By gaabi, 2021-12-19
By gaabi, 2021-12-09
Musician, performer and author, Andy Edwards, of Mother Bear Productions, has a new video series out, In The Company of Curlews . AmeriCymru spoke to him about it and what else he’s been doing during the pandemic.
AmeriCymru: You're sharing your new youtube series with us, we've called it storytelling, how would you categorize this work you're making?
Andy: In The Company of Curlews has been written as an audio drama for a single voice.
For years now I have been storytelling in different live venues. With the encouragement of audience feedback, I wanted to take a step towards getting more stories out there. Some of the venues would restrict your time on stage to 5-10 minutes, and I wanted to stretch myself and have no time restrictions.
Even before Covid lockdowns and self-isolation, I found it easier to do things on my own. Shut the door and get on with it, not having to rely on the help of others.
AmeriCymru: You're a musician, what got you started creating these video stories?
Andy: I love songs that tell stories. I’ve had a hand in composing a few and they all have a strong narrative. TRENCHFOOT was all about Great War stories from local history. My latest release with the POLLYTUNNEL PIRATES is full of stories from the past; personal, social or historical. The title track ‘BIG DAY’ is all about my 18 th birthday and the crazy excessive drinking that went on.
There is a video available, ‘ANGELS,’ from the album which tells the story of a group of friends cycling Coast 2 Coast USA. It was 2009, Americymru were kind enough to promote the trip to their audience and helped me gain so many Welsh contacts along the way. One of the contacts was in Taos, New Mexico, and what a welcome we had! We made so many friends and there was one lady who was interested in me because she could see angels all around me, they would keep me safe and sound. So there lies the story song.
The series of MOTHER BEAR videos that Seimon Pugh Jones and myself made for Americymru, pre-Covid, gave me the basic skills of editing and sound recording. All the recordings are produced in a room upstairs in my house on a basic digital recorder. There are no special effects, just me and my voice. So, with basic video editing skills and a creative streak which has been with me since writing stories in primary school, I was ready to let my imagination go.
AmeriCymru: Your current main character is a coracle man named Jac, for people who don't know what that is, can you tell us about this character, what a coracle man is and what inspired his story?
Andy: I just happened to be walking down the road towards town and I bumped into an old school friend. We started talking about his family and the cultural history of coracles in our hometown. A year later I had successfully gained a small grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Research brought in an abundance of information resulting in educational resources being produced and distributed to Primary Schools in the area. So with a wealth of local knowledge regarding the heritage of Carmarthen Coracles I wanted to put it into a narrative form. Coracle fishing has dwindled so much that there are but a handful of pairs still fishing in an ever-decreasing time slot of a season during the year. So the project took on the attempt to help maintain the heritage and culture of a dying profession.
Please check out the Mother Bear video: Carmarthen Coracles, The Last Coracle Men
AmeriCymru: We can see that people are watching, have you got much response yet from your audience on Jac's story?
Andy: Not a great amount to be honest. Some friends and families have congratulated me on the project and all are complimentary. I’m thankful for all the feedback and support and am always prepared for criticism, be it positive or negative.
AmeriCymru: You did a previous series, Nail, can you tell us a bit about that series and its main character? How would you compare him to Jac?
Andy: Sin and redemption arc through the life stories of Jac and Nail.
Nail , set in the 1930’s, is the story of a man who had been affected by the Great War and his way of coping with the experiences in the life of a small West Wales town during the inter-war years. Nail is a gravedigger in the small town and sees what goes on from a different angle and all the time he holds a dark secret from the war.
In The Company of Curlews follows Jac’s life on the river from a young teenager in the 1950s to the present day when he is eighty. He makes the error of not standing up for his brother and then feels responsible for a tragic accident which leads to his younger brother’s death. Guilt stays with him throughout his life and we see him make mistakes time and time again in his life.
AmeriCymru: What's been the best part of producing these stories for you?
Andy: The saddest thing is to leave a song written on a scrap of paper. These stories have been sitting on my hard disk for a few years and I just felt why not put them out there?
I feel the importance of keeping stories alive, whether through textbooks or through narrative works.
"For every image of the past that is not recognized by the present as one of its own
concerns threatens to disappear irretrievably."
(Walter Benjamin, On the Concept of History , v)
Every community has history pulsating at their core and so does every family within that community. These need to be archived for future generations. As Benjamin points out, they need to continue to have value in the present but, unless they are recognised and archived for the future they threaten ‘to disappear irretrievably’
The history book or big screen film cannot tell us everything about the past. They are always looking for the ‘sexy’ side to the story. Entertainers give us their version and although great storytellers they present a world of magnificent events and outstanding actions where facts are twisted to fit a formula. As the old proverb says, ‘never let truth get in the way of a good story’.
The quick fix digital generation need to be entertained with continuous box-set T.V. series that never end, where challenges are overcome and where stories never finish. Oral history will not make the Hollywood script precisely because it deals with a communal experience rather than a heroic one. Within this frame each individual has a significant story to tell with a socially interesting aspect.
I hope the project will show future generations a small part of social history
AmeriCymru: What's your process on a project like this, how do you write and create these? Do you start with a character or a plot or something else completely? Do you write first or develop as you go?
Andy: It’s a few years ago now! I think, after a lot of research: interviewing fishermen, walking the river, getting a feel for the location and actually storytelling sections of the story I started to sketch out the protagonist’s life, from his young life to his old age.
One of my aims was to incorporate the myths, tradition, and stories of the river. One of the myths is the role of the Curlew. The bird in the coracle world is seen as a bird of wisdom and the judge of the river. It decides whether the fisherman is worthy. If found guilty for bad behaviour the curlew would banish the coracle man from the river never to catch a fish again.
When Jac finally satisfies his fishing appetite and catches the big fish he has sought all his life, he realises that it’s not his heart’s desire and returns it to the river to spawn again. His treatment of the fish is his atonement. He sees his brother again and although Jac is close to death himself he is at rest in his mind as he has resolved his issues of guilt.
AmeriCymru: You and artist Seimon Pugh-Jones from the Tin Shed previously collaborated on a year-long project of interviews with people around Wales, Voices from Wales , which AmeriCymru was lucky enough to run, and they were really excellent. How was working on that project? What kind of feedback did you get on it and any chance you and Seimon may do something else in the future?
Andy: Covid lockdowns put a stop to any continuity of the project. We talk forever about different projects and documentaries. Seimon has so many great ideas and is one of the most creative people I know. Hopefully after Christmas we can get our act together.
AmeriCymru: You don't seem like the kind of person to sit around and not do too much, what else have you been doing during the pandemic and where can people find your work?
Andy: One life! Got to get things done! Seimon and myself wrote a screenplay during the pandemic that is doing the rounds at the moment. Hopefully we’ll get a commission! – Children in a small West Walian town help an Italian POW escape from the Fascists to a new life in the U.S.
I also put a radio programme together for Welsh Connections, available on Mixcloud, I tell my own stories, bands I played in, my influences, all with the help of music from different eras:
Twenty episodes later I needed a break but I am in the process of putting together the next ten episodes to be released after Xmas.
AmeriCymru: What's next for you and for Mother Bear, and will you do more of these stories?
Andy: I have another single-voice audio ready to go, EVERYTHINGS GONE WRONG - children growing up in a West Wales town, based on an experience when I was held at gunpoint down by the river during a lunch hour in my Primary School days.
AmeriCymru: Any final message for the readers and members of AmeriCymru?
Andy: I fear I was too late to save all the dying traditions of coracle fishing in Carmarthen, but I will have been able to help keep fragments of the customs alive. I was never going to be able to, ‘awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed .’
I urge you all to realise the importance of your own history, your community’s history and do not accept what is served to you on the t.v. or big screen as gospel.
Thanks for all your support and hopefully you enjoy.
By gaabi, 2021-12-01
Between 1854 and 1862, naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace (born 8 January 1823, Llanbadoc, Monmouthshire) travelled the Malay Archipelago (now Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia), studying and collecting specimens he would later exhibit and write about.
The most famous animal he and his team found was a brilliant green tree frog that jumped out of the high trees of the rainforest canopy and slowed its fall with big, webbed feet, like a tiny parachutist.
Wallace's Flying Frog is small, between 3-4" long, males are a little bigger than females, and they've been found in Indonesia, Singapore and Sumatra. Their populations are decreasing but their status is currently "least concern." These little frogs mainly hunt insects but have also been observed to eat toads and even small birds, and are themselves hunted by snakes. They can glide as much as 50' to a new branch or even the forest floor, and climb back up using their very sticky toes.
The Latin species name for this frog is Rhacophorus nigropalmatus. Whenever I see a new word I don't know, including Latin, I always try to look up what it really means and where it came from. "-phorus" added to the end of a word means that the animal being named resembles something like the first part of the word, in this case "rhaco." The second part of their name is nigro (black) + palmatus (hand).
I couldn't find that first part, "rhaco," as Latin or as a zoological prefix anywhere, including in a Latin dictionary. I only found it two places, the first was a medical term which meant "rough" as part of two medical conditions that made the skin rough, but they don't look rough skinned to me. The second was in a Welsh dictionary from the early 1800's.
I haven't been able to find out if Wallace spoke Welsh or even knew any. I haven't been able to find out who named the family of 300 species of southeast Asian gliding frogs Wallace's Flying Frog is one of, the Rhacophoridae , but I believe Wallace was the first person to describe them. It's also possible that "rhaco" comes from a Malay word as Wallace had Malay and other assistants on this trip.
In William Owen Pughe's A Dictionary of the Welsh Language (1803), " rhaco " is defined as "adverb: Yonder, in the advance, in the distant view. Sylla di rhaco , 'Behold thou yonder.' "
That sure sounds to me like a great way to describe tiny frogs, falling slowly toward you out of the tall trees. I can't prove that at all, but I think I'll go with it until I learn different.
Illustration by J. G. Keulemans, from Wallace's The Malay Archipelago (1869)
More about Wallace's Flying Frog -
More about Alfred Russel Wallace and his time in the Malay Archipelago -
PS. If you're a zoology or particularly a paleontology nerd like me, I want to recommend that youtube channel at the top of this post, Ben G. Thomas - they're some brilliant, creative young dudes who make great and interesting videos.
By gaabi, 2021-08-26
I’m slowly working on family genealogy and I got some wonderful family photos recently. Ceri had done his article on a Welshman who was at Little Big Horn and I have an ancestor with a very tangential connection to this.
My first (so far) Welsh ancestor in North America was James B. Morgan, Sr. I haven’t got to see much in the way of primary source documents so far, only research other people have done, so I’ve got a ways to go to reach confident certainty on his history.
James Morgan was born in Llandaff, which is now part of modern-day Cardiff, in 1607. In about 1635, James sailed from Bristol to Boston with his two younger brothers, John and Miles, an ancestor of J. P. Morgan. James became a freeman in the Plymouth colony and a farmer.
Some generations later, his many-greats granddaughter, my mother’s great grandmother, Francis Henrietta Steele was born.
Francis Henrietta (Steele) Bubb
Francis married John Wilson Bubb, who had fought in the union army in the US Civil War and had recently returned to his home in Washington, DC, after spending the end of the war as a captive on a Confederate prison ship.
John Wilson Bubb
John Bubb went on to become a lieutenant under General George Crook at the Battle of Slim Buttes, to lead an attack on a Lakota village and experience Crook’s Starvation March, also called ”The Horsemeat March" as the punishing 35-mile-a-day pace killed so many mules and horses and soldiers slaughtered them to survive when the few remaining supplies ran out. Bubb was sent to Deadwood to try to secure food and successfully cleaned out the town's stores for his men.
Soldier's camp in Cook's Starvation March, from "A Campaign From Hell", by Mike Coppock in True West, https://truewestmagazine.com/a-campaign-from-hell/
He went on to serve in the Phillipines and become Brig. Gen. John Wilson Bubb. He commanded at least one fort, I’m not sure which one(s) but in the photos I’ve received are some wonderful old shots of life at Fort Sherman, Idaho, and Fort Spokane, Washington, and I’m sharing those below.
Below is a photograph of a June 1893 game of tennis on the lawn at Fort Sherman, which was on the banks of the Spokane River in what is now Coeur d'Alene, in northern Idaho.
A group of soldiers on a porch at Fort Sherman, Gen. Bubb is seated in the center row, on the right. This photo is undated but other photos in the group had handwritten notes indicating they were from 1893 and 1894.
Frances Bubb (standing in the back) and a group of ladies at Fort Sherman 1894
Unless otherwise noted, all these photos are from a family collection of John and Henrietta Bubb's effects.
By gaabi, 2020-11-29
Deann recently joined AmeriCymru as A Fairy House Studio , where she creates unique, one-of-a-kind mixed media sculptures.
AmeriCymru: How would you describe what you do?
Deann: I make sculptural fairy houses from selected natural, botanical materials. Some of them include jewelry or small figurines or other things in them and they all include fairy lights. Each one is completely unique.
AmeriCymru: How did you start making fairy houses?
Deann: I’ve been an artist of some kind for most of my life. I was a dancer, a multimedia sculptor and I just like to make things. Years ago, I had a serious heart attack and afterwards my physical activity was really limited. My doctor told me to take long walks to help heal and build up my stamina and I did that.
On my walks, I spent a lot of time in the woods and along nearby marshes and rivers and for fun imagined fairies living in these places, just out of sight, and what would their homes be like? I started looking for material on fairies, where did they come from, etc, and found first British fairy stories and then that there were Welsh fairies. I can’t remember where I read this but I did read something that described at least some of them as what we often think of today as fairies, tiny women with wings, like Peter Pan’s Tinkerbell, and houses for them seemed to be what I wanted to make.
AmeriCymru: Where do you get the inspiration for your houses?
Deann: I mostly get my inspiration from my materials, find an interesting branch, some interesting leaves or lichen or moss or a flower I want to dry, and those things eventually inspire the house I want to put them in. Inspiration can also come from a piece of costume jewelry or a small figurine of some kind or as I collect things, all of a sudden they fit together and then I start working on something new. I love to make beautiful things and see people take pleasure in them, that’s what fulfills me.
I also include a string of fairy lights with a battery pack so they can be lit in the dark and present a completely different appearance than they do during the day. Each house is completely unique and gets its own name.
AmeriCymru: They’re very beautiful , they look like they take a long time to make and aren’t particularly for children.
Deann: No, they’re not and they’re not for placement outside. The materials on them are real - dried roses, dried mosses and ferns, dried leaves, acorns, bark and other elements, attached with adhesives but still fragile. They’re definitely a display piece you have indoors and don’t handle. People have talked about them as meditation aids, Pagans and Wiccans have used them as religious shrines, but I think for most people they’re something beautiful to enjoy looking at, especially in the evening with their lights on.
AmeriCymru: What’s been the response to your work?
Deann: So far, everyone who’s seen them has said they’ve loved them, they get a lot of attention online. I think right now people are looking for things that give them joy, that are calming and pleasant.
AmeriCymru: I see that you’ve got a house with a Welsh name, what’s your connection to Wales?
Deann: Mainly two things, I have some ancestors from different parts of southeast Wales. When I started making these houses I went looking to see if there were Welsh fairies, and of course there are, and found first British fairy stories and then that there were Welsh fairies. Yes, I made one house named after the Tylwth Teg and I want to do some more Welsh-themed houses as I find out more about those stories.
AmeriCymru: I hope we'll get to see more of your work and more fairy houses?
Deann: Thank you, yes! Right now I’m just going to keep making fairy houses. They’re the thing that’s most inspiring me.
AmeriCymru: Any message for AmeriCymru readers?
Deann: Ha, buy my houses? Seriously, though, I hope people like looking at them and find the something that makes you happy, I suppose? Making these and looking at them makes me happy. I hope they make other people happy.
By gaabi, 2020-11-16
Film and television creatives Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool) and Rob McElhenney (It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia) have bought the north Wales, National League Wrexham Association Football Club, and they've done this lovely ad for team sponsor Ifor Williams Trailers, and to announce their own involvement:
Wrexham AFC, the oldest club in Wales, was founded in 1864 and became fan owned in 2011.
The Gaurdian reported that the Wrexham Supporters Trust Board voted 98% in favor of Reynolds' and McElhenney's involvement and their plan to "revive" the club. Reynolds has said that he and McElhenney want to great ambassadors for the club to introduce it to the world, to attend as many games as possible and that fans will "be fed up of us!"
If you want to support the Dragons but you don't live in Wales, they have lots of swell swag on their webstore .
By gaabi, 2020-04-23
Literature Wales has named award-winning Pembrokeshire novelist Eloise Williams as its first Children's Laureate. Ms Williams
By gaabi, 2020-02-29
If you've been a regular visitor to our website over the last few years, you will have probably seen the name Gwenno Dafydd. We have written many articles noting her contribution to the growth of Saint David’s Day celebrations, not only in Wales but also world-wide. That’s why, in 2017, we asked her to become Americymru’s Saint David’s Day Ambassador to the World. It's now fifteen years since Gwenno became involved in developing some of her ideas for Saint David’s Day celebrations, most of which have come to fruition.
We asked Gwenno to share with us her contributions to promoting St David's Day and reviving the tradiiton of parades on the day, and the history of the anthem she created for Saint David's Day.
Americymru Saint David’s Day World Ambassador, February 2020
Back in 2004 I heard about the National Saint David’s Day Parade, which for ease of purpose I will call the NSDDP. Gareth Westacott and Henry Jones Davies came up with the original idea in Cilmeri. The village is famous for being close to the spot where the last native prince of Wales of direct descent, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd , was slain in a skirmish by soldiers in the service of Edward I of England , on 11 December 1282. A memorial stone to Llywelyn ap Gruffudd was erected on the site in 1956 and serves as the focal point for an annual day of remembrance on the anniversary of his death. I believe it was a challenge initially to create a parade to celebrate our patron Saint David and I heard about the very first one, which attracted around 150 people, too late to attend.
However, by the second NSDDP I was determined to be present and got there nice and early and was presented with a bell and clapper to bang on my way. It was a reproduction of the bell used by Saint David himself, which was called Bangu , and had been made by the blacksmith David Petersen who was involved with Henry, Gareth (Westie) and a few others, including the legend that was Rhob ap Steffan or Castro as he was known to his pals, in organising the parade.
As I was hitting this bell and going past Cardiff Market in the very place where Dick Penderyn (one of the protagonists of the Merthyr Rising) was hanged, I felt as if I had been hit by a bolt of lightning – I suddenly realised that I had to write an anthem – in both English and Welsh, a song that could be sung by choirs and individuals not only in Wales but also on any Saint David’s Day celebration anywhere in the world.
The idea mulled around my brain for a few months and coming back on a very long 16 hour bus journey from a skiing trip, from Italy to Brugges I wrote most of the words in Welsh and English – the rest were completed in our static caravan directly opposite Carn Llidi near Saint David’s in Pembrokeshire, where I like to believe Saint David himself drew inspiration.
I took the words to my then song-writing partner Heulwen Thomas and told her what I had in mind and she came up with the music for ‘Cenwch y Clychau i Dewi’ (Ring out the bells for Dewi) which is what I was doing when I came up with the idea and we performed the song to a very receptive audience at the end of the 2006 NSDDP. At that point I was invited by the NSDDP committee to become the voluntary School Liaison Officer as I worked extensively with schools at that time. Heulwen didn’t want to be involved in any of the organising – and had I known how much time, energy and effort the role was going to take I would have and should have said a big resounding NO!
However I didn’t, and I decided to use ‘Cenwch y Clychau’ (Ring out the bells) as a way of engaging with schools and also of getting lots of publicity. I work as a freelance broadcaster (amongst many things - see my website for some of the projects I am now involved in. www.gwennodafydd.co.uk ) and had many contacts in the media which I used to get thousands of pounds worth of free publicity which enabled the next NSDDP to grow from a couple of hundred people to around the 1,500. I was personally able to get 300 children there from schools such as Ysgol Treganna, Ysgol Plasmawr and Mountstuart Square.
This became a slight dilemma for the NSDDP Steering Committee as we had become a victim of our own success. We needed help and in 2007 I suggested we approach the National Assembly of Wales and Cardiff City Council for support. This in turn became the ‘Partnership’ and with their backing and additional access to media resources the NSDDP grew phenomenally
In 2008 I contacted the National Grid for Learning (then called the Ngfl now called Hwb) and learnt that their online resources for teachers did not have anything available about Saint David. ‘Cenwch y Clychau i Dewi’ became the central focus of a large educational package of resources for teachers and pupils throughout Wales.
The whole package was launched at the Pierhead Building, Cardiff Bay, by the then Presiding Officer, Lord Dafydd Elis Thomas. I organised a boat trip to bring the children of Ysgol Penygarth over to the Bay and the television company I work for regularly, Tinopolis, came and filmed the event and from that time it has been recognised as the ‘Saint David’s Day Anthem’.
The 2008 NSDDP was a very successful event and we went on our first trip down to the Assembly. Westie had worked very hard to bring a group of dancers and a baghad (bagpipes) over from Brittany and there were in the region of 6,000 people either lining the streets or taking part with us.
In the Partnership meetings we were wondering how we could ‘grow’ our events to be as popular as the Saint Patrick events in Birmingham and one of the committee happened to talk about the use of Bounty banners, similar in size to the old traditional mining lodge banners popular in the coal communities.
I was singing in a concert in Fishguard (another thing I do!) and went for a drink with the friend who had organised the concert. She is called Gaynor McMorrin and she was and still is a very active member of Fishguard Arts Society. I happened to tell her about creating County Banners for Saint David’s Day and she quickly reminded me not only that there were amazing embroiderers living in Fishguard but that the two women who had primarily been involved with the Fishguard Tapestry, Eirian Short and Audrey Walker were also members of the Fishguard Arts Society.
In 2009, the manuscript of the Anthem made history by being the very first bilingual song to be sold as a download from a website by Welsh publisher, Y Lolfa.
In February 2009 I organised a launch of the Pembrokeshire Banner in the Welsh Assembly with many of the makers and Assembly member Jane Hutt being present.
I had the honour of carrying the Banner in the 2009 NSDDP along with people from my own community of Pencaer, near Fishguard where I grew up. This again was a hugely successful parade with around 10,000 people present either in the parade or along the route. Westie has also organised another troupe of dancers and a baghad from Brittany and this, along with the fact that it was on a Sunday contributed to the huge success. A choir and brass band came up from Fishguard and Goodwick and they all performed the SDD Anthem.
By this point I found that I was spending so much time in developing Saint David’s Day activities on behalf of the NSDDP committee that it was having a detrimental effect not only on my ability to earn a living as a freelancer but also on my health so I decided to resign from the Committee and focus on my own developmental Saint David’s Day Projects with the SDD Anthem, County and School banners.
In 2010 I organised a ‘Homecoming Ceremony ’ for the Pembrokeshire Banner in Saint David’s Cathedral where it now resides in perpetuity in the East Cloister. I had persuaded the then Bishop Wyn Evans that it would be a great idea if the Banner could be given a permanent home in the cathedral and he agreed! I can be very persuasive when I want to be! It now resides close to where our patron saint’s bones lie.
This beautiful banner has been used in several Saint David’s Day children’s services when it is paraded around the cathedral by the Head Boy and Head Girl of the local Secondary School whilst children from the local Primary School sing the SDD Anthem.
Since resigning from the NSDDP Committee in 2009 I had been more or less focussing on growing the anthem and encouraging the creation of County, School and class Banners and to use in parades, either in towns or around the schools themselves. The reason for this idea was that the schools were loath to take part in the NSDDP because buses were a huge expense and also they all maintained that they had their school Eisteddfod (Singing and reciting festivals all over Wales) on Saint David’s Day. Making school banners based on the anthem and parading them around the school whilst singing the anthem could become a new ‘bolt-on’ tradition which did not affect the usual tradition of Eisteddfodau.
In 2014, inspired by the huge success of the NSDDP there was a very succesful parade in Aberystwyth (Organiser Sion Jobbins) and in Pwllheli another was growing very quickly (Organiser Rhys Llewelyn).
In Wales we have something called Language Iinitiaitives (Mentrau Iaith) that are government run organisations to encourage the use, promotion and growth of the Welsh language. On the 24th September 2014 I did a training day with Mentrau Iaith Cymru (All Wales Language Initiatives) on networking (another string to my bow!)
After the training session I did an awareness raising presentation about the Saint David’s Day celebrations (anthem, banners and parades) and that I believe is what has triggered the phenomenal growth in the Saint David’s Day Parades around Wales. By 2019 there were 22 parades mostly run by the Mentrau Iaith with every year several new parades appearing. From three to over twenty in less than five years! Astounding.
Following the success of the Pembrokeshire Banner I have been able to persuade some people from Carmarthenshire and Montgomeryshire to create banners
The beautiful Carmarthenshire Banner was completed in 2017 by designer Eirian Davies with the main maker Meinir Eynon. It was used for the very first time in the Carmarthenshire Saint David’s Day Parade in 2018 and it is now an integral feature of their celebrations which are growing year on year.
The Montgomeryshire Banner was also completed in 2017. In 2018 the banner was taken around local churches on Saint David’s Day. It has a permanent home in the church in Llanidloes. This year it will be paraded for the very first time in a brand new parade in Llanfyllin organised by the local Menter Iaith
2017 also saw manuscript copies of the Saint David’s Day Anthem on sale from ‘Ty Cerdd’. It is available in four versions - SATB, Piano & Voice, TTB and SSA and note the little bee on the front is the same bee that is on the Pembrokeshire Banner! I think of everything!
In March 2018 I was very privileged to be invited to take part in the very first Pembrokeshire Parade in Haverfordwest and sang both the national and SDD Anthem. This was a real honour for me as it is my home County and I spent three winters here Directing Theatre in Education Projects back in the mid 1980’s promoting the Welsh language. I would never in my wildest dreams at that time have thought that I would be seeing 450 and more excited and boisterous children on the streets of Haverfordwest celebrating our patron saint! Had the threat of snow not postponed the parade, there would have been 1,500 children present. This year I will also be leading the singing but not before I will have played my part in carrying the Pembrokeshire Banner around the town for the very first time. What an honour. I can’t wait!
In 2019 a book about Saint David’s Day Celebrations containing information about the anthem, parades, school and county banners was published by Gwasg Carreg Gwalch and also looked at the traditions we used to have which were mostly to do with eating ‘cawl’ (soup) and ‘pice ar y maen’ (Welsh cakes) and dressing little girls up in Welsh costumes. There did used to be parades but they were a very long time ago and I am proud to have played a part in reviving them.
In 2019 the very first School Banner was invited to become part of San Ffagan’s permanent collection ( the National Museum of Welsh History) – a real honour for the children and an acknowledgement of this new tradition which we created together. The school ‘Ysgol Cwmgors’ has closed as there were not enough pupils but the banner has resided in Ysgol Gwaun Cae Gurwen who have continued with the tradition of banner creation, parading whilst singing the anthem.
The Anthem is growing year on year and so far has been sung countless times in Canada (Ontario, Toronto, Ottawa) Patagonia, Disneyland Paris, Houses of Parliament, 5 Consecutive NSDDP’s, Llandaff Cathedral, Brangwyn Hall, Saint David’s Cathedral, Los Angeles,(South California Welsh Choir) North America Festival of Wales, Scranton and I have now lost track of everywhere it has been sung on the television and in concerts Wales and worldwide which is a very good thing!
Over the last fifteen years of very hard work, since I became involved with creating and developing new Saint David’s Day traditions, I would never ever have dreamt that all my efforts would have enabled the growth of so many wonderful events. From one parade in 2005 to probably over 25 parades this year. It is so exciting and I feel proud to have played a part in this unbelievable growth.
The anthem and banner creation are two elements which are fun, colourful, can engage with the whole community and can be used and created anywhere in the whole wide world!
I think if the Welsh Assembly Government took stock and realised what tremendous economic possibilities all these developments have and their potential of drawing the worldwide Welsh diaspora back to their homeland, then that could only have a positive effect on the Welsh economy. However I have to say that all my efforts so far to persuade them have fallen on deaf ears.
Ah well onwards and upwards! As I said – I can be immensely persuasive when I want to be. I feel very honoured to have been recognised by Americymru for my work with Saint David’s Day and there’s a biblical expression about ‘Never being a prophet in your own land’, so until Wales realises what I have done I am very happy to be a Saint David’s Day World Ambassador for Americymru.
Remember ‘Gwnewch y Pethau Bychain’ – Do the small things! And thank you for the opportunity to trawl through all these wonderful memories”.
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