2009 Owain Glyndwr Lecture
Date and Details TO BE ADVISED
Generally the event is held in
Owain Glyndwr is a very important figure in Welsh
History. It was he that led the Cymry to last defeat and repel the English and
united the whole of Cymru under a single Welsh Standard, Y Ddraig Goch - the Red Dragon of
reason his name and memory have been chosen as the focus for Plaid Cymru's Melbourne and
Oceania Branch's annual lecture pertaining to Wales.
a prominent expert on Wales or Wales' situation is invited to lecture. Usually there is
some kind of Welsh entertainment to make it a multi-faceted affair - the public is invited
||THE SEAL OF OWAIN GLYNDWR
The 2008 Owain Glyndwr
Ten Years of Devolution
Sion Aled Owen is President of the
Wrexham Branch of Plaid Cymru. He works as a translator and is a crowned
Bard from the Machynlleth Welsh National Eisteddfod.
Harp music by Huw Jones
Sunday, 31st August, 2008
Amser/Time: 2 pm
We thank Sion Aled Owen
for his fascinating and informative lecture in 2008.
The following is a précis of
the Owain Glyndŵr
Lecture Siôn Aled gave in Melbourne this August. Sion Aled says
that Owain (Glyndwr) had, in many ways, a very modern concept of
nationhood for Wales and, although the wait has been long, it is a
privilege to be living at a time when his hopes are beginning to be
Devolution Ten Years On
Three truths about Wales
Wales didn’t exist!
Henry VIII’s Acts of Union 1535-1543 had the effect
of subsuming Wales into the Realm of England and so the country
henceforward had no separate constitutional status. There were some
measures which challenged this settlement, e g, the provision of the
Bible in Welsh in 1588 and the Welsh Sunday Closing Act 1881, but the
provisions of Henry’s Acts were not, in effect, repealed until the
Government of Wales Act 1998 which set up the National Assembly. Ganwyd
Cymru drachefn ym 1998!
Unlike Scotland, which on Union with England in 1707
did retain a separate legal and educational system, Wales lost virtually
all its national institutions. However, strong symbolic institutions
were maintained or developed: the bardic tradition, harp music, choirs,
the National Eisteddfod, rugby. Although no adequate substitute for a
separate constitutional infrastructure, we are indebted to these symbols
for maintaining our sense of nationhood during the long centuries when
we had no constitutional existence. Efallai y gall Cymru fforddio i
golli mewn rygbi o bryd i’w gilydd nawr gan fod gennym Gynulliad!
The pivotal role of the language
Of all the symbols of nationhood which we retained,
the Welsh language was by far the most important – if it wasn’t, the
Establishment wouldn’t have invested so much in trying to suppress it!
It has also proved to be remarkably resilient, with the majority of the
population remaining Welsh-speaking until 1901. As the language rapidly
declined during the twentieth century, its importance for national
identity came to be recognised more and more, culminating in the
establishment of the campaigning Welsh language Society in 1962 which
fought for a Welsh Language Act in 1967 and strengthened legislation in
1993. Mae’r dywediad "Cenedl heb iaith, Cenedl heb galon" yn sicr yn
ddeiiol berthnasol i hanes Cymru.
Three truths about Wales
Before devolution, while Scotland’s separate identity
was always, to a degree, recognised, Wales was still subsumed in
"EnglandandWales" in most contexts. Since 1999, however, Wales has
become increasingly visible as a nation in her own right. It is said
that Tony Blair was never really an enthusiast for devolution and it is
easy to see why – because things literally would never be the same again
and because devolution really was, as Ron Davies, the architect of
devolution in the Welsh Labour Party, famously said, "a process not an
event". This is clear from the gradual growth in the Assembly’s powers
and the development of new national institutions such the Care
Inspectorate and the Children’s Commissioner. Le bu sefydliadau
cenedlaehol mor brin yn y gorffennol maent bellach yn amlhau fel madarch
Increasing divergence from England
After devolution, and despite the Assembly’s weakness
in terms of actual power, especially in the early years, Wales quickly
began to plough a furrow separate to England in its areas of
responsibility, notably health, education and transport. We’re not
talking here of divergence merely for the sake of it but of changes
which could really make a difference in people’s lives, such as halting
privatisation within the health service, the introduction of the
innovative Foundation Phase in early years education and the re-opening
of rail routes. Mae Cymru nid yn unig yn bodoli bellach ond mae hi’n
datblygu fel cenedl a all dorri ei chwys ei hun.
It is remarkable that whereas Welsh had virtually no
official status just over forty years ago we now have a Welsh Government
committed to a fully bilingual Wales. All public documentation f l t
should, in principle, be bilingual and only a
shortage of translators (which is being actively addressed) prevents
this. The teaching of Welsh both in schools and as Welsh for Adults has
a higher profile than ever and is underpinned by an increasing emphasis
on professional development for tutors. Prin y gallai’r rhai fu’n
brwydro dros y Gymraeg yn Oesoedd TywyllThatcheriaeh fod wedi dychymygu
lle y byddem heddiw.
Three questions for the future
Where do we go from here?
The One Wales Government has promised to hold a
referendum on full Legislative powers for the Assembly within this
session, meaning by May 2011. The exercise will be a risky one, with
opinion polls having shown only a slow increase in support for a proper
Parliament for Wales over several years, the latest giving a narrow
majority in favour, and that before ‘No’ campaigners begin their
wrecking tactics. Nevertheless, the long term direction is towards
independence which, after all, is a status taken for granted by many
nations with smaller populations than Wales. O safbwynt
cyfansoddiado, mae’n ymddangos bod y cyfeiriad yn eglur – yr amseru sy’n
What about England?
It is often forgotten that devolution for the Celtic
nations must have implications for their neighbour and there are indeed
signs that England is searching for a sense of national identity that is
not shackled to jingoism and xenophobia. Hopefully, also, devolution for
the English regions will return to the agenda – a move that could also
bring power closer to the Celtic nation that devolution has thus far
left behind, Kernow/Cornwall. Y gobaith yw y bydd rhyddhau’r gwledydd
Celtaidd hefyd yn rhyddhau Loegr.
What future for the Welsh language?
Given what was said earlier, why should there be any
doubt? Unfortunately, however, official status and even active state
support cannot guarantee the future of any language as a living,
community language, as the fragile situation of Gaelic in Ireland
clearly illustrates. Yet in Wales we are aware of the danger and are
investing increasingly in encouraging the use of Welsh as well as
knowledge of the language, particularly through the work of the Mentrau
Iaith/Language Initiatives. Nid crair ar gyfer yr amgueddfa mo’r iaith
Gymraeg ond iaith y mae’n rhaid iddi fyw o fewn ein cymunedau.
There was no 2007 Owain Glyndwr
The 2006 Owain Glyndwr
Lecture with Isabel Ellender
Cultural Survival Under
Foreign Rule: Cymru and Australia
|The 2006 Owain Glyndwr lecture on
Sunday 17th of September at the Melbourne Celtic Club in the City was an informative and
thought-provoking event: Isabel Ellender from Monash University gave a background to
the occupation of Cymru (Wales) and Australia and went on to investigate and compare the
experiences of the Welsh and Indigenous Australians under the weight of their respective
Caernarfon Castle, shown right, is one of many castles in Wales built as a
part of the ongoing conquest of Wales and control of the Welsh people. Caernarfon was
begun in 1283 on the orders of Edward 1 of England.
In Wales there were several invaders and repressive regimes,
some from without and some from within. For Indigenous Australians, conquest was a
single relatively recent event, the effects of each are still felt by their respective
communities. For each, a weakness has been the lack of cohesion against the
successful and determined political system of the conqueror.
Both peoples have struggled with the issue of identity - the
identity one feels intuitively and also the identity imposed on one by others.
Isabel completed her talk with a statement in Cymraeg (Welsh)
that still holds true for the Welsh and also Indigenous Australians `dan ni yma o hyd!'
We're still here!'
There followed an open
discussion and question time with Isabel and Dilys Anderson from Plaid Cymru chairing the
proceedings. The discussion was held in both the Welsh and English languages.
Pendragon Bach (Two members of the Melbourne-based folk group
Pendragon Dreaming) played a number of Welsh numbers to start off the proceedings and to
finish in a fitting Welsh manner. In fact the final song was a Dafydd Iwan number; `Yma O
Hyd' (`Here Still') which echoed Isbel's final words in her talk.
There was a great deal of
interest in Isabel's lecture with many requests for more information. Isabel has kindly
offered to make her talk available to the public.
Cliciwch yma/Click here
ABOUT THE SPEAKER:
grew up on a farm in Gwynedd, N Wales and nursed in London. Since moving to
Melbourne, she has retrained as an archaeologist. Since then, Isabel has worked for
17 years as a consultant in the field of Indigenous cultural heritage, operating among
Indigenous communities, government, the Museum, and Native Title organisations. At
the same time, holding a lectureship at Monash - teaching mainly in Indigenous Studies and
Geography. These simultaneous career paths have led her to remote locations in
Australia such as Kakadu, Flinders Ranges, Innamincka and Broken Hill, though most of her
work has been with the Wurundjeri community of Melbourne.
long time Isabel has had an interest in Indigenous affairs, initially with cultural
heritage and knowledge, and latterly, with health, education, and alternatives to
mainstream solutions. Her research includes scientific investigation of
archaeological materials and Indigenous intellectual property rights. She has
published on issues of Aboriginal land relationships and co-authored a book on the
Aboriginal experience of colonial Melbourne.
years ago, Isabel moved back into the health field and now teaches in the undergraduate
medical curriculum as well as in-house training of health professionals on issues
concerning Indigenous health and culture and contemporary racism.
Recently, Isabel has been
relearning the Welsh language and is restoring her own cultural heritage.
Copies of Isabel's book are available:
2005 Owain Glyndwr
Lecture with Professor Tom Nairn
2005 Owain Glyndwr lecture on Sunday 11th of September was an interesting and stimulating
event: Professor Tom Nairn gave a lecture on small nations (such as
Wales - as opposed to the very large or super-powers) in an increasingly globalised
world. The lecture struck a positive chord for Professor Nairn sees an increasing trend of
the break up of bigger blocks into smaller nations of a similar ethnic or linguistic
background. These he says will influence the `Global Village' in a more positive and
sustainable way than the politically controlling ex-colonial and large of super-powers. He
is particularly positive about Wales' opportunity to become a full nation in this
community and in the UN. He holds it up as a shining example of what can happen when
individual ethnic/linguistic groups have the confidence to take their destiny in their own
hands. He has seen such a confidence in Wales and forecasts a potential positive
scenario of Wales and Scotland being part of a restructured Britain forging ties with
other smaller nations in Europe and having a real and positive influence in the world.
At present Tom Nairn is a
professor of Nationalism and Cultural Diversity at RMIT University. He has written books
which includes `The Break-up of Britain. and was a journalist at the recent G8 meeting at
Pendragon Dreaming Started and finished the event at the Celtic
Club with four Welsh-language folk numbers
THE VINEYARD AND THE PIGS
- A metaphor for our times.
In Professor Nairn's lecture
he referred to John Osmond's address to the
Preseli electorate in support of his candidacy as a representative for the Welsh National
Assembly elections in May 2007. In particular he quoted the following portion of a
Welsh play which is put forward as a metaphor for the situation in Wales at the present
time. (The total address by John Osmond is available as a pdf by
`A certain man
planted on a fruitful hillside
A vineyard in which he
set the best vines;
He built a wall around
it, raised a tower in the centre
And gave it to his son as
To bear his name from
generation to generation.
But a herd of pigs broke
down the wall of the vineyard,
Rushed in to trample and
eat up the vines.
Is it not right that the
son should stand in the breach now,
And call his friends to
him, and protect his inheritance?
My country of Wales is a
vineyard, given into my keeping,
To be handed down to my
children and my childrens children
As an inheritance for all
And look, the pigs are
rushing in to despoil it.
Therefore I now call upon
all my friends, The common man and the scholar,
Come to me now, stand
with me in the breach
That the beauty of the
past be kept for the times that shall come.'
John Osmond went on to say:
`Friends, to pursue the
analogy, I think by today we have secured the perimeter. Our task now is tend our
vineyard. We have to ensure our country grows, to become strong, sturdy, confident,
innovative and outward looking so we can make the contribution to the world that our
special civilization deserves. This is why our coming campaign in Preseli is so important:
challenging to be sure, but exciting and exhilarating as well.
Owain Glyndwr Lecture with Aneurin Rhys-Hughes
Aneurin Rhys-Hughes, former European Union Ambassador to
Australia and New Zealand, lecturing at Melbourne Celtic Club