From The North American Festival of Wales: LAST CALL!
By Ceri Shaw, 2017-08-08
The Big Welsh Weekend - Welsh Society of Oregon
By Ceri Shaw, 2017-07-02
Bryn Seion Welsh Church - 82nd annual Gymanfa Ganu
The Welsh Society of Oregon held its 82nd annual Gymanfa Ganu at Bryn Seion Welsh church in Beavercreek on June 25th 2017. It was part of a wider Welsh celebration which included a lively Noson Lawen at the Lucky Labrador pub on Saturday night. The event was well attended with around 200 participants showing up for the afternoon and evening sessions.
Musical director Nerys Jones and organist Geneva Cook were joined by Harpist Bronn Journey in the afternoon, and The Picton Singers in the evening, for a lively and uplifting program of group singing and performances.
During the afternoon session Tad Davis outlined future plans for Welsh events in the Spring and Fall to supplement the already scheduled Portland Gymanfa Ganu and Christmas celebrations. The Society has also recently established the 'Gwaddol Group' which will seek to raise funds for "individuals conducting Welsh research, or support for development of music or art with a Welsh connection." ( for more details go here )
Noson Lawen - Portland 2017
The Welsh Society of Oregon’s annual Noson Lawen was hosted by the Welsh Society Festival Chorus who presented a handful of enchanting Welsh tunes. MCs Andrea Wild and Hugo Glanville led the crowd in pub singing and their band Three Pound Note also joined them on the stage for some Welsh, Cornish and English folk songs. Throughout the night there were contributions from the floor and one of the evenings highlights was a reading of Dylan Thomas's 'August Bank Holiday' given by Jonathan Nicholas.
Bryn Seion Welsh Church, Beavercreek, Oregon
Bryn Seion (Mt Zion) was built in 1884, and is the last active Welsh church on the Pacific Coast. Visit the church website here: Bryn Seion Welsh Church
What Is A Gymanfa Ganu?
From the Welsh Society of Oregon website:- "Gymanfa Ganu (guh-mahn-vah GAH-nee) is a magnificent Welsh hymn-singing festival and more! Literally meaning “sing gathering,” it is a tradition of song and worship that has been practiced in Wales for centuries. The songs are sung in English and Welsh in four-part harmonies. Bryn Seion Welsh Church, Beavercreek, Oregon, has carried on the Gymanfa Ganu tradition since 1935. You don’t need to know Welsh to make a joyful noise, so please join us."..... Read More
The Welsh In The Northwest
Many Welsh moved into Oregon and Washington Territory in the 1880's. When train travel opened up the west. They found that land was cheap and abundant. Compared with the Great Plains, the land was much morelike that of Wales.
The perfect family gift this Christmas...Beyond Storytime
By Ceri Shaw, 2016-11-13
A beautiful new online collection of audio stories suitable for children from Beyond the Border
£11.95 for one year's subscription
We're really excited to announce Beyond Storytime - a way of providing families everywhere with beautifully told stories in their own homes. It is a small taste of the children’s part of our wonderful festival, available all the time, wherever in the world you live.
This online collection has nearly 20 audio stories told for English speakers and carefully chosen for us by our entertaining storytellers, to be suitable for children. More stories will be added later so Beyond Storytime becomes a collection of treasured tales that grows and grows. There is a handful of stories in Welsh as well.
For just £11.95 (less than £1 a month) you can subscribe to the service for a whole year. Find out more, listen to some extracts, subscribe to the site for yourself or buy a gift subscription by visiting www.beyondstorytime.com .
The Tin Shed Experience
By Ceri Shaw, 2016-08-16
In a small corner of west Wales a crazy germ of an idea has come to fruition over the last three years. This town, ‘Laugharne’ pronounced (Larn) was once home to and subsequently made famous by, the late poet Dylan Thomas and it seems that his writings of ‘The town that was mad’ the original title of his most famous work ‘Under Milk Wood’ (believed to have been largely based on the inhabitants of Laugharne) may still ring true to this very day.
Now at the end of its second tourist season is Tin Shed Experience a volunteer museum of 1940s and wartime memorabilia housed in the humble surroundings of a large tin shed.
The concept came to be through a mixture of elements. Redundancy, hard work, determination, community spirit, great support and of course Tin!
The creators Andrew Isaacs and Seimon Pugh-Jones worked together in the Ministry of Defence establishment in Pendine for many years during the late 70s early 80s. Andrew worked in the armoury whereas Seimon was in the photographic department. Cuts in the MOD led to subsequent redundancies with Andrew and Seimon being two such casualties. Undeterred by this setback, Andrew started his own successful cleaning company and Seimon's photographic skills led him to work in the TV & Film industries. Seimon has worked on HBO's award winning miniseries 'Band of Brothers' and Spielberg's 'Saving Private Ryan' to name but a few. He was also the staff photographer for the American magazine, 'Armchair General’ where he scripted and shot much of the re-enacted scenes of war from a multitude of different time periods that littered the pages of the magazine. Both have always had a love of nostalgia and history, Andrew collects items from the American old west and even spent his summers as a ranch hand in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and Seimon has a great love of the 1940s and the war era often visiting famous battlegrounds in Normandy and the rest of Europe and has accrued a vast collection of items. In 2009 they had a chance meeting in a local supermarket and got talking, eventually leading them to stage a 1940s themed dance backed by an exhibition of Seimon’s collection in Andrew's hometown of Laugharne.
Andrew explains, ‘the exhibition went so well we thought there may be space in the township for something more permanent. Laugharne is certainly a town quirky enough for it to work in!’
The location would be Andrew's large tin sheeted shed. Andrew goes on, ‘both myself and Seimon were stood in this dilapidated tin building full of cleaning equipment and materials when it seemed to spark an idea off in our heads almost at once. We thought, it would be great to restore the tin garage to look like it originally did when built by my father pre war.’ He goes on, ‘from there the idea grew and it became the perfect location to transform into a museum.’ The ‘Tin Shed’ was originally built in 1933 by Andrew's father as a garage and cost £50 to construct from second hand materials. During the war it was used as a place to store and service vehicles from the Ministry of Defense and after the war returned to civilian uses including services on the motorcycles of the great Bob Berry who used it as a base for repairs for his many bikes during his motor cycle world record attempts at neighbouring Pendine sands. When the garage was inherited by Andrew he used it as storage space and also as a stable for his horse, Blaze. The building was in a bit of a sorry state and would need a great deal of renovation work in order to transform it into a museum.
Seimon informs, ‘after numerous meetings with various bodies a small match funded grant from the Welsh Assembly Government was secured. Pretty soon though it dawned on us that the money would not go all that far so we turned to looking at ways in which we could use recycled materials to help us continue with the restoration and set about sourcing the right materials to keep the building in keeping with the original structure. There has been great support from the community with donations of second hand zinc sheeting coming from local farmers and other bits and pieces coming from here and there. It’s estimated that a near 70% of the building has recycled elements. Through the skills, patience and understanding of our friend and builder Stephen Hughes we have managed to create something we feel is quite special.
The small team of volunteers were also very keen to help educate the younger generation and hope to highlight the effects of war on everyday life in wartime Britain. Andrew explains, “We specifically wanted the project to be educational, picking up on the national curriculum and tailoring some of the exhibit specifically for schools.” Matthew Hughes, volunteer marketing manager of the Tin Shed stresses, “We do not wish to glamorise war, our goal is to help give an insight of what war meant to the life of ordinary civilians and those serving during the war years” He goes on, “It is important for today’s youth to know that war and conflict has the ability to shape and effect entire generations.”
The museum opened in June 2011 and saw 1700 people come to see and learn about the various exhibits. Seimon proclaims ‘Visitors can expect to spend a lot more time in the museum than they initially would have expected. Part of our name is ‘Experience’ we want our visitors to leave us knowing that they are very important to our progression. We want them to share their recollections or their father’s, mother’s, grandparent’s recollections of the 1940s so that they may be retold to the new generations ensuring the stories are kept alive and can learn from them. He goes on ‘Most visitors expect to spend 10-15 minutes walking around a cold and faceless museum when they often stay for an hour to an hour and a half. Why? Well we love people, we are very much about engaging our visitors, giving all guests personal guided tours, explaining in depth about items, informing them of local history, good places to eat in the town, where to visit. I guess we are kind of a museum/information centre. We also love learning, after all, an ‘Experience’ should not be one sided.’
The Tin Shed has received fantastic reviews on review sites with people seemingly preferring the ‘old fashioned’ approach to museums where nothing is ‘touch screen’ and the only interaction you get get is from very real, very enthusiastic tour guides
We have quite a few American visitors to the town, largely through their interest in Dylan Thomas but they are always interested to learn that a large American contingent spent time in our tiny part of the world on the lead up to D-day. The 28th Infantry Division from Pennsylvania trained all along the beaches from Margam right up to Pembroke Dock from 1943 to 1945. The most interesting thing about these troops is that Pennsylvania has a large Welsh community that dates back to the late seventeenth century where a large emigration of Welsh Quakers occurred and then later in the 19th century where Welsh coal miners emigrated to the anthracite and bituminous mines. So in a way a lot of these guys that were coming over to train in Wales were likely to be returning home to the land of their forebears. We have been told some lovely accounts by people who remember the ‘Keystone’s of just how well these troops integrated into the Welsh communities when they were ‘over here.’ We are looking to build strong links with the 28th Infantry Division in light of the 70th anniversary of them coming to Wales in 2013. We would love to put on an exhibition in honour of them.
Appeal For Information On Veterans
We would like to make an appeal to any of the Americymru community that may be, or have contact with veterans of Pennsylvania’s 28th Infantry Division who were stationed in Wales during WWII to please get in touch with us so that we garner as much information as possible and hopefully create a very special memorial.
The Tin Shed however, is more than your average museum. Matthew elaborates ‘When the museum closed for the winter last year we started working on various other projects under the umbrella of the Tin Shed. We are very interested in the Arts and music and also charity fund raising. We have staged a few musical evenings with local musicians helping us raise money for local charities and organisations. We were fortunate to supply and consult on the operation of vintage camera equipment for ITVs Christmas drama ‘Just Henry’ last year and this has been inspiration for one of our current projects. We are midway through building what could be used as a small film set at the rear of the museum. It contains an original Anderson shelter that has been dug in by hand (Anderson Shelters were small build it yourself bomb shelters and were widespread in gardens along the South Coast of England and in the larger industrial areas of Wales) a working man’s tin cottage complete with authentic interior as well as a victory garden. We are also actively encouraging TV & film makers to get in touch to see what can be done with us as a location.’ He goes on ’We are working closely with local amateur and professional theatre groups as well as university students on staging their own events here at the Tin Shed.
He goes on, ‘Local heritage to us is of course of a great importance and were delighted to be approached to produce a series of retro/stylised photographic images for the towns’ iconic Browns Hotel which opened earlier this Summer.
The Tin Shed may be closed until late March 2013 but the work is never over. Andrew is quick to point out ‘Over the Winter we will be working hard on building new staging and filming areas, whole new dioramas and displays for exhibits as well as launching a series of our retro photography images for sale for the first time.
On top of all this we are also in production of a series of life-sized fibreglass figures based on the characters from ‘Under Milk Wood’ the town of ‘Llareggub’ in the play is believed to be based on our town, Laugharne. We are doing this in conjunction with local sculptor John Howell as part of the 2014 celebrations for the centenary of Dylan Thomas’ birth. We hope to create a visitors trail around the town with the characters placed in unusual places for visitors to go off and find. We are looking for famous Dylan Thomas fans and people with connections to the poet to get involved with the design of the characters. Perhaps this is something that the Americymru community could also help us out with? If anyone has contact with any famous Dylan Thomas fans please inform them of our project and point them in our direction. All we require is a simple sketch or description of how they would like the character to look. We have a few artists, actors and musicians onboard as we speak. We are chasing fans like Sir Mick Jagger, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Bob Dylan, Pierce Brosnan, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Matthew Rhys and ex US President Jimmy Carter......well why not? We believe anything is achievable in a shed.’
For more information on Tin Shed Experience please visit www.tinshedexperience.co.uk
They can also be found on facebook at www.facebook.com/
And on twitter as Tinshedexpo
Wales Euro 2016
By Ceri Shaw, 2016-07-10
This is a link post. Check out our coverage of Euro 2016 from our football correspondent C.M. Saunders
The Impossible Dream - Wales at EURO 2016
The Dream Continues - Wales Progress at Euro 2016
Wales March On - The Semi Finals
C.M. Saunders is also the author of:
From The Ashes: The real Story of Cardiff City Football Club
The Heroes Welcome - Wales Euro 2016
By Ceri Shaw, 2016-07-08
The Welsh Euro 2016 squad returns to Cardiff ( photos by Bernadette Shaw)
Walks Around Talgarth
By Ceri Shaw, 2016-06-09
If you are planning to visit the annual Hay Book Festival then Talgarth is an excellent place to stay. It is no more than a 20 minute ride to the Festival site and the the Shuttle stops just outside the Castle Hotel .
But what about those days when the bustle of the Festival site and Hay town center just do not appeal? We checked out the local Tourist Information Center (manned by volunteers) and were delighted to learn that there are many longer and shorter walks in and around the town. The 20 minute walk to Pwll-y-Wrach waterfall and nature reserve is perhaps the finest amongst them.
A leaflet published by The Brecknock Wildlife Trust, who maintain the Reserve, is available from the Tourist Information Center and the following description is both useful and accurate:-
Pwll-y-Wrach (Witches’ Pool) is the Brecknock Wildlife Trust’s most visited nature reserve. Its 17.5 hectares of beautiful ancient woodland run along both banks of the River Enig. Near the eastern end of the reserve the river plunges over a spectacular waterfall into a dark pool below. The main access to the reserve is from the site’s main car park. From here an easy access path leads you in to the centre of the reserve and a small waterfall. Other paths within the reserve allow you to create a circular walk. All paths, except the easy access trail, are unsurfaced and can be very muddy and slippery at times. They can be narrow with an uneven surface and steps. Sturdy shoes or boots are recommended. The walk from the road to the main waterfall and back is about 1 mile.
The full text of the leaflet can be found here .
We elected to walk from Talgarth town center and enjoy the surrounding countryside (see photo album below). En route we passed the entrance to the Mid Wales Hospital (a former 'lunatic asylum'). This is a very creepy old place and there is no public access. It has, however, been visited by many 'urban explorers' and there are plenty of photos on this page
Once you enter the reserve the nature of your surroundings changes completely. You are enveloped by a leafy canopy of deciduous trees and accompanied by the sound of running water as the River Ennig (not much more than a stream here) flows lazily toward Talgarth a mile or so down the hill.
The waterfall itself is no Niagara Falls but it is an idyllic spot and a perfect place for relaxation, quiet contemplation or just 'staring vaguely into space'.
All in all this is the ideal location to 'decompress' after too many hectic days and beery nights at the Hay Festival.
Bronllys Castle is no more than a 10-15 minute walk from any of the hotels in Talgarth. The scant remains of the former fortress have been painstakingly preserved by Cadw to provide access to the top of the 12th century keep. This is an excellent vantage point for panoramic shots and video of both Talgarth and the ramparts of the Brecon Beacons to the south.
From the Wikipedia Bronllys Castle :- "Bronllys castle is a motte and bailey fortress standing south of the village, towards Talgarth. The castle was founded in or soon after 1144 when the district was granted to Walter de Clifford by Roger Fitzmiles, 2nd Earl of Hereford. Walter seems to have been responsible for building the round tower on the motte for in 1165 it caught fire and a stone tumbling from the battlements killed Earl Roger's last surviving brother Mahel de Hereford"
By Ceri Shaw, 2016-05-23
Writing On AmeriCymru
Vacancies for members on AmeriCymru!!! We are also looking for part time correspondents. Join the site with the link below and message me (Ceri Shaw) on the site if you are interested. https://americymru.net/user/signup
I suppose I should expand, expound and exposit a little on this because the initial post was a trifle ambiguous. What we are looking for is a group of writers who we will engage to write features for us from time to time. We will create a closed group on the site -The Bullpen, and members/correspondents can pitch us there on articles they would like to write. We will also suggest topics and invite members to bid on them ( yes these will be paid articles ). Of course we are going to prioritise invitations to site members who have been active for a while and have already made some contributions but nothing is written in stone.
We will be looking for material that promotes Wales and/or Welsh writers, musicians, artists to an international audience.
I should stress that ALL correspondence on this topic MUST be carried on via the AmeriCymru site. Please no emails or FB messages. Join or login to AmeriCymru and message us here if you are interested.....diolch
American Lady Traces Her Welsh Roots
By Ceri Shaw, 2016-04-29
Dylan’s Great Poem - Celebrate International Dylan Thomas Day
By Ceri Shaw, 2016-04-12
Dylan's Great Poem opens for submissions on Thursday 28 April at 9.00 am and invites anyone aged between 7 and 25 years old, living anywhere in the world, to submit up to four lines of poetry written in English or Welsh. From these, 100 lines will be chosen to create the Great Poem.
The theme for this year’s competition is ‘hands’, after the Dylan Thomas poem ‘The Hand That Signed The Paper.’
Entries need to be sent via the Developing Dylan 100 website before 12.00 noon on Thursday 5 May .
This year, we have joined forces with Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award. Selected entrants to Dylan’s Great Poem, who are between 11 and 17 years of age, and living in Wales, will be invited to a poetry writing masterclass to work on entries to the Poetry Society competition.
Dylan’s Great Poem will be edited by Rufus Mufasa and clare e. potter, and will be published online and performed on #DylanDay.
For resources, see: http://www.literaturewales.org/dylans-great-poem/
To submit lines visit the Developing Dylan website .
For more information contact Literature Wales:
07846484274 / email@example.com
Follow online #GreatPoem #DylanDay @DyddDylanDay