn erbyn cyflogau isel ac amodau echrydus yn y gweithfeydd haearn a phyllau glo, sef Gwrthryfel Merthyr 1831.Nod yr Ŵyl hon yw dathlu hanes a diwylliant radicalaidd y dre, gan gynnig cyfle i drafod yr heriau sydd yn wynebu pobl Merthyr, Cymru a’r byd heddiw.
Bydd yr Ŵyl yn cynnwys ystod eang o siaradwyr, perfformwyr, cerddorion, gwneuthurwyr ffilm ac awduron o Gymru a thu hwnt. Ymhlith yr uchafbwyntiau bydd cyngerdd gyda’r athrylith Gruff Rhys gyda chefnogaeth cantorion lleol Kizzy Crawford, Fingertrap a Delyth McLean.Yn y prynhawn fe fydd yr economegydd John Weeks yn siarad ar y thema ‘Economeg yr 1%’ ac fe fydd y gwneuthurwr ffilm lleol Jon Owen yn dangos ei ffilm gomedi newydd ‘Svengali’. Bydd 30 mlynedd ers streic y glowyr yn cael ei nodi trwy ddangos gwaith pwerus Karl Francis ‘Miss Rhymney Valley 1985’ a pherfformiadau gan Y Beirdd Coch a’r canwr lleol Jamie Bevan.
Canolbwynt yr Ŵyl fydd Canolfan a Theatr Soar gyda digwyddiadau ymylol o gwmpas y dre.Mae croeso i gynrychiolwyr sefydliadau gymryd stondin yn yr Ŵyl ac mae’r gost o £10 yn caniatáu mynediad i’r digwyddiadau dydd.
The website can be fund here:
http://merthyrrising2014.wix.com/merthyr-rising-2014" target="_blank"> http://merthyrrising2014.wix.
Support Wales In Denver 2014 - FIL World Championship
By Ceri Shaw, 2015-12-02
Wales will start out in the Plum Division ( see left )
First match against Russia on Friday, July 11 at 9.30 a.m.
Singing the Line into Existence - Carmarthen to Aberystwyth
By Ceri Shaw, 2015-12-02
PLEASE HELP THEM MEET THEIR GOALS - RETWEET & RE SHARE ON FB , G+...DIOLCH
A message from AmeriCymru member Jake Whittaker:-
I am working with a collection of artists, storytellers and musicians on a project called Singing the Line into Existence, a creative contribution to the campaign to re-open the Carmarthen-Aberystwyth railway line in west Wales. Please visit our wordpress site http://
singingthelineintoexistence.for more info wordpress.com/
We launched the indiegogo fundraising campaign for this new project yesterday and need wide support to make it happen.
From the website:- This exciting new project proposes to bring artists together to create a multidisciplinary performance and accompanying exhibition of work, inspired by the landscape and history of the Carmarthen to Aberystwyth railway line.... Read More Here
From the Indiegogo page:- Singing the Line into Existence is an artist led, creative contribution to the campaign to re-open the Carmarthen-Aberystwyth railway line in west Wales, UK.... Read More Here
F rom the Wikipedia:- The Carmarthen to Aberystwyth Line was a 4 ft 8½-in (1,435-mm) branch line of the Great Western Railway(GWR) in Wales , connecting Carmarthen and Aberystwyth.
At Carmarthen, the line connected with the GWR mainline from London Paddington to Fishguard. At Aberystwyth, the line connected with the Cambrian Line. The line also had connecting branches to Aberaeron, Llandeilo and Newcastle Emlyn.
As a result of floods and the Beeching Axe, the line was entirely closed to passengers from 1965. Freight transport from Pont Llanio creamery (near Tregaron) to Aberaeron Junction (near Lampeter) ended in 1970; that from Aberaeron and the Newcastle Emlyn branch to Carmarthen ended in September 1973.... Read More Here
RETWEET AND RE SHARE ON G+ BELOW....DIOLCH
Checking out "Singing the Line into Existence - Carmarthen to Aberystwyth" on americymru1: http://t.co/U6t3NpMlH2— americymru (@americymru) May 7, 2014
Seren News May 2014
By Ceri Shaw, 2015-12-02