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Cyfarfodydd 2013

Eisteddfod Sir Ddinbych  2013  Dydd Llun , Gorffennaf, 5ed, 3.30pm

Pabell y Cymdeithasau 2

‘Lewis Valentine’

Arwel Vittle

Cynhadled Plaid Cymru  11eg / 12fed Hydref  , Aberystwyth

Mwy o fanylion mis Mai

Cyfarfod : Dydd Gwener,  4.30pm Hydref  11

Croesawir  syniadau am ddatblygu pellach o’n Cymdeithas . Hefyd , croesawir  eich   awgrymiadau am ddarlithoedd / testynnau yn sesiwn yr Ysgol Haf a’n cyfarfod yng Nghadledd yr Hydref 2013 , Aberystwyth.

Hanes y Blaid ym Môn 1925 – 1987

Cyfarfod : Cynhadledd y Gwanwyn  Mawrth 1af 2013

‘Beics, Barbeciws a Leiffbôt Llannerchymedd’ : Hanes y Blaid ym Môn’ 1925 – 1987

Gerwyn James

Dydd Gwener , 1af Mawrth , 4.30pm

Rwyf yn un o frodorion yr ynys. Cefais fy magu yn ardal y Star, plwyf Penmynydd, ond  rwyf yn byw yn Llanfair Pwllgwyngyll ers 1977. Bum yn athro hanes am flynyddoedd lawer, ym Mhwllheli, ac yna yn Nhryfan, Bangor.

Erbyn hyn rwyf yn diwtor rhan-amser gyda’r WEA. Yn ddiweddar fe fum wrthi yn sgwennu llyfr ar hanes y Rhyfel Mawr yn y rhan hon o’r ynys -sef ‘Y Rhwyg’,  a bydd hwn yn cael ei gyhoeddi yr haf yma gan Wasg Carreg Gwalch.

Y prosiect diweddara yw hanes y Blaid ar yr ynys – a’r gobaith yw y caiff hwn weld olau dydd fel llyfr yn reit fuan.

Rwyf yn aelod o’r Blaid ers 1973, ac wedi bod yn ymgyrchwr, canfasiwr, dosbarthwr taflenni a chnociwr drysau ers etholiad 1974.

Croeso i Bawb

Ivy Thomas 1921 – 2012

IVY THOMAS, 1921-2012

Roedd Ivy yn gymeriad. Dyna, heb os, farn pawb a’i cwrddodd ac a gafodd y fraint o’i ‘nabod a’i galw yn gyfaill.Ivy Thomas

Neu, yn hytrach, bu’n llu o gymeriadau: yn gefn i’w theulu gydol ei hoes; yn dipyn o ddeinamo yn ei chymuned; yn weithgar mewn eglwys a chapel; yn dipyn o deithiwr byd; yn fyfyriwr iaith a hanes ac yn ymddiddori ym materion cyhoeddus ar bob cyfri’ a chyfle. Yn clymu’r cyfan ynghyd, bu ganddi agwedd bersonol oedd yn onest a phlaen tuag at bawb a phopeth – pwy bynnag oeddynt, beth bynnag bo’u hamgylchadau; a choronwyd y cyfan gan synnwyr digrifwch sych a miniog fyddai’n taro nodyn yn berffaith gan osod rhywbeth yn gwmws mewn perspectif.

Cafodd Ivy ei geni yng Ngodreaman ym Medi 1921. Bu cryn ddeall a gallu ganddi. Ond fel llawer o ferched ei chyfnod – waeth pa mor ddeallus oeddynt – ni chafodd gyfle i barhau â’i haddysg. Rhaid oedd gadael ysgol ar y cyfle cyntaf i helpu cynnal cartref. Yn eirionig, cyflafan yr Ail Ryfel Byd a roddodd rhywfaint o gyfle i ferched yr oes ymestyn eu gorwelion a’u profiadau wrth fynd i weithio am y tro cyntaf mewn ffatri, siop neu swyddfa fel agwedd ar ymdrech enfawr y rhyfel, a dyna fu hanes Ivy.

Wedi’r drin, priododd hi â’i gŵr Tom yn eglwys Sant Margaret, Aberaman gan ymgartrefu yn York Street a magu teulu yno. Roedd Tom hefyd yn gymeriad hoffus ar y naw: yn saer a chynhaliwr ym mhwll Aberaman am flynyddoedd ond â’i galon ar bethau’r wlad – ceffylau, cneifio, cynaeafu – fel oedd yn gweddu i ŵr fu’n enedigol o Aberaman ond yn ymwybodol o gefndir ei deulu yng Nghwm Senni cyn iddynt ymadael am weithfeydd Morgannwg.

Cafodd Tom ac Ivy ddau o blant: Pat a Steve. Erbyn hyn, mae Pat yn byw yn Yr Eglwys Newydd, Caerdydd lle mae’n ymroddgar ym mywyd Cymraeg y ddinas. Mae Steve yn byw gerllaw Canberra, Awstralia lle bu’n athro crefft a dyluno ers ymfudo yn ddyn ifanc.

Bu Ivy a Tom yn Gymry da â pheth Cymraeg ganddynt. Pan benderfynnodd Pat a’i diweddar ŵr Graham fagu eu plant yn Gymry rhugl, penderfynnodd Ivy, gyda phwrpas ac ymroddiad nodweddiadol ohoni, fwrw ati i wella’i Chymraeg i fod ynghanol y bwriad. Ces i’r fraint o fod yn diwtor iddi mewn dosbarth yn yr hen Ysgol Aman yn ystod y 1980au; ac oherwydd ei hymroddiad wrth fwrw ati, buan oedd hi cyn bod Ivy yn eitha’ rhugl a pharod ei llafar yn Gymraeg. Ers hynny, ni fu Saesneg rhyngom; ac ers sefydlu Clochdar ym 1987, bu’n un o ddarllenwyr a chefnogwyr mwyaf ffyddlon y papur.

Ymroddodd Ivy a Tom yn hael o’u hamser yn ystod y 1980au a’r ‘90au i gynorthwyo’r Blaid yng Ngodreaman adeg pob etholiad. Ar y pryd, gweithiwn yn helaeth fel asiant etholiad i’r Blaid a bu, yn aml, lu o broblemau wrth drefnu ymgyrch. Ond ni fu angen gofidio erioed am yr orsaf bleidleisio yn Ysgol Aman pan fu honno yng ngofal y teulu Thomas.

Ymaelododd Ivy yng nghapel Gwawr, Jubilee Road, a bu’n weithgar yno dros gyfnod o flynyddoedd. Rhywfaint ar ôl iddi golli Tom yn y flwyddyn 2000, penderfynwyd taw’r peth gorau fyddai symud i Gaerdydd a bod yn nes at Pat a’i hŵyrion, a dyna a wnaed. Ar ôl symud, byr o dro oedd hi nes bod Ivy wedi darganfod Tŷ’r Cymry yng Nghaerdydd a mynd yno’n gyson tra’r oedd yn medru. Mwynheuodd hefyd amryw daith i Awstralia i ymweld â Steve a’i deulu yno.

Cafodd Ivy ail wynt i’w hwyliau yng Nghaerdydd a blas ar deithio o gwmpas yn annibynol ar fysiau’r ddinas tra medrai. Ymunodd gyda Pat ym mywyd cynulleidfa Gymraeg yr Undodiaid yng Nghaerdydd ac yn Highland Place, Aberdâr ac roedd fel petai hi wedi cael cartref ysbrydol newydd cydnaws â’i natur yn y traddodiad pwyllog a rhesymol hwnnw. Gwnaeth lu o ffrindiau newydd yng Nghaerdydd gan edrych bob amser yn ymarferol a ffyddiog tua’r dyfodol. Ond arhosodd yn hoff o ddarllen Clochdar ac edrychai ymlaen ag awydd bob amser at dderbyn ei chopi misol.

Bu ei phryd bob amser ar ei phlant a’i hŵyrion. Cafodd bleser dibendraw ynddynt bob un a llawenydd o’r mwyaf iddi fu medru dathlu ei phenblwydd yn 90 oed mewn iechyd da yn eu mysg ar y 3ydd Medi llynedd (gweler y llun).

Ar ôl cyfnod byr o salwch, bu farw Ivy ar 27 Ebrill yng nghartref ei merch. Bu’r angladd yn Thornhill, Llanisien ar yr 8fed Mai gyda’r Parchg. Eric Jones. Aberdâr yn arwain y gwasanaeth. Bendith iddi hi a’r teulu oedd bod Steve wedi gallu dod draw o Awstralia mewn da bryd (fel y gwnaeth gyda’i deulu adeg penblwydd ei fam fis Medi).

Dathliad o fywyd a chymeriad Ivy oedd y gwasanaeth yn Thornhill y diwrnod hafaidd hwnnw: rhywbeth ffyddiog a gododd ysbryd y sawl fu yno – fel y gwaneth Ivy ei hun mor gyson pan yn fyw. Ac eto, wrth lunio’r geiriau hyn er cof amdani, nis gallaf ddiosg ymdeimlad fy mod wedi colli hen ffrind yn ogystal â ffrind a aeth yn hen.

Coffa da amdani.

DLD.

Eileen Beasley

Eileen Beasley (1921–2012)

Cynog Dafis

Erthygl yn Barn Medi 2012.

Eileen Beasley a’i gwr, Trefor, a ddechreuodd y traddodiad o weithredu’n uniongyrchol dros yr iaith Gymraeg.

Eileen BeasleyPan ddaeth Eileen a Trefor Beasley ynghyd fe grewyd cyfuniad dansierus (yng ngwir ystyr y gair) o ddeallusrwydd, diwylliant, minogrwydd dadansoddol, cyndynrwydd ystyfnig, cymwynasgarwch, cynhesrwydd rhadlon, ac yn arbennig ddewrder.

Ar un olwg chaech chi ddim dau mwy gwahanol. Eileen yn ferch ffarm o berfedd y wlad, yn athrawes raddedig (Cymraeg a Ffrangeg) hyddysg mewn llenyddiaeth, ac yn Gristion o argyhoeddiad dwfn, yn gadarn ac yn glir ei gwerthoedd. Trefor yntau yn löwr, yn swyddog undeb a ddaeth dan ddylanwad Marcswyr megis Nun Niclas, yn heliwr o frid, ac yn anffyddiwr cymhleth a chanddo feddwl beriniadol miniog a hiwmor eironig gogleisiol. Roedd eu penderfyniad i ymgartrefu, wedi priodi yn 1951, yn yr Allt, ar gyrion Llangennech, yng ngolwg y wlad a’r maes glo carreg, yn arwyddluniol o’u gwreiddiau gwahanol. Ond gwahanol neu beidio, fuodd yna erioed gydymlyniad cryfach.

Cenedlaetholdeb a’u cydaelodaeth o Bwyllgor Gwaith Plaid Cymru a’u dygodd ynghyd – Trefor wedi’i ddenu’n arbennig gan syndicaliaeth D.J. Davies – a’r Iaith wrth gwrs. Wedi bod yn ymgeisydd seneddol go lwyddiannus cefnodd Trefor ar y Pwyllgor Gwaith yn dilyn y penderfyniad i beidio gweithredu’n uniongyrchol yn Nhryweryn.

Daeth y cyfle’n go fuan i weithredu’n uniongyrchol mewn modd gwahanol pan aeth y cwpwl hynod yma benben â Chyngor Dosbarth Gwledig Llanelli ar fater papur treth Cymraeg. Go brin bod na chynghorwyr na swyddogion wedi sylweddoli cymaint o fatl oedd o’u blaenau. Wyth mlynedd o ymrafael, un-deg-chwech ymddangosiad o flaen llys ac ymweliadau dro ar ôl tro gan y beili i atafaelu’u heiddo. Daeth buddugoliaeth o’r diwedd ar ddwy ffurf: papur treth dwyieithog a, gwell byth, Eileen yn cael ei hethol yn enw Plaid Cymru yn aelod o’r union gyngor a’i herlidiodd gyhyd. Beth tybed oedd trybestod meddyliau a theimladau’r cynghorwyr yna pan gerddodd hi mewn i’w canol nhw, yn wên radlon o glust i glust, dwi’n amau dim!

Ond nid brwydr oedd hanes y 1950au i gyd. Ganwyd y ddau blentyn, Elidyr a Delyth, cymeriadau hynod yn eu hawl eu hunain, a sefydlwyd aelwyd glyd a llawen, dodrefn neu beidio, fel y gall aml i ymwelydd o’r cyfnod yna dystio. Ac roedd yna eifr a chwningod a ffowls yn ddiddanwch a chynhaliaeth fel ei gilydd.

Lles y plant ac argyhoeddiad ynghylch pwysigrwydd addysg Gymraeg a barodd iddyn nhw symud ganol y 1960au i dy ar y topiau uwchlaw Llanharan gyda thanciau yn y to i grynhoi dwr glaw. Aeth y plant i Ysgol Rhydfelen, penodwyd Eileen yn athrawes yno, a threuliodd Trefor gyfnod yn Amgueddfa Sain Ffagan. Drwy’r cyfnod yna fe’u gwelid yn gyson yng ngwrthdystiadau Cymdeithas yr Iaith a threuliodd Trefor gyfnod yn y carchar.

Dychwelyd fu eu hanes wedyn at wreiddiau Eileen yn Henllan Amgoed. Ar ei waeth yr aeth iechyd Trefor, dan effeithiau cynyddol clefyd y llwch glo ac arthritis. Bu farw yn 1994.

Parhaodd Eileen yn weithgar ym mhob dull a modd, a’i phlant a’u teuluoedd yn destun llawenydd a difyrrwch iddi’n barhaus. Tan yn agos i’r diwedd roedd hi’n athrawes ar ddosbarth oedolion yn Ysgol Sul capel Henllan Amgoed. Ac i’r capel hwnnw, adeilad annisgwyl o brydferth, y daeth cyfeillion, perthnasau ac edmygwyr ynghyd ar 16 Awst i dalu’r gymwynas olaf. Cafwyd gwasanaeth bendithiol a diymffrost o dan ofal y Parchedigion Llinos Edwards a Maurice Loader. Oedodd y gynulleidfa’n hir wedyn i rannu’u hatgofion a’u meddyliau am Eileen, Rosa Parkes Cymru ys dywedodd Emyr Llywelyn, ac am Trefor bron cymaint. Welwn ni mo’u tebyg eto. Braint enfawr fu eu hadnabod.

Ddaeth yna ddim corff i’r capel. Roedd hwnnw wedi mynd i Ysgol Feddygol Caerdydd ar gyfer ymchwil. Ys dywedodd hen gyfaill a chymrawd, gweithredu uniongyrchol hyd y diwedd.

Bu farw Eileen Beasley ar 12 Awst 2012.

Is-etholiad Glyn Ebwy 1960

Isetholiad Glyn Ebwy, 17 Tachwedd 1960

Philip Lloyd

Dyma’r isetholiad a ddilynodd farwolaeth Aneurin Bevan.  Es i yno i helpu yn ystod wythnos hanner tymor Mis Hydref, ynghyd â’m cyd-athro yn Ysgol Glan Clwyd (y Rhyl), Gwilym Hughes.  Arhoson ni gyda Mr a Mrs Dewi Samuel, aelodau lleol o’r Blaid.  Nes ymlaen fe safodd Gwilym yn ymgeisydd Plaid Cymru mewn etholiadau cyffredinol ar gyfer Dwyrain Fflint, Gorllewin Flint a Chonwy, yn ogystal â chael ei ethol i Gyngor Dosbarth Dinesig y Rhyl.  Lluniodd gartwn yn y Welsh Nation yn dangos Harold Wilson ac Alec Douglas-Home yn arwain gorymdaith ddwy-blaid yn cario baneri’n dweud: ‘Ban Plaid’; sylwadau miniog ar y cyd-gynllwynio gan Lafur a’r Torïaid i wadu darllediadau gwleidyddol i Blaid Cymru.

Dyma luniau a dynnais yn ystod yr wythnos honno, gan ddangos:-

Ymgeisydd Plaid Cymru Emrys Roberts gyda chorn siarad ar ben y car ac yn sgwrsio gyda phleidleiswyr Swyddfa’r Blaid yn Nhredegar Posteri mawr etholiadol ar hysbysfyrddau Meddygfa Tredegar a ddyddiai o’r ddarpariaeth wedi’i hariannau’n lleol oedd yn sail i’r gwasanaeth iechyd gwladol a sefydlwyd gan Aneurin Bevan yn ystod y llywodraeth Lafur a etholwyd yn 1945

Hefyd ceir dau lun o ddarlledu anghyfreithlon yn ystod ymgyrch yr etholiad (rhan o’m casgliad ‘Radio Wales’o luniau)

Y canlyniad:- Michael Foot (Llafur) 20,528 Sir Brandon Rhys Williams, Bart (Tori) 3,799 Patrick Lort-Phillips (Rhyddfrydol) 3,449 Emrys Roberts (Plaid Cymru) 2,091

Canran yn pleidleisio: 76.1%

1960 By-election

 

Emrys Roberts' Speech 1960

Gwynfor Evans – Darlith Peter Hughes Griffiths

Peter Hughes Griffiths

Peter Hughes Griffiths

Gwynfor Evans, yn addas iawn, oedd testun y ddarlith gyntaf i’w thraddodi i Gymdeithas Hanes Plaid Cymru ar faes y Brifwyl Ddydd Llun, 6 Awst 2012.  Anerchwyd gan arweinydd y Blaid ar Gyngor Sir Gaerfyrddin, Peter Hughes Griffiths, a weithiai’n drefydd llawn-amser i Gwynfor a’r Blaid yn Shir Gâr. Traddododd fersiwn estynedig fel darlith goffa Enid Jones yn Festri Capel Heol Awst, Caerfyrddin Nos Wener 5 Hydref.  Rydyn ni’n ddiolchgar iawn am ganiatad Peter i atgynhyrchu’r ddarlith honno ar wefan y Gymdeithas ac i Alun Lenny am ei gymorth caredig gyda’r lluniau.

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GWYNFOR EVANS – Y DYN A’R GWLEIDYDD

Gwynfor Caerfyrddin 1966Ganwyd Gwynfor Richard Evans ar Fedi’r 1af 1912 – gan mlynedd yn ôl – yn fab i Dan a Cathrine Evans yn Y Goedwig, Somerset Road, Y Barri, Bro Morgannwg, ac yn frawd i Alcwyn a Ceridwen.

O astudio ei fywyd, darllen yn helaeth amdano a dod i’w adnabod yn bersonol – yr unig gasgliad y gallwn ni ddod iddo, a holl haneswyr y dyfodol rwyn siwr yw hyn:

Sut y llwyddodd un bod dynol i gyflawni cymaint yn ystod ei fywyd – ie, yn wleidyddol – ond hefyd mewn cymaint o feysydd eraill – a’r cyfan i gyd er mwyn Cymru.  Roedd Gwynfor Evans yn ŵr arbennig, arbennig iawn, ac yn berson na welwyd ymroddiad mor llwyr i’w wlad, ac am wn i, yn hanes diweddar ein cenedl.

Yn ôl un amcangyfrif fe deithiodd e dros filiwn a chwarter o filltiroedd yn ystod ei oes – er mwyn Cymru.  Ac yn ôl Graham Jones o’r Llyfrgell Genedlaethol – “Casgliad Gwynfor yw’r casgliad mwyaf a fedd y Llyfrgell, ac mae mhell o fod yn gyflawn o hyd.”

Yn ei gofiant i Gwynfor mae Rhys Ifans yn nodi iddo gyhoeddi ei filiynfed gair yn ei unfed llyfr ar ddeg yn 1989.  Cyhoeddodd nifer helaeth o lyfrau wedi hynny, a hyn i gyd ar wahân i’r cannoedd ar gannoedd o erthyglau, yn y Gymraeg a’r Saesneg yn fisol ar gyfer papurau Plaid Cymru, Y Ddraig Goch a’r Welsh Nation, yn ogystal â phapurau cenedlaethol a lleol eraill, ynghyd â  datganiadau wythnosol, taflenni a phamffledi di-ddiwedd – y cyfan yng nghyfnod y teipiadur –  lle mae’n cydnabod mai Rhiannon ei wraig fyddai’n gwneud y gwaith caled hwnnw i gyd iddo.  Hwn oedd cyfnod ‘grym y gair mewn print’ – cyfnod y darllen mawr, cyn ac yn ystod dyfodiad cynnar radio a theledu.

Meddai’r Dr Pennar Davies amdano –

“Mae’r enw yn rhan annatod o hanes deffroad Cymru yn yr ugeinfed ganrif.”

A Rhys Ifans ei gofiannydd eto –

“Gwynfor a greodd y ‘mudiad cenedlaethol’ – Gwynfor hefyd oedd tad Ymgyrch Senedd i Gymru …  Mae cofeb arhosol yr ymgyrch honno i’w chael ym Mae Caerdydd – Fe’i gelwir yn gynulliad, y symbol gloywaf, er gwell neu er gwaeth, o awydd y Cymry i fyw fel cenedl wleidyddol.”

“Gwynfor Evans oedd gwladgarwr mwyaf Cymru’r ugeinfed ganrif a gwnaeth ei ymroddiad i’w wlad drawsnewid rhagolygon y Cymry fel cenedl.” – Dyna’r frawddeg gyntaf i ddisgrifio’r person hwn yn ‘ Gwyddioniadur Cymru’ yr Academi Cymreig.  Derbyniodd Gymredoriaeth nifer o’n colegau ac ry ni’n sôn am y person a fu’n Llywydd y Dydd yn yr Eisteddfod Genedlaethol yn gyson a llawer amlach na neb arall yn ein cyfnod ni.  Ar y diwedd fe restaf anrhydeddau a roddwyd iddo na ddaeth i ran neb arall ers canrifoedd – os o gwbl.

Dan a Cathrine Evans, a’u plant – Gwynfor (ar y chwith), Ceridwen ac Alcwyn

Dan a Cathrine Evans, a’u plant – Gwynfor (ar y chwith), Ceridwen ac Alcwyn

Roedd Capel y Tabernacl, Y Barri yn gartref ysbrydol i’r holl deulu gyda mam a thad Gwynfor yn cymryd rhan flaenllaw yno a’i dadcu Y Parchedig Ben Evans yn weinidog cyntaf y Tabernacl.  Ei dad yn ddiacon ac yn arweinydd y gân a chôr cymysg gyda dros gant o leisiau yn perfformio’r oratorios mawr yn gyson.  Yn y flwyddyn 2000 dadorchuddiwyd Ffenesr Liw newydd yn y capel i gofio am Dan a Catherine Evans.  Fe sefydlodd Dan a Cathrine Evans fusnesau llewyrchus ac enwog iawn yn nhref y Barri.

Gwynfor, capten Tîm Hoci’r Ysgol

Gwynfor, capten Tîm Hoci’r Ysgol

Bu Gwynfor yn Ysgol Ramadeg y Barri a daeth yn gapten ar Dîm Criced a Thîm Hoci’r ysgol ac fe ddaeth yn aelod o Dîm Criced Ysgolion Cymru yn 1930.  Yna, Coleg y Brifysgol Aberystwyth a  graddio yn y gyfraith – ac eto daeth yn aelod o dîm criced a hoci’r Brifysgol hefyd.

A phan yn y coleg digwyddodd dau beth a effeithiodd yn drwm iawn ar ei ddyfodol  – y cyntaf:

“Rhyfeddai ar ymroddiad llanciau a llancesau a fyddai’n gwerthu’r Ddraig Goch o gwmpas strydoedd Aberystwyth – Gwenant Davies, Eic Davies ac eraill.”

Ac yn ail –  “ond un diwrnod gwelodd bamffledyn melyn y tu allan i siop lyfrau yn Aberystwyth – The Economics of Welsh Self Government gan DJ Davies.  Symudodd y llyfryn hwn pob math o amheuaeth, ac yn haf 1934 aeth at Cassie Davies yn y Barri i ymuno â’r Blaid Genedlaethol.”

Meddai Cassie Davies a oedd ar staff Coleg y Barri  ar y pryd yn ei llyfr Hwb i’r Galon –

“A dyma pryd y dechreuodd dyn ifanc hynod o olygus o’r Barri, yn gwisgo blaser Coleg Aberystwyth alw i’m gweld er mwyn cael siarad am y Blaid newydd hon a gofyn am gael ymuno â hi.”

Aeth Gwynfor i Rydychen wedyn yn fyfyriwr a sefydlu cangen o’r Blaid yno a dod yn ysgrifennydd yr enwog Cymdeithas Dafydd ap Gwilym.  Graddiodd yno yn 1936.

Er iddo anfon erthygl o Rydychen i gylchgrawn ei hen ysgol ac i rannau ohoni ymddangos yn y Western Mail, yn Ionawr 1937 y cyhoeddwyd ei erthygl gyflawn gyntaf yn Y Ddraig Goch yn ymwneud â sefydlu Gwersyll Sain Tathan, ac yn Ysgol Haf Plaid Cymru yn y Bala y flwyddyn honno cynigiodd benderfyniad yn galw am roi safle swyddogol i’r iaith Gymraeg.  A wyddoch chi beth – fe gasglwyd 400,000 o lofnodion yn cefnogi’r cynnig hwnnw cyn i’r ail ryfel byd roi pen ar y gwaith.

Felly, fe welwch fod Gwynfor wedi cymryd ei gamau breision cyntaf yn yr hyn a ddatblygodd yn ymgyrch oes iddo – er mwyn Cymru.  Daeth yn aelod o Bwyllgor Gwaith y Blaid yn genedlaethol yn 1937 ac o fewn chwe mlynedd, yn 1943 fe’i dewiswyd yn Is-Lywydd y Blaid.  Wedyn ar y 1af o Awst 1945 yng Nghynhadledd Llangollen (bum niwrnod cyn gollwng y bom ar Hiroshima) fe’i etholwyd yn Llywydd Plaid Cymru ac yntau ond yn 32 oed – a bu’n llywydd ac arweinydd am y 36 mlynedd nesaf – gan gychwyn ar ei genhadaeth fawr gydol ei oes.

Priodi, 1941 – Gwynfor a Rhiannon a’u teuluoedd (ei dad yng nghyfraith Dan Thomas ar y chwith)

Priodi, 1941 – Gwynfor a Rhiannon a’u teuluoedd (ei dad yng nghyfraith Dan Thomas ar y chwith)

Yn y cyfamser roedd e wedi priodi ei gymar oes Rhiannon ac yn byw yn Wernellyn, Llangadog ac wedi cychwyn menter busnes Tai Gerddi yno.  Rwyn hoffi ei ddisgrifiad o sut y syrthiodd e am Rhiannon.  Meddai Gwynfor yn ei lyfr Bywyd Cymro – pan alwodd e yn nhy mam a thad Rhiannon yng Nghaerdydd –

“Waeth i mi gyfaddef i’m calon golli curiad pan ddaeth Rhiannon i mewn i’r ystafell.  Pan welais hi ddeufis wedyn yng nghanol harddwch dydd o haf yn Islaw’r Dref a ffrog fach ysgafn iawn a byr amdani – roedd y boi o dref Y Barri yn ŵr colledig.”

Fe’i priodwyd ar Ddydd Gŵyl Ddewi 1941, ac meddai Pennar Davies yn ei lyfr:  “Os bu’r nef erioed yn trefnu priodasau mae’n sicr iddi gael hwyl wrth lunio hon.  Ac ni ellir gorbrisio cyfraniad Rhiannon Evans at weithgarwch ei gŵr.”  Fe wna i gyfeirio at deulu’r Dalar Wen eto.

Safodd Gwynfor ei etholiad Seneddol cyntaf ym Meirionydd yn 1945.  Arwain Protest Llyn y Fan dydd Calan 1947 ac Abergeirw 1948, a’i ethol yn aelod o Bwyllgor Urdd y Graddedigion o Lys y Brifysgol ac o Gyngor yr Annibynwyr y flwyddyn honno yn ogystal ac Ysgrifennydd Cymreig y Gyngres Geltaidd a gyfarfu yn Nulyn – a chyd-annerch gydag Eamonn De Valera yng Nghaerdydd.  Mae’n rhaid bod yr edmygedd yng Nghymru yn fawr iawn ohono gan iddo fod yn Llywydd y Dydd yn Eisteddfod genedlaethol Bae  Colwyn mor gynnar â 1947 ac yntau ond 34 oed.  Onid yw hi’n amlwg erbyn diwedd y 40’au fod Gwynfor Evans wedi sefydlu ei hun fel arweinydd cenedlaethol ac yn dderbyniol iawn gan ei bobl.

Arwain protest Abergeirw, 1948

Arwain protest Abergeirw, 1948

Etholwyd Gwynfor ar Gyngor Sir Caerfyrddin yn 1949 a bu’n Gynghorydd Sir am 25 mlynedd.  Roedd hi’n sefyllfa ddiddorol yn dilyn Etholiadau’r Cyngor Sir yn 1956.  Etholwyd 29 cynghorydd Annibynnol, 29 Cynghorydd Llafur a 2 Gynghorydd Plaid Cymru. Plaid Cymru’n dal y balans, ac yn fwy rhyfedd fyth Gwynfor Evans oedd enw y ddau gynghorydd Plaid Cymru – Gwynfor Evans y Betws, Rhydaman a Gwynfor Evans, Llangadog.  Fe aeth Gwynfor Evans y Betws a’r Cyngor Sir i’r Uchel Lys yn Llundain am nad oedd ffurflenni enwebu ar gyfer etholiad i’w cael yn Gymraeg – ac fe enillwyd yr achos a’r canlyniad pwysicaf i hyn oedd sefydlu Pwyllgor Syr Hughes Parry yn 1963 i ymchwilio i safle cyfreithiol yr iaith Gymraeg.

Yn  1949 arweiniodd Gwynfor Rali mwyaf uchelgeisiol Plaid Cymru erioed – Daeth 4,000 o bobl ynghyd i Fachynlleth er mwyn galw am Senedd i Gymru, ac yn dilyn araith Gwynfor nododd un gohebydd mai Gwynfor ac nid Aneurin Bevan a haeddai wisgo mantell areithiwr gorau Cymru.  Ralïau eraill Senedd i Gymru wedyn ym Mlaenau Ffestiniog yn 1950 ac yna’r Rali Fawr yng Nghaerdydd yn 1953 gyda chwarter miliwn o bobl wedi arwyddo deiseb i’w chyflwyno i Dŷ’r Cyffredin.  Safodd Gwynfor Etholiad Cyffredinol ym Meirionydd yn 1950, is-etholiad Aberdâr yn 1954 a Meirion eto yn 1955 a 1959.

A beth am frwydr Tryweryn?  Rali’r Bala yn 1956 –

“Nid cynt y cododd Mr Gwynfor Evans i siarad nag y cododd y miloedd yn y babell fawr i’w groesawu a rhoddi iddo gymeradwyaeth hir.”  Ac meddai Gwynfor yn ei lyfr Bywyd Cymro – “Ac eithrio’r ymgyrch dros Senedd i Gymru, Tryweryn oedd y bwysicaf o’n holl ymgyrchoedd.”  Mae arweiniad Gwynfor yn y frwydr honno wedi ei chofnodi’n fanwl a’r dirprwyaethau i Lerpwl ac yn y blaen yn ddigwyddiadau hanesyddol.  Meddai Gwynfor – “Roedd y Cymry mor unol ag y bydd cenedl byth.  Anwybyddwyd eu barn yn llwyr.  Dinoethwyd natur democratiaeth Cymru.”

Gorymdaith dros gymuned cwm Tryweryn yn Lerpwl

Gorymdaith dros gymuned cwm Tryweryn yn Lerpwl

Merch ifanc – Jennie Eirian Davies, gwraig i weinidog ym Mrynaman – a safodd am y tro cyntaf dros Blaid Cymru yn Sir Gaerfyrddin yn yr Etholiad Seneddol yn 1955 ac eto mewn is etholiad yn 1957.  Meddai Dewi Thomas amdani yn y Gyfrol Deyrnged i Jennie Eirian –

“Ei hymroddiad diflino a’i dawn lachar hi yn y pumdegau yn fwy na dim a agorodd y drws i lwyddiant Gwynfor ym muddugoliaeth fawr Caerfyrddin yn nes ymlaen.”  Yn wir fe ddywedodd Jennie Eirian ei hun ar ol etholiad 1957 –   “Bydd y Blaid yn ennill y sedd hon o fewn 10 mlynedd.”  Fe wnaeth hynny yn 1966 – o fewn 9 mlynedd!

Ble rwy i’n mynd i ddechre dywedwch am fuddugoliaeth Gwynfor yn is-etholiad 1966?  Mae’r hanes hynny’n haeddu darlith gyflawn ar wahân. Fe gewch chi honno yn 2016 pan fyddwn ni’n dathlu 50 mlynedd y fuddugoliaeth!  Y cyfan rwyf am ddweud heno yw i’r ffaith i Gwynfor ennill y fuddugoliaeth honno newid cwrs hanes gwleidyddol Cymru am byth.  Cyhoeddodd Gwasg y Dryw record o Gwynfor yn siarad yn dilyn ei fuddugoliaeth –

“Gadewch i ni’n awr ewyllysio bywyd llawn i’n gwlad a mynnu cael sefydliad sy’n creu bywyd cyflawn.  Llywodraeth Cymreig yw’r sefydliad hanfodol.”  Dyna eiriau Gwynfor ar y record.  Ry ni wedi cael y sefydliad hwnnw bellach.  Ry ni ar y ffordd i Lywodraeth gyflawn Gymreig sef gweledigaeth lawn Gwynfor.

Gwynfor yn mynd mewn i Dŷ’r Cyffredin, 1966

Gwynfor yn mynd mewn i Dŷ’r Cyffredin, 1966

Ond, meddyliwch amdano yn mynd i ffau’r llewod yn Llundain ac i Dŷ’r Cyffredin –

“Wrth fy nhywys trwy’r ystafelloedd tê, cyfeiriodd Emrys Hughes at y bwrdd Cymreig – ‘I wouldn’t sit there if I were you’, meddai, ‘Your name is mud there.’  Ai Goronwy Roberts heibio yn y coridor heb edrych arnaf.  Mae’n anodd i neb gofio neu ddychmygu’n awr pa mor fileinig y bu George Thomas. Roedd hwnnw’n aruthr yn ei wrth Gymreictod ac yn filain…  Ef oedd arswyd cenedlaetholdeb Cymreig a’r iaith Gymraeg.”

Dyna’r lle yr aeth Gwynfor iddo, ond fe fanteisiodd e ar y sefydliad ymerodraethol hwnnw ar bob cyfle i frwydro tros Gymru ac i alw am hunan-lywodraeth.  Pethe fel hyn –

Gyda chymorth y Grŵp Ymchwil, daeth i’r casgliad mai’r dacteg orau fyddai iddo ymladd rhyfel guerrilla a gofyn cwestiynau dirifedi ynghylch cyflwr Cymru.  Byddai cwestiynau Gwynfor yn gyrru’r gwasanaeth sifil yn wallgo bost: erbyn diwedd y flwyddyn gyntaf roedd e wedi gofyn dros 600 o gwestiynau a chyhoeddwyd pob cwestiwn a’r atebion ar ffurff tair cyfrol – Llyfrau Du Caerfyrddin.  Yna gosod achos Plaid Cymru ger bron y Comisiwn Brenhinol ar y Cyfansoddiad yn 1969.

Colli Caerfyrddin wedyn yn 1970 – dilyn yr Arwisgo, gweithredu Cymdeithas yr Iaith a’r FWA (os oedd sut beth yn bod!).  Colli wedyn o 3 pleidlais ym

Mawrth 1974  a chael buddugoliaeth ysgubol wedyn yn Hydref 1974.  Am hanner awr wedi tri’r bore roedd 3,000 ar Sgwar Nott i glywed y canlyniad a bod Gwynfor wedi cael 23,325 o bleidleisiau.  Hon oedd yr unig sedd i Llafur golli’r noson honno ar draws y Deyrnas Unedig.  Nôl i Lundain unwaith eto ond gyda’r ddau Ddafydd erbyn hyn!  Yn aml byddai ei ddiwrnod gwaith yn dechrau am naw o’r gloch y bore ac yn ymestyn hyd oriau mân y diwrnod canlynol.

San Steffan – gyda’i gyd Aelodau Seneddol Dafydd Wigley a Dafydd Elis Thomas

San Steffan – gyda’i gyd Aelodau Seneddol Dafydd Wigley a Dafydd Elis Thomas

Faint sy’n gwir sylweddoli i’r cyfnod hwn fod yn allweddol i symud y ddadl ymlaen am Gynulliad i Gymru a’r Alban?   Pam?  Roedd tri cenedlaetholwr o Gymru yn y Senedd yn ogystal a saith o’r SNP o’r Alban.  Dim ond tri o fwyafrif oedd gan y Llywodraeth dros y pleidiau eraill.  Meddai Gwynfor – “Dyna’r sefyllfa wleidyddol mwyaf obeithiol y bum i ynddi erioed,” a gorfodwyd y Llywodraeth i ildio i’r symudiad tuag at sefydlu Cynulliad i Gymru a’r Alban  – a dyna gychwyn ar y daith anodd a hir honno sydd wedi ei chyrraedd bellach, yn fwy o lawer yn yr Alban nac yng Nghymru!

Fe drefnodd y Blaid Lafur y math o ofynion gyda’r Refferendwm am Gynulliad i Gymru a’r Alban fel roedd hi’n amhosibl i’r bleidlais Ie i ennill. Fe gofiwn am Neil Kinnock ac eraill o fewn y Blaid Lafur yn ymgyrchu’n gryf yn erbyn polisi eu plaid eu hunain a chael tragwyddol heol i wneud hynny.  Y canlyniad oedd Na i Gynulliad yng Nghymru yn 1979.   Rhys Ifans sy’n dweud eto –

“Bu llawer tro ar fyd yng ngyrfa Gwynfor, ond hon oedd yr ergyd drymaf. Iddo fe roedd y refferendwm yn bleidlais ar gwestiwn ysbrydol a dirfodol ynghylch bodolaeth Cymru.  Torrodd Gwynfor ei galon  a chyfaddefodd na wyddai beth a godai fwyaf o gyfog arno – gwaseidd-dra a thaeogrwydd y Cymry neu dwyll a llygredd y Blaid Lafur.”

Collodd yr Etholiad Cyffredinol a ddilynodd y Refferendwm oherwydd cyhoeddi arolwg barn y BBC ychydig  ddiwrnodau cyn yr etholiad a oedd yn dweud mai trydydd gwael fyddai Gwynfor.  Yn fy marn bersonol i roedd hyn i gyd wedi ei drefnu gan ‘y sefydliad’ i geisio cael gwared â Gwynfor o Dŷ’r Cyffredin. Yn wir, cyfaddefodd y BBC yn dilyn arolwg manwl i’r cwmni a gariodd allan yr arolwg barn eu bod yn ‘anerbyniol bell ohoni’!

Ymateb Gwynfor oedd – pe bai e wedi ennill yr etholiad hwnnw, gyda’i iechyd mor symol ar y pryd, fydde fe ddim yn dal ar dir y byw!  Ac yna yn 1981 ar ol 36 o flynyddoedd fel Llywydd Plaid Cymru fe roddodd Gwynfor y gorau iddi yn y Gynhadledd yma yng Nghaerfyrddin.

Dyna ichi ddarlun cyflym iawn o waith a dylanwad Gwynfor yn wleidyddol.

Oedd, roedd y dylanwad hwnnw’n fawr iawn a fydde ni fyth lle’r un ni heddi heb fod Gwynfor wedi cyflawni cymaint. Mae ei lwyddiant gwleidyddol yn cael ei gydnabod bellach gan bawb.  Gŵr arbennig iawn iawn.

Ond yr hyn sy’n rhyfedd am y gŵr hwn yw ei fod wedi cyflawni cymaint mwy ochr yn ochr neu yn wir ar wahân i’w yrfa wleidyddol.  A’r hyn rwy am geisio ei wneud nawr yw rhoi blas yn unig ichi, a’ch atgoffa o’r gwaith arloesol ac aruthrol arall  a wnaeth e.

A ble rwyn dechre dwedwch?

Rhai o lyfrau niferus Gwynfor

Rhai o lyfrau niferus Gwynfor

YR HANESYDD

Fydde Gwynfor yn dechrau pob araith  yn ddieithriad bron gyda gwers hanes. Sdim ots ble bydde fe, sdim ots beth fydde’r achlysur roedd Hanes Cymru yn rhan o’i neges.  Roedd e’n credu bod hi’n bwysig iawn iawn ein bod ni fel pobl yn dod i wybod ein hanes.  Ymgyrchodd am ddysgu Hanes Cymru yn ein hysgolion – mewn cyfnod pan oedd dim bron o hynny’n digwydd, ac fe aeth e ati i ysgrifennu a chyhoeddi llyfrau ac fe bwysodd ar eraill i wneud hynny hefyd – “Nod Gwynfor drwy gydol ei oes oedd deffro’r ymwybod cenedlaethol trwy drwytho pobl yn hanes Cymru ac adfer cof ei phobl a chryfhau eu hewyllys i fyw.” (Dr Geraint Jenkins)

Ysgrifennodd glasuron hanesyddol –Hanes Cymru/ History of  Wales, trwy’r South Wales Echo.  Yna, Aros Mae,  a Seiri Cenedl a Land of My Fathers.

Meddyliwch iddo fynd ati ar ddydd Nadolig 1970 i ysgrifennu’r ddwy ddalen gyntaf o nodiadau Aros Mae!  Roedd e ar werth ymhen 7 mis a gwerthwyd yr argraffiad cyntaf o 5,000 yn bur gyflym ac yna ail argraffiad buan.  Fe aeth Elin Garlick i’w gyfieithu i’r Saesneg a’i alw’n Land of My Fathers. Ail argraffwyd deirgwaith wedyn ac fe ddywedodd y cyhoeddwyr Tŷ John Penry – “hwn yw’n gwerthwr gorau ni o bob llyfr a gyhoeddwyd.”

Ond ei glasur arall hanesyddol yw Seiri Cenedl  sef portreadau a hanes 65 o wŷr a gwaragedd a gyfrannodd mewn gwahanol ffyrdd at adeiladu a chynnal ein cenedl.  Meddyliwch am yr holl waith ymchwil sydd ynghlwm wrth ysgrifennu llyfrau hanes a phenodau am bobl – a’r ffeithiau yn hollol gywir!

Fe wnes i gyfeirio ar y dechrau at Gwynfor fel awdur hynod o doreithiog – awdur rhyw 30 o lyfrau i gyd – yn ogystal â phamffledi a’r taflenni a’r erthyglau wedyn – diderfyn – yn y Gymraeg a’r Saesneg.  Fe soniodd e wrtha i unwaith bod hi’n fwriad ganddo i ysgrifennu un llyfr arall yn dilyn ei holl deithio ar hyd ei oes trwy Gymru – sef llyfr ar Siopau Chips Cymru gan ei fod wedi bwyta mewn cymaint ohonyn nhw ar ei deithiau!!

Y CRISTION A’R HEDDYCHWR

Fe glywson ni’r Parchedig Beti Wyn James a Mererid Hopwood yn crynhoi pwysigrwydd a chyfraniad Gwynfor yn y ddau faes hwn yn y gwasanaeth coffa a gynhaliwyd yng Nghapel y Priordy bnawn Sul Medi’r 2il. Felly, wna i eto ond nodi rhai o’r prif ffeithiau.

Bu’n athro Ysgol Sul  ar bobl ifainc yn ei gapel Providence Llangadog am flynyddoedd lawer, a’r hyn sy’n arbennig oedd hyn – ble bynnag yr oedd Gwynfor ar y nos Sadwrn – bron yn ddieithriad byddai’n dychwelyd ar gyfer ei ddosbarth Ysgol Sul y diwrnod wedyn.  Darllenwch bennod gyfan am Gwynfor y Cristion a phennod gyfan am Gwynfor yr Heddychwr yn llyfr Pennar Davies – maent yn rhoi darlun manwl a chyflawn i ni o ddyfnder ffydd a meddwl y dyn.

Amddiffyn tir Cymru – yn llwyddiannus – Trawsfynnydd, 1951

Amddiffyn tir Cymru – yn llwyddiannus – Trawsfynnydd, 1951

Magwyd ef ar aelwyd Gristnogol yn y Barri a’i dadcu’r Parchedig Ben Evans yn weinidog cyntaf Capel y Tabernacl.  Roedd ei wncwl Idris (brawd ei dad) yn weinidog hefyd ac yn bregethwr o’r radd flaenaf.  Daeth Gwynfor yn  Gadeirydd Undeb Eglwysi yr Annibynnwyr Cymraeg pan ond yn ddeugain a dwy oed.  Ni chafodd neb mor ifanc ei ethol erioed cyn hynny.  A bu Guto ei fab hefyd yn Llywydd yr Undeb yn ddiweddar.

Mae’n bwysig cofio i Gwynfor yn ei araith gyntaf ar lawr Tŷ’r Cyffredin seilio ei obaith dros Gymru ar y gwerthoedd Cristnogol yn ei hetifeddiaeth.

Ymgymerodd â nifer o swyddi yng nghyfundrefn yr Annibynnwyr hefyd a bu’n allweddol yn sefydlu Tŷ John Penry a’i weinyddiaeth.  Roedd e’n berson ymarferol yn ei Gristnogaeth.

“Rwyn heddychwr yn gyntaf a chenedlaetholwr wedyn” oedd geiriau Gwynfor ac fe gafodd ryddhad diamod pan fu ger bron Tribiwnlys milwrol yng Nghaerfyrddin yn 1940.  Ac yn dilyn ysgrifennu ei erthygl gyntaf ynglŷn â San Tathan yn 1937 fe ddaeth o dan ddylanwad ei arwr mawr George M LL Davies, gan ddod yn Ysgrifennydd  Mudiad Heddychwyr Cymru ac yng ngofal y babell yn Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Caerdydd 1938.  Trwy ei oes bu’n arwain protestiadau a siarad mewn Ralïau Heddwch – Rali Abertawe 1940, Rali Fawr Epynt lle y trowyd 400 o bobl allan o’u cartrefi, Rali Abergeirw 1948 a’r llun enwog o Rali Trawsfynydd yn 1951 – rhain i gyd yn erbyn y Swyddfa Ryfel yn cymryd tiroedd Cymru.

Bu Cymdeithas y Cymod yn ddyledus iawn iddo am ei gymorth a’i arweiniad ac fe gyhoeddodd Gwynfor nifer o lyfrynnau a phamffledi fel They Cry Wolf a Wales Against Conscription.  Yna, yn 1973, cyflwynodd ei ddarlith enwog yn y Deml Heddwch yng Nghaerdydd – Cenedlaetholdeb Di-Drais.  Bu yr un mor gefnogol i Fudiad CND hefyd ac fe siaradodd yn gryf iawn dro ar ôl tro yn erbyn y rhyfel yn Fietnam ac fe’i cynigiodd ei hun fel tarian ddynol yn Hanoi yn 1968 – ond fe wrthodwyd mynediad i’r grŵp – ond roedd y weithred yn nodweddiadaol o ŵr na allai sefyll a gwylio’r fath laddfa.  Ac meddai Dafydd Elis Thomas amdano yn un o gylchlythyron Cymdeithas y Cymod:

“Ganwyd yr enaid mawr hwn yn y ganrif fwyaf treisgar yn hanes y byd.  Yn nhywyllwch yr ugeinfed ganrif ryfelgar a threisgar bu ei fywyd yn olau.”

BRWYDRO DROS YR IAITH

Fe fuodd Gwynfor yn allweddol yn yr ymgyrch i sicrhau Radio i Gymru ac yn 1939 dilëodd y BBC raglenni Cymru yn llwyr.  Yn Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Llandybie yn 1944 fe gyflwynodd Gwynfor ddarlith i lond capel ar Radio Yng Nghymru.  Cyhoeddwyd y ddarlith yn Gymraeg ac yn Saesneg ac fe wrthwyd 10,000 o gopiau ohoni!  Dadleuodd Gwynfor dros ymreolaeth ym maes darlledu, ac i dorri stori arall yn y frwydr yn fyr – fe gafwyd hynny ac fe etholwyd Gwynfor yn aelod  o Bwyllgor Ymgynghorol Cymreig y BBC yn 1946.

Bu’n frwydr hir ond fe sicrhawyd BBC Cymru a Radio Cymru a Radio Wales maes o law.

Buddugoliaeth – dechrau gwasanaeth teledu Cymraeg S4C, 1982

Buddugoliaeth – dechrau gwasanaeth teledu Cymraeg S4C, 1982

Gwelodd Gwynfor hefyd erbyn canol y 50’au byddai dyfodiad teledu yn peri newid chwyldroadol yn y gyfundrefn gyfathrebu a bod bygythiad mawr i’r iaith Gymraeg a’n diwylliant.  Gwthiodd Gwynfor y syniad hwnnw o deledu Cymru, ond ni chododd y llywodraeth fys bach i helpu, ac ni lwyddodd i gyflawni ei amcan.  Gwnaeth Gwynfor araith seneddol bwysig yn 1969 yn galw’n glir ar y llywodraeth i sefydlu Sianel Gymraeg ac fe wyddoch am yr ymgyrchu honno yn y 70’au.  Mae hanes yr ymgyrch i sicrhau sefydlu S4C yn un a gysylltir gyda Gwynfor a’i fwriad i ymprydio ar ôl i’r Llywodraeth Dorïaidd dorri eu gair – mae’r stori honno’n ddarlith arall wrth i ni ymhen y mis ddathlu 30 mlynedd o ddarlledu ar S4C.

A’r peth arall yr wyf am ei nodi – ar wahân i’r arweiniad di-ildio a roddodd Gwynfor i bob agwedd o’r iaith oedd ei ymgyrch am Goleg Cymraeg.  Roedd Gwynfor yn aelod o Lys y Brifysgol ac fe gynigiodd yn 1951 y dylid sefydlu Coleg Cymraeg ac fe sefydlwyd pwyllgor i ystyried hynny.  Roedd pawb yn erbyn ond Gwynfor.  Paratodd Gwynfor Femorandwm manwl i ddangos yr angen am y math hwn o goleg yng Nghymru eto yn 1953.  Ar hyd y blynyddoedd fe fu e wrthi – ymgyrch arall ganddo yn 1973 ac yna yn 1986 wrth annerch y Seremoni Raddio Gymraeg gyntaf a drefnwyd gan Undeb by Myfyrwyr Cymraeg yn Aberystwyth.  Mawr fu ei ddycnwch a’i ddylanwad di-ildio – a bellach mae’r Coleg Cymraeg hwnnw yn bod a’i Ganolfan Weinyddol yma yng Nghaerfyrddin yn Y Llwyfan.

Y DYN TEULU

“Ni fyddai byth yn dweud wrthym ni na’n plant – ‘cer i ffwrdd. Rwyn rhy brysur’, ac ni chododd erioed fys atom i’n ceryddu.  Roedd ei amynedd gyda’r plant yn ddibendraw.”  Dyna eiriau Meinir ei ferch.  Fe symudon nhw i fyw o Wernellyn i’r Dalar Wen yn 1953 – “Anrheg priodas fy nhad oedd y Dalar Wen wedi ei gohirio am bymtheng mlynedd” meddai Gwynfor.  Roedd popeth yng ngwneuthuriad y tŷ o Gymru a Dewi Prys brawd Rhiannon a’i cynlluniodd.”

Fe gawson nhw 7 o blant ac mewn ymateb i newyddiadurwr fe ddywedodd Gwynfor mai ei hoff ddywediad Beiblaidd oedd – “Ffrwythwch ac amlhewch a llenwch y ddaear”.  Hoffai chwarae gyda’r plant – a gwisgo lan fel Anti Jini gan dwyllo’r wyrion mai hanner chwaer o America oedd hi.  Hoffai gerdded wedyn gyda’r plant, a’r hoff le oedd y Garn Goch – lle y gwasgarwyd ei lwch a lle mae’r garreg goffa iddo wrth droed y Garn honno.  Fel ei dad, roedd Gwynfor yn gerddorol hefyd a hoffai ganu’r piano. Yn ôl ei frawd Alcwyn byddai Gwynfor yn tueddu i fynd at y piano pan oedd pwysau’r byd arno, ac wrth chwarae byddai’n medru ymlacio’n hyfryd.

Fe symudodd Gwynfor a Rhiannon i Dalar Wen arall ym Mhencarreg ger Llanybydder yn haf 1984 i ymddeol.  Cynhaliwyd swper fawr ffarwelio yn Neuadd Llangadog gyda’r ardal yn talu teyrnged i ddau a wnaeth gymaint dros Gymreictod eu cymdogaeth dros gyfnod o 45 o flynyddoedd.  Pan etholwyd 17 o aelodau Plaid Cymru i’r Cynulliad cyntaf yn 1999 fe ddaethon nhw gyd i Bencarreg i weld Gwynfor a Rhiannon.  Galwodd Winnie Ewing gyda Rhodri, Cynog a Roy Llywelyn heibio hefyd.

Gwynfor a’i deulu

Gwynfor a’i deulu

Maddeuwch i mi am ddyfynu hyn o ddarn yn Saesneg, ond rwy am ei ddweud yn y gwreiddiol am ei fod yn dangos yn glir mawredd y person hwn.  Ar y diwrnod cyn i Gwynfor ddathlu ei 90 oed dyma yr ysgrifennwyd amdano yn y Western Mail.  Y pennawd oedd – ‘Pacifist giant of Welsh culture whose place in history is secured – Wales celebrates 90 years of Gwynfor’:

“Gwynfor Evans has been described as ‘one of the greatest souls of the 20th century.  Alongside Lloyd George and Aneurin Bevan he is one of the last century’s three greatest Welsh politicians.  But he arguably stands alone and ahead of them all in the measure of his influence and is one of the few people from any era recognised solely by their Christian name.

“Gwynfor’s place in history is secure, and not just through his achievements and influence but his public acclaim.  He was chosen by readers of Wales on Sunday as Millenium Icon ahead of Lloyd George and Aneurin Bevan, voted Welsh Person of the Millemium ahead of Owain Glyndŵr by readers of Y Cymro and was reader’s choice in the Western Mail’s Person of the Millenium Award.  They were popular endorsements of the greatest living Welshman of the 20th century.”

Yn Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Llanelli  2000 yr ymddangosodd Gwynfor yn gyhoeddus am y tro olaf, ac i dderbyn Gwobr Anrhydedd Cymry’r Cyfanfyd am oes o waith dros Gymru. Roedd y seremoni’n llawn emosiwn wrth i’r pafiliwn gorlawn anrhydeddu y gwr arbennig hwn.

Ac i orffen rwyf am ddyfynu’r Athro Geraint Jenkins yn ei anerchiad o werthfawrogiad yn y Gymanfa Ganu Fawr a gawson ni yng Nghapel Heol Awst i gofio am Gwynfor yn fuan ar ôl ei farw.  Dyma ddywedodd e –

“Ewch ati i ganmol ac anrhydeddu’n gyhoeddus enw Gwynfor drwy godi cofgolofn urddasol iddo.  Pa le gwell i godi cofeb urddasol nag yma yng Nghaerfyrddin, lle y profodd ei awr fawr ar 14 Gorffennaf 1966 fel y gall eich plant a phlant eich plant ddod yma i ryfeddu at un o eneidiau mawr ein cenedl.”  Ac fel y gwyddoch chi mae’r gwaith hwnnw yn awr wedi ei gychwyn gyda’r bwriad o gyflawni’r gofeb erbyn 2016 sef hanner can mlwyddiant y fuddugoliaeth fawr honno yn 1966.

Bu farw Gwynfor Richard Evans fore Iau 21 Ebrill 2005 yn 92 oed yn ei gartref yn y Dalar Wen, Pencarreg.  Dywed Rhys Ifans: “Roedd Gwynfor am ddychwelyd i’r Garn Goch, i’r pridd, daear Cymru, y ddaear a roes fod i’w weledigaeth.  Ond wrth i’w lwch ddiflannu i’r pedwar gwynt, erys y gwaddol … newidiodd Gwynfor Evans gwrs hanes Cymru.”

Ac meddai’r Dr Geraint Jenkins: “Ei fwriad oedd adeiladu cenedl rydd, gyfrifol a hyderus drwy adfer cof ei phobl a chryfhau ei hewyllys i fyw – ac fe ddylsem gofio amdano fel ‘Llusernwr y canrifoedd coll’.  Dro ar ôl tro roedd Gwynfor yno yn sefyll yn y bwlch – mae ei fywyd yn ddrych o hanes Cymru o 1940 ymlaen.  Sail bywyd Gwynfor oedd ei Gristnogaeth a’i heddychiaeth.”

A brawddegau olaf Rhys Ifans yn ei gofiant swmpus oedd: “ Ni wnaeth neb fwy na Gwynfor yn ystod yr ugeinfed ganrif.  Nid hon oedd y Gymru Gymraeg Gristnogol y breuddwydiodd Gwynfor amdani, ond Cymru yw hi o hyd.  Roedd Cymru, y genedl a garodd mor angerddol, wedi goroesi, rhag pob brad.”

Peter Hughes GriffithsDan a Cathrine Evans, a’u plant – Gwynfor (ar y chwith), Ceridwen ac Alcwyn[/caption]

The opening sentence of the Welsh Academy’s Encyclopaedia of Wales describes him in this way: “The greatest patriot of 20th-century Wales, his dedication to his country did much to transform the national prospects of the Welsh people”.  He received the Fellowship of a number of our colleges as well as serving as President of the Day in the National Eisteddfod more often than any other person in our time.

Capel y Tabernacl in Barry was spiritual home for the entire family, with Gwynfor’s mother and father playing leading roles and his grandfather the Reverend Ben Evans its first minister.  His father was a deacon and conductor of the mixed choir of over a hundred voices that performed the major oratorios on a regular basis.  In the year 2,000 a new stained glass window was unveiled to honour the lives of Dan and Catherine, who set up well known, flourishing businesses in Barry town.

Gwynfor attended Barry Grammar School where he captained the school’s cricket and hockey teams, and was selected to play in the Welsh Schools Cricket Team in 1930.  Then it was off to University College, Aberystwyth and a law degree – and selection to play in the college cricket and hockey teams once more.

Gwynfor, captain of the school hockey team

While in University, there took place two events that would have a strong influence on his later life – the first:

“I would marvel at the dedication of the young men and women who sold Y Ddraig Goch on the streets of Aberystwyth – Gwenant Davies, Eic Davies and others.”

And secondly – “but one day he saw a yellow coloured pamphlet outside a bookshop in Aberystwyth – The Economics of Welsh Self Government by DJ Davies.  This booklet removed all kinds of doubt, and in the summer of 1934 he approached Cassie Davies in Barry and joined the national party.”

At the time Cassie Davies was a member of staff at Barry College and in her book Hwb i’r Galon she recalls –

“And this was the time that a remarkably good-looking young man from Barry, wearing an Aberystwyth college blazer, began to call to talk about this new party and ask to join it.”

Gwynfor then went to Oxford University where he set up a party branch and became secretary of the famous Cymdeithas Dafydd ap Gwilym.  He graduated there in 1936.

Although he was to send an article from Oxford for his old school’s magazine, parts of which appeared in the Western Mail, it was in January 1937 that he published his first full article in Y Ddraig Goch, dealing with the establishment of the St Athan camp, and in the Plaid Cymru Summer School in Bala the same year he proposed a motion calling for official status for the Welsh language.  And guess what – 400,000 signatures were collected in support of the proposal before the Second World War put paid to that effort.

So you can see that Gwynfor had already made his first major strides in what was to be his life’s work – for the sake of Wales.  He became a member of Plaid Cymru’s national executive in 1937 and within six years, in 1943, he was chosen as party vice-president.  Then on 1 August 1945 in the Llangollen conference (five days before the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima) he was elected as President of Plaid Cymru at the age of just 32, the start of his great lifetime mission – he would remain president and leader for the next 36 years.

Marriage, 1941 – Gwynfor and Rhiannon and their families (his father-in-law Dan Thomas on the left)

In the meantime he had married his lifelong partner Rhiannon and was living in Wernellyn, Llangadog where he launched a market garden venture.  I like his description of how he fell for Rhiannon.  In his autobiography Bywyd Cymro, available in English as For the Sake of Wales, Gwynfor describes how he called on Rhiannon’s parents in Cardiff –

“I have to confess that my heart lost a beat the moment Rhiannon walked into the room.  On seeing her again two months later amid the beauty of a summer’s day at Islaw’r Dref dressed in a very short light frock  – beach wear no doubt – the boy from Barry fell head over heels in love!”

They were married on St David’s Day 1941, and Pennar Davies says in his book that if heaven had ever arranged marriages this was surely one it had done well:  “And the contribution of Rhiannon Evans to the work of her husband cannot be overestimated.”

Gwynfor contested his first Parliamentary election in Meirionydd in 1945.  He led the Llyn y Fan protest on New Year’s Day 1947 and that in Abergeirw in 1948 and was elected a member of the University Court’s Guild of Graduates and of the Welsh Independents the same year, as well as serving as Welsh Secretary of the Celtic League in the Colwyn Bay National Eisteddfod as early as 1947, when he was 34.  It is evident that by the end of the 1940s Gwynfor Evans had established himself as a national leader with wide support among his people.

Leading the Abergeirw protest, 1948

Gwynfor was elected to Carmarthenshire County Council in 1949 and was a County Councillor for 25 years.  The 1956 County Council elections produced an interesting result, with 29 Independent councillors, 29 Labour and 2 Plaid Cymru.  Plaid Cymru held the balance, and stranger still both Plaid councillors bore the name Gwynfor Evans – Gwynfor Evans of Betws, Ammanford and Gwynfor Evans, Llangadog.  Gwynfor Evans, Betws took the county council to the High Court in London for failing to provide nomination papers in Welsh – and won his case, leading significantly to the establishment of the Hughes Parry Committee in 1963 to investigate the legal status of the Welsh language.

In 1949 Gwynfor led Plaid Cymru’s most ambitious Rally ever – 4,000 people came to Machynlleth to call for a Parliament for Wales, and after Gwynfor’s speech one correspondent concluded that the accolade of Wales’ leading orator should be awarded to Gwynfor rather than Aneurin Bevan.  There followed further Parliament for Wales rallies in Blaenau Ffestiniog in 1950 and then the great rally in Cardiff in 1953, with a quarter of a million people signing a petition presented to the House of Commons.  Gwynfor fought Meirionydd in the 1950 General Election, the Aberdare by-election in 1954 and Meirionnydd again in 1955 and 1959.

And what about the fight for Tryweryn?  A rally in Bala in 1956 –

“No sooner had Mr Gwynfor Evans got to his feet to speak than the thousands in the great marquee stood up to welcome him and give him prolonged applause.”  And in his book Bywyd Cymro Gwynfor said– “And except for the Parliament for Wales campaign, Tryweryn was the most important of all our campaigns.”  Gwynfor’s leadership during that battle have been recorded in detail and the deputations to Liverpool and so on are historical events.  Gwynfor wrote – “The Welsh had been as united as ever any nation could be.  Their opinion was completely ignored.  The state of democracy in Wales was exposed.”

The battle for Tryweryn – leading a procession through the streets of Liverpool

A young woman – Jennie Eirian Davies, married to a minister in Brynaman – stood as Plaid Cymru’s first candidate in Carmarthen in the General Election of 1955 and again in a by-election in 1957.  Dewi Thomas writes about her in a book of tribute to her –

“Her tireless dedication and brilliant talent in the fifties opened the door for Gwynfor’s success in the great victory in Carmarthen later on.”  Indeed Jennie Eirian herself said after the 1957 election – “The Blaid will win this seat within 10 years.”  That happened in 1966 – within 9 years!

Where should I begin with Gwynfor’s victory in the 1966 by-election?  That story deserves a lecture in its own right.  You will get that in 2016 when we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the victory!  All I wish to say tonight is that the fact that result took place changes the political history of Wales for ever.

Gwasg y Dryw brought out a record of Gwynfor speaking after his victory, calling on his country to will a full life and the means of creating it, a Welsh government.  Today that government exists.  We are on the way to securing a comprehensive Welsh government, Gwynfor’s full vision.

Think about him going to London and the House of Commons and entering the lion’s den –

“As he showed me round the tea rooms, Emrys Hughes pointed to the Welsh table, saying, ‘I wouldn’t sit there if I were you ’– ‘Your name is mud there.’  Goronwy Roberts used to pass me in the corridor without looking at me.  It may be difficult for some readers to recall how vicious George Thomas could be.  He was extremely set in his anti-Welsh sentiment.  He was the very scourge of Welsh nationalism and the Welsh language.”

Gwynfor entering the House of Commons, 1966

That was the environment Gwynfor entered, but he took advantage of that imperial establishment to fight for Wales and call for self-government.  Things like this –

With the support of Plaid Cymru’s Research Group, he came to the conclusion that the best tactic was to wage a guerrilla war and ask numberless questions about the situation of Wales.  Gwynfor’s question would drive the civil service crazy: by the end of the first year he had asked over 600 questions, all of them published together with their answers in three volumes –the Black Books of Carmarthen.  Then the party set out Plaid Cymru’s case to the Royal Commission on the Commission in 1969.

Losing Carmarthen in 1970 – after the Investiture, direct action by Cymdeithas yr Iaith and the FWA (if such a thing existed!).  Then losing by just 3 votes in March 1974 and scoring a sweeping victory in October 1974.  At half past three in the morning a crowd of 3,000 were on Nott Square to hear the result and that Gwynfor had taken 23,325 votes.  This was the only seat that Labour lost anywhere in the United Kingdom that night.  So back to London, but this time with the two Dafydds for company!  His working day would often commence at nine o’clock in the morning and carry on into the early hours of the following morning.

This was a crucial period for making the case for assemblies for Wales and Scotland – there were three nationalist MPs from Wales as well as seven from Scotland.  The Government’s majority over the other parties was only three.  Gwynfor said – “Here was the most hopeful political situation I had ever encountered”.  The Government was compelled to yield to the pressure for parliaments for Wales and Scotland – and this marked the beginning of a long and difficult journey which has now taken place, much more so in Scotland than in Wales!

The Labour Party took care to ensure that the devolution referendum in Wales and Scotland faced barriers so that it was impossible for the Yes vote to succeed.  We remember Neil Kinnock and others in the Labour Party campaigning strongly against their party’s own policy and getting every facility to do so.  The outcome was the Na vote in the 1979 Assembly referendum in Wales.  Rhys Evans says –

“Gwynfor experienced many highs and lows in his career, but this was the nadir.  For him and his generation of nationalists, the referendum was more than a ballot on the administration of Wales; the referendum was a vote on the spiritual and existential question of whether Wales existed.  He was devastated, not knowing which made him feel more sick … Welsh toadyism or Labour deceit and corruption.”

Westminister – with his fellow MPs Dafydd Wigley and Dafydd Elis Thomas

He lost the General Election that followed the Referendum because of publication of a BBC opinion poll days before the election that predicted that Gwynfor would come a poor third.  In my personal opinion all this had been arranged by the ‘establishment’ to get rid of Gwynfor from the House of Commons.  In fact, the BBC admitted following a detailed review of the company that carried out the opinion poll that were unacceptably far from the mark!

Gwynfor’s response was – if he had won that election, with his health as it was at the time, he would no longer be in the land of the living!  And then in 1981 after 36 years as President of Plaid Cymru Gwynfor stepped down from the helm in the Conference in Carmarthen.

That is a quick sketch of the work and impact of Gwynfor in the field of politics.  It was a very profound impact, and we would never be where we are today but for Gwynfor having accomplished so much.  His political success is now acknowledged by everyone.  A very very special man.

But what is truly remarkable about this man is that he accomplished so much side by side with his political career.  And what I want to do now is give you a taste of those accomplishments, and remind you of the other tremendous pioneering roles he played.

And where should I begin?

THE HISTORIAN

A few of the many books written by Gwynfor

Gwynfor would almost invariably begin every speech with a history lesson.  It didn’t matter where, or what was the occasion, the history of Wales was part of the message.  He believed it was very important that we as a people should get to know our history.  He campaigned to teach Welsh history in our schools – at a time when that was virtually non-existent, and he set about writing and publishing books, and encouraging others to do the same – “Gwynfor’s aim throughout his life was to awaken national consciousness through imbuing people with the history of Wales, restoring  their memory and strengthening their desire to live.” (Dr Geraint Jenkins)

He wrote history classics –Hanes Cymru/ History of Wales, through the South Wales Echo.  Then Aros Mae, Seiri Cenedl y Cymry and Land of My Fathers.  Picture him setting out on Christmas Day 1970 to write the first two pages of notes for Aros Mae!  It was on sale within 7 months, with the first edition selling fast and a second edition soon in hand.  Elin Garlick set about a translation into English, entitled Land of My Fathers.  Three reprints were to follow and the publishers Tŷ John Penry commented– “this was the best seller of all the books we have published.”

His other historical classic is Seiri Cenedl y Cymry, available in English as Welsh Nation Builders, portraits of the history of 65 men and women who contributed in different ways to the building and development of our nation.  Think of all the research work needed to write historical studies and get the facts right!  Gwynfor was a prolific author – of some 30 books in total – as well as pamphlets, leaflets and numerous books, in Welsh and English.  He told me once of his intention to write one more book based on all his travelling around Wales – a study of Welsh chip shops as he had eaten in so many of them as he criss-crossed the country!

THE CHRISTIAN AND PACIFIST

We heard the Reverend Beti Wyn James and Mererid Hopwood assessing the significance of Gwynfor’s contribution in these two fields in the memorial service held in Capel y Priordy on Sunday 2 September.  So I shall just summarise some of the main features.

Gwynfor was a teacher in the young people’s Sunday School in his chapel, Providence Llangadog, for many years, and what is special id this – wherever he had been on the Saturday night  – he would almost always return for his Sunday School class the following day.  Read the full chapter about Gwynfor the Pacifist in the book by Pennar Davies – it gives us a comprehensive and detailed picture of the depth of his thinking and his faith.

Defending the land of Wales – successfully – Trawsfynnydd, 1951

He was brought up in a Christian family in Barry where his grandfather The Reverend Ben Evans was the first Minister of Capel y Tabernacl.  His uncle Idris (his father’s brother) was also a minister and a first-class preacher.  Gwynfor became Chairman of the Union of Welsh Independent Churches when he was just forty-two years of age.  No-one as young as that had ever been elected before.  And his son Guto was also President of the Union in recent times.

It is important to recall that in his maiden speech in the House of Commons Gwynfor based his hopes for Wales on the Christian values of its heritage.  He occupied a number of positions in the Independents’ organisation and he also played a key role in setting up Tŷ John Penry and its administration.  His Christianity was always practical.

“I am first a pacifist and then a nationalist” were Gwynfor’s words when given an unconditional discharge after appearing before a military Tribunal in Carmarthen in 1940.  After writing his first article about St Athan in 1937 he came under the influence of his great hero George M LL Davies, becoming Secretary of Heddychwyr Cymru, the Welsh peace pledge movement and responsible for its tent in the Cardiff National Eisteddfod in 1938.  Throughout his life he led protests and spoke in peace rallies – Swansea Rally in 1940, the great rally to defend Epynt where 400 people were turned out of their homes, the Abergeirw rally of 1948 and Trawsfynydd in 1951, with its celebrated photograph – all of these against the War Office grabbing Welsh land.

The Peace Pledge Union was indebted to him for his support and leadership and Gwynfor published a number of booklets and pamphlets such as They Cry Wolf and Wales Against Conscription.  Then, in 1973, he delivered his famous lecture in the Temple of Peace, Cardiff – Non-violent Nationalism.  He was just as supportive of CND as well, and spoke most strongly time and time against the Vietnam War, offering himself as a human shield in Hanoi in 1968 – but his group were refused admission – nevertheless the act as typical of a man who could not stand by and watch such slaughter.  Dafydd Elis Thomas says of him in one of the Peace Pledge Union’s newsletters:

“This great soul was born in the most violent century in the history of the world.  In the darkness of the warlike twentieth century his life was a beacon.”

FIGHTING FOR THE LANGUAGE

Gwynfor  played a vital role in the campaign to secure a radio service for Wales – in 1939 the BBC removed programmes about Wales completely.  In the National Eisteddfod in Llandybie in 1944 Gwynfor gave a lecture to a packed chapel on Radio In Wales.  The lecture was published in Welsh and in English and 10,000 copies were sold!  Gwynfor argued for devolution in the field of broadcasting, and to cut another long story short – this was successful and he was elected as a member of the BBC’s Welsh Advisory Committee in 1946.  Although it would be a long battle, BBC Wales together with Radio Cymru and Radio Wales were secured later on.

Victory – the first day of the Welsh language television service on S4C, 1982

By the mid 1950s Gwynfor could also see that the arrival of television also meant a revolutionary change in the system of communications that posed a major threat to the Welsh language and culture.  He pressed the idea of Welsh television, but the government did nothing to help, and he did not succeed in fulfilling his aim.  Gwynfor made an important Commons speech in 1969, calling specifically on the government to establish a Welsh Channel, and you know about that campaign in the 1970s.  The story of the campaign to ensure the setting up of S4C is one that will always be associated with Gwynfor and his intention to fast after the Tory Government broke its pledge – that story would be another lecture as later this month we mark the 30th anniversary of broadcasting on C.

Apart from the non-stop leadership Gwynfor provided for every aspect of the language struggle, there was his campaign for a Welsh language College.  He became a member of the University Court and in 1951 he proposed setting up a Welsh College, with a committee set up to consider the idea.  Everyone was opposed apart from Gwynfor, who again in 1953 prepared a detailed memorandum showing the need for this type of college.  He carried on the struggle in following years – another campaign in 1973 and then in 1986 when addressing the first Welsh language graduation ceremony organised by the Welsh Students Union in Aberystwyth.  He showed great determination and unswerving drive – and by now the Welsh College exists, with its administrative centre in Y Llwyfan here in Carmarthen.

THE FAMILY MAN

“He would never tell us or our children – ‘go away, I’m too busy, and he never waved a finger at us to chastise us.  His patience with the children was limitless.”  Those are the words of his daughter Meinir.  The family moved from Wernellyn to Talar Wen in 1953 – “Talar Wen was my father’s wedding present, postponed for fifteen years” said Gwynfor.  “Everything used to build the house was from Wales and Rhiannon’s brother Dewi Prys designed it.”

Gwynfor and his family

They had seven children and in response to a journalist Gwynfor said that his favourite Biblical saying was – “Be fruitful and multiply and fill … the earth”.  He loved playing with the children – and dressing up as Auntie Jini, fooling the grandchildren into believing she was a half sister from America.  He also loved walking with the children, and his favourite place was y Garn Goch – the mountain where his ash was scattered and where a memorial stone stands at the foot of the hillside.  Like his father, Gwynfor was musical and liked to play the piano.  According to his brother Alcwyn, Gwynfor would tend to go to the piano when he faced pressure, and when playing he would be able to relax.

Gwynfor and Rhiannon moved to another Talar Wen in Pencarreg near Llanybydder in the summer of 1984 when he retired.  A big farewell supper was held in Llangadog hall for the community to pay tribute to a couple who did so much for the Welsh traditions of the area for a period of 45 years.  When 17 Plaid Cymru members were elected to the first National Assembly in 1999 they all came to Pencarreg to see Gwynfor and Rhiannon.  Other visitors included Winnie Ewing with Rhodri, Cynog and Roy Llywelyn.

On the day before Gwynfor celebrated his 90th birthday a piece about him was carried in the Western Mail.  He headline read – ‘Pacifist giant of Welsh culture whose place in history is secured – Wales celebrates 90 years of Gwynfor’.

“Gwynfor Evans has been described as ‘one of the greatest souls of the 20th century.  Alongside Lloyd George and Aneurin Bevan he is one of the last century’s three greatest Welsh politicians.  But he arguably stands alone and ahead of them all in the measure of his influence and is one of the few people from any era recognised solely by their Christian name.

“Gwynfor’s place in history is secure, and not just through his achievements and influence but his public acclaim.  He was chosen by readers of Wales on Sunday as Millennium Icon ahead of Lloyd George and Aneurin Bevan, voted Welsh Person of the Millennium ahead of Owain Glyndŵr by readers of Y Cymro and was reader’s choice in the Western Mail’s Person of the Millennium Award.  They were popular endorsements of the greatest living Welshman of the 20th century.”

Gwynfor appeared in public for the last time at the 2,000 National Eisteddfod in Llanelli, where he received the Worldwide Welsh Award for a lifetime’s work for Wales.  The ceremony was full of emotion, with a packed pavilion honouring this very special man.

And to conclude, I would like to quote Professor Geraint Jenkins in his address to the Gymanfa Ganu we held in Capel Heol Awst to mark Gwynfor’s life soon after he died. This is what he said –

“Set about praising and publicly honouring Gwynfor’s name by erecting a fitting monument to him.  What better place could there be to place a fitting memorial than here in Carmarthen, where he experience his big moment on 14 July 1966 so that your children and your children’s children can come here to admire one of the great figures of our nation.”  And as you know that work is now in hand, with the intention of realising a monument by 2,016, the fiftieth anniversary of his great victory in 1966.

Gwynfor Richard Evans died on Thursday morning 21 April 2005 at the age of 92 in his home in Talar Wen, Pencarreg.  Rhys Evans says: “Gwynfor wanted to return to Garn Goch, to the soil, the land of Wales where his politics had taken root.  Nevertheless, as his ashes blow in the wind, his legacy survives.”

And Dr Geraint Jenkins says: “His aim was to build a nation that was free, responsible and confident, by restoring the memory of its people and strengthening its will to live – and we should remember him as ‘Llusernwr y canrifoedd coll’, the illuminator of the lost centuries.  Time after time Gwynfor was there to stand in the breach – his life reflected the history of Wales 1940 on.  The foundation of Gwynfor’s life was his Christianity and his pacifism.”

The last sentences in Rhys Evans’ substantial volume are: “No one did more than Gwynfor in the twentieth century.  It is not the Welsh-speaking Christian Wales that Gwynfor dreamed of, but it is still Wales.  Wales, the nation he loved with such passion, has survived, despite it all.”

Peter Hughes GriffithsDan a Cathrine Evans, a’u plant – Gwynfor (ar y chwith), Ceridwen ac Alcwyn[/caption]

The opening sentence of the Welsh Academy’s Encyclopaedia of Wales describes him in this way: “The greatest patriot of 20th-century Wales, his dedication to his country did much to transform the national prospects of the Welsh people”.  He received the Fellowship of a number of our colleges as well as serving as President of the Day in the National Eisteddfod more often than any other person in our time.

Capel y Tabernacl in Barry was spiritual home for the entire family, with Gwynfor’s mother and father playing leading roles and his grandfather the Reverend Ben Evans its first minister.  His father was a deacon and conductor of the mixed choir of over a hundred voices that performed the major oratorios on a regular basis.  In the year 2,000 a new stained glass window was unveiled to honour the lives of Dan and Catherine, who set up well known, flourishing businesses in Barry town.

Gwynfor attended Barry Grammar School where he captained the school’s cricket and hockey teams, and was selected to play in the Welsh Schools Cricket Team in 1930.  Then it was off to University College, Aberystwyth and a law degree – and selection to play in the college cricket and hockey teams once more.

Gwynfor, captain of the school hockey team

While in University, there took place two events that would have a strong influence on his later life – the first:

“I would marvel at the dedication of the young men and women who sold Y Ddraig Goch on the streets of Aberystwyth – Gwenant Davies, Eic Davies and others.”

And secondly – “but one day he saw a yellow coloured pamphlet outside a bookshop in Aberystwyth – The Economics of Welsh Self Government by DJ Davies.  This booklet removed all kinds of doubt, and in the summer of 1934 he approached Cassie Davies in Barry and joined the national party.”

At the time Cassie Davies was a member of staff at Barry College and in her book Hwb i’r Galon she recalls –

“And this was the time that a remarkably good-looking young man from Barry, wearing an Aberystwyth college blazer, began to call to talk about this new party and ask to join it.”

Gwynfor then went to Oxford University where he set up a party branch and became secretary of the famous Cymdeithas Dafydd ap Gwilym.  He graduated there in 1936.

Although he was to send an article from Oxford for his old school’s magazine, parts of which appeared in the Western Mail, it was in January 1937 that he published his first full article in Y Ddraig Goch, dealing with the establishment of the St Athan camp, and in the Plaid Cymru Summer School in Bala the same year he proposed a motion calling for official status for the Welsh language.  And guess what – 400,000 signatures were collected in support of the proposal before the Second World War put paid to that effort.

So you can see that Gwynfor had already made his first major strides in what was to be his life’s work – for the sake of Wales.  He became a member of Plaid Cymru’s national executive in 1937 and within six years, in 1943, he was chosen as party vice-president.  Then on 1 August 1945 in the Llangollen conference (five days before the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima) he was elected as President of Plaid Cymru at the age of just 32, the start of his great lifetime mission – he would remain president and leader for the next 36 years.

Marriage, 1941 – Gwynfor and Rhiannon and their families (his father-in-law Dan Thomas on the left)

In the meantime he had married his lifelong partner Rhiannon and was living in Wernellyn, Llangadog where he launched a market garden venture.  I like his description of how he fell for Rhiannon.  In his autobiography Bywyd Cymro, available in English as For the Sake of Wales, Gwynfor describes how he called on Rhiannon’s parents in Cardiff –

“I have to confess that my heart lost a beat the moment Rhiannon walked into the room.  On seeing her again two months later amid the beauty of a summer’s day at Islaw’r Dref dressed in a very short light frock  – beach wear no doubt – the boy from Barry fell head over heels in love!”

They were married on St David’s Day 1941, and Pennar Davies says in his book that if heaven had ever arranged marriages this was surely one it had done well:  “And the contribution of Rhiannon Evans to the work of her husband cannot be overestimated.”

Gwynfor contested his first Parliamentary election in Meirionydd in 1945.  He led the Llyn y Fan protest on New Year’s Day 1947 and that in Abergeirw in 1948 and was elected a member of the University Court’s Guild of Graduates and of the Welsh Independents the same year, as well as serving as Welsh Secretary of the Celtic League in the Colwyn Bay National Eisteddfod as early as 1947, when he was 34.  It is evident that by the end of the 1940s Gwynfor Evans had established himself as a national leader with wide support among his people.

Leading the Abergeirw protest, 1948

Gwynfor was elected to Carmarthenshire County Council in 1949 and was a County Councillor for 25 years.  The 1956 County Council elections produced an interesting result, with 29 Independent councillors, 29 Labour and 2 Plaid Cymru.  Plaid Cymru held the balance, and stranger still both Plaid councillors bore the name Gwynfor Evans – Gwynfor Evans of Betws, Ammanford and Gwynfor Evans, Llangadog.  Gwynfor Evans, Betws took the county council to the High Court in London for failing to provide nomination papers in Welsh – and won his case, leading significantly to the establishment of the Hughes Parry Committee in 1963 to investigate the legal status of the Welsh language.

In 1949 Gwynfor led Plaid Cymru’s most ambitious Rally ever – 4,000 people came to Machynlleth to call for a Parliament for Wales, and after Gwynfor’s speech one correspondent concluded that the accolade of Wales’ leading orator should be awarded to Gwynfor rather than Aneurin Bevan.  There followed further Parliament for Wales rallies in Blaenau Ffestiniog in 1950 and then the great rally in Cardiff in 1953, with a quarter of a million people signing a petition presented to the House of Commons.  Gwynfor fought Meirionydd in the 1950 General Election, the Aberdare by-election in 1954 and Meirionnydd again in 1955 and 1959.

And what about the fight for Tryweryn?  A rally in Bala in 1956 –

“No sooner had Mr Gwynfor Evans got to his feet to speak than the thousands in the great marquee stood up to welcome him and give him prolonged applause.”  And in his book Bywyd Cymro Gwynfor said– “And except for the Parliament for Wales campaign, Tryweryn was the most important of all our campaigns.”  Gwynfor’s leadership during that battle have been recorded in detail and the deputations to Liverpool and so on are historical events.  Gwynfor wrote – “The Welsh had been as united as ever any nation could be.  Their opinion was completely ignored.  The state of democracy in Wales was exposed.”

The battle for Tryweryn – leading a procession through the streets of Liverpool

A young woman – Jennie Eirian Davies, married to a minister in Brynaman – stood as Plaid Cymru’s first candidate in Carmarthen in the General Election of 1955 and again in a by-election in 1957.  Dewi Thomas writes about her in a book of tribute to her –

“Her tireless dedication and brilliant talent in the fifties opened the door for Gwynfor’s success in the great victory in Carmarthen later on.”  Indeed Jennie Eirian herself said after the 1957 election – “The Blaid will win this seat within 10 years.”  That happened in 1966 – within 9 years!

Where should I begin with Gwynfor’s victory in the 1966 by-election?  That story deserves a lecture in its own right.  You will get that in 2016 when we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the victory!  All I wish to say tonight is that the fact that result took place changes the political history of Wales for ever.

Gwasg y Dryw brought out a record of Gwynfor speaking after his victory, calling on his country to will a full life and the means of creating it, a Welsh government.  Today that government exists.  We are on the way to securing a comprehensive Welsh government, Gwynfor’s full vision.

Think about him going to London and the House of Commons and entering the lion’s den –

“As he showed me round the tea rooms, Emrys Hughes pointed to the Welsh table, saying, ‘I wouldn’t sit there if I were you ’– ‘Your name is mud there.’  Goronwy Roberts used to pass me in the corridor without looking at me.  It may be difficult for some readers to recall how vicious George Thomas could be.  He was extremely set in his anti-Welsh sentiment.  He was the very scourge of Welsh nationalism and the Welsh language.”

Gwynfor entering the House of Commons, 1966

That was the environment Gwynfor entered, but he took advantage of that imperial establishment to fight for Wales and call for self-government.  Things like this –

With the support of Plaid Cymru’s Research Group, he came to the conclusion that the best tactic was to wage a guerrilla war and ask numberless questions about the situation of Wales.  Gwynfor’s question would drive the civil service crazy: by the end of the first year he had asked over 600 questions, all of them published together with their answers in three volumes –the Black Books of Carmarthen.  Then the party set out Plaid Cymru’s case to the Royal Commission on the Commission in 1969.

Losing Carmarthen in 1970 – after the Investiture, direct action by Cymdeithas yr Iaith and the FWA (if such a thing existed!).  Then losing by just 3 votes in March 1974 and scoring a sweeping victory in October 1974.  At half past three in the morning a crowd of 3,000 were on Nott Square to hear the result and that Gwynfor had taken 23,325 votes.  This was the only seat that Labour lost anywhere in the United Kingdom that night.  So back to London, but this time with the two Dafydds for company!  His working day would often commence at nine o’clock in the morning and carry on into the early hours of the following morning.

This was a crucial period for making the case for assemblies for Wales and Scotland – there were three nationalist MPs from Wales as well as seven from Scotland.  The Government’s majority over the other parties was only three.  Gwynfor said – “Here was the most hopeful political situation I had ever encountered”.  The Government was compelled to yield to the pressure for parliaments for Wales and Scotland – and this marked the beginning of a long and difficult journey which has now taken place, much more so in Scotland than in Wales!

The Labour Party took care to ensure that the devolution referendum in Wales and Scotland faced barriers so that it was impossible for the Yes vote to succeed.  We remember Neil Kinnock and others in the Labour Party campaigning strongly against their party’s own policy and getting every facility to do so.  The outcome was the Na vote in the 1979 Assembly referendum in Wales.  Rhys Evans says –

“Gwynfor experienced many highs and lows in his career, but this was the nadir.  For him and his generation of nationalists, the referendum was more than a ballot on the administration of Wales; the referendum was a vote on the spiritual and existential question of whether Wales existed.  He was devastated, not knowing which made him feel more sick … Welsh toadyism or Labour deceit and corruption.”

Westminister – with his fellow MPs Dafydd Wigley and Dafydd Elis Thomas

He lost the General Election that followed the Referendum because of publication of a BBC opinion poll days before the election that predicted that Gwynfor would come a poor third.  In my personal opinion all this had been arranged by the ‘establishment’ to get rid of Gwynfor from the House of Commons.  In fact, the BBC admitted following a detailed review of the company that carried out the opinion poll that were unacceptably far from the mark!

Gwynfor’s response was – if he had won that election, with his health as it was at the time, he would no longer be in the land of the living!  And then in 1981 after 36 years as President of Plaid Cymru Gwynfor stepped down from the helm in the Conference in Carmarthen.

That is a quick sketch of the work and impact of Gwynfor in the field of politics.  It was a very profound impact, and we would never be where we are today but for Gwynfor having accomplished so much.  His political success is now acknowledged by everyone.  A very very special man.

But what is truly remarkable about this man is that he accomplished so much side by side with his political career.  And what I want to do now is give you a taste of those accomplishments, and remind you of the other tremendous pioneering roles he played.

And where should I begin?

THE HISTORIAN

A few of the many books written by Gwynfor

Gwynfor would almost invariably begin every speech with a history lesson.  It didn’t matter where, or what was the occasion, the history of Wales was part of the message.  He believed it was very important that we as a people should get to know our history.  He campaigned to teach Welsh history in our schools – at a time when that was virtually non-existent, and he set about writing and publishing books, and encouraging others to do the same – “Gwynfor’s aim throughout his life was to awaken national consciousness through imbuing people with the history of Wales, restoring  their memory and strengthening their desire to live.” (Dr Geraint Jenkins)

He wrote history classics –Hanes Cymru/ History of Wales, through the South Wales Echo.  Then Aros Mae, Seiri Cenedl y Cymry and Land of My Fathers.  Picture him setting out on Christmas Day 1970 to write the first two pages of notes for Aros Mae!  It was on sale within 7 months, with the first edition selling fast and a second edition soon in hand.  Elin Garlick set about a translation into English, entitled Land of My Fathers.  Three reprints were to follow and the publishers Tŷ John Penry commented– “this was the best seller of all the books we have published.”

His other historical classic is Seiri Cenedl y Cymry, available in English as Welsh Nation Builders, portraits of the history of 65 men and women who contributed in different ways to the building and development of our nation.  Think of all the research work needed to write historical studies and get the facts right!  Gwynfor was a prolific author – of some 30 books in total – as well as pamphlets, leaflets and numerous books, in Welsh and English.  He told me once of his intention to write one more book based on all his travelling around Wales – a study of Welsh chip shops as he had eaten in so many of them as he criss-crossed the country!

THE CHRISTIAN AND PACIFIST

We heard the Reverend Beti Wyn James and Mererid Hopwood assessing the significance of Gwynfor’s contribution in these two fields in the memorial service held in Capel y Priordy on Sunday 2 September.  So I shall just summarise some of the main features.

Gwynfor was a teacher in the young people’s Sunday School in his chapel, Providence Llangadog, for many years, and what is special id this – wherever he had been on the Saturday night  – he would almost always return for his Sunday School class the following day.  Read the full chapter about Gwynfor the Pacifist in the book by Pennar Davies – it gives us a comprehensive and detailed picture of the depth of his thinking and his faith.

Defending the land of Wales – successfully – Trawsfynnydd, 1951

He was brought up in a Christian family in Barry where his grandfather The Reverend Ben Evans was the first Minister of Capel y Tabernacl.  His uncle Idris (his father’s brother) was also a minister and a first-class preacher.  Gwynfor became Chairman of the Union of Welsh Independent Churches when he was just forty-two years of age.  No-one as young as that had ever been elected before.  And his son Guto was also President of the Union in recent times.

It is important to recall that in his maiden speech in the House of Commons Gwynfor based his hopes for Wales on the Christian values of its heritage.  He occupied a number of positions in the Independents’ organisation and he also played a key role in setting up Tŷ John Penry and its administration.  His Christianity was always practical.

“I am first a pacifist and then a nationalist” were Gwynfor’s words when given an unconditional discharge after appearing before a military Tribunal in Carmarthen in 1940.  After writing his first article about St Athan in 1937 he came under the influence of his great hero George M LL Davies, becoming Secretary of Heddychwyr Cymru, the Welsh peace pledge movement and responsible for its tent in the Cardiff National Eisteddfod in 1938.  Throughout his life he led protests and spoke in peace rallies – Swansea Rally in 1940, the great rally to defend Epynt where 400 people were turned out of their homes, the Abergeirw rally of 1948 and Trawsfynydd in 1951, with its celebrated photograph – all of these against the War Office grabbing Welsh land.

The Peace Pledge Union was indebted to him for his support and leadership and Gwynfor published a number of booklets and pamphlets such as They Cry Wolf and Wales Against Conscription.  Then, in 1973, he delivered his famous lecture in the Temple of Peace, Cardiff – Non-violent Nationalism.  He was just as supportive of CND as well, and spoke most strongly time and time against the Vietnam War, offering himself as a human shield in Hanoi in 1968 – but his group were refused admission – nevertheless the act as typical of a man who could not stand by and watch such slaughter.  Dafydd Elis Thomas says of him in one of the Peace Pledge Union’s newsletters:

“This great soul was born in the most violent century in the history of the world.  In the darkness of the warlike twentieth century his life was a beacon.”

FIGHTING FOR THE LANGUAGE

Gwynfor  played a vital role in the campaign to secure a radio service for Wales – in 1939 the BBC removed programmes about Wales completely.  In the National Eisteddfod in Llandybie in 1944 Gwynfor gave a lecture to a packed chapel on Radio In Wales.  The lecture was published in Welsh and in English and 10,000 copies were sold!  Gwynfor argued for devolution in the field of broadcasting, and to cut another long story short – this was successful and he was elected as a member of the BBC’s Welsh Advisory Committee in 1946.  Although it would be a long battle, BBC Wales together with Radio Cymru and Radio Wales were secured later on.

Victory – the first day of the Welsh language television service on S4C, 1982

By the mid 1950s Gwynfor could also see that the arrival of television also meant a revolutionary change in the system of communications that posed a major threat to the Welsh language and culture.  He pressed the idea of Welsh television, but the government did nothing to help, and he did not succeed in fulfilling his aim.  Gwynfor made an important Commons speech in 1969, calling specifically on the government to establish a Welsh Channel, and you know about that campaign in the 1970s.  The story of the campaign to ensure the setting up of S4C is one that will always be associated with Gwynfor and his intention to fast after the Tory Government broke its pledge – that story would be another lecture as later this month we mark the 30th anniversary of broadcasting on C.

Apart from the non-stop leadership Gwynfor provided for every aspect of the language struggle, there was his campaign for a Welsh language College.  He became a member of the University Court and in 1951 he proposed setting up a Welsh College, with a committee set up to consider the idea.  Everyone was opposed apart from Gwynfor, who again in 1953 prepared a detailed memorandum showing the need for this type of college.  He carried on the struggle in following years – another campaign in 1973 and then in 1986 when addressing the first Welsh language graduation ceremony organised by the Welsh Students Union in Aberystwyth.  He showed great determination and unswerving drive – and by now the Welsh College exists, with its administrative centre in Y Llwyfan here in Carmarthen.

THE FAMILY MAN

“He would never tell us or our children – ‘go away, I’m too busy, and he never waved a finger at us to chastise us.  His patience with the children was limitless.”  Those are the words of his daughter Meinir.  The family moved from Wernellyn to Talar Wen in 1953 – “Talar Wen was my father’s wedding present, postponed for fifteen years” said Gwynfor.  “Everything used to build the house was from Wales and Rhiannon’s brother Dewi Prys designed it.”

Gwynfor and his family

They had seven children and in response to a journalist Gwynfor said that his favourite Biblical saying was – “Be fruitful and multiply and fill … the earth”.  He loved playing with the children – and dressing up as Auntie Jini, fooling the grandchildren into believing she was a half sister from America.  He also loved walking with the children, and his favourite place was y Garn Goch – the mountain where his ash was scattered and where a memorial stone stands at the foot of the hillside.  Like his father, Gwynfor was musical and liked to play the piano.  According to his brother Alcwyn, Gwynfor would tend to go to the piano when he faced pressure, and when playing he would be able to relax.

Gwynfor and Rhiannon moved to another Talar Wen in Pencarreg near Llanybydder in the summer of 1984 when he retired.  A big farewell supper was held in Llangadog hall for the community to pay tribute to a couple who did so much for the Welsh traditions of the area for a period of 45 years.  When 17 Plaid Cymru members were elected to the first National Assembly in 1999 they all came to Pencarreg to see Gwynfor and Rhiannon.  Other visitors included Winnie Ewing with Rhodri, Cynog and Roy Llywelyn.

On the day before Gwynfor celebrated his 90th birthday a piece about him was carried in the Western Mail.  He headline read – ‘Pacifist giant of Welsh culture whose place in history is secured – Wales celebrates 90 years of Gwynfor’.

“Gwynfor Evans has been described as ‘one of the greatest souls of the 20th century.  Alongside Lloyd George and Aneurin Bevan he is one of the last century’s three greatest Welsh politicians.  But he arguably stands alone and ahead of them all in the measure of his influence and is one of the few people from any era recognised solely by their Christian name.

“Gwynfor’s place in history is secure, and not just through his achievements and influence but his public acclaim.  He was chosen by readers of Wales on Sunday as Millennium Icon ahead of Lloyd George and Aneurin Bevan, voted Welsh Person of the Millennium ahead of Owain Glyndŵr by readers of Y Cymro and was reader’s choice in the Western Mail’s Person of the Millennium Award.  They were popular endorsements of the greatest living Welshman of the 20th century.”

Gwynfor appeared in public for the last time at the 2,000 National Eisteddfod in Llanelli, where he received the Worldwide Welsh Award for a lifetime’s work for Wales.  The ceremony was full of emotion, with a packed pavilion honouring this very special man.

And to conclude, I would like to quote Professor Geraint Jenkins in his address to the Gymanfa Ganu we held in Capel Heol Awst to mark Gwynfor’s life soon after he died. This is what he said –

“Set about praising and publicly honouring Gwynfor’s name by erecting a fitting monument to him.  What better place could there be to place a fitting memorial than here in Carmarthen, where he experience his big moment on 14 July 1966 so that your children and your children’s children can come here to admire one of the great figures of our nation.”  And as you know that work is now in hand, with the intention of realising a monument by 2,016, the fiftieth anniversary of his great victory in 1966.

Gwynfor Richard Evans died on Thursday morning 21 April 2005 at the age of 92 in his home in Talar Wen, Pencarreg.  Rhys Evans says: “Gwynfor wanted to return to Garn Goch, to the soil, the land of Wales where his politics had taken root.  Nevertheless, as his ashes blow in the wind, his legacy survives.”

And Dr Geraint Jenkins says: “His aim was to build a nation that was free, responsible and confident, by restoring the memory of its people and strengthening its will to live – and we should remember him as ‘Llusernwr y canrifoedd coll’, the illuminator of the lost centuries.  Time after time Gwynfor was there to stand in the breach – his life reflected the history of Wales 1940 on.  The foundation of Gwynfor’s life was his Christianity and his pacifism.”

The last sentences in Rhys Evans’ substantial volume are: “No one did more than Gwynfor in the twentieth century.  It is not the Welsh-speaking Christian Wales that Gwynfor dreamed of, but it is still Wales.  Wales, the nation he loved with such passion, has survived, despite it all.”

Peter Hughes GriffithsGwynfor, capten Tîm Hoci’r Ysgol
[/caption]

While in University, there took place two events that would have a strong influence on his later life – the first:

“I would marvel at the dedication of the young men and women who sold Y Ddraig Goch on the streets of Aberystwyth – Gwenant Davies, Eic Davies and others.”

And secondly – “but one day he saw a yellow coloured pamphlet outside a bookshop in Aberystwyth – The Economics of Welsh Self Government by DJ Davies.  This booklet removed all kinds of doubt, and in the summer of 1934 he approached Cassie Davies in Barry and joined the national party.”

At the time Cassie Davies was a member of staff at Barry College and in her book Hwb i’r Galon she recalls –

“And this was the time that a remarkably good-looking young man from Barry, wearing an Aberystwyth college blazer, began to call to talk about this new party and ask to join it.”

Gwynfor then went to Oxford University where he set up a party branch and became secretary of the famous Cymdeithas Dafydd ap Gwilym.  He graduated there in 1936.

Although he was to send an article from Oxford for his old school’s magazine, parts of which appeared in the Western Mail, it was in January 1937 that he published his first full article in Y Ddraig Goch, dealing with the establishment of the St Athan camp, and in the Plaid Cymru Summer School in Bala the same year he proposed a motion calling for official status for the Welsh language.  And guess what – 400,000 signatures were collected in support of the proposal before the Second World War put paid to that effort.

So you can see that Gwynfor had already made his first major strides in what was to be his life’s work – for the sake of Wales.  He became a member of Plaid Cymru’s national executive in 1937 and within six years, in 1943, he was chosen as party vice-president.  Then on 1 August 1945 in the Llangollen conference (five days before the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima) he was elected as President of Plaid Cymru at the age of just 32, the start of his great lifetime mission – he would remain president and leader for the next 36 years.

Marriage, 1941 – Gwynfor and Rhiannon and their families (his father-in-law Dan Thomas on the left)

In the meantime he had married his lifelong partner Rhiannon and was living in Wernellyn, Llangadog where he launched a market garden venture.  I like his description of how he fell for Rhiannon.  In his autobiography Bywyd Cymro, available in English as For the Sake of Wales, Gwynfor describes how he called on Rhiannon’s parents in Cardiff –

“I have to confess that my heart lost a beat the moment Rhiannon walked into the room.  On seeing her again two months later amid the beauty of a summer’s day at Islaw’r Dref dressed in a very short light frock  – beach wear no doubt – the boy from Barry fell head over heels in love!”

They were married on St David’s Day 1941, and Pennar Davies says in his book that if heaven had ever arranged marriages this was surely one it had done well:  “And the contribution of Rhiannon Evans to the work of her husband cannot be overestimated.”

Gwynfor contested his first Parliamentary election in Meirionydd in 1945.  He led the Llyn y Fan protest on New Year’s Day 1947 and that in Abergeirw in 1948 and was elected a member of the University Court’s Guild of Graduates and of the Welsh Independents the same year, as well as serving as Welsh Secretary of the Celtic League in the Colwyn Bay National Eisteddfod as early as 1947, when he was 34.  It is evident that by the end of the 1940s Gwynfor Evans had established himself as a national leader with wide support among his people.

Leading the Abergeirw protest, 1948

Gwynfor was elected to Carmarthenshire County Council in 1949 and was a County Councillor for 25 years.  The 1956 County Council elections produced an interesting result, with 29 Independent councillors, 29 Labour and 2 Plaid Cymru.  Plaid Cymru held the balance, and stranger still both Plaid councillors bore the name Gwynfor Evans – Gwynfor Evans of Betws, Ammanford and Gwynfor Evans, Llangadog.  Gwynfor Evans, Betws took the county council to the High Court in London for failing to provide nomination papers in Welsh – and won his case, leading significantly to the establishment of the Hughes Parry Committee in 1963 to investigate the legal status of the Welsh language.

In 1949 Gwynfor led Plaid Cymru’s most ambitious Rally ever – 4,000 people came to Machynlleth to call for a Parliament for Wales, and after Gwynfor’s speech one correspondent concluded that the accolade of Wales’ leading orator should be awarded to Gwynfor rather than Aneurin Bevan.  There followed further Parliament for Wales rallies in Blaenau Ffestiniog in 1950 and then the great rally in Cardiff in 1953, with a quarter of a million people signing a petition presented to the House of Commons.  Gwynfor fought Meirionydd in the 1950 General Election, the Aberdare by-election in 1954 and Meirionnydd again in 1955 and 1959.

And what about the fight for Tryweryn?  A rally in Bala in 1956 –

“No sooner had Mr Gwynfor Evans got to his feet to speak than the thousands in the great marquee stood up to welcome him and give him prolonged applause.”  And in his book Bywyd Cymro Gwynfor said– “And except for the Parliament for Wales campaign, Tryweryn was the most important of all our campaigns.”  Gwynfor’s leadership during that battle have been recorded in detail and the deputations to Liverpool and so on are historical events.  Gwynfor wrote – “The Welsh had been as united as ever any nation could be.  Their opinion was completely ignored.  The state of democracy in Wales was exposed.”

The battle for Tryweryn – leading a procession through the streets of Liverpool

A young woman – Jennie Eirian Davies, married to a minister in Brynaman – stood as Plaid Cymru’s first candidate in Carmarthen in the General Election of 1955 and again in a by-election in 1957.  Dewi Thomas writes about her in a book of tribute to her –

“Her tireless dedication and brilliant talent in the fifties opened the door for Gwynfor’s success in the great victory in Carmarthen later on.”  Indeed Jennie Eirian herself said after the 1957 election – “The Blaid will win this seat within 10 years.”  That happened in 1966 – within 9 years!

Where should I begin with Gwynfor’s victory in the 1966 by-election?  That story deserves a lecture in its own right.  You will get that in 2016 when we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the victory!  All I wish to say tonight is that the fact that result took place changes the political history of Wales for ever.

Gwasg y Dryw brought out a record of Gwynfor speaking after his victory, calling on his country to will a full life and the means of creating it, a Welsh government.  Today that government exists.  We are on the way to securing a comprehensive Welsh government, Gwynfor’s full vision.

Think about him going to London and the House of Commons and entering the lion’s den –

“As he showed me round the tea rooms, Emrys Hughes pointed to the Welsh table, saying, ‘I wouldn’t sit there if I were you ’– ‘Your name is mud there.’  Goronwy Roberts used to pass me in the corridor without looking at me.  It may be difficult for some readers to recall how vicious George Thomas could be.  He was extremely set in his anti-Welsh sentiment.  He was the very scourge of Welsh nationalism and the Welsh language.”

Gwynfor entering the House of Commons, 1966

That was the environment Gwynfor entered, but he took advantage of that imperial establishment to fight for Wales and call for self-government.  Things like this –

With the support of Plaid Cymru’s Research Group, he came to the conclusion that the best tactic was to wage a guerrilla war and ask numberless questions about the situation of Wales.  Gwynfor’s question would drive the civil service crazy: by the end of the first year he had asked over 600 questions, all of them published together with their answers in three volumes –the Black Books of Carmarthen.  Then the party set out Plaid Cymru’s case to the Royal Commission on the Commission in 1969.

Losing Carmarthen in 1970 – after the Investiture, direct action by Cymdeithas yr Iaith and the FWA (if such a thing existed!).  Then losing by just 3 votes in March 1974 and scoring a sweeping victory in October 1974.  At half past three in the morning a crowd of 3,000 were on Nott Square to hear the result and that Gwynfor had taken 23,325 votes.  This was the only seat that Labour lost anywhere in the United Kingdom that night.  So back to London, but this time with the two Dafydds for company!  His working day would often commence at nine o’clock in the morning and carry on into the early hours of the following morning.

This was a crucial period for making the case for assemblies for Wales and Scotland – there were three nationalist MPs from Wales as well as seven from Scotland.  The Government’s majority over the other parties was only three.  Gwynfor said – “Here was the most hopeful political situation I had ever encountered”.  The Government was compelled to yield to the pressure for parliaments for Wales and Scotland – and this marked the beginning of a long and difficult journey which has now taken place, much more so in Scotland than in Wales!

The Labour Party took care to ensure that the devolution referendum in Wales and Scotland faced barriers so that it was impossible for the Yes vote to succeed.  We remember Neil Kinnock and others in the Labour Party campaigning strongly against their party’s own policy and getting every facility to do so.  The outcome was the Na vote in the 1979 Assembly referendum in Wales.  Rhys Evans says –

“Gwynfor experienced many highs and lows in his career, but this was the nadir.  For him and his generation of nationalists, the referendum was more than a ballot on the administration of Wales; the referendum was a vote on the spiritual and existential question of whether Wales existed.  He was devastated, not knowing which made him feel more sick … Welsh toadyism or Labour deceit and corruption.”

Westminister – with his fellow MPs Dafydd Wigley and Dafydd Elis Thomas

He lost the General Election that followed the Referendum because of publication of a BBC opinion poll days before the election that predicted that Gwynfor would come a poor third.  In my personal opinion all this had been arranged by the ‘establishment’ to get rid of Gwynfor from the House of Commons.  In fact, the BBC admitted following a detailed review of the company that carried out the opinion poll that were unacceptably far from the mark!

Gwynfor’s response was – if he had won that election, with his health as it was at the time, he would no longer be in the land of the living!  And then in 1981 after 36 years as President of Plaid Cymru Gwynfor stepped down from the helm in the Conference in Carmarthen.

That is a quick sketch of the work and impact of Gwynfor in the field of politics.  It was a very profound impact, and we would never be where we are today but for Gwynfor having accomplished so much.  His political success is now acknowledged by everyone.  A very very special man.

But what is truly remarkable about this man is that he accomplished so much side by side with his political career.  And what I want to do now is give you a taste of those accomplishments, and remind you of the other tremendous pioneering roles he played.

And where should I begin?

THE HISTORIAN

A few of the many books written by Gwynfor

Gwynfor would almost invariably begin every speech with a history lesson.  It didn’t matter where, or what was the occasion, the history of Wales was part of the message.  He believed it was very important that we as a people should get to know our history.  He campaigned to teach Welsh history in our schools – at a time when that was virtually non-existent, and he set about writing and publishing books, and encouraging others to do the same – “Gwynfor’s aim throughout his life was to awaken national consciousness through imbuing people with the history of Wales, restoring  their memory and strengthening their desire to live.” (Dr Geraint Jenkins)

He wrote history classics –Hanes Cymru/ History of Wales, through the South Wales Echo.  Then Aros Mae, Seiri Cenedl y Cymry and Land of My Fathers.  Picture him setting out on Christmas Day 1970 to write the first two pages of notes for Aros Mae!  It was on sale within 7 months, with the first edition selling fast and a second edition soon in hand.  Elin Garlick set about a translation into English, entitled Land of My Fathers.  Three reprints were to follow and the publishers Tŷ John Penry commented– “this was the best seller of all the books we have published.”

His other historical classic is Seiri Cenedl y Cymry, available in English as Welsh Nation Builders, portraits of the history of 65 men and women who contributed in different ways to the building and development of our nation.  Think of all the research work needed to write historical studies and get the facts right!  Gwynfor was a prolific author – of some 30 books in total – as well as pamphlets, leaflets and numerous books, in Welsh and English.  He told me once of his intention to write one more book based on all his travelling around Wales – a study of Welsh chip shops as he had eaten in so many of them as he criss-crossed the country!

THE CHRISTIAN AND PACIFIST

We heard the Reverend Beti Wyn James and Mererid Hopwood assessing the significance of Gwynfor’s contribution in these two fields in the memorial service held in Capel y Priordy on Sunday 2 September.  So I shall just summarise some of the main features.

Gwynfor was a teacher in the young people’s Sunday School in his chapel, Providence Llangadog, for many years, and what is special id this – wherever he had been on the Saturday night  – he would almost always return for his Sunday School class the following day.  Read the full chapter about Gwynfor the Pacifist in the book by Pennar Davies – it gives us a comprehensive and detailed picture of the depth of his thinking and his faith.

Defending the land of Wales – successfully – Trawsfynnydd, 1951

He was brought up in a Christian family in Barry where his grandfather The Reverend Ben Evans was the first Minister of Capel y Tabernacl.  His uncle Idris (his father’s brother) was also a minister and a first-class preacher.  Gwynfor became Chairman of the Union of Welsh Independent Churches when he was just forty-two years of age.  No-one as young as that had ever been elected before.  And his son Guto was also President of the Union in recent times.

It is important to recall that in his maiden speech in the House of Commons Gwynfor based his hopes for Wales on the Christian values of its heritage.  He occupied a number of positions in the Independents’ organisation and he also played a key role in setting up Tŷ John Penry and its administration.  His Christianity was always practical.

“I am first a pacifist and then a nationalist” were Gwynfor’s words when given an unconditional discharge after appearing before a military Tribunal in Carmarthen in 1940.  After writing his first article about St Athan in 1937 he came under the influence of his great hero George M LL Davies, becoming Secretary of Heddychwyr Cymru, the Welsh peace pledge movement and responsible for its tent in the Cardiff National Eisteddfod in 1938.  Throughout his life he led protests and spoke in peace rallies – Swansea Rally in 1940, the great rally to defend Epynt where 400 people were turned out of their homes, the Abergeirw rally of 1948 and Trawsfynydd in 1951, with its celebrated photograph – all of these against the War Office grabbing Welsh land.

The Peace Pledge Union was indebted to him for his support and leadership and Gwynfor published a number of booklets and pamphlets such as They Cry Wolf and Wales Against Conscription.  Then, in 1973, he delivered his famous lecture in the Temple of Peace, Cardiff – Non-violent Nationalism.  He was just as supportive of CND as well, and spoke most strongly time and time against the Vietnam War, offering himself as a human shield in Hanoi in 1968 – but his group were refused admission – nevertheless the act as typical of a man who could not stand by and watch such slaughter.  Dafydd Elis Thomas says of him in one of the Peace Pledge Union’s newsletters:

“This great soul was born in the most violent century in the history of the world.  In the darkness of the warlike twentieth century his life was a beacon.”

FIGHTING FOR THE LANGUAGE

Gwynfor  played a vital role in the campaign to secure a radio service for Wales – in 1939 the BBC removed programmes about Wales completely.  In the National Eisteddfod in Llandybie in 1944 Gwynfor gave a lecture to a packed chapel on Radio In Wales.  The lecture was published in Welsh and in English and 10,000 copies were sold!  Gwynfor argued for devolution in the field of broadcasting, and to cut another long story short – this was successful and he was elected as a member of the BBC’s Welsh Advisory Committee in 1946.  Although it would be a long battle, BBC Wales together with Radio Cymru and Radio Wales were secured later on.

Victory – the first day of the Welsh language television service on S4C, 1982

By the mid 1950s Gwynfor could also see that the arrival of television also meant a revolutionary change in the system of communications that posed a major threat to the Welsh language and culture.  He pressed the idea of Welsh television, but the government did nothing to help, and he did not succeed in fulfilling his aim.  Gwynfor made an important Commons speech in 1969, calling specifically on the government to establish a Welsh Channel, and you know about that campaign in the 1970s.  The story of the campaign to ensure the setting up of S4C is one that will always be associated with Gwynfor and his intention to fast after the Tory Government broke its pledge – that story would be another lecture as later this month we mark the 30th anniversary of broadcasting on C.

Apart from the non-stop leadership Gwynfor provided for every aspect of the language struggle, there was his campaign for a Welsh language College.  He became a member of the University Court and in 1951 he proposed setting up a Welsh College, with a committee set up to consider the idea.  Everyone was opposed apart from Gwynfor, who again in 1953 prepared a detailed memorandum showing the need for this type of college.  He carried on the struggle in following years – another campaign in 1973 and then in 1986 when addressing the first Welsh language graduation ceremony organised by the Welsh Students Union in Aberystwyth.  He showed great determination and unswerving drive – and by now the Welsh College exists, with its administrative centre in Y Llwyfan here in Carmarthen.

THE FAMILY MAN

“He would never tell us or our children – ‘go away, I’m too busy, and he never waved a finger at us to chastise us.  His patience with the children was limitless.”  Those are the words of his daughter Meinir.  The family moved from Wernellyn to Talar Wen in 1953 – “Talar Wen was my father’s wedding present, postponed for fifteen years” said Gwynfor.  “Everything used to build the house was from Wales and Rhiannon’s brother Dewi Prys designed it.”

Gwynfor and his family

They had seven children and in response to a journalist Gwynfor said that his favourite Biblical saying was – “Be fruitful and multiply and fill … the earth”.  He loved playing with the children – and dressing up as Auntie Jini, fooling the grandchildren into believing she was a half sister from America.  He also loved walking with the children, and his favourite place was y Garn Goch – the mountain where his ash was scattered and where a memorial stone stands at the foot of the hillside.  Like his father, Gwynfor was musical and liked to play the piano.  According to his brother Alcwyn, Gwynfor would tend to go to the piano when he faced pressure, and when playing he would be able to relax.

Gwynfor and Rhiannon moved to another Talar Wen in Pencarreg near Llanybydder in the summer of 1984 when he retired.  A big farewell supper was held in Llangadog hall for the community to pay tribute to a couple who did so much for the Welsh traditions of the area for a period of 45 years.  When 17 Plaid Cymru members were elected to the first National Assembly in 1999 they all came to Pencarreg to see Gwynfor and Rhiannon.  Other visitors included Winnie Ewing with Rhodri, Cynog and Roy Llywelyn.

On the day before Gwynfor celebrated his 90th birthday a piece about him was carried in the Western Mail.  He headline read – ‘Pacifist giant of Welsh culture whose place in history is secured – Wales celebrates 90 years of Gwynfor’.

“Gwynfor Evans has been described as ‘one of the greatest souls of the 20th century.  Alongside Lloyd George and Aneurin Bevan he is one of the last century’s three greatest Welsh politicians.  But he arguably stands alone and ahead of them all in the measure of his influence and is one of the few people from any era recognised solely by their Christian name.

“Gwynfor’s place in history is secure, and not just through his achievements and influence but his public acclaim.  He was chosen by readers of Wales on Sunday as Millennium Icon ahead of Lloyd George and Aneurin Bevan, voted Welsh Person of the Millennium ahead of Owain Glyndŵr by readers of Y Cymro and was reader’s choice in the Western Mail’s Person of the Millennium Award.  They were popular endorsements of the greatest living Welshman of the 20th century.”

Gwynfor appeared in public for the last time at the 2,000 National Eisteddfod in Llanelli, where he received the Worldwide Welsh Award for a lifetime’s work for Wales.  The ceremony was full of emotion, with a packed pavilion honouring this very special man.

And to conclude, I would like to quote Professor Geraint Jenkins in his address to the Gymanfa Ganu we held in Capel Heol Awst to mark Gwynfor’s life soon after he died. This is what he said –

“Set about praising and publicly honouring Gwynfor’s name by erecting a fitting monument to him.  What better place could there be to place a fitting memorial than here in Carmarthen, where he experience his big moment on 14 July 1966 so that your children and your children’s children can come here to admire one of the great figures of our nation.”  And as you know that work is now in hand, with the intention of realising a monument by 2,016, the fiftieth anniversary of his great victory in 1966.

Gwynfor Richard Evans died on Thursday morning 21 April 2005 at the age of 92 in his home in Talar Wen, Pencarreg.  Rhys Evans says: “Gwynfor wanted to return to Garn Goch, to the soil, the land of Wales where his politics had taken root.  Nevertheless, as his ashes blow in the wind, his legacy survives.”

And Dr Geraint Jenkins says: “His aim was to build a nation that was free, responsible and confident, by restoring the memory of its people and strengthening its will to live – and we should remember him as ‘Llusernwr y canrifoedd coll’, the illuminator of the lost centuries.  Time after time Gwynfor was there to stand in the breach – his life reflected the history of Wales 1940 on.  The foundation of Gwynfor’s life was his Christianity and his pacifism.”

The last sentences in Rhys Evans’ substantial volume are: “No one did more than Gwynfor in the twentieth century.  It is not the Welsh-speaking Christian Wales that Gwynfor dreamed of, but it is still Wales.  Wales, the nation he loved with such passion, has survived, despite it all.”

Peter Hughes GriffithsGwynfor, capten Tîm Hoci’r Ysgol
[/caption]

While in University, there took place two events that would have a strong influence on his later life – the first:

“I would marvel at the dedication of the young men and women who sold Y Ddraig Goch on the streets of Aberystwyth – Gwenant Davies, Eic Davies and others.”

And secondly – “but one day he saw a yellow coloured pamphlet outside a bookshop in Aberystwyth – The Economics of Welsh Self Government by DJ Davies.  This booklet removed all kinds of doubt, and in the summer of 1934 he approached Cassie Davies in Barry and joined the national party.”

At the time Cassie Davies was a member of staff at Barry College and in her book Hwb i’r Galon she recalls –

“And this was the time that a remarkably good-looking young man from Barry, wearing an Aberystwyth college blazer, began to call to talk about this new party and ask to join it.”

Gwynfor then went to Oxford University where he set up a party branch and became secretary of the famous Cymdeithas Dafydd ap Gwilym.  He graduated there in 1936.

Although he was to send an article from Oxford for his old school’s magazine, parts of which appeared in the Western Mail, it was in January 1937 that he published his first full article in Y Ddraig Goch, dealing with the establishment of the St Athan camp, and in the Plaid Cymru Summer School in Bala the same year he proposed a motion calling for official status for the Welsh language.  And guess what – 400,000 signatures were collected in support of the proposal before the Second World War put paid to that effort.

So you can see that Gwynfor had already made his first major strides in what was to be his life’s work – for the sake of Wales.  He became a member of Plaid Cymru’s national executive in 1937 and within six years, in 1943, he was chosen as party vice-president.  Then on 1 August 1945 in the Llangollen conference (five days before the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima) he was elected as President of Plaid Cymru at the age of just 32, the start of his great lifetime mission – he would remain president and leader for the next 36 years.

Marriage, 1941 – Gwynfor and Rhiannon and their families (his father-in-law Dan Thomas on the left)

In the meantime he had married his lifelong partner Rhiannon and was living in Wernellyn, Llangadog where he launched a market garden venture.  I like his description of how he fell for Rhiannon.  In his autobiography Bywyd Cymro, available in English as For the Sake of Wales, Gwynfor describes how he called on Rhiannon’s parents in Cardiff –

“I have to confess that my heart lost a beat the moment Rhiannon walked into the room.  On seeing her again two months later amid the beauty of a summer’s day at Islaw’r Dref dressed in a very short light frock  – beach wear no doubt – the boy from Barry fell head over heels in love!”

They were married on St David’s Day 1941, and Pennar Davies says in his book that if heaven had ever arranged marriages this was surely one it had done well:  “And the contribution of Rhiannon Evans to the work of her husband cannot be overestimated.”

Gwynfor contested his first Parliamentary election in Meirionydd in 1945.  He led the Llyn y Fan protest on New Year’s Day 1947 and that in Abergeirw in 1948 and was elected a member of the University Court’s Guild of Graduates and of the Welsh Independents the same year, as well as serving as Welsh Secretary of the Celtic League in the Colwyn Bay National Eisteddfod as early as 1947, when he was 34.  It is evident that by the end of the 1940s Gwynfor Evans had established himself as a national leader with wide support among his people.

Leading the Abergeirw protest, 1948

Gwynfor was elected to Carmarthenshire County Council in 1949 and was a County Councillor for 25 years.  The 1956 County Council elections produced an interesting result, with 29 Independent councillors, 29 Labour and 2 Plaid Cymru.  Plaid Cymru held the balance, and stranger still both Plaid councillors bore the name Gwynfor Evans – Gwynfor Evans of Betws, Ammanford and Gwynfor Evans, Llangadog.  Gwynfor Evans, Betws took the county council to the High Court in London for failing to provide nomination papers in Welsh – and won his case, leading significantly to the establishment of the Hughes Parry Committee in 1963 to investigate the legal status of the Welsh language.

In 1949 Gwynfor led Plaid Cymru’s most ambitious Rally ever – 4,000 people came to Machynlleth to call for a Parliament for Wales, and after Gwynfor’s speech one correspondent concluded that the accolade of Wales’ leading orator should be awarded to Gwynfor rather than Aneurin Bevan.  There followed further Parliament for Wales rallies in Blaenau Ffestiniog in 1950 and then the great rally in Cardiff in 1953, with a quarter of a million people signing a petition presented to the House of Commons.  Gwynfor fought Meirionydd in the 1950 General Election, the Aberdare by-election in 1954 and Meirionnydd again in 1955 and 1959.

And what about the fight for Tryweryn?  A rally in Bala in 1956 –

“No sooner had Mr Gwynfor Evans got to his feet to speak than the thousands in the great marquee stood up to welcome him and give him prolonged applause.”  And in his book Bywyd Cymro Gwynfor said– “And except for the Parliament for Wales campaign, Tryweryn was the most important of all our campaigns.”  Gwynfor’s leadership during that battle have been recorded in detail and the deputations to Liverpool and so on are historical events.  Gwynfor wrote – “The Welsh had been as united as ever any nation could be.  Their opinion was completely ignored.  The state of democracy in Wales was exposed.”

The battle for Tryweryn – leading a procession through the streets of Liverpool

A young woman – Jennie Eirian Davies, married to a minister in Brynaman – stood as Plaid Cymru’s first candidate in Carmarthen in the General Election of 1955 and again in a by-election in 1957.  Dewi Thomas writes about her in a book of tribute to her –

“Her tireless dedication and brilliant talent in the fifties opened the door for Gwynfor’s success in the great victory in Carmarthen later on.”  Indeed Jennie Eirian herself said after the 1957 election – “The Blaid will win this seat within 10 years.”  That happened in 1966 – within 9 years!

Where should I begin with Gwynfor’s victory in the 1966 by-election?  That story deserves a lecture in its own right.  You will get that in 2016 when we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the victory!  All I wish to say tonight is that the fact that result took place changes the political history of Wales for ever.

Gwasg y Dryw brought out a record of Gwynfor speaking after his victory, calling on his country to will a full life and the means of creating it, a Welsh government.  Today that government exists.  We are on the way to securing a comprehensive Welsh government, Gwynfor’s full vision.

Think about him going to London and the House of Commons and entering the lion’s den –

“As he showed me round the tea rooms, Emrys Hughes pointed to the Welsh table, saying, ‘I wouldn’t sit there if I were you ’– ‘Your name is mud there.’  Goronwy Roberts used to pass me in the corridor without looking at me.  It may be difficult for some readers to recall how vicious George Thomas could be.  He was extremely set in his anti-Welsh sentiment.  He was the very scourge of Welsh nationalism and the Welsh language.”

Gwynfor entering the House of Commons, 1966

That was the environment Gwynfor entered, but he took advantage of that imperial establishment to fight for Wales and call for self-government.  Things like this –

With the support of Plaid Cymru’s Research Group, he came to the conclusion that the best tactic was to wage a guerrilla war and ask numberless questions about the situation of Wales.  Gwynfor’s question would drive the civil service crazy: by the end of the first year he had asked over 600 questions, all of them published together with their answers in three volumes –the Black Books of Carmarthen.  Then the party set out Plaid Cymru’s case to the Royal Commission on the Commission in 1969.

Losing Carmarthen in 1970 – after the Investiture, direct action by Cymdeithas yr Iaith and the FWA (if such a thing existed!).  Then losing by just 3 votes in March 1974 and scoring a sweeping victory in October 1974.  At half past three in the morning a crowd of 3,000 were on Nott Square to hear the result and that Gwynfor had taken 23,325 votes.  This was the only seat that Labour lost anywhere in the United Kingdom that night.  So back to London, but this time with the two Dafydds for company!  His working day would often commence at nine o’clock in the morning and carry on into the early hours of the following morning.

This was a crucial period for making the case for assemblies for Wales and Scotland – there were three nationalist MPs from Wales as well as seven from Scotland.  The Government’s majority over the other parties was only three.  Gwynfor said – “Here was the most hopeful political situation I had ever encountered”.  The Government was compelled to yield to the pressure for parliaments for Wales and Scotland – and this marked the beginning of a long and difficult journey which has now taken place, much more so in Scotland than in Wales!

The Labour Party took care to ensure that the devolution referendum in Wales and Scotland faced barriers so that it was impossible for the Yes vote to succeed.  We remember Neil Kinnock and others in the Labour Party campaigning strongly against their party’s own policy and getting every facility to do so.  The outcome was the Na vote in the 1979 Assembly referendum in Wales.  Rhys Evans says –

“Gwynfor experienced many highs and lows in his career, but this was the nadir.  For him and his generation of nationalists, the referendum was more than a ballot on the administration of Wales; the referendum was a vote on the spiritual and existential question of whether Wales existed.  He was devastated, not knowing which made him feel more sick … Welsh toadyism or Labour deceit and corruption.”

Westminister – with his fellow MPs Dafydd Wigley and Dafydd Elis Thomas

He lost the General Election that followed the Referendum because of publication of a BBC opinion poll days before the election that predicted that Gwynfor would come a poor third.  In my personal opinion all this had been arranged by the ‘establishment’ to get rid of Gwynfor from the House of Commons.  In fact, the BBC admitted following a detailed review of the company that carried out the opinion poll that were unacceptably far from the mark!

Gwynfor’s response was – if he had won that election, with his health as it was at the time, he would no longer be in the land of the living!  And then in 1981 after 36 years as President of Plaid Cymru Gwynfor stepped down from the helm in the Conference in Carmarthen.

That is a quick sketch of the work and impact of Gwynfor in the field of politics.  It was a very profound impact, and we would never be where we are today but for Gwynfor having accomplished so much.  His political success is now acknowledged by everyone.  A very very special man.

But what is truly remarkable about this man is that he accomplished so much side by side with his political career.  And what I want to do now is give you a taste of those accomplishments, and remind you of the other tremendous pioneering roles he played.

And where should I begin?

THE HISTORIAN

A few of the many books written by Gwynfor

Gwynfor would almost invariably begin every speech with a history lesson.  It didn’t matter where, or what was the occasion, the history of Wales was part of the message.  He believed it was very important that we as a people should get to know our history.  He campaigned to teach Welsh history in our schools – at a time when that was virtually non-existent, and he set about writing and publishing books, and encouraging others to do the same – “Gwynfor’s aim throughout his life was to awaken national consciousness through imbuing people with the history of Wales, restoring  their memory and strengthening their desire to live.” (Dr Geraint Jenkins)

He wrote history classics –Hanes Cymru/ History of Wales, through the South Wales Echo.  Then Aros Mae, Seiri Cenedl y Cymry and Land of My Fathers.  Picture him setting out on Christmas Day 1970 to write the first two pages of notes for Aros Mae!  It was on sale within 7 months, with the first edition selling fast and a second edition soon in hand.  Elin Garlick set about a translation into English, entitled Land of My Fathers.  Three reprints were to follow and the publishers Tŷ John Penry commented– “this was the best seller of all the books we have published.”

His other historical classic is Seiri Cenedl y Cymry, available in English as Welsh Nation Builders, portraits of the history of 65 men and women who contributed in different ways to the building and development of our nation.  Think of all the research work needed to write historical studies and get the facts right!  Gwynfor was a prolific author – of some 30 books in total – as well as pamphlets, leaflets and numerous books, in Welsh and English.  He told me once of his intention to write one more book based on all his travelling around Wales – a study of Welsh chip shops as he had eaten in so many of them as he criss-crossed the country!

THE CHRISTIAN AND PACIFIST

We heard the Reverend Beti Wyn James and Mererid Hopwood assessing the significance of Gwynfor’s contribution in these two fields in the memorial service held in Capel y Priordy on Sunday 2 September.  So I shall just summarise some of the main features.

Gwynfor was a teacher in the young people’s Sunday School in his chapel, Providence Llangadog, for many years, and what is special id this – wherever he had been on the Saturday night  – he would almost always return for his Sunday School class the following day.  Read the full chapter about Gwynfor the Pacifist in the book by Pennar Davies – it gives us a comprehensive and detailed picture of the depth of his thinking and his faith.

Defending the land of Wales – successfully – Trawsfynnydd, 1951

He was brought up in a Christian family in Barry where his grandfather The Reverend Ben Evans was the first Minister of Capel y Tabernacl.  His uncle Idris (his father’s brother) was also a minister and a first-class preacher.  Gwynfor became Chairman of the Union of Welsh Independent Churches when he was just forty-two years of age.  No-one as young as that had ever been elected before.  And his son Guto was also President of the Union in recent times.

It is important to recall that in his maiden speech in the House of Commons Gwynfor based his hopes for Wales on the Christian values of its heritage.  He occupied a number of positions in the Independents’ organisation and he also played a key role in setting up Tŷ John Penry and its administration.  His Christianity was always practical.

“I am first a pacifist and then a nationalist” were Gwynfor’s words when given an unconditional discharge after appearing before a military Tribunal in Carmarthen in 1940.  After writing his first article about St Athan in 1937 he came under the influence of his great hero George M LL Davies, becoming Secretary of Heddychwyr Cymru, the Welsh peace pledge movement and responsible for its tent in the Cardiff National Eisteddfod in 1938.  Throughout his life he led protests and spoke in peace rallies – Swansea Rally in 1940, the great rally to defend Epynt where 400 people were turned out of their homes, the Abergeirw rally of 1948 and Trawsfynydd in 1951, with its celebrated photograph – all of these against the War Office grabbing Welsh land.

The Peace Pledge Union was indebted to him for his support and leadership and Gwynfor published a number of booklets and pamphlets such as They Cry Wolf and Wales Against Conscription.  Then, in 1973, he delivered his famous lecture in the Temple of Peace, Cardiff – Non-violent Nationalism.  He was just as supportive of CND as well, and spoke most strongly time and time against the Vietnam War, offering himself as a human shield in Hanoi in 1968 – but his group were refused admission – nevertheless the act as typical of a man who could not stand by and watch such slaughter.  Dafydd Elis Thomas says of him in one of the Peace Pledge Union’s newsletters:

“This great soul was born in the most violent century in the history of the world.  In the darkness of the warlike twentieth century his life was a beacon.”

FIGHTING FOR THE LANGUAGE

Gwynfor  played a vital role in the campaign to secure a radio service for Wales – in 1939 the BBC removed programmes about Wales completely.  In the National Eisteddfod in Llandybie in 1944 Gwynfor gave a lecture to a packed chapel on Radio In Wales.  The lecture was published in Welsh and in English and 10,000 copies were sold!  Gwynfor argued for devolution in the field of broadcasting, and to cut another long story short – this was successful and he was elected as a member of the BBC’s Welsh Advisory Committee in 1946.  Although it would be a long battle, BBC Wales together with Radio Cymru and Radio Wales were secured later on.

Victory – the first day of the Welsh language television service on S4C, 1982

By the mid 1950s Gwynfor could also see that the arrival of television also meant a revolutionary change in the system of communications that posed a major threat to the Welsh language and culture.  He pressed the idea of Welsh television, but the government did nothing to help, and he did not succeed in fulfilling his aim.  Gwynfor made an important Commons speech in 1969, calling specifically on the government to establish a Welsh Channel, and you know about that campaign in the 1970s.  The story of the campaign to ensure the setting up of S4C is one that will always be associated with Gwynfor and his intention to fast after the Tory Government broke its pledge – that story would be another lecture as later this month we mark the 30th anniversary of broadcasting on C.

Apart from the non-stop leadership Gwynfor provided for every aspect of the language struggle, there was his campaign for a Welsh language College.  He became a member of the University Court and in 1951 he proposed setting up a Welsh College, with a committee set up to consider the idea.  Everyone was opposed apart from Gwynfor, who again in 1953 prepared a detailed memorandum showing the need for this type of college.  He carried on the struggle in following years – another campaign in 1973 and then in 1986 when addressing the first Welsh language graduation ceremony organised by the Welsh Students Union in Aberystwyth.  He showed great determination and unswerving drive – and by now the Welsh College exists, with its administrative centre in Y Llwyfan here in Carmarthen.

THE FAMILY MAN

“He would never tell us or our children – ‘go away, I’m too busy, and he never waved a finger at us to chastise us.  His patience with the children was limitless.”  Those are the words of his daughter Meinir.  The family moved from Wernellyn to Talar Wen in 1953 – “Talar Wen was my father’s wedding present, postponed for fifteen years” said Gwynfor.  “Everything used to build the house was from Wales and Rhiannon’s brother Dewi Prys designed it.”

Gwynfor and his family

They had seven children and in response to a journalist Gwynfor said that his favourite Biblical saying was – “Be fruitful and multiply and fill … the earth”.  He loved playing with the children – and dressing up as Auntie Jini, fooling the grandchildren into believing she was a half sister from America.  He also loved walking with the children, and his favourite place was y Garn Goch – the mountain where his ash was scattered and where a memorial stone stands at the foot of the hillside.  Like his father, Gwynfor was musical and liked to play the piano.  According to his brother Alcwyn, Gwynfor would tend to go to the piano when he faced pressure, and when playing he would be able to relax.

Gwynfor and Rhiannon moved to another Talar Wen in Pencarreg near Llanybydder in the summer of 1984 when he retired.  A big farewell supper was held in Llangadog hall for the community to pay tribute to a couple who did so much for the Welsh traditions of the area for a period of 45 years.  When 17 Plaid Cymru members were elected to the first National Assembly in 1999 they all came to Pencarreg to see Gwynfor and Rhiannon.  Other visitors included Winnie Ewing with Rhodri, Cynog and Roy Llywelyn.

On the day before Gwynfor celebrated his 90th birthday a piece about him was carried in the Western Mail.  He headline read – ‘Pacifist giant of Welsh culture whose place in history is secured – Wales celebrates 90 years of Gwynfor’.

“Gwynfor Evans has been described as ‘one of the greatest souls of the 20th century.  Alongside Lloyd George and Aneurin Bevan he is one of the last century’s three greatest Welsh politicians.  But he arguably stands alone and ahead of them all in the measure of his influence and is one of the few people from any era recognised solely by their Christian name.

“Gwynfor’s place in history is secure, and not just through his achievements and influence but his public acclaim.  He was chosen by readers of Wales on Sunday as Millennium Icon ahead of Lloyd George and Aneurin Bevan, voted Welsh Person of the Millennium ahead of Owain Glyndŵr by readers of Y Cymro and was reader’s choice in the Western Mail’s Person of the Millennium Award.  They were popular endorsements of the greatest living Welshman of the 20th century.”

Gwynfor appeared in public for the last time at the 2,000 National Eisteddfod in Llanelli, where he received the Worldwide Welsh Award for a lifetime’s work for Wales.  The ceremony was full of emotion, with a packed pavilion honouring this very special man.

And to conclude, I would like to quote Professor Geraint Jenkins in his address to the Gymanfa Ganu we held in Capel Heol Awst to mark Gwynfor’s life soon after he died. This is what he said –

“Set about praising and publicly honouring Gwynfor’s name by erecting a fitting monument to him.  What better place could there be to place a fitting memorial than here in Carmarthen, where he experience his big moment on 14 July 1966 so that your children and your children’s children can come here to admire one of the great figures of our nation.”  And as you know that work is now in hand, with the intention of realising a monument by 2,016, the fiftieth anniversary of his great victory in 1966.

Gwynfor Richard Evans died on Thursday morning 21 April 2005 at the age of 92 in his home in Talar Wen, Pencarreg.  Rhys Evans says: “Gwynfor wanted to return to Garn Goch, to the soil, the land of Wales where his politics had taken root.  Nevertheless, as his ashes blow in the wind, his legacy survives.”

And Dr Geraint Jenkins says: “His aim was to build a nation that was free, responsible and confident, by restoring the memory of its people and strengthening its will to live – and we should remember him as ‘Llusernwr y canrifoedd coll’, the illuminator of the lost centuries.  Time after time Gwynfor was there to stand in the breach – his life reflected the history of Wales 1940 on.  The foundation of Gwynfor’s life was his Christianity and his pacifism.”

The last sentences in Rhys Evans’ substantial volume are: “No one did more than Gwynfor in the twentieth century.  It is not the Welsh-speaking Christian Wales that Gwynfor dreamed of, but it is still Wales.  Wales, the nation he loved with such passion, has survived, despite it all.”

Peter Hughes GriffithsGwynfor, capten Tîm Hoci’r Ysgol
[/caption]

While in University, there took place two events that would have a strong influence on his later life – the first:

“I would marvel at the dedication of the young men and women who sold Y Ddraig Goch on the streets of Aberystwyth – Gwenant Davies, Eic Davies and others.”

And secondly – “but one day he saw a yellow coloured pamphlet outside a bookshop in Aberystwyth – The Economics of Welsh Self Government by DJ Davies.  This booklet removed all kinds of doubt, and in the summer of 1934 he approached Cassie Davies in Barry and joined the national party.”

At the time Cassie Davies was a member of staff at Barry College and in her book Hwb i’r Galon she recalls –

“And this was the time that a remarkably good-looking young man from Barry, wearing an Aberystwyth college blazer, began to call to talk about this new party and ask to join it.”

Gwynfor then went to Oxford University where he set up a party branch and became secretary of the famous Cymdeithas Dafydd ap Gwilym.  He graduated there in 1936.

Although he was to send an article from Oxford for his old school’s magazine, parts of which appeared in the Western Mail, it was in January 1937 that he published his first full article in Y Ddraig Goch, dealing with the establishment of the St Athan camp, and in the Plaid Cymru Summer School in Bala the same year he proposed a motion calling for official status for the Welsh language.  And guess what – 400,000 signatures were collected in support of the proposal before the Second World War put paid to that effort.

So you can see that Gwynfor had already made his first major strides in what was to be his life’s work – for the sake of Wales.  He became a member of Plaid Cymru’s national executive in 1937 and within six years, in 1943, he was chosen as party vice-president.  Then on 1 August 1945 in the Llangollen conference (five days before the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima) he was elected as President of Plaid Cymru at the age of just 32, the start of his great lifetime mission – he would remain president and leader for the next 36 years.

In the meantime he had married his lifelong partner Rhiannon and was living in Wernellyn, Llangadog where he launched a market garden venture.  I like his description of how he fell for Rhiannon.  In his autobiography Bywyd Cymro, available in English as For the Sake of Wales, Gwynfor describes how he called on Rhiannon’s parents in Cardiff –

“I have to confess that my heart lost a beat the moment Rhiannon walked into the room.  On seeing her again two months later amid the beauty of a summer’s day at Islaw’r Dref dressed in a very short light frock  – beach wear no doubt – the boy from Barry fell head over heels in love!”

They were married on St David’s Day 1941, and Pennar Davies says in his book that if heaven had ever arranged marriages this was surely one it had done well:  “And the contribution of Rhiannon Evans to the work of her husband cannot be overestimated.”

Gwynfor contested his first Parliamentary election in Meirionydd in 1945.  He led the Llyn y Fan protest on New Year’s Day 1947 and that in Abergeirw in 1948 and was elected a member of the University Court’s Guild of Graduates and of the Welsh Independents the same year, as well as serving as Welsh Secretary of the Celtic League in the Colwyn Bay National Eisteddfod as early as 1947, when he was 34.  It is evident that by the end of the 1940s Gwynfor Evans had established himself as a national leader with wide support among his people.

Leading the Abergeirw protest, 1948

Gwynfor was elected to Carmarthenshire County Council in 1949 and was a County Councillor for 25 years.  The 1956 County Council elections produced an interesting result, with 29 Independent councillors, 29 Labour and 2 Plaid Cymru.  Plaid Cymru held the balance, and stranger still both Plaid councillors bore the name Gwynfor Evans – Gwynfor Evans of Betws, Ammanford and Gwynfor Evans, Llangadog.  Gwynfor Evans, Betws took the county council to the High Court in London for failing to provide nomination papers in Welsh – and won his case, leading significantly to the establishment of the Hughes Parry Committee in 1963 to investigate the legal status of the Welsh language.

In 1949 Gwynfor led Plaid Cymru’s most ambitious Rally ever – 4,000 people came to Machynlleth to call for a Parliament for Wales, and after Gwynfor’s speech one correspondent concluded that the accolade of Wales’ leading orator should be awarded to Gwynfor rather than Aneurin Bevan.  There followed further Parliament for Wales rallies in Blaenau Ffestiniog in 1950 and then the great rally in Cardiff in 1953, with a quarter of a million people signing a petition presented to the House of Commons.  Gwynfor fought Meirionydd in the 1950 General Election, the Aberdare by-election in 1954 and Meirionnydd again in 1955 and 1959.

And what about the fight for Tryweryn?  A rally in Bala in 1956 –

“No sooner had Mr Gwynfor Evans got to his feet to speak than the thousands in the great marquee stood up to welcome him and give him prolonged applause.”  And in his book Bywyd Cymro Gwynfor said– “And except for the Parliament for Wales campaign, Tryweryn was the most important of all our campaigns.”  Gwynfor’s leadership during that battle have been recorded in detail and the deputations to Liverpool and so on are historical events.  Gwynfor wrote – “The Welsh had been as united as ever any nation could be.  Their opinion was completely ignored.  The state of democracy in Wales was exposed.”

The battle for Tryweryn – leading a procession through the streets of Liverpool

A young woman – Jennie Eirian Davies, married to a minister in Brynaman – stood as Plaid Cymru’s first candidate in Carmarthen in the General Election of 1955 and again in a by-election in 1957.  Dewi Thomas writes about her in a book of tribute to her –

“Her tireless dedication and brilliant talent in the fifties opened the door for Gwynfor’s success in the great victory in Carmarthen later on.”  Indeed Jennie Eirian herself said after the 1957 election – “The Blaid will win this seat within 10 years.”  That happened in 1966 – within 9 years!

Where should I begin with Gwynfor’s victory in the 1966 by-election?  That story deserves a lecture in its own right.  You will get that in 2016 when we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the victory!  All I wish to say tonight is that the fact that result took place changes the political history of Wales for ever.

Gwasg y Dryw brought out a record of Gwynfor speaking after his victory, calling on his country to will a full life and the means of creating it, a Welsh government.  Today that government exists.  We are on the way to securing a comprehensive Welsh government, Gwynfor’s full vision.

Think about him going to London and the House of Commons and entering the lion’s den –

“As he showed me round the tea rooms, Emrys Hughes pointed to the Welsh table, saying, ‘I wouldn’t sit there if I were you ’– ‘Your name is mud there.’  Goronwy Roberts used to pass me in the corridor without looking at me.  It may be difficult for some readers to recall how vicious George Thomas could be.  He was extremely set in his anti-Welsh sentiment.  He was the very scourge of Welsh nationalism and the Welsh language.”

Gwynfor entering the House of Commons, 1966

That was the environment Gwynfor entered, but he took advantage of that imperial establishment to fight for Wales and call for self-government.  Things like this –

With the support of Plaid Cymru’s Research Group, he came to the conclusion that the best tactic was to wage a guerrilla war and ask numberless questions about the situation of Wales.  Gwynfor’s question would drive the civil service crazy: by the end of the first year he had asked over 600 questions, all of them published together with their answers in three volumes –the Black Books of Carmarthen.  Then the party set out Plaid Cymru’s case to the Royal Commission on the Commission in 1969.

Losing Carmarthen in 1970 – after the Investiture, direct action by Cymdeithas yr Iaith and the FWA (if such a thing existed!).  Then losing by just 3 votes in March 1974 and scoring a sweeping victory in October 1974.  At half past three in the morning a crowd of 3,000 were on Nott Square to hear the result and that Gwynfor had taken 23,325 votes.  This was the only seat that Labour lost anywhere in the United Kingdom that night.  So back to London, but this time with the two Dafydds for company!  His working day would often commence at nine o’clock in the morning and carry on into the early hours of the following morning.

This was a crucial period for making the case for assemblies for Wales and Scotland – there were three nationalist MPs from Wales as well as seven from Scotland.  The Government’s majority over the other parties was only three.  Gwynfor said – “Here was the most hopeful political situation I had ever encountered”.  The Government was compelled to yield to the pressure for parliaments for Wales and Scotland – and this marked the beginning of a long and difficult journey which has now taken place, much more so in Scotland than in Wales!

The Labour Party took care to ensure that the devolution referendum in Wales and Scotland faced barriers so that it was impossible for the Yes vote to succeed.  We remember Neil Kinnock and others in the Labour Party campaigning strongly against their party’s own policy and getting every facility to do so.  The outcome was the Na vote in the 1979 Assembly referendum in Wales.  Rhys Evans says –

“Gwynfor experienced many highs and lows in his career, but this was the nadir.  For him and his generation of nationalists, the referendum was more than a ballot on the administration of Wales; the referendum was a vote on the spiritual and existential question of whether Wales existed.  He was devastated, not knowing which made him feel more sick … Welsh toadyism or Labour deceit and corruption.”

Westminister – with his fellow MPs Dafydd Wigley and Dafydd Elis Thomas

He lost the General Election that followed the Referendum because of publication of a BBC opinion poll days before the election that predicted that Gwynfor would come a poor third.  In my personal opinion all this had been arranged by the ‘establishment’ to get rid of Gwynfor from the House of Commons.  In fact, the BBC admitted following a detailed review of the company that carried out the opinion poll that were unacceptably far from the mark!

Gwynfor’s response was – if he had won that election, with his health as it was at the time, he would no longer be in the land of the living!  And then in 1981 after 36 years as President of Plaid Cymru Gwynfor stepped down from the helm in the Conference in Carmarthen.

That is a quick sketch of the work and impact of Gwynfor in the field of politics.  It was a very profound impact, and we would never be where we are today but for Gwynfor having accomplished so much.  His political success is now acknowledged by everyone.  A very very special man.

But what is truly remarkable about this man is that he accomplished so much side by side with his political career.  And what I want to do now is give you a taste of those accomplishments, and remind you of the other tremendous pioneering roles he played.

And where should I begin?

THE HISTORIAN

A few of the many books written by Gwynfor

Gwynfor would almost invariably begin every speech with a history lesson.  It didn’t matter where, or what was the occasion, the history of Wales was part of the message.  He believed it was very important that we as a people should get to know our history.  He campaigned to teach Welsh history in our schools – at a time when that was virtually non-existent, and he set about writing and publishing books, and encouraging others to do the same – “Gwynfor’s aim throughout his life was to awaken national consciousness through imbuing people with the history of Wales, restoring  their memory and strengthening their desire to live.” (Dr Geraint Jenkins)

He wrote history classics –Hanes Cymru/ History of Wales, through the South Wales Echo.  Then Aros Mae, Seiri Cenedl y Cymry and Land of My Fathers.  Picture him setting out on Christmas Day 1970 to write the first two pages of notes for Aros Mae!  It was on sale within 7 months, with the first edition selling fast and a second edition soon in hand.  Elin Garlick set about a translation into English, entitled Land of My Fathers.  Three reprints were to follow and the publishers Tŷ John Penry commented– “this was the best seller of all the books we have published.”

His other historical classic is Seiri Cenedl y Cymry, available in English as Welsh Nation Builders, portraits of the history of 65 men and women who contributed in different ways to the building and development of our nation.  Think of all the research work needed to write historical studies and get the facts right!  Gwynfor was a prolific author – of some 30 books in total – as well as pamphlets, leaflets and numerous books, in Welsh and English.  He told me once of his intention to write one more book based on all his travelling around Wales – a study of Welsh chip shops as he had eaten in so many of them as he criss-crossed the country!

THE CHRISTIAN AND PACIFIST

We heard the Reverend Beti Wyn James and Mererid Hopwood assessing the significance of Gwynfor’s contribution in these two fields in the memorial service held in Capel y Priordy on Sunday 2 September.  So I shall just summarise some of the main features.

Gwynfor was a teacher in the young people’s Sunday School in his chapel, Providence Llangadog, for many years, and what is special id this – wherever he had been on the Saturday night  – he would almost always return for his Sunday School class the following day.  Read the full chapter about Gwynfor the Pacifist in the book by Pennar Davies – it gives us a comprehensive and detailed picture of the depth of his thinking and his faith.

Defending the land of Wales – successfully – Trawsfynnydd, 1951

He was brought up in a Christian family in Barry where his grandfather The Reverend Ben Evans was the first Minister of Capel y Tabernacl.  His uncle Idris (his father’s brother) was also a minister and a first-class preacher.  Gwynfor became Chairman of the Union of Welsh Independent Churches when he was just forty-two years of age.  No-one as young as that had ever been elected before.  And his son Guto was also President of the Union in recent times.

It is important to recall that in his maiden speech in the House of Commons Gwynfor based his hopes for Wales on the Christian values of its heritage.  He occupied a number of positions in the Independents’ organisation and he also played a key role in setting up Tŷ John Penry and its administration.  His Christianity was always practical.

“I am first a pacifist and then a nationalist” were Gwynfor’s words when given an unconditional discharge after appearing before a military Tribunal in Carmarthen in 1940.  After writing his first article about St Athan in 1937 he came under the influence of his great hero George M LL Davies, becoming Secretary of Heddychwyr Cymru, the Welsh peace pledge movement and responsible for its tent in the Cardiff National Eisteddfod in 1938.  Throughout his life he led protests and spoke in peace rallies – Swansea Rally in 1940, the great rally to defend Epynt where 400 people were turned out of their homes, the Abergeirw rally of 1948 and Trawsfynydd in 1951, with its celebrated photograph – all of these against the War Office grabbing Welsh land.

The Peace Pledge Union was indebted to him for his support and leadership and Gwynfor published a number of booklets and pamphlets such as They Cry Wolf and Wales Against Conscription.  Then, in 1973, he delivered his famous lecture in the Temple of Peace, Cardiff – Non-violent Nationalism.  He was just as supportive of CND as well, and spoke most strongly time and time against the Vietnam War, offering himself as a human shield in Hanoi in 1968 – but his group were refused admission – nevertheless the act as typical of a man who could not stand by and watch such slaughter.  Dafydd Elis Thomas says of him in one of the Peace Pledge Union’s newsletters:

“This great soul was born in the most violent century in the history of the world.  In the darkness of the warlike twentieth century his life was a beacon.”

FIGHTING FOR THE LANGUAGE

Gwynfor  played a vital role in the campaign to secure a radio service for Wales – in 1939 the BBC removed programmes about Wales completely.  In the National Eisteddfod in Llandybie in 1944 Gwynfor gave a lecture to a packed chapel on Radio In Wales.  The lecture was published in Welsh and in English and 10,000 copies were sold!  Gwynfor argued for devolution in the field of broadcasting, and to cut another long story short – this was successful and he was elected as a member of the BBC’s Welsh Advisory Committee in 1946.  Although it would be a long battle, BBC Wales together with Radio Cymru and Radio Wales were secured later on.

Victory – the first day of the Welsh language television service on S4C, 1982

By the mid 1950s Gwynfor could also see that the arrival of television also meant a revolutionary change in the system of communications that posed a major threat to the Welsh language and culture.  He pressed the idea of Welsh television, but the government did nothing to help, and he did not succeed in fulfilling his aim.  Gwynfor made an important Commons speech in 1969, calling specifically on the government to establish a Welsh Channel, and you know about that campaign in the 1970s.  The story of the campaign to ensure the setting up of S4C is one that will always be associated with Gwynfor and his intention to fast after the Tory Government broke its pledge – that story would be another lecture as later this month we mark the 30th anniversary of broadcasting on C.

Apart from the non-stop leadership Gwynfor provided for every aspect of the language struggle, there was his campaign for a Welsh language College.  He became a member of the University Court and in 1951 he proposed setting up a Welsh College, with a committee set up to consider the idea.  Everyone was opposed apart from Gwynfor, who again in 1953 prepared a detailed memorandum showing the need for this type of college.  He carried on the struggle in following years – another campaign in 1973 and then in 1986 when addressing the first Welsh language graduation ceremony organised by the Welsh Students Union in Aberystwyth.  He showed great determination and unswerving drive – and by now the Welsh College exists, with its administrative centre in Y Llwyfan here in Carmarthen.

THE FAMILY MAN

“He would never tell us or our children – ‘go away, I’m too busy, and he never waved a finger at us to chastise us.  His patience with the children was limitless.”  Those are the words of his daughter Meinir.  The family moved from Wernellyn to Talar Wen in 1953 – “Talar Wen was my father’s wedding present, postponed for fifteen years” said Gwynfor.  “Everything used to build the house was from Wales and Rhiannon’s brother Dewi Prys designed it.”

Gwynfor and his family

They had seven children and in response to a journalist Gwynfor said that his favourite Biblical saying was – “Be fruitful and multiply and fill … the earth”.  He loved playing with the children – and dressing up as Auntie Jini, fooling the grandchildren into believing she was a half sister from America.  He also loved walking with the children, and his favourite place was y Garn Goch – the mountain where his ash was scattered and where a memorial stone stands at the foot of the hillside.  Like his father, Gwynfor was musical and liked to play the piano.  According to his brother Alcwyn, Gwynfor would tend to go to the piano when he faced pressure, and when playing he would be able to relax.

Gwynfor and Rhiannon moved to another Talar Wen in Pencarreg near Llanybydder in the summer of 1984 when he retired.  A big farewell supper was held in Llangadog hall for the community to pay tribute to a couple who did so much for the Welsh traditions of the area for a period of 45 years.  When 17 Plaid Cymru members were elected to the first National Assembly in 1999 they all came to Pencarreg to see Gwynfor and Rhiannon.  Other visitors included Winnie Ewing with Rhodri, Cynog and Roy Llywelyn.

On the day before Gwynfor celebrated his 90th birthday a piece about him was carried in the Western Mail.  He headline read – ‘Pacifist giant of Welsh culture whose place in history is secured – Wales celebrates 90 years of Gwynfor’.

“Gwynfor Evans has been described as ‘one of the greatest souls of the 20th century.  Alongside Lloyd George and Aneurin Bevan he is one of the last century’s three greatest Welsh politicians.  But he arguably stands alone and ahead of them all in the measure of his influence and is one of the few people from any era recognised solely by their Christian name.

“Gwynfor’s place in history is secure, and not just through his achievements and influence but his public acclaim.  He was chosen by readers of Wales on Sunday as Millennium Icon ahead of Lloyd George and Aneurin Bevan, voted Welsh Person of the Millennium ahead of Owain Glyndŵr by readers of Y Cymro and was reader’s choice in the Western Mail’s Person of the Millennium Award.  They were popular endorsements of the greatest living Welshman of the 20th century.”

Gwynfor appeared in public for the last time at the 2,000 National Eisteddfod in Llanelli, where he received the Worldwide Welsh Award for a lifetime’s work for Wales.  The ceremony was full of emotion, with a packed pavilion honouring this very special man.

And to conclude, I would like to quote Professor Geraint Jenkins in his address to the Gymanfa Ganu we held in Capel Heol Awst to mark Gwynfor’s life soon after he died. This is what he said –

“Set about praising and publicly honouring Gwynfor’s name by erecting a fitting monument to him.  What better place could there be to place a fitting memorial than here in Carmarthen, where he experience his big moment on 14 July 1966 so that your children and your children’s children can come here to admire one of the great figures of our nation.”  And as you know that work is now in hand, with the intention of realising a monument by 2,016, the fiftieth anniversary of his great victory in 1966.

Gwynfor Richard Evans died on Thursday morning 21 April 2005 at the age of 92 in his home in Talar Wen, Pencarreg.  Rhys Evans says: “Gwynfor wanted to return to Garn Goch, to the soil, the land of Wales where his politics had taken root.  Nevertheless, as his ashes blow in the wind, his legacy survives.”

And Dr Geraint Jenkins says: “His aim was to build a nation that was free, responsible and confident, by restoring the memory of its people and strengthening its will to live – and we should remember him as ‘Llusernwr y canrifoedd coll’, the illuminator of the lost centuries.  Time after time Gwynfor was there to stand in the breach – his life reflected the history of Wales 1940 on.  The foundation of Gwynfor’s life was his Christianity and his pacifism.”

The last sentences in Rhys Evans’ substantial volume are: “No one did more than Gwynfor in the twentieth century.  It is not the Welsh-speaking Christian Wales that Gwynfor dreamed of, but it is still Wales.  Wales, the nation he loved with such passion, has survived, despite it all.”

Peter Hughes GriffithsGwynfor, capten Tîm Hoci’r Ysgol
[/caption]

While in University, there took place two events that would have a strong influence on his later life – the first:

“I would marvel at the dedication of the young men and women who sold Y Ddraig Goch on the streets of Aberystwyth – Gwenant Davies, Eic Davies and others.”

And secondly – “but one day he saw a yellow coloured pamphlet outside a bookshop in Aberystwyth – The Economics of Welsh Self Government by DJ Davies.  This booklet removed all kinds of doubt, and in the summer of 1934 he approached Cassie Davies in Barry and joined the national party.”

At the time Cassie Davies was a member of staff at Barry College and in her book Hwb i’r Galon she recalls –

“And this was the time that a remarkably good-looking young man from Barry, wearing an Aberystwyth college blazer, began to call to talk about this new party and ask to join it.”

Gwynfor then went to Oxford University where he set up a party branch and became secretary of the famous Cymdeithas Dafydd ap Gwilym.  He graduated there in 1936.

Although he was to send an article from Oxford for his old school’s magazine, parts of which appeared in the Western Mail, it was in January 1937 that he published his first full article in Y Ddraig Goch, dealing with the establishment of the St Athan camp, and in the Plaid Cymru Summer School in Bala the same year he proposed a motion calling for official status for the Welsh language.  And guess what – 400,000 signatures were collected in support of the proposal before the Second World War put paid to that effort.

So you can see that Gwynfor had already made his first major strides in what was to be his life’s work – for the sake of Wales.  He became a member of Plaid Cymru’s national executive in 1937 and within six years, in 1943, he was chosen as party vice-president.  Then on 1 August 1945 in the Llangollen conference (five days before the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima) he was elected as President of Plaid Cymru at the age of just 32, the start of his great lifetime mission – he would remain president and leader for the next 36 years.

Priodi, 1941 – Gwynfor a Rhiannon a’u teuluoedd (ei dad yng nghyfraith Dan Thomas ar y chwith)Marriage, 1941 – Gwynfor and Rhiannon and their families (his father-in-law Dan Thomas on the left)

Priodi, 1941 – Gwynfor a Rhiannon a’u teuluoedd (ei dad yng nghyfraith Dan Thomas ar y chwith)

In the meantime he had married his lifelong partner Rhiannon and was living in Wernellyn, Llangadog where he launched a market garden venture.  I like his description of how he fell for Rhiannon.  In his autobiography Bywyd Cymro, available in English as For the Sake of Wales, Gwynfor describes how he called on Rhiannon’s parents in Cardiff –

“I have to confess that my heart lost a beat the moment Rhiannon walked into the room.  On seeing her again two months later amid the beauty of a summer’s day at Islaw’r Dref dressed in a very short light frock  – beach wear no doubt – the boy from Barry fell head over heels in love!”

They were married on St David’s Day 1941, and Pennar Davies says in his book that if heaven had ever arranged marriages this was surely one it had done well:  “And the contribution of Rhiannon Evans to the work of her husband cannot be overestimated.”

Gwynfor contested his first Parliamentary election in Meirionydd in 1945.  He led the Llyn y Fan protest on New Year’s Day 1947 and that in Abergeirw in 1948 and was elected a member of the University Court’s Guild of Graduates and of the Welsh Independents the same year, as well as serving as Welsh Secretary of the Celtic League in the Colwyn Bay National Eisteddfod as early as 1947, when he was 34.  It is evident that by the end of the 1940s Gwynfor Evans had established himself as a national leader with wide support among his people.

Gwynfor was elected to Carmarthenshire County Council in 1949 and was a County Councillor for 25 years.  The 1956 County Council elections produced an interesting result, with 29 Independent councillors, 29 Labour and 2 Plaid Cymru.  Plaid Cymru held the balance, and stranger still both Plaid councillors bore the name Gwynfor Evans – Gwynfor Evans of Betws, Ammanford and Gwynfor Evans, Llangadog.  Gwynfor Evans, Betws took the county council to the High Court in London for failing to provide nomination papers in Welsh – and won his case, leading significantly to the establishment of the Hughes Parry Committee in 1963 to investigate the legal status of the Welsh language.

In 1949 Gwynfor led Plaid Cymru’s most ambitious Rally ever – 4,000 people came to Machynlleth to call for a Parliament for Wales, and after Gwynfor’s speech one correspondent concluded that the accolade of Wales’ leading orator should be awarded to Gwynfor rather than Aneurin Bevan.  There followed further Parliament for Wales rallies in Blaenau Ffestiniog in 1950 and then the great rally in Cardiff in 1953, with a quarter of a million people signing a petition presented to the House of Commons.  Gwynfor fought Meirionydd in the 1950 General Election, the Aberdare by-election in 1954 and Meirionnydd again in 1955 and 1959.

And what about the fight for Tryweryn?  A rally in Bala in 1956 –

“No sooner had Mr Gwynfor Evans got to his feet to speak than the thousands in the great marquee stood up to welcome him and give him prolonged applause.”  And in his book Bywyd Cymro Gwynfor said– “And except for the Parliament for Wales campaign, Tryweryn was the most important of all our campaigns.”  Gwynfor’s leadership during that battle have been recorded in detail and the deputations to Liverpool and so on are historical events.  Gwynfor wrote – “The Welsh had been as united as ever any nation could be.  Their opinion was completely ignored.  The state of democracy in Wales was exposed.”

The battle for Tryweryn – leading a procession through the streets of Liverpool

A young woman – Jennie Eirian Davies, married to a minister in Brynaman – stood as Plaid Cymru’s first candidate in Carmarthen in the General Election of 1955 and again in a by-election in 1957.  Dewi Thomas writes about her in a book of tribute to her –

“Her tireless dedication and brilliant talent in the fifties opened the door for Gwynfor’s success in the great victory in Carmarthen later on.”  Indeed Jennie Eirian herself said after the 1957 election – “The Blaid will win this seat within 10 years.”  That happened in 1966 – within 9 years!

Where should I begin with Gwynfor’s victory in the 1966 by-election?  That story deserves a lecture in its own right.  You will get that in 2016 when we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the victory!  All I wish to say tonight is that the fact that result took place changes the political history of Wales for ever.

Gwasg y Dryw brought out a record of Gwynfor speaking after his victory, calling on his country to will a full life and the means of creating it, a Welsh government.  Today that government exists.  We are on the way to securing a comprehensive Welsh government, Gwynfor’s full vision.

Think about him going to London and the House of Commons and entering the lion’s den –

“As he showed me round the tea rooms, Emrys Hughes pointed to the Welsh table, saying, ‘I wouldn’t sit there if I were you ’– ‘Your name is mud there.’  Goronwy Roberts used to pass me in the corridor without looking at me.  It may be difficult for some readers to recall how vicious George Thomas could be.  He was extremely set in his anti-Welsh sentiment.  He was the very scourge of Welsh nationalism and the Welsh language.”

Gwynfor entering the House of Commons, 1966

That was the environment Gwynfor entered, but he took advantage of that imperial establishment to fight for Wales and call for self-government.  Things like this –

With the support of Plaid Cymru’s Research Group, he came to the conclusion that the best tactic was to wage a guerrilla war and ask numberless questions about the situation of Wales.  Gwynfor’s question would drive the civil service crazy: by the end of the first year he had asked over 600 questions, all of them published together with their answers in three volumes –the Black Books of Carmarthen.  Then the party set out Plaid Cymru’s case to the Royal Commission on the Commission in 1969.

Losing Carmarthen in 1970 – after the Investiture, direct action by Cymdeithas yr Iaith and the FWA (if such a thing existed!).  Then losing by just 3 votes in March 1974 and scoring a sweeping victory in October 1974.  At half past three in the morning a crowd of 3,000 were on Nott Square to hear the result and that Gwynfor had taken 23,325 votes.  This was the only seat that Labour lost anywhere in the United Kingdom that night.  So back to London, but this time with the two Dafydds for company!  His working day would often commence at nine o’clock in the morning and carry on into the early hours of the following morning.

This was a crucial period for making the case for assemblies for Wales and Scotland – there were three nationalist MPs from Wales as well as seven from Scotland.  The Government’s majority over the other parties was only three.  Gwynfor said – “Here was the most hopeful political situation I had ever encountered”.  The Government was compelled to yield to the pressure for parliaments for Wales and Scotland – and this marked the beginning of a long and difficult journey which has now taken place, much more so in Scotland than in Wales!

The Labour Party took care to ensure that the devolution referendum in Wales and Scotland faced barriers so that it was impossible for the Yes vote to succeed.  We remember Neil Kinnock and others in the Labour Party campaigning strongly against their party’s own policy and getting every facility to do so.  The outcome was the Na vote in the 1979 Assembly referendum in Wales.  Rhys Evans says –

“Gwynfor experienced many highs and lows in his career, but this was the nadir.  For him and his generation of nationalists, the referendum was more than a ballot on the administration of Wales; the referendum was a vote on the spiritual and existential question of whether Wales existed.  He was devastated, not knowing which made him feel more sick … Welsh toadyism or Labour deceit and corruption.”

Westminister – with his fellow MPs Dafydd Wigley and Dafydd Elis Thomas

He lost the General Election that followed the Referendum because of publication of a BBC opinion poll days before the election that predicted that Gwynfor would come a poor third.  In my personal opinion all this had been arranged by the ‘establishment’ to get rid of Gwynfor from the House of Commons.  In fact, the BBC admitted following a detailed review of the company that carried out the opinion poll that were unacceptably far from the mark!

Gwynfor’s response was – if he had won that election, with his health as it was at the time, he would no longer be in the land of the living!  And then in 1981 after 36 years as President of Plaid Cymru Gwynfor stepped down from the helm in the Conference in Carmarthen.

That is a quick sketch of the work and impact of Gwynfor in the field of politics.  It was a very profound impact, and we would never be where we are today but for Gwynfor having accomplished so much.  His political success is now acknowledged by everyone.  A very very special man.

But what is truly remarkable about this man is that he accomplished so much side by side with his political career.  And what I want to do now is give you a taste of those accomplishments, and remind you of the other tremendous pioneering roles he played.

And where should I begin?

THE HISTORIAN

A few of the many books written by Gwynfor

Gwynfor would almost invariably begin every speech with a history lesson.  It didn’t matter where, or what was the occasion, the history of Wales was part of the message.  He believed it was very important that we as a people should get to know our history.  He campaigned to teach Welsh history in our schools – at a time when that was virtually non-existent, and he set about writing and publishing books, and encouraging others to do the same – “Gwynfor’s aim throughout his life was to awaken national consciousness through imbuing people with the history of Wales, restoring  their memory and strengthening their desire to live.” (Dr Geraint Jenkins)

He wrote history classics –Hanes Cymru/ History of Wales, through the South Wales Echo.  Then Aros Mae, Seiri Cenedl y Cymry and Land of My Fathers.  Picture him setting out on Christmas Day 1970 to write the first two pages of notes for Aros Mae!  It was on sale within 7 months, with the first edition selling fast and a second edition soon in hand.  Elin Garlick set about a translation into English, entitled Land of My Fathers.  Three reprints were to follow and the publishers Tŷ John Penry commented– “this was the best seller of all the books we have published.”

His other historical classic is Seiri Cenedl y Cymry, available in English as Welsh Nation Builders, portraits of the history of 65 men and women who contributed in different ways to the building and development of our nation.  Think of all the research work needed to write historical studies and get the facts right!  Gwynfor was a prolific author – of some 30 books in total – as well as pamphlets, leaflets and numerous books, in Welsh and English.  He told me once of his intention to write one more book based on all his travelling around Wales – a study of Welsh chip shops as he had eaten in so many of them as he criss-crossed the country!

THE CHRISTIAN AND PACIFIST

We heard the Reverend Beti Wyn James and Mererid Hopwood assessing the significance of Gwynfor’s contribution in these two fields in the memorial service held in Capel y Priordy on Sunday 2 September.  So I shall just summarise some of the main features.

Gwynfor was a teacher in the young people’s Sunday School in his chapel, Providence Llangadog, for many years, and what is special id this – wherever he had been on the Saturday night  – he would almost always return for his Sunday School class the following day.  Read the full chapter about Gwynfor the Pacifist in the book by Pennar Davies – it gives us a comprehensive and detailed picture of the depth of his thinking and his faith.

Defending the land of Wales – successfully – Trawsfynnydd, 1951

He was brought up in a Christian family in Barry where his grandfather The Reverend Ben Evans was the first Minister of Capel y Tabernacl.  His uncle Idris (his father’s brother) was also a minister and a first-class preacher.  Gwynfor became Chairman of the Union of Welsh Independent Churches when he was just forty-two years of age.  No-one as young as that had ever been elected before.  And his son Guto was also President of the Union in recent times.

It is important to recall that in his maiden speech in the House of Commons Gwynfor based his hopes for Wales on the Christian values of its heritage.  He occupied a number of positions in the Independents’ organisation and he also played a key role in setting up Tŷ John Penry and its administration.  His Christianity was always practical.

“I am first a pacifist and then a nationalist” were Gwynfor’s words when given an unconditional discharge after appearing before a military Tribunal in Carmarthen in 1940.  After writing his first article about St Athan in 1937 he came under the influence of his great hero George M LL Davies, becoming Secretary of Heddychwyr Cymru, the Welsh peace pledge movement and responsible for its tent in the Cardiff National Eisteddfod in 1938.  Throughout his life he led protests and spoke in peace rallies – Swansea Rally in 1940, the great rally to defend Epynt where 400 people were turned out of their homes, the Abergeirw rally of 1948 and Trawsfynydd in 1951, with its celebrated photograph – all of these against the War Office grabbing Welsh land.

The Peace Pledge Union was indebted to him for his support and leadership and Gwynfor published a number of booklets and pamphlets such as They Cry Wolf and Wales Against Conscription.  Then, in 1973, he delivered his famous lecture in the Temple of Peace, Cardiff – Non-violent Nationalism.  He was just as supportive of CND as well, and spoke most strongly time and time against the Vietnam War, offering himself as a human shield in Hanoi in 1968 – but his group were refused admission – nevertheless the act as typical of a man who could not stand by and watch such slaughter.  Dafydd Elis Thomas says of him in one of the Peace Pledge Union’s newsletters:

“This great soul was born in the most violent century in the history of the world.  In the darkness of the warlike twentieth century his life was a beacon.”

FIGHTING FOR THE LANGUAGE

Gwynfor  played a vital role in the campaign to secure a radio service for Wales – in 1939 the BBC removed programmes about Wales completely.  In the National Eisteddfod in Llandybie in 1944 Gwynfor gave a lecture to a packed chapel on Radio In Wales.  The lecture was published in Welsh and in English and 10,000 copies were sold!  Gwynfor argued for devolution in the field of broadcasting, and to cut another long story short – this was successful and he was elected as a member of the BBC’s Welsh Advisory Committee in 1946.  Although it would be a long battle, BBC Wales together with Radio Cymru and Radio Wales were secured later on.

Victory – the first day of the Welsh language television service on S4C, 1982

By the mid 1950s Gwynfor could also see that the arrival of television also meant a revolutionary change in the system of communications that posed a major threat to the Welsh language and culture.  He pressed the idea of Welsh television, but the government did nothing to help, and he did not succeed in fulfilling his aim.  Gwynfor made an important Commons speech in 1969, calling specifically on the government to establish a Welsh Channel, and you know about that campaign in the 1970s.  The story of the campaign to ensure the setting up of S4C is one that will always be associated with Gwynfor and his intention to fast after the Tory Government broke its pledge – that story would be another lecture as later this month we mark the 30th anniversary of broadcasting on C.

Apart from the non-stop leadership Gwynfor provided for every aspect of the language struggle, there was his campaign for a Welsh language College.  He became a member of the University Court and in 1951 he proposed setting up a Welsh College, with a committee set up to consider the idea.  Everyone was opposed apart from Gwynfor, who again in 1953 prepared a detailed memorandum showing the need for this type of college.  He carried on the struggle in following years – another campaign in 1973 and then in 1986 when addressing the first Welsh language graduation ceremony organised by the Welsh Students Union in Aberystwyth.  He showed great determination and unswerving drive – and by now the Welsh College exists, with its administrative centre in Y Llwyfan here in Carmarthen.

THE FAMILY MAN

“He would never tell us or our children – ‘go away, I’m too busy, and he never waved a finger at us to chastise us.  His patience with the children was limitless.”  Those are the words of his daughter Meinir.  The family moved from Wernellyn to Talar Wen in 1953 – “Talar Wen was my father’s wedding present, postponed for fifteen years” said Gwynfor.  “Everything used to build the house was from Wales and Rhiannon’s brother Dewi Prys designed it.”

Gwynfor a’i deuluGwynfor and his family

Gwynfor a’i deulu

They had seven children and in response to a journalist Gwynfor said that his favourite Biblical saying was – “Be fruitful and multiply and fill … the earth”.  He loved playing with the children – and dressing up as Auntie Jini, fooling the grandchildren into believing she was a half sister from America.  He also loved walking with the children, and his favourite place was y Garn Goch – the mountain where his ash was scattered and where a memorial stone stands at the foot of the hillside.  Like his father, Gwynfor was musical and liked to play the piano.  According to his brother Alcwyn, Gwynfor would tend to go to the piano when he faced pressure, and when playing he would be able to relax.

Gwynfor and Rhiannon moved to another Talar Wen in Pencarreg near Llanybydder in the summer of 1984 when he retired.  A big farewell supper was held in Llangadog hall for the community to pay tribute to a couple who did so much for the Welsh traditions of the area for a period of 45 years.  When 17 Plaid Cymru members were elected to the first National Assembly in 1999 they all came to Pencarreg to see Gwynfor and Rhiannon.  Other visitors included Winnie Ewing with Rhodri, Cynog and Roy Llywelyn.

On the day before Gwynfor celebrated his 90th birthday a piece about him was carried in the Western Mail.  He headline read – ‘Pacifist giant of Welsh culture whose place in history is secured – Wales celebrates 90 years of Gwynfor’.

“Gwynfor Evans has been described as ‘one of the greatest souls of the 20th century.  Alongside Lloyd George and Aneurin Bevan he is one of the last century’s three greatest Welsh politicians.  But he arguably stands alone and ahead of them all in the measure of his influence and is one of the few people from any era recognised solely by their Christian name.

“Gwynfor’s place in history is secure, and not just through his achievements and influence but his public acclaim.  He was chosen by readers of Wales on Sunday as Millennium Icon ahead of Lloyd George and Aneurin Bevan, voted Welsh Person of the Millennium ahead of Owain Glyndŵr by readers of Y Cymro and was reader’s choice in the Western Mail’s Person of the Millennium Award.  They were popular endorsements of the greatest living Welshman of the 20th century.”

Gwynfor appeared in public for the last time at the 2,000 National Eisteddfod in Llanelli, where he received the Worldwide Welsh Award for a lifetime’s work for Wales.  The ceremony was full of emotion, with a packed pavilion honouring this very special man.

And to conclude, I would like to quote Professor Geraint Jenkins in his address to the Gymanfa Ganu we held in Capel Heol Awst to mark Gwynfor’s life soon after he died. This is what he said –

“Set about praising and publicly honouring Gwynfor’s name by erecting a fitting monument to him.  What better place could there be to place a fitting memorial than here in Carmarthen, where he experience his big moment on 14 July 1966 so that your children and your children’s children can come here to admire one of the great figures of our nation.”  And as you know that work is now in hand, with the intention of realising a monument by 2,016, the fiftieth anniversary of his great victory in 1966.

Gwynfor Richard Evans died on Thursday morning 21 April 2005 at the age of 92 in his home in Talar Wen, Pencarreg.  Rhys Evans says: “Gwynfor wanted to return to Garn Goch, to the soil, the land of Wales where his politics had taken root.  Nevertheless, as his ashes blow in the wind, his legacy survives.”

And Dr Geraint Jenkins says: “His aim was to build a nation that was free, responsible and confident, by restoring the memory of its people and strengthening its will to live – and we should remember him as ‘Llusernwr y canrifoedd coll’, the illuminator of the lost centuries.  Time after time Gwynfor was there to stand in the breach – his life reflected the history of Wales 1940 on.  The foundation of Gwynfor’s life was his Christianity and his pacifism.”

The last sentences in Rhys Evans’ substantial volume are: “No one did more than Gwynfor in the twentieth century.  It is not the Welsh-speaking Christian Wales that Gwynfor dreamed of, but it is still Wales.  Wales, the nation he loved with such passion, has survived, despite it all.”

Peter Hughes GriffithsGwynfor, capten Tîm Hoci’r Ysgol
[/caption]

While in University, there took place two events that would have a strong influence on his later life – the first:

“I would marvel at the dedication of the young men and women who sold Y Ddraig Goch on the streets of Aberystwyth – Gwenant Davies, Eic Davies and others.”

And secondly – “but one day he saw a yellow coloured pamphlet outside a bookshop in Aberystwyth – The Economics of Welsh Self Government by DJ Davies.  This booklet removed all kinds of doubt, and in the summer of 1934 he approached Cassie Davies in Barry and joined the national party.”

At the time Cassie Davies was a member of staff at Barry College and in her book Hwb i’r Galon she recalls –

“And this was the time that a remarkably good-looking young man from Barry, wearing an Aberystwyth college blazer, began to call to talk about this new party and ask to join it.”

Gwynfor then went to Oxford University where he set up a party branch and became secretary of the famous Cymdeithas Dafydd ap Gwilym.  He graduated there in 1936.

Although he was to send an article from Oxford for his old school’s magazine, parts of which appeared in the Western Mail, it was in January 1937 that he published his first full article in Y Ddraig Goch, dealing with the establishment of the St Athan camp, and in the Plaid Cymru Summer School in Bala the same year he proposed a motion calling for official status for the Welsh language.  And guess what – 400,000 signatures were collected in support of the proposal before the Second World War put paid to that effort.

So you can see that Gwynfor had already made his first major strides in what was to be his life’s work – for the sake of Wales.  He became a member of Plaid Cymru’s national executive in 1937 and within six years, in 1943, he was chosen as party vice-president.  Then on 1 August 1945 in the Llangollen conference (five days before the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima) he was elected as President of Plaid Cymru at the age of just 32, the start of his great lifetime mission – he would remain president and leader for the next 36 years.

Priodi, 1941 – Gwynfor a Rhiannon a’u teuluoedd (ei dad yng nghyfraith Dan Thomas ar y chwith)Marriage, 1941 – Gwynfor and Rhiannon and their families (his father-in-law Dan Thomas on the left)

Priodi, 1941 – Gwynfor a Rhiannon a’u teuluoedd (ei dad yng nghyfraith Dan Thomas ar y chwith)

In the meantime he had married his lifelong partner Rhiannon and was living in Wernellyn, Llangadog where he launched a market garden venture.  I like his description of how he fell for Rhiannon.  In his autobiography Bywyd Cymro, available in English as For the Sake of Wales, Gwynfor describes how he called on Rhiannon’s parents in Cardiff –

“I have to confess that my heart lost a beat the moment Rhiannon walked into the room.  On seeing her again two months later amid the beauty of a summer’s day at Islaw’r Dref dressed in a very short light frock  – beach wear no doubt – the boy from Barry fell head over heels in love!”

They were married on St David’s Day 1941, and Pennar Davies says in his book that if heaven had ever arranged marriages this was surely one it had done well:  “And the contribution of Rhiannon Evans to the work of her husband cannot be overestimated.”

Gwynfor contested his first Parliamentary election in Meirionydd in 1945.  He led the Llyn y Fan protest on New Year’s Day 1947 and that in Abergeirw in 1948 and was elected a member of the University Court’s Guild of Graduates and of the Welsh Independents the same year, as well as serving as Welsh Secretary of the Celtic League in the Colwyn Bay National Eisteddfod as early as 1947, when he was 34.  It is evident that by the end of the 1940s Gwynfor Evans had established himself as a national leader with wide support among his people.

Arwain protest Abergeirw, 1948Leading the Abergeirw protest, 1948

Arwain protest Abergeirw, 1948

Gwynfor was elected to Carmarthenshire County Council in 1949 and was a County Councillor for 25 years.  The 1956 County Council elections produced an interesting result, with 29 Independent councillors, 29 Labour and 2 Plaid Cymru.  Plaid Cymru held the balance, and stranger still both Plaid councillors bore the name Gwynfor Evans – Gwynfor Evans of Betws, Ammanford and Gwynfor Evans, Llangadog.  Gwynfor Evans, Betws took the county council to the High Court in London for failing to provide nomination papers in Welsh – and won his case, leading significantly to the establishment of the Hughes Parry Committee in 1963 to investigate the legal status of the Welsh language.

In 1949 Gwynfor led Plaid Cymru’s most ambitious Rally ever – 4,000 people came to Machynlleth to call for a Parliament for Wales, and after Gwynfor’s speech one correspondent concluded that the accolade of Wales’ leading orator should be awarded to Gwynfor rather than Aneurin Bevan.  There followed further Parliament for Wales rallies in Blaenau Ffestiniog in 1950 and then the great rally in Cardiff in 1953, with a quarter of a million people signing a petition presented to the House of Commons.  Gwynfor fought Meirionydd in the 1950 General Election, the Aberdare by-election in 1954 and Meirionnydd again in 1955 and 1959.

And what about the fight for Tryweryn?  A rally in Bala in 1956 –

“No sooner had Mr Gwynfor Evans got to his feet to speak than the thousands in the great marquee stood up to welcome him and give him prolonged applause.”  And in his book Bywyd Cymro Gwynfor said– “And except for the Parliament for Wales campaign, Tryweryn was the most important of all our campaigns.”  Gwynfor’s leadership during that battle have been recorded in detail and the deputations to Liverpool and so on are historical events.  Gwynfor wrote – “The Welsh had been as united as ever any nation could be.  Their opinion was completely ignored.  The state of democracy in Wales was exposed.”

The battle for Tryweryn – leading a procession through the streets of Liverpool

A young woman – Jennie Eirian Davies, married to a minister in Brynaman – stood as Plaid Cymru’s first candidate in Carmarthen in the General Election of 1955 and again in a by-election in 1957.  Dewi Thomas writes about her in a book of tribute to her –

“Her tireless dedication and brilliant talent in the fifties opened the door for Gwynfor’s success in the great victory in Carmarthen later on.”  Indeed Jennie Eirian herself said after the 1957 election – “The Blaid will win this seat within 10 years.”  That happened in 1966 – within 9 years!

Where should I begin with Gwynfor’s victory in the 1966 by-election?  That story deserves a lecture in its own right.  You will get that in 2016 when we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the victory!  All I wish to say tonight is that the fact that result took place changes the political history of Wales for ever.

Gwasg y Dryw brought out a record of Gwynfor speaking after his victory, calling on his country to will a full life and the means of creating it, a Welsh government.  Today that government exists.  We are on the way to securing a comprehensive Welsh government, Gwynfor’s full vision.

Think about him going to London and the House of Commons and entering the lion’s den –

“As he showed me round the tea rooms, Emrys Hughes pointed to the Welsh table, saying, ‘I wouldn’t sit there if I were you ’– ‘Your name is mud there.’  Goronwy Roberts used to pass me in the corridor without looking at me.  It may be difficult for some readers to recall how vicious George Thomas could be.  He was extremely set in his anti-Welsh sentiment.  He was the very scourge of Welsh nationalism and the Welsh language.”

Gwynfor entering the House of Commons, 1966

That was the environment Gwynfor entered, but he took advantage of that imperial establishment to fight for Wales and call for self-government.  Things like this –

With the support of Plaid Cymru’s Research Group, he came to the conclusion that the best tactic was to wage a guerrilla war and ask numberless questions about the situation of Wales.  Gwynfor’s question would drive the civil service crazy: by the end of the first year he had asked over 600 questions, all of them published together with their answers in three volumes –the Black Books of Carmarthen.  Then the party set out Plaid Cymru’s case to the Royal Commission on the Commission in 1969.

Losing Carmarthen in 1970 – after the Investiture, direct action by Cymdeithas yr Iaith and the FWA (if such a thing existed!).  Then losing by just 3 votes in March 1974 and scoring a sweeping victory in October 1974.  At half past three in the morning a crowd of 3,000 were on Nott Square to hear the result and that Gwynfor had taken 23,325 votes.  This was the only seat that Labour lost anywhere in the United Kingdom that night.  So back to London, but this time with the two Dafydds for company!  His working day would often commence at nine o’clock in the morning and carry on into the early hours of the following morning.

This was a crucial period for making the case for assemblies for Wales and Scotland – there were three nationalist MPs from Wales as well as seven from Scotland.  The Government’s majority over the other parties was only three.  Gwynfor said – “Here was the most hopeful political situation I had ever encountered”.  The Government was compelled to yield to the pressure for parliaments for Wales and Scotland – and this marked the beginning of a long and difficult journey which has now taken place, much more so in Scotland than in Wales!

The Labour Party took care to ensure that the devolution referendum in Wales and Scotland faced barriers so that it was impossible for the Yes vote to succeed.  We remember Neil Kinnock and others in the Labour Party campaigning strongly against their party’s own policy and getting every facility to do so.  The outcome was the Na vote in the 1979 Assembly referendum in Wales.  Rhys Evans says –

“Gwynfor experienced many highs and lows in his career, but this was the nadir.  For him and his generation of nationalists, the referendum was more than a ballot on the administration of Wales; the referendum was a vote on the spiritual and existential question of whether Wales existed.  He was devastated, not knowing which made him feel more sick … Welsh toadyism or Labour deceit and corruption.”

Westminister – with his fellow MPs Dafydd Wigley and Dafydd Elis Thomas

He lost the General Election that followed the Referendum because of publication of a BBC opinion poll days before the election that predicted that Gwynfor would come a poor third.  In my personal opinion all this had been arranged by the ‘establishment’ to get rid of Gwynfor from the House of Commons.  In fact, the BBC admitted following a detailed review of the company that carried out the opinion poll that were unacceptably far from the mark!

Gwynfor’s response was – if he had won that election, with his health as it was at the time, he would no longer be in the land of the living!  And then in 1981 after 36 years as President of Plaid Cymru Gwynfor stepped down from the helm in the Conference in Carmarthen.

That is a quick sketch of the work and impact of Gwynfor in the field of politics.  It was a very profound impact, and we would never be where we are today but for Gwynfor having accomplished so much.  His political success is now acknowledged by everyone.  A very very special man.

But what is truly remarkable about this man is that he accomplished so much side by side with his political career.  And what I want to do now is give you a taste of those accomplishments, and remind you of the other tremendous pioneering roles he played.

And where should I begin?

THE HISTORIAN

A few of the many books written by Gwynfor

Gwynfor would almost invariably begin every speech with a history lesson.  It didn’t matter where, or what was the occasion, the history of Wales was part of the message.  He believed it was very important that we as a people should get to know our history.  He campaigned to teach Welsh history in our schools – at a time when that was virtually non-existent, and he set about writing and publishing books, and encouraging others to do the same – “Gwynfor’s aim throughout his life was to awaken national consciousness through imbuing people with the history of Wales, restoring  their memory and strengthening their desire to live.” (Dr Geraint Jenkins)

He wrote history classics –Hanes Cymru/ History of Wales, through the South Wales Echo.  Then Aros Mae, Seiri Cenedl y Cymry and Land of My Fathers.  Picture him setting out on Christmas Day 1970 to write the first two pages of notes for Aros Mae!  It was on sale within 7 months, with the first edition selling fast and a second edition soon in hand.  Elin Garlick set about a translation into English, entitled Land of My Fathers.  Three reprints were to follow and the publishers Tŷ John Penry commented– “this was the best seller of all the books we have published.”

His other historical classic is Seiri Cenedl y Cymry, available in English as Welsh Nation Builders, portraits of the history of 65 men and women who contributed in different ways to the building and development of our nation.  Think of all the research work needed to write historical studies and get the facts right!  Gwynfor was a prolific author – of some 30 books in total – as well as pamphlets, leaflets and numerous books, in Welsh and English.  He told me once of his intention to write one more book based on all his travelling around Wales – a study of Welsh chip shops as he had eaten in so many of them as he criss-crossed the country!

THE CHRISTIAN AND PACIFIST

We heard the Reverend Beti Wyn James and Mererid Hopwood assessing the significance of Gwynfor’s contribution in these two fields in the memorial service held in Capel y Priordy on Sunday 2 September.  So I shall just summarise some of the main features.

Gwynfor was a teacher in the young people’s Sunday School in his chapel, Providence Llangadog, for many years, and what is special id this – wherever he had been on the Saturday night  – he would almost always return for his Sunday School class the following day.  Read the full chapter about Gwynfor the Pacifist in the book by Pennar Davies – it gives us a comprehensive and detailed picture of the depth of his thinking and his faith.

Defending the land of Wales – successfully – Trawsfynnydd, 1951

He was brought up in a Christian family in Barry where his grandfather The Reverend Ben Evans was the first Minister of Capel y Tabernacl.  His uncle Idris (his father’s brother) was also a minister and a first-class preacher.  Gwynfor became Chairman of the Union of Welsh Independent Churches when he was just forty-two years of age.  No-one as young as that had ever been elected before.  And his son Guto was also President of the Union in recent times.

It is important to recall that in his maiden speech in the House of Commons Gwynfor based his hopes for Wales on the Christian values of its heritage.  He occupied a number of positions in the Independents’ organisation and he also played a key role in setting up Tŷ John Penry and its administration.  His Christianity was always practical.

“I am first a pacifist and then a nationalist” were Gwynfor’s words when given an unconditional discharge after appearing before a military Tribunal in Carmarthen in 1940.  After writing his first article about St Athan in 1937 he came under the influence of his great hero George M LL Davies, becoming Secretary of Heddychwyr Cymru, the Welsh peace pledge movement and responsible for its tent in the Cardiff National Eisteddfod in 1938.  Throughout his life he led protests and spoke in peace rallies – Swansea Rally in 1940, the great rally to defend Epynt where 400 people were turned out of their homes, the Abergeirw rally of 1948 and Trawsfynydd in 1951, with its celebrated photograph – all of these against the War Office grabbing Welsh land.

The Peace Pledge Union was indebted to him for his support and leadership and Gwynfor published a number of booklets and pamphlets such as They Cry Wolf and Wales Against Conscription.  Then, in 1973, he delivered his famous lecture in the Temple of Peace, Cardiff – Non-violent Nationalism.  He was just as supportive of CND as well, and spoke most strongly time and time against the Vietnam War, offering himself as a human shield in Hanoi in 1968 – but his group were refused admission – nevertheless the act as typical of a man who could not stand by and watch such slaughter.  Dafydd Elis Thomas says of him in one of the Peace Pledge Union’s newsletters:

“This great soul was born in the most violent century in the history of the world.  In the darkness of the warlike twentieth century his life was a beacon.”

FIGHTING FOR THE LANGUAGE

Gwynfor  played a vital role in the campaign to secure a radio service for Wales – in 1939 the BBC removed programmes about Wales completely.  In the National Eisteddfod in Llandybie in 1944 Gwynfor gave a lecture to a packed chapel on Radio In Wales.  The lecture was published in Welsh and in English and 10,000 copies were sold!  Gwynfor argued for devolution in the field of broadcasting, and to cut another long story short – this was successful and he was elected as a member of the BBC’s Welsh Advisory Committee in 1946.  Although it would be a long battle, BBC Wales together with Radio Cymru and Radio Wales were secured later on.

Victory – the first day of the Welsh language television service on S4C, 1982

By the mid 1950s Gwynfor could also see that the arrival of television also meant a revolutionary change in the system of communications that posed a major threat to the Welsh language and culture.  He pressed the idea of Welsh television, but the government did nothing to help, and he did not succeed in fulfilling his aim.  Gwynfor made an important Commons speech in 1969, calling specifically on the government to establish a Welsh Channel, and you know about that campaign in the 1970s.  The story of the campaign to ensure the setting up of S4C is one that will always be associated with Gwynfor and his intention to fast after the Tory Government broke its pledge – that story would be another lecture as later this month we mark the 30th anniversary of broadcasting on C.

Apart from the non-stop leadership Gwynfor provided for every aspect of the language struggle, there was his campaign for a Welsh language College.  He became a member of the University Court and in 1951 he proposed setting up a Welsh College, with a committee set up to consider the idea.  Everyone was opposed apart from Gwynfor, who again in 1953 prepared a detailed memorandum showing the need for this type of college.  He carried on the struggle in following years – another campaign in 1973 and then in 1986 when addressing the first Welsh language graduation ceremony organised by the Welsh Students Union in Aberystwyth.  He showed great determination and unswerving drive – and by now the Welsh College exists, with its administrative centre in Y Llwyfan here in Carmarthen.

THE FAMILY MAN

“He would never tell us or our children – ‘go away, I’m too busy, and he never waved a finger at us to chastise us.  His patience with the children was limitless.”  Those are the words of his daughter Meinir.  The family moved from Wernellyn to Talar Wen in 1953 – “Talar Wen was my father’s wedding present, postponed for fifteen years” said Gwynfor.  “Everything used to build the house was from Wales and Rhiannon’s brother Dewi Prys designed it.”

Gwynfor and his family

They had seven children and in response to a journalist Gwynfor said that his favourite Biblical saying was – “Be fruitful and multiply and fill … the earth”.  He loved playing with the children – and dressing up as Auntie Jini, fooling the grandchildren into believing she was a half sister from America.  He also loved walking with the children, and his favourite place was y Garn Goch – the mountain where his ash was scattered and where a memorial stone stands at the foot of the hillside.  Like his father, Gwynfor was musical and liked to play the piano.  According to his brother Alcwyn, Gwynfor would tend to go to the piano when he faced pressure, and when playing he would be able to relax.

Gwynfor and Rhiannon moved to another Talar Wen in Pencarreg near Llanybydder in the summer of 1984 when he retired.  A big farewell supper was held in Llangadog hall for the community to pay tribute to a couple who did so much for the Welsh traditions of the area for a period of 45 years.  When 17 Plaid Cymru members were elected to the first National Assembly in 1999 they all came to Pencarreg to see Gwynfor and Rhiannon.  Other visitors included Winnie Ewing with Rhodri, Cynog and Roy Llywelyn.

On the day before Gwynfor celebrated his 90th birthday a piece about him was carried in the Western Mail.  He headline read – ‘Pacifist giant of Welsh culture whose place in history is secured – Wales celebrates 90 years of Gwynfor’.

“Gwynfor Evans has been described as ‘one of the greatest souls of the 20th century.  Alongside Lloyd George and Aneurin Bevan he is one of the last century’s three greatest Welsh politicians.  But he arguably stands alone and ahead of them all in the measure of his influence and is one of the few people from any era recognised solely by their Christian name.

“Gwynfor’s place in history is secure, and not just through his achievements and influence but his public acclaim.  He was chosen by readers of Wales on Sunday as Millennium Icon ahead of Lloyd George and Aneurin Bevan, voted Welsh Person of the Millennium ahead of Owain Glyndŵr by readers of Y Cymro and was reader’s choice in the Western Mail’s Person of the Millennium Award.  They were popular endorsements of the greatest living Welshman of the 20th century.”

Gwynfor appeared in public for the last time at the 2,000 National Eisteddfod in Llanelli, where he received the Worldwide Welsh Award for a lifetime’s work for Wales.  The ceremony was full of emotion, with a packed pavilion honouring this very special man.

And to conclude, I would like to quote Professor Geraint Jenkins in his address to the Gymanfa Ganu we held in Capel Heol Awst to mark Gwynfor’s life soon after he died. This is what he said –

“Set about praising and publicly honouring Gwynfor’s name by erecting a fitting monument to him.  What better place could there be to place a fitting memorial than here in Carmarthen, where he experience his big moment on 14 July 1966 so that your children and your children’s children can come here to admire one of the great figures of our nation.”  And as you know that work is now in hand, with the intention of realising a monument by 2,016, the fiftieth anniversary of his great victory in 1966.

Gwynfor Richard Evans died on Thursday morning 21 April 2005 at the age of 92 in his home in Talar Wen, Pencarreg.  Rhys Evans says: “Gwynfor wanted to return to Garn Goch, to the soil, the land of Wales where his politics had taken root.  Nevertheless, as his ashes blow in the wind, his legacy survives.”

And Dr Geraint Jenkins says: “His aim was to build a nation that was free, responsible and confident, by restoring the memory of its people and strengthening its will to live – and we should remember him as ‘Llusernwr y canrifoedd coll’, the illuminator of the lost centuries.  Time after time Gwynfor was there to stand in the breach – his life reflected the history of Wales 1940 on.  The foundation of Gwynfor’s life was his Christianity and his pacifism.”

The last sentences in Rhys Evans’ substantial volume are: “No one did more than Gwynfor in the twentieth century.  It is not the Welsh-speaking Christian Wales that Gwynfor dreamed of, but it is still Wales.  Wales, the nation he loved with such passion, has survived, despite it all.”

Peter Hughes GriffithsGwynfor, capten Tîm Hoci’r Ysgol
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While in University, there took place two events that would have a strong influence on his later life – the first:

“I would marvel at the dedication of the young men and women who sold Y Ddraig Goch on the streets of Aberystwyth – Gwenant Davies, Eic Davies and others.”

And secondly – “but one day he saw a yellow coloured pamphlet outside a bookshop in Aberystwyth – The Economics of Welsh Self Government by DJ Davies.  This booklet removed all kinds of doubt, and in the summer of 1934 he approached Cassie Davies in Barry and joined the national party.”

At the time Cassie Davies was a member of staff at Barry College and in her book Hwb i’r Galon she recalls –

“And this was the time that a remarkably good-looking young man from Barry, wearing an Aberystwyth college blazer, began to call to talk about this new party and ask to join it.”

Gwynfor then went to Oxford University where he set up a party branch and became secretary of the famous Cymdeithas Dafydd ap Gwilym.  He graduated there in 1936.

Although he was to send an article from Oxford for his old school’s magazine, parts of which appeared in the Western Mail, it was in January 1937 that he published his first full article in Y Ddraig Goch, dealing with the establishment of the St Athan camp, and in the Plaid Cymru Summer School in Bala the same year he proposed a motion calling for official status for the Welsh language.  And guess what – 400,000 signatures were collected in support of the proposal before the Second World War put paid to that effort.

So you can see that Gwynfor had already made his first major strides in what was to be his life’s work – for the sake of Wales.  He became a member of Plaid Cymru’s national executive in 1937 and within six years, in 1943, he was chosen as party vice-president.  Then on 1 August 1945 in the Llangollen conference (five days before the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima) he was elected as President of Plaid Cymru at the age of just 32, the start of his great lifetime mission – he would remain president and leader for the next 36 years.

Priodi, 1941 – Gwynfor a Rhiannon a’u teuluoedd (ei dad yng nghyfraith Dan Thomas ar y chwith)Marriage, 1941 – Gwynfor and Rhiannon and their families (his father-in-law Dan Thomas on the left)

Priodi, 1941 – Gwynfor a Rhiannon a’u teuluoedd (ei dad yng nghyfraith Dan Thomas ar y chwith)

In the meantime he had married his lifelong partner Rhiannon and was living in Wernellyn, Llangadog where he launched a market garden venture.  I like his description of how he fell for Rhiannon.  In his autobiography Bywyd Cymro, available in English as For the Sake of Wales, Gwynfor describes how he called on Rhiannon’s parents in Cardiff –

“I have to confess that my heart lost a beat the moment Rhiannon walked into the room.  On seeing her again two months later amid the beauty of a summer’s day at Islaw’r Dref dressed in a very short light frock  – beach wear no doubt – the boy from Barry fell head over heels in love!”

They were married on St David’s Day 1941, and Pennar Davies says in his book that if heaven had ever arranged marriages this was surely one it had done well:  “And the contribution of Rhiannon Evans to the work of her husband cannot be overestimated.”

Gwynfor contested his first Parliamentary election in Meirionydd in 1945.  He led the Llyn y Fan protest on New Year’s Day 1947 and that in Abergeirw in 1948 and was elected a member of the University Court’s Guild of Graduates and of the Welsh Independents the same year, as well as serving as Welsh Secretary of the Celtic League in the Colwyn Bay National Eisteddfod as early as 1947, when he was 34.  It is evident that by the end of the 1940s Gwynfor Evans had established himself as a national leader with wide support among his people.

Arwain protest Abergeirw, 1948Leading the Abergeirw protest, 1948

Arwain protest Abergeirw, 1948

Gwynfor was elected to Carmarthenshire County Council in 1949 and was a County Councillor for 25 years.  The 1956 County Council elections produced an interesting result, with 29 Independent councillors, 29 Labour and 2 Plaid Cymru.  Plaid Cymru held the balance, and stranger still both Plaid councillors bore the name Gwynfor Evans – Gwynfor Evans of Betws, Ammanford and Gwynfor Evans, Llangadog.  Gwynfor Evans, Betws took the county council to the High Court in London for failing to provide nomination papers in Welsh – and won his case, leading significantly to the establishment of the Hughes Parry Committee in 1963 to investigate the legal status of the Welsh language.

In 1949 Gwynfor led Plaid Cymru’s most ambitious Rally ever – 4,000 people came to Machynlleth to call for a Parliament for Wales, and after Gwynfor’s speech one correspondent concluded that the accolade of Wales’ leading orator should be awarded to Gwynfor rather than Aneurin Bevan.  There followed further Parliament for Wales rallies in Blaenau Ffestiniog in 1950 and then the great rally in Cardiff in 1953, with a quarter of a million people signing a petition presented to the House of Commons.  Gwynfor fought Meirionydd in the 1950 General Election, the Aberdare by-election in 1954 and Meirionnydd again in 1955 and 1959.

And what about the fight for Tryweryn?  A rally in Bala in 1956 –

“No sooner had Mr Gwynfor Evans got to his feet to speak than the thousands in the great marquee stood up to welcome him and give him prolonged applause.”  And in his book Bywyd Cymro Gwynfor said– “And except for the Parliament for Wales campaign, Tryweryn was the most important of all our campaigns.”  Gwynfor’s leadership during that battle have been recorded in detail and the deputations to Liverpool and so on are historical events.  Gwynfor wrote – “The Welsh had been as united as ever any nation could be.  Their opinion was completely ignored.  The state of democracy in Wales was exposed.”

The battle for Tryweryn – leading a procession through the streets of Liverpool

A young woman – Jennie Eirian Davies, married to a minister in Brynaman – stood as Plaid Cymru’s first candidate in Carmarthen in the General Election of 1955 and again in a by-election in 1957.  Dewi Thomas writes about her in a book of tribute to her –

“Her tireless dedication and brilliant talent in the fifties opened the door for Gwynfor’s success in the great victory in Carmarthen later on.”  Indeed Jennie Eirian herself said after the 1957 election – “The Blaid will win this seat within 10 years.”  That happened in 1966 – within 9 years!

Where should I begin with Gwynfor’s victory in the 1966 by-election?  That story deserves a lecture in its own right.  You will get that in 2016 when we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the victory!  All I wish to say tonight is that the fact that result took place changes the political history of Wales for ever.

Gwasg y Dryw brought out a record of Gwynfor speaking after his victory, calling on his country to will a full life and the means of creating it, a Welsh government.  Today that government exists.  We are on the way to securing a comprehensive Welsh government, Gwynfor’s full vision.

Think about him going to London and the House of Commons and entering the lion’s den –

“As he showed me round the tea rooms, Emrys Hughes pointed to the Welsh table, saying, ‘I wouldn’t sit there if I were you ’– ‘Your name is mud there.’  Goronwy Roberts used to pass me in the corridor without looking at me.  It may be difficult for some readers to recall how vicious George Thomas could be.  He was extremely set in his anti-Welsh sentiment.  He was the very scourge of Welsh nationalism and the Welsh language.”

Gwynfor entering the House of Commons, 1966

That was the environment Gwynfor entered, but he took advantage of that imperial establishment to fight for Wales and call for self-government.  Things like this –

With the support of Plaid Cymru’s Research Group, he came to the conclusion that the best tactic was to wage a guerrilla war and ask numberless questions about the situation of Wales.  Gwynfor’s question would drive the civil service crazy: by the end of the first year he had asked over 600 questions, all of them published together with their answers in three volumes –the Black Books of Carmarthen.  Then the party set out Plaid Cymru’s case to the Royal Commission on the Commission in 1969.

Losing Carmarthen in 1970 – after the Investiture, direct action by Cymdeithas yr Iaith and the FWA (if such a thing existed!).  Then losing by just 3 votes in March 1974 and scoring a sweeping victory in October 1974.  At half past three in the morning a crowd of 3,000 were on Nott Square to hear the result and that Gwynfor had taken 23,325 votes.  This was the only seat that Labour lost anywhere in the United Kingdom that night.  So back to London, but this time with the two Dafydds for company!  His working day would often commence at nine o’clock in the morning and carry on into the early hours of the following morning.

This was a crucial period for making the case for assemblies for Wales and Scotland – there were three nationalist MPs from Wales as well as seven from Scotland.  The Government’s majority over the other parties was only three.  Gwynfor said – “Here was the most hopeful political situation I had ever encountered”.  The Government was compelled to yield to the pressure for parliaments for Wales and Scotland – and this marked the beginning of a long and difficult journey which has now taken place, much more so in Scotland than in Wales!

The Labour Party took care to ensure that the devolution referendum in Wales and Scotland faced barriers so that it was impossible for the Yes vote to succeed.  We remember Neil Kinnock and others in the Labour Party campaigning strongly against their party’s own policy and getting every facility to do so.  The outcome was the Na vote in the 1979 Assembly referendum in Wales.  Rhys Evans says –

“Gwynfor experienced many highs and lows in his career, but this was the nadir.  For him and his generation of nationalists, the referendum was more than a ballot on the administration of Wales; the referendum was a vote on the spiritual and existential question of whether Wales existed.  He was devastated, not knowing which made him feel more sick … Welsh toadyism or Labour deceit and corruption.”

Westminister – with his fellow MPs Dafydd Wigley and Dafydd Elis Thomas

He lost the General Election that followed the Referendum because of publication of a BBC opinion poll days before the election that predicted that Gwynfor would come a poor third.  In my personal opinion all this had been arranged by the ‘establishment’ to get rid of Gwynfor from the House of Commons.  In fact, the BBC admitted following a detailed review of the company that carried out the opinion poll that were unacceptably far from the mark!

Gwynfor’s response was – if he had won that election, with his health as it was at the time, he would no longer be in the land of the living!  And then in 1981 after 36 years as President of Plaid Cymru Gwynfor stepped down from the helm in the Conference in Carmarthen.

That is a quick sketch of the work and impact of Gwynfor in the field of politics.  It was a very profound impact, and we would never be where we are today but for Gwynfor having accomplished so much.  His political success is now acknowledged by everyone.  A very very special man.

But what is truly remarkable about this man is that he accomplished so much side by side with his political career.  And what I want to do now is give you a taste of those accomplishments, and remind you of the other tremendous pioneering roles he played.

And where should I begin?

THE HISTORIAN

A few of the many books written by Gwynfor

Gwynfor would almost invariably begin every speech with a history lesson.  It didn’t matter where, or what was the occasion, the history of Wales was part of the message.  He believed it was very important that we as a people should get to know our history.  He campaigned to teach Welsh history in our schools – at a time when that was virtually non-existent, and he set about writing and publishing books, and encouraging others to do the same – “Gwynfor’s aim throughout his life was to awaken national consciousness through imbuing people with the history of Wales, restoring  their memory and strengthening their desire to live.” (Dr Geraint Jenkins)

He wrote history classics –Hanes Cymru/ History of Wales, through the South Wales Echo.  Then Aros Mae, Seiri Cenedl y Cymry and Land of My Fathers.  Picture him setting out on Christmas Day 1970 to write the first two pages of notes for Aros Mae!  It was on sale within 7 months, with the first edition selling fast and a second edition soon in hand.  Elin Garlick set about a translation into English, entitled Land of My Fathers.  Three reprints were to follow and the publishers Tŷ John Penry commented– “this was the best seller of all the books we have published.”

His other historical classic is Seiri Cenedl y Cymry, available in English as Welsh Nation Builders, portraits of the history of 65 men and women who contributed in different ways to the building and development of our nation.  Think of all the research work needed to write historical studies and get the facts right!  Gwynfor was a prolific author – of some 30 books in total – as well as pamphlets, leaflets and numerous books, in Welsh and English.  He told me once of his intention to write one more book based on all his travelling around Wales – a study of Welsh chip shops as he had eaten in so many of them as he criss-crossed the country!

THE CHRISTIAN AND PACIFIST

We heard the Reverend Beti Wyn James and Mererid Hopwood assessing the significance of Gwynfor’s contribution in these two fields in the memorial service held in Capel y Priordy on Sunday 2 September.  So I shall just summarise some of the main features.

Gwynfor was a teacher in the young people’s Sunday School in his chapel, Providence Llangadog, for many years, and what is special id this – wherever he had been on the Saturday night  – he would almost always return for his Sunday School class the following day.  Read the full chapter about Gwynfor the Pacifist in the book by Pennar Davies – it gives us a comprehensive and detailed picture of the depth of his thinking and his faith.

Defending the land of Wales – successfully – Trawsfynnydd, 1951

He was brought up in a Christian family in Barry where his grandfather The Reverend Ben Evans was the first Minister of Capel y Tabernacl.  His uncle Idris (his father’s brother) was also a minister and a first-class preacher.  Gwynfor became Chairman of the Union of Welsh Independent Churches when he was just forty-two years of age.  No-one as young as that had ever been elected before.  And his son Guto was also President of the Union in recent times.

It is important to recall that in his maiden speech in the House of Commons Gwynfor based his hopes for Wales on the Christian values of its heritage.  He occupied a number of positions in the Independents’ organisation and he also played a key role in setting up Tŷ John Penry and its administration.  His Christianity was always practical.

“I am first a pacifist and then a nationalist” were Gwynfor’s words when given an unconditional discharge after appearing before a military Tribunal in Carmarthen in 1940.  After writing his first article about St Athan in 1937 he came under the influence of his great hero George M LL Davies, becoming Secretary of Heddychwyr Cymru, the Welsh peace pledge movement and responsible for its tent in the Cardiff National Eisteddfod in 1938.  Throughout his life he led protests and spoke in peace rallies – Swansea Rally in 1940, the great rally to defend Epynt where 400 people were turned out of their homes, the Abergeirw rally of 1948 and Trawsfynydd in 1951, with its celebrated photograph – all of these against the War Office grabbing Welsh land.

The Peace Pledge Union was indebted to him for his support and leadership and Gwynfor published a number of booklets and pamphlets such as They Cry Wolf and Wales Against Conscription.  Then, in 1973, he delivered his famous lecture in the Temple of Peace, Cardiff – Non-violent Nationalism.  He was just as supportive of CND as well, and spoke most strongly time and time against the Vietnam War, offering himself as a human shield in Hanoi in 1968 – but his group were refused admission – nevertheless the act as typical of a man who could not stand by and watch such slaughter.  Dafydd Elis Thomas says of him in one of the Peace Pledge Union’s newsletters:

“This great soul was born in the most violent century in the history of the world.  In the darkness of the warlike twentieth century his life was a beacon.”

FIGHTING FOR THE LANGUAGE

Gwynfor  played a vital role in the campaign to secure a radio service for Wales – in 1939 the BBC removed programmes about Wales completely.  In the National Eisteddfod in Llandybie in 1944 Gwynfor gave a lecture to a packed chapel on Radio In Wales.  The lecture was published in Welsh and in English and 10,000 copies were sold!  Gwynfor argued for devolution in the field of broadcasting, and to cut another long story short – this was successful and he was elected as a member of the BBC’s Welsh Advisory Committee in 1946.  Although it would be a long battle, BBC Wales together with Radio Cymru and Radio Wales were secured later on.

Victory – the first day of the Welsh language television service on S4C, 1982

By the mid 1950s Gwynfor could also see that the arrival of television also meant a revolutionary change in the system of communications that posed a major threat to the Welsh language and culture.  He pressed the idea of Welsh television, but the government did nothing to help, and he did not succeed in fulfilling his aim.  Gwynfor made an important Commons speech in 1969, calling specifically on the government to establish a Welsh Channel, and you know about that campaign in the 1970s.  The story of the campaign to ensure the setting up of S4C is one that will always be associated with Gwynfor and his intention to fast after the Tory Government broke its pledge – that story would be another lecture as later this month we mark the 30th anniversary of broadcasting on C.

Apart from the non-stop leadership Gwynfor provided for every aspect of the language struggle, there was his campaign for a Welsh language College.  He became a member of the University Court and in 1951 he proposed setting up a Welsh College, with a committee set up to consider the idea.  Everyone was opposed apart from Gwynfor, who again in 1953 prepared a detailed memorandum showing the need for this type of college.  He carried on the struggle in following years – another campaign in 1973 and then in 1986 when addressing the first Welsh language graduation ceremony organised by the Welsh Students Union in Aberystwyth.  He showed great determination and unswerving drive – and by now the Welsh College exists, with its administrative centre in Y Llwyfan here in Carmarthen.

THE FAMILY MAN

“He would never tell us or our children – ‘go away, I’m too busy, and he never waved a finger at us to chastise us.  His patience with the children was limitless.”  Those are the words of his daughter Meinir.  The family moved from Wernellyn to Talar Wen in 1953 – “Talar Wen was my father’s wedding present, postponed for fifteen years” said Gwynfor.  “Everything used to build the house was from Wales and Rhiannon’s brother Dewi Prys designed it.”

Gwynfor and his family

They had seven children and in response to a journalist Gwynfor said that his favourite Biblical saying was – “Be fruitful and multiply and fill … the earth”.  He loved playing with the children – and dressing up as Auntie Jini, fooling the grandchildren into believing she was a half sister from America.  He also loved walking with the children, and his favourite place was y Garn Goch – the mountain where his ash was scattered and where a memorial stone stands at the foot of the hillside.  Like his father, Gwynfor was musical and liked to play the piano.  According to his brother Alcwyn, Gwynfor would tend to go to the piano when he faced pressure, and when playing he would be able to relax.

Gwynfor and Rhiannon moved to another Talar Wen in Pencarreg near Llanybydder in the summer of 1984 when he retired.  A big farewell supper was held in Llangadog hall for the community to pay tribute to a couple who did so much for the Welsh traditions of the area for a period of 45 years.  When 17 Plaid Cymru members were elected to the first National Assembly in 1999 they all came to Pencarreg to see Gwynfor and Rhiannon.  Other visitors included Winnie Ewing with Rhodri, Cynog and Roy Llywelyn.

On the day before Gwynfor celebrated his 90th birthday a piece about him was carried in the Western Mail.  He headline read – ‘Pacifist giant of Welsh culture whose place in history is secured – Wales celebrates 90 years of Gwynfor’.

“Gwynfor Evans has been described as ‘one of the greatest souls of the 20th century.  Alongside Lloyd George and Aneurin Bevan he is one of the last century’s three greatest Welsh politicians.  But he arguably stands alone and ahead of them all in the measure of his influence and is one of the few people from any era recognised solely by their Christian name.

“Gwynfor’s place in history is secure, and not just through his achievements and influence but his public acclaim.  He was chosen by readers of Wales on Sunday as Millennium Icon ahead of Lloyd George and Aneurin Bevan, voted Welsh Person of the Millennium ahead of Owain Glyndŵr by readers of Y Cymro and was reader’s choice in the Western Mail’s Person of the Millennium Award.  They were popular endorsements of the greatest living Welshman of the 20th century.”

Gwynfor appeared in public for the last time at the 2,000 National Eisteddfod in Llanelli, where he received the Worldwide Welsh Award for a lifetime’s work for Wales.  The ceremony was full of emotion, with a packed pavilion honouring this very special man.

And to conclude, I would like to quote Professor Geraint Jenkins in his address to the Gymanfa Ganu we held in Capel Heol Awst to mark Gwynfor’s life soon after he died. This is what he said –

“Set about praising and publicly honouring Gwynfor’s name by erecting a fitting monument to him.  What better place could there be to place a fitting memorial than here in Carmarthen, where he experience his big moment on 14 July 1966 so that your children and your children’s children can come here to admire one of the great figures of our nation.”  And as you know that work is now in hand, with the intention of realising a monument by 2,016, the fiftieth anniversary of his great victory in 1966.

Gwynfor Richard Evans died on Thursday morning 21 April 2005 at the age of 92 in his home in Talar Wen, Pencarreg.  Rhys Evans says: “Gwynfor wanted to return to Garn Goch, to the soil, the land of Wales where his politics had taken root.  Nevertheless, as his ashes blow in the wind, his legacy survives.”

And Dr Geraint Jenkins says: “His aim was to build a nation that was free, responsible and confident, by restoring the memory of its people and strengthening its will to live – and we should remember him as ‘Llusernwr y canrifoedd coll’, the illuminator of the lost centuries.  Time after time Gwynfor was there to stand in the breach – his life reflected the history of Wales 1940 on.  The foundation of Gwynfor’s life was his Christianity and his pacifism.”

The last sentences in Rhys Evans’ substantial volume are: “No one did more than Gwynfor in the twentieth century.  It is not the Welsh-speaking Christian Wales that Gwynfor dreamed of, but it is still Wales.  Wales, the nation he loved with such passion, has survived, despite it all.”

Peter Hughes GriffithsGwynfor, capten Tîm Hoci’r Ysgol
[/caption]

While in University, there took place two events that would have a strong influence on his later life – the first:

“I would marvel at the dedication of the young men and women who sold Y Ddraig Goch on the streets of Aberystwyth – Gwenant Davies, Eic Davies and others.”

And secondly – “but one day he saw a yellow coloured pamphlet outside a bookshop in Aberystwyth – The Economics of Welsh Self Government by DJ Davies.  This booklet removed all kinds of doubt, and in the summer of 1934 he approached Cassie Davies in Barry and joined the national party.”

At the time Cassie Davies was a member of staff at Barry College and in her book Hwb i’r Galon she recalls –

“And this was the time that a remarkably good-looking young man from Barry, wearing an Aberystwyth college blazer, began to call to talk about this new party and ask to join it.”

Gwynfor then went to Oxford University where he set up a party branch and became secretary of the famous Cymdeithas Dafydd ap Gwilym.  He graduated there in 1936.

Although he was to send an article from Oxford for his old school’s magazine, parts of which appeared in the Western Mail, it was in January 1937 that he published his first full article in Y Ddraig Goch, dealing with the establishment of the St Athan camp, and in the Plaid Cymru Summer School in Bala the same year he proposed a motion calling for official status for the Welsh language.  And guess what – 400,000 signatures were collected in support of the proposal before the Second World War put paid to that effort.

So you can see that Gwynfor had already made his first major strides in what was to be his life’s work – for the sake of Wales.  He became a member of Plaid Cymru’s national executive in 1937 and within six years, in 1943, he was chosen as party vice-president.  Then on 1 August 1945 in the Llangollen conference (five days before the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima) he was elected as President of Plaid Cymru at the age of just 32, the start of his great lifetime mission – he would remain president and leader for the next 36 years.

Priodi, 1941 – Gwynfor a Rhiannon a’u teuluoedd (ei dad yng nghyfraith Dan Thomas ar y chwith)Marriage, 1941 – Gwynfor and Rhiannon and their families (his father-in-law Dan Thomas on the left)

Priodi, 1941 – Gwynfor a Rhiannon a’u teuluoedd (ei dad yng nghyfraith Dan Thomas ar y chwith)

In the meantime he had married his lifelong partner Rhiannon and was living in Wernellyn, Llangadog where he launched a market garden venture.  I like his description of how he fell for Rhiannon.  In his autobiography Bywyd Cymro, available in English as For the Sake of Wales, Gwynfor describes how he called on Rhiannon’s parents in Cardiff –

“I have to confess that my heart lost a beat the moment Rhiannon walked into the room.  On seeing her again two months later amid the beauty of a summer’s day at Islaw’r Dref dressed in a very short light frock  – beach wear no doubt – the boy from Barry fell head over heels in love!”

They were married on St David’s Day 1941, and Pennar Davies says in his book that if heaven had ever arranged marriages this was surely one it had done well:  “And the contribution of Rhiannon Evans to the work of her husband cannot be overestimated.”

Gwynfor contested his first Parliamentary election in Meirionydd in 1945.  He led the Llyn y Fan protest on New Year’s Day 1947 and that in Abergeirw in 1948 and was elected a member of the University Court’s Guild of Graduates and of the Welsh Independents the same year, as well as serving as Welsh Secretary of the Celtic League in the Colwyn Bay National Eisteddfod as early as 1947, when he was 34.  It is evident that by the end of the 1940s Gwynfor Evans had established himself as a national leader with wide support among his people.

Arwain protest Abergeirw, 1948Leading the Abergeirw protest, 1948

Arwain protest Abergeirw, 1948

Gwynfor was elected to Carmarthenshire County Council in 1949 and was a County Councillor for 25 years.  The 1956 County Council elections produced an interesting result, with 29 Independent councillors, 29 Labour and 2 Plaid Cymru.  Plaid Cymru held the balance, and stranger still both Plaid councillors bore the name Gwynfor Evans – Gwynfor Evans of Betws, Ammanford and Gwynfor Evans, Llangadog.  Gwynfor Evans, Betws took the county council to the High Court in London for failing to provide nomination papers in Welsh – and won his case, leading significantly to the establishment of the Hughes Parry Committee in 1963 to investigate the legal status of the Welsh language.

In 1949 Gwynfor led Plaid Cymru’s most ambitious Rally ever – 4,000 people came to Machynlleth to call for a Parliament for Wales, and after Gwynfor’s speech one correspondent concluded that the accolade of Wales’ leading orator should be awarded to Gwynfor rather than Aneurin Bevan.  There followed further Parliament for Wales rallies in Blaenau Ffestiniog in 1950 and then the great rally in Cardiff in 1953, with a quarter of a million people signing a petition presented to the House of Commons.  Gwynfor fought Meirionydd in the 1950 General Election, the Aberdare by-election in 1954 and Meirionnydd again in 1955 and 1959.

And what about the fight for Tryweryn?  A rally in Bala in 1956 –

“No sooner had Mr Gwynfor Evans got to his feet to speak than the thousands in the great marquee stood up to welcome him and give him prolonged applause.”  And in his book Bywyd Cymro Gwynfor said– “And except for the Parliament for Wales campaign, Tryweryn was the most important of all our campaigns.”  Gwynfor’s leadership during that battle have been recorded in detail and the deputations to Liverpool and so on are historical events.  Gwynfor wrote – “The Welsh had been as united as ever any nation could be.  Their opinion was completely ignored.  The state of democracy in Wales was exposed.”

Gorymdaith dros gymuned cwm Tryweryn yn LerpwlThe battle for Tryweryn – leading a procession through the streets of Liverpool

Gorymdaith dros gymuned cwm Tryweryn yn Lerpwl

A young woman – Jennie Eirian Davies, married to a minister in Brynaman – stood as Plaid Cymru’s first candidate in Carmarthen in the General Election of 1955 and again in a by-election in 1957.  Dewi Thomas writes about her in a book of tribute to her –

“Her tireless dedication and brilliant talent in the fifties opened the door for Gwynfor’s success in the great victory in Carmarthen later on.”  Indeed Jennie Eirian herself said after the 1957 election – “The Blaid will win this seat within 10 years.”  That happened in 1966 – within 9 years!

Where should I begin with Gwynfor’s victory in the 1966 by-election?  That story deserves a lecture in its own right.  You will get that in 2016 when we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the victory!  All I wish to say tonight is that the fact that result took place changes the political history of Wales for ever.

Gwasg y Dryw brought out a record of Gwynfor speaking after his victory, calling on his country to will a full life and the means of creating it, a Welsh government.  Today that government exists.  We are on the way to securing a comprehensive Welsh government, Gwynfor’s full vision.

Think about him going to London and the House of Commons and entering the lion’s den –

“As he showed me round the tea rooms, Emrys Hughes pointed to the Welsh table, saying, ‘I wouldn’t sit there if I were you ’– ‘Your name is mud there.’  Goronwy Roberts used to pass me in the corridor without looking at me.  It may be difficult for some readers to recall how vicious George Thomas could be.  He was extremely set in his anti-Welsh sentiment.  He was the very scourge of Welsh nationalism and the Welsh language.”

That was the environment Gwynfor entered, but he took advantage of that imperial establishment to fight for Wales and call for self-government.  Things like this –

With the support of Plaid Cymru’s Research Group, he came to the conclusion that the best tactic was to wage a guerrilla war and ask numberless questions about the situation of Wales.  Gwynfor’s question would drive the civil service crazy: by the end of the first year he had asked over 600 questions, all of them published together with their answers in three volumes –the Black Books of Carmarthen.  Then the party set out Plaid Cymru’s case to the Royal Commission on the Commission in 1969.

Losing Carmarthen in 1970 – after the Investiture, direct action by Cymdeithas yr Iaith and the FWA (if such a thing existed!).  Then losing by just 3 votes in March 1974 and scoring a sweeping victory in October 1974.  At half past three in the morning a crowd of 3,000 were on Nott Square to hear the result and that Gwynfor had taken 23,325 votes.  This was the only seat that Labour lost anywhere in the United Kingdom that night.  So back to London, but this time with the two Dafydds for company!  His working day would often commence at nine o’clock in the morning and carry on into the early hours of the following morning.

This was a crucial period for making the case for assemblies for Wales and Scotland – there were three nationalist MPs from Wales as well as seven from Scotland.  The Government’s majority over the other parties was only three.  Gwynfor said – “Here was the most hopeful political situation I had ever encountered”.  The Government was compelled to yield to the pressure for parliaments for Wales and Scotland – and this marked the beginning of a long and difficult journey which has now taken place, much more so in Scotland than in Wales!

The Labour Party took care to ensure that the devolution referendum in Wales and Scotland faced barriers so that it was impossible for the Yes vote to succeed.  We remember Neil Kinnock and others in the Labour Party campaigning strongly against their party’s own policy and getting every facility to do so.  The outcome was the Na vote in the 1979 Assembly referendum in Wales.  Rhys Evans says –

“Gwynfor experienced many highs and lows in his career, but this was the nadir.  For him and his generation of nationalists, the referendum was more than a ballot on the administration of Wales; the referendum was a vote on the spiritual and existential question of whether Wales existed.  He was devastated, not knowing which made him feel more sick … Welsh toadyism or Labour deceit and corruption.”

Westminister – with his fellow MPs Dafydd Wigley and Dafydd Elis Thomas

He lost the General Election that followed the Referendum because of publication of a BBC opinion poll days before the election that predicted that Gwynfor would come a poor third.  In my personal opinion all this had been arranged by the ‘establishment’ to get rid of Gwynfor from the House of Commons.  In fact, the BBC admitted following a detailed review of the company that carried out the opinion poll that were unacceptably far from the mark!

Gwynfor’s response was – if he had won that election, with his health as it was at the time, he would no longer be in the land of the living!  And then in 1981 after 36 years as President of Plaid Cymru Gwynfor stepped down from the helm in the Conference in Carmarthen.

That is a quick sketch of the work and impact of Gwynfor in the field of politics.  It was a very profound impact, and we would never be where we are today but for Gwynfor having accomplished so much.  His political success is now acknowledged by everyone.  A very very special man.

But what is truly remarkable about this man is that he accomplished so much side by side with his political career.  And what I want to do now is give you a taste of those accomplishments, and remind you of the other tremendous pioneering roles he played.

And where should I begin?

THE HISTORIAN

A few of the many books written by Gwynfor

Gwynfor would almost invariably begin every speech with a history lesson.  It didn’t matter where, or what was the occasion, the history of Wales was part of the message.  He believed it was very important that we as a people should get to know our history.  He campaigned to teach Welsh history in our schools – at a time when that was virtually non-existent, and he set about writing and publishing books, and encouraging others to do the same – “Gwynfor’s aim throughout his life was to awaken national consciousness through imbuing people with the history of Wales, restoring  their memory and strengthening their desire to live.” (Dr Geraint Jenkins)

He wrote history classics –Hanes Cymru/ History of Wales, through the South Wales Echo.  Then Aros Mae, Seiri Cenedl y Cymry and Land of My Fathers.  Picture him setting out on Christmas Day 1970 to write the first two pages of notes for Aros Mae!  It was on sale within 7 months, with the first edition selling fast and a second edition soon in hand.  Elin Garlick set about a translation into English, entitled Land of My Fathers.  Three reprints were to follow and the publishers Tŷ John Penry commented– “this was the best seller of all the books we have published.”

His other historical classic is Seiri Cenedl y Cymry, available in English as Welsh Nation Builders, portraits of the history of 65 men and women who contributed in different ways to the building and development of our nation.  Think of all the research work needed to write historical studies and get the facts right!  Gwynfor was a prolific author – of some 30 books in total – as well as pamphlets, leaflets and numerous books, in Welsh and English.  He told me once of his intention to write one more book based on all his travelling around Wales – a study of Welsh chip shops as he had eaten in so many of them as he criss-crossed the country!

THE CHRISTIAN AND PACIFIST

We heard the Reverend Beti Wyn James and Mererid Hopwood assessing the significance of Gwynfor’s contribution in these two fields in the memorial service held in Capel y Priordy on Sunday 2 September.  So I shall just summarise some of the main features.

Gwynfor was a teacher in the young people’s Sunday School in his chapel, Providence Llangadog, for many years, and what is special id this – wherever he had been on the Saturday night  – he would almost always return for his Sunday School class the following day.  Read the full chapter about Gwynfor the Pacifist in the book by Pennar Davies – it gives us a comprehensive and detailed picture of the depth of his thinking and his faith.

Defending the land of Wales – successfully – Trawsfynnydd, 1951

He was brought up in a Christian family in Barry where his grandfather The Reverend Ben Evans was the first Minister of Capel y Tabernacl.  His uncle Idris (his father’s brother) was also a minister and a first-class preacher.  Gwynfor became Chairman of the Union of Welsh Independent Churches when he was just forty-two years of age.  No-one as young as that had ever been elected before.  And his son Guto was also President of the Union in recent times.

It is important to recall that in his maiden speech in the House of Commons Gwynfor based his hopes for Wales on the Christian values of its heritage.  He occupied a number of positions in the Independents’ organisation and he also played a key role in setting up Tŷ John Penry and its administration.  His Christianity was always practical.

“I am first a pacifist and then a nationalist” were Gwynfor’s words when given an unconditional discharge after appearing before a military Tribunal in Carmarthen in 1940.  After writing his first article about St Athan in 1937 he came under the influence of his great hero George M LL Davies, becoming Secretary of Heddychwyr Cymru, the Welsh peace pledge movement and responsible for its tent in the Cardiff National Eisteddfod in 1938.  Throughout his life he led protests and spoke in peace rallies – Swansea Rally in 1940, the great rally to defend Epynt where 400 people were turned out of their homes, the Abergeirw rally of 1948 and Trawsfynydd in 1951, with its celebrated photograph – all of these against the War Office grabbing Welsh land.

The Peace Pledge Union was indebted to him for his support and leadership and Gwynfor published a number of booklets and pamphlets such as They Cry Wolf and Wales Against Conscription.  Then, in 1973, he delivered his famous lecture in the Temple of Peace, Cardiff – Non-violent Nationalism.  He was just as supportive of CND as well, and spoke most strongly time and time against the Vietnam War, offering himself as a human shield in Hanoi in 1968 – but his group were refused admission – nevertheless the act as typical of a man who could not stand by and watch such slaughter.  Dafydd Elis Thomas says of him in one of the Peace Pledge Union’s newsletters:

“This great soul was born in the most violent century in the history of the world.  In the darkness of the warlike twentieth century his life was a beacon.”

FIGHTING FOR THE LANGUAGE

Gwynfor  played a vital role in the campaign to secure a radio service for Wales – in 1939 the BBC removed programmes about Wales completely.  In the National Eisteddfod in Llandybie in 1944 Gwynfor gave a lecture to a packed chapel on Radio In Wales.  The lecture was published in Welsh and in English and 10,000 copies were sold!  Gwynfor argued for devolution in the field of broadcasting, and to cut another long story short – this was successful and he was elected as a member of the BBC’s Welsh Advisory Committee in 1946.  Although it would be a long battle, BBC Wales together with Radio Cymru and Radio Wales were secured later on.

Victory – the first day of the Welsh language television service on S4C, 1982

By the mid 1950s Gwynfor could also see that the arrival of television also meant a revolutionary change in the system of communications that posed a major threat to the Welsh language and culture.  He pressed the idea of Welsh television, but the government did nothing to help, and he did not succeed in fulfilling his aim.  Gwynfor made an important Commons speech in 1969, calling specifically on the government to establish a Welsh Channel, and you know about that campaign in the 1970s.  The story of the campaign to ensure the setting up of S4C is one that will always be associated with Gwynfor and his intention to fast after the Tory Government broke its pledge – that story would be another lecture as later this month we mark the 30th anniversary of broadcasting on C.

Apart from the non-stop leadership Gwynfor provided for every aspect of the language struggle, there was his campaign for a Welsh language College.  He became a member of the University Court and in 1951 he proposed setting up a Welsh College, with a committee set up to consider the idea.  Everyone was opposed apart from Gwynfor, who again in 1953 prepared a detailed memorandum showing the need for this type of college.  He carried on the struggle in following years – another campaign in 1973 and then in 1986 when addressing the first Welsh language graduation ceremony organised by the Welsh Students Union in Aberystwyth.  He showed great determination and unswerving drive – and by now the Welsh College exists, with its administrative centre in Y Llwyfan here in Carmarthen.

THE FAMILY MAN

“He would never tell us or our children – ‘go away, I’m too busy, and he never waved a finger at us to chastise us.  His patience with the children was limitless.”  Those are the words of his daughter Meinir.  The family moved from Wernellyn to Talar Wen in 1953 – “Talar Wen was my father’s wedding present, postponed for fifteen years” said Gwynfor.  “Everything used to build the house was from Wales and Rhiannon’s brother Dewi Prys designed it.”

Gwynfor and his family

They had seven children and in response to a journalist Gwynfor said that his favourite Biblical saying was – “Be fruitful and multiply and fill … the earth”.  He loved playing with the children – and dressing up as Auntie Jini, fooling the grandchildren into believing she was a half sister from America.  He also loved walking with the children, and his favourite place was y Garn Goch – the mountain where his ash was scattered and where a memorial stone stands at the foot of the hillside.  Like his father, Gwynfor was musical and liked to play the piano.  According to his brother Alcwyn, Gwynfor would tend to go to the piano when he faced pressure, and when playing he would be able to relax.

Gwynfor and Rhiannon moved to another Talar Wen in Pencarreg near Llanybydder in the summer of 1984 when he retired.  A big farewell supper was held in Llangadog hall for the community to pay tribute to a couple who did so much for the Welsh traditions of the area for a period of 45 years.  When 17 Plaid Cymru members were elected to the first National Assembly in 1999 they all came to Pencarreg to see Gwynfor and Rhiannon.  Other visitors included Winnie Ewing with Rhodri, Cynog and Roy Llywelyn.

On the day before Gwynfor celebrated his 90th birthday a piece about him was carried in the Western Mail.  He headline read – ‘Pacifist giant of Welsh culture whose place in history is secured – Wales celebrates 90 years of Gwynfor’.

“Gwynfor Evans has been described as ‘one of the greatest souls of the 20th century.  Alongside Lloyd George and Aneurin Bevan he is one of the last century’s three greatest Welsh politicians.  But he arguably stands alone and ahead of them all in the measure of his influence and is one of the few people from any era recognised solely by their Christian name.

“Gwynfor’s place in history is secure, and not just through his achievements and influence but his public acclaim.  He was chosen by readers of Wales on Sunday as Millennium Icon ahead of Lloyd George and Aneurin Bevan, voted Welsh Person of the Millennium ahead of Owain Glyndŵr by readers of Y Cymro and was reader’s choice in the Western Mail’s Person of the Millennium Award.  They were popular endorsements of the greatest living Welshman of the 20th century.”

Gwynfor appeared in public for the last time at the 2,000 National Eisteddfod in Llanelli, where he received the Worldwide Welsh Award for a lifetime’s work for Wales.  The ceremony was full of emotion, with a packed pavilion honouring this very special man.

And to conclude, I would like to quote Professor Geraint Jenkins in his address to the Gymanfa Ganu we held in Capel Heol Awst to mark Gwynfor’s life soon after he died. This is what he said –

“Set about praising and publicly honouring Gwynfor’s name by erecting a fitting monument to him.  What better place could there be to place a fitting memorial than here in Carmarthen, where he experience his big moment on 14 July 1966 so that your children and your children’s children can come here to admire one of the great figures of our nation.”  And as you know that work is now in hand, with the intention of realising a monument by 2,016, the fiftieth anniversary of his great victory in 1966.

Gwynfor Richard Evans died on Thursday morning 21 April 2005 at the age of 92 in his home in Talar Wen, Pencarreg.  Rhys Evans says: “Gwynfor wanted to return to Garn Goch, to the soil, the land of Wales where his politics had taken root.  Nevertheless, as his ashes blow in the wind, his legacy survives.”

And Dr Geraint Jenkins says: “His aim was to build a nation that was free, responsible and confident, by restoring the memory of its people and strengthening its will to live – and we should remember him as ‘Llusernwr y canrifoedd coll’, the illuminator of the lost centuries.  Time after time Gwynfor was there to stand in the breach – his life reflected the history of Wales 1940 on.  The foundation of Gwynfor’s life was his Christianity and his pacifism.”

The last sentences in Rhys Evans’ substantial volume are: “No one did more than Gwynfor in the twentieth century.  It is not the Welsh-speaking Christian Wales that Gwynfor dreamed of, but it is still Wales.  Wales, the nation he loved with such passion, has survived, despite it all.”

Peter Hughes GriffithsGwynfor, capten Tîm Hoci’r Ysgol
[/caption]

While in University, there took place two events that would have a strong influence on his later life – the first:

“I would marvel at the dedication of the young men and women who sold Y Ddraig Goch on the streets of Aberystwyth – Gwenant Davies, Eic Davies and others.”

And secondly – “but one day he saw a yellow coloured pamphlet outside a bookshop in Aberystwyth – The Economics of Welsh Self Government by DJ Davies.  This booklet removed all kinds of doubt, and in the summer of 1934 he approached Cassie Davies in Barry and joined the national party.”

At the time Cassie Davies was a member of staff at Barry College and in her book Hwb i’r Galon she recalls –

“And this was the time that a remarkably good-looking young man from Barry, wearing an Aberystwyth college blazer, began to call to talk about this new party and ask to join it.”

Gwynfor then went to Oxford University where he set up a party branch and became secretary of the famous Cymdeithas Dafydd ap Gwilym.  He graduated there in 1936.

Although he was to send an article from Oxford for his old school’s magazine, parts of which appeared in the Western Mail, it was in January 1937 that he published his first full article in Y Ddraig Goch, dealing with the establishment of the St Athan camp, and in the Plaid Cymru Summer School in Bala the same year he proposed a motion calling for official status for the Welsh language.  And guess what – 400,000 signatures were collected in support of the proposal before the Second World War put paid to that effort.

So you can see that Gwynfor had already made his first major strides in what was to be his life’s work – for the sake of Wales.  He became a member of Plaid Cymru’s national executive in 1937 and within six years, in 1943, he was chosen as party vice-president.  Then on 1 August 1945 in the Llangollen conference (five days before the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima) he was elected as President of Plaid Cymru at the age of just 32, the start of his great lifetime mission – he would remain president and leader for the next 36 years.

Priodi, 1941 – Gwynfor a Rhiannon a’u teuluoedd (ei dad yng nghyfraith Dan Thomas ar y chwith)Marriage, 1941 – Gwynfor and Rhiannon and their families (his father-in-law Dan Thomas on the left)

Priodi, 1941 – Gwynfor a Rhiannon a’u teuluoedd (ei dad yng nghyfraith Dan Thomas ar y chwith)

In the meantime he had married his lifelong partner Rhiannon and was living in Wernellyn, Llangadog where he launched a market garden venture.  I like his description of how he fell for Rhiannon.  In his autobiography Bywyd Cymro, available in English as For the Sake of Wales, Gwynfor describes how he called on Rhiannon’s parents in Cardiff –

“I have to confess that my heart lost a beat the moment Rhiannon walked into the room.  On seeing her again two months later amid the beauty of a summer’s day at Islaw’r Dref dressed in a very short light frock  – beach wear no doubt – the boy from Barry fell head over heels in love!”

They were married on St David’s Day 1941, and Pennar Davies says in his book that if heaven had ever arranged marriages this was surely one it had done well:  “And the contribution of Rhiannon Evans to the work of her husband cannot be overestimated.”

Gwynfor contested his first Parliamentary election in Meirionydd in 1945.  He led the Llyn y Fan protest on New Year’s Day 1947 and that in Abergeirw in 1948 and was elected a member of the University Court’s Guild of Graduates and of the Welsh Independents the same year, as well as serving as Welsh Secretary of the Celtic League in the Colwyn Bay National Eisteddfod as early as 1947, when he was 34.  It is evident that by the end of the 1940s Gwynfor Evans had established himself as a national leader with wide support among his people.

Arwain protest Abergeirw, 1948Leading the Abergeirw protest, 1948

Arwain protest Abergeirw, 1948

Gwynfor was elected to Carmarthenshire County Council in 1949 and was a County Councillor for 25 years.  The 1956 County Council elections produced an interesting result, with 29 Independent councillors, 29 Labour and 2 Plaid Cymru.  Plaid Cymru held the balance, and stranger still both Plaid councillors bore the name Gwynfor Evans – Gwynfor Evans of Betws, Ammanford and Gwynfor Evans, Llangadog.  Gwynfor Evans, Betws took the county council to the High Court in London for failing to provide nomination papers in Welsh – and won his case, leading significantly to the establishment of the Hughes Parry Committee in 1963 to investigate the legal status of the Welsh language.

In 1949 Gwynfor led Plaid Cymru’s most ambitious Rally ever – 4,000 people came to Machynlleth to call for a Parliament for Wales, and after Gwynfor’s speech one correspondent concluded that the accolade of Wales’ leading orator should be awarded to Gwynfor rather than Aneurin Bevan.  There followed further Parliament for Wales rallies in Blaenau Ffestiniog in 1950 and then the great rally in Cardiff in 1953, with a quarter of a million people signing a petition presented to the House of Commons.  Gwynfor fought Meirionydd in the 1950 General Election, the Aberdare by-election in 1954 and Meirionnydd again in 1955 and 1959.

And what about the fight for Tryweryn?  A rally in Bala in 1956 –

“No sooner had Mr Gwynfor Evans got to his feet to speak than the thousands in the great marquee stood up to welcome him and give him prolonged applause.”  And in his book Bywyd Cymro Gwynfor said– “And except for the Parliament for Wales campaign, Tryweryn was the most important of all our campaigns.”  Gwynfor’s leadership during that battle have been recorded in detail and the deputations to Liverpool and so on are historical events.  Gwynfor wrote – “The Welsh had been as united as ever any nation could be.  Their opinion was completely ignored.  The state of democracy in Wales was exposed.”

Gorymdaith dros gymuned cwm Tryweryn yn LerpwlThe battle for Tryweryn – leading a procession through the streets of Liverpool

Gorymdaith dros gymuned cwm Tryweryn yn Lerpwl

A young woman – Jennie Eirian Davies, married to a minister in Brynaman – stood as Plaid Cymru’s first candidate in Carmarthen in the General Election of 1955 and again in a by-election in 1957.  Dewi Thomas writes about her in a book of tribute to her –

“Her tireless dedication and brilliant talent in the fifties opened the door for Gwynfor’s success in the great victory in Carmarthen later on.”  Indeed Jennie Eirian herself said after the 1957 election – “The Blaid will win this seat within 10 years.”  That happened in 1966 – within 9 years!

Where should I begin with Gwynfor’s victory in the 1966 by-election?  That story deserves a lecture in its own right.  You will get that in 2016 when we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the victory!  All I wish to say tonight is that the fact that result took place changes the political history of Wales for ever.

Gwasg y Dryw brought out a record of Gwynfor speaking after his victory, calling on his country to will a full life and the means of creating it, a Welsh government.  Today that government exists.  We are on the way to securing a comprehensive Welsh government, Gwynfor’s full vision.

Think about him going to London and the House of Commons and entering the lion’s den –

“As he showed me round the tea rooms, Emrys Hughes pointed to the Welsh table, saying, ‘I wouldn’t sit there if I were you ’– ‘Your name is mud there.’  Goronwy Roberts used to pass me in the corridor without looking at me.  It may be difficult for some readers to recall how vicious George Thomas could be.  He was extremely set in his anti-Welsh sentiment.  He was the very scourge of Welsh nationalism and the Welsh language.”

Gwynfor yn mynd mewn i Dŷ’r Cyffredin, 1966Gwynfor entering the House of Commons, 1966

Gwynfor yn mynd mewn i Dŷ’r Cyffredin, 1966

That was the environment Gwynfor entered, but he took advantage of that imperial establishment to fight for Wales and call for self-government.  Things like this –

With the support of Plaid Cymru’s Research Group, he came to the conclusion that the best tactic was to wage a guerrilla war and ask numberless questions about the situation of Wales.  Gwynfor’s question would drive the civil service crazy: by the end of the first year he had asked over 600 questions, all of them published together with their answers in three volumes –the Black Books of Carmarthen.  Then the party set out Plaid Cymru’s case to the Royal Commission on the Commission in 1969.

Losing Carmarthen in 1970 – after the Investiture, direct action by Cymdeithas yr Iaith and the FWA (if such a thing existed!).  Then losing by just 3 votes in March 1974 and scoring a sweeping victory in October 1974.  At half past three in the morning a crowd of 3,000 were on Nott Square to hear the result and that Gwynfor had taken 23,325 votes.  This was the only seat that Labour lost anywhere in the United Kingdom that night.  So back to London, but this time with the two Dafydds for company!  His working day would often commence at nine o’clock in the morning and carry on into the early hours of the following morning.

This was a crucial period for making the case for assemblies for Wales and Scotland – there were three nationalist MPs from Wales as well as seven from Scotland.  The Government’s majority over the other parties was only three.  Gwynfor said – “Here was the most hopeful political situation I had ever encountered”.  The Government was compelled to yield to the pressure for parliaments for Wales and Scotland – and this marked the beginning of a long and difficult journey which has now taken place, much more so in Scotland than in Wales!

The Labour Party took care to ensure that the devolution referendum in Wales and Scotland faced barriers so that it was impossible for the Yes vote to succeed.  We remember Neil Kinnock and others in the Labour Party campaigning strongly against their party’s own policy and getting every facility to do so.  The outcome was the Na vote in the 1979 Assembly referendum in Wales.  Rhys Evans says –

“Gwynfor experienced many highs and lows in his career, but this was the nadir.  For him and his generation of nationalists, the referendum was more than a ballot on the administration of Wales; the referendum was a vote on the spiritual and existential question of whether Wales existed.  He was devastated, not knowing which made him feel more sick … Welsh toadyism or Labour deceit and corruption.”

He lost the General Election that followed the Referendum because of publication of a BBC opinion poll days before the election that predicted that Gwynfor would come a poor third.  In my personal opinion all this had been arranged by the ‘establishment’ to get rid of Gwynfor from the House of Commons.  In fact, the BBC admitted following a detailed review of the company that carried out the opinion poll that were unacceptably far from the mark!

Gwynfor’s response was – if he had won that election, with his health as it was at the time, he would no longer be in the land of the living!  And then in 1981 after 36 years as President of Plaid Cymru Gwynfor stepped down from the helm in the Conference in Carmarthen.

That is a quick sketch of the work and impact of Gwynfor in the field of politics.  It was a very profound impact, and we would never be where we are today but for Gwynfor having accomplished so much.  His political success is now acknowledged by everyone.  A very very special man.

But what is truly remarkable about this man is that he accomplished so much side by side with his political career.  And what I want to do now is give you a taste of those accomplishments, and remind you of the other tremendous pioneering roles he played.

And where should I begin?

THE HISTORIAN

A few of the many books written by Gwynfor

Gwynfor would almost invariably begin every speech with a history lesson.  It didn’t matter where, or what was the occasion, the history of Wales was part of the message.  He believed it was very important that we as a people should get to know our history.  He campaigned to teach Welsh history in our schools – at a time when that was virtually non-existent, and he set about writing and publishing books, and encouraging others to do the same – “Gwynfor’s aim throughout his life was to awaken national consciousness through imbuing people with the history of Wales, restoring  their memory and strengthening their desire to live.” (Dr Geraint Jenkins)

He wrote history classics –Hanes Cymru/ History of Wales, through the South Wales Echo.  Then Aros Mae, Seiri Cenedl y Cymry and Land of My Fathers.  Picture him setting out on Christmas Day 1970 to write the first two pages of notes for Aros Mae!  It was on sale within 7 months, with the first edition selling fast and a second edition soon in hand.  Elin Garlick set about a translation into English, entitled Land of My Fathers.  Three reprints were to follow and the publishers Tŷ John Penry commented– “this was the best seller of all the books we have published.”

His other historical classic is Seiri Cenedl y Cymry, available in English as Welsh Nation Builders, portraits of the history of 65 men and women who contributed in different ways to the building and development of our nation.  Think of all the research work needed to write historical studies and get the facts right!  Gwynfor was a prolific author – of some 30 books in total – as well as pamphlets, leaflets and numerous books, in Welsh and English.  He told me once of his intention to write one more book based on all his travelling around Wales – a study of Welsh chip shops as he had eaten in so many of them as he criss-crossed the country!

THE CHRISTIAN AND PACIFIST

We heard the Reverend Beti Wyn James and Mererid Hopwood assessing the significance of Gwynfor’s contribution in these two fields in the memorial service held in Capel y Priordy on Sunday 2 September.  So I shall just summarise some of the main features.

Gwynfor was a teacher in the young people’s Sunday School in his chapel, Providence Llangadog, for many years, and what is special id this – wherever he had been on the Saturday night  – he would almost always return for his Sunday School class the following day.  Read the full chapter about Gwynfor the Pacifist in the book by Pennar Davies – it gives us a comprehensive and detailed picture of the depth of his thinking and his faith.

Defending the land of Wales – successfully – Trawsfynnydd, 1951

He was brought up in a Christian family in Barry where his grandfather The Reverend Ben Evans was the first Minister of Capel y Tabernacl.  His uncle Idris (his father’s brother) was also a minister and a first-class preacher.  Gwynfor became Chairman of the Union of Welsh Independent Churches when he was just forty-two years of age.  No-one as young as that had ever been elected before.  And his son Guto was also President of the Union in recent times.

It is important to recall that in his maiden speech in the House of Commons Gwynfor based his hopes for Wales on the Christian values of its heritage.  He occupied a number of positions in the Independents’ organisation and he also played a key role in setting up Tŷ John Penry and its administration.  His Christianity was always practical.

“I am first a pacifist and then a nationalist” were Gwynfor’s words when given an unconditional discharge after appearing before a military Tribunal in Carmarthen in 1940.  After writing his first article about St Athan in 1937 he came under the influence of his great hero George M LL Davies, becoming Secretary of Heddychwyr Cymru, the Welsh peace pledge movement and responsible for its tent in the Cardiff National Eisteddfod in 1938.  Throughout his life he led protests and spoke in peace rallies – Swansea Rally in 1940, the great rally to defend Epynt where 400 people were turned out of their homes, the Abergeirw rally of 1948 and Trawsfynydd in 1951, with its celebrated photograph – all of these against the War Office grabbing Welsh land.

The Peace Pledge Union was indebted to him for his support and leadership and Gwynfor published a number of booklets and pamphlets such as They Cry Wolf and Wales Against Conscription.  Then, in 1973, he delivered his famous lecture in the Temple of Peace, Cardiff – Non-violent Nationalism.  He was just as supportive of CND as well, and spoke most strongly time and time against the Vietnam War, offering himself as a human shield in Hanoi in 1968 – but his group were refused admission – nevertheless the act as typical of a man who could not stand by and watch such slaughter.  Dafydd Elis Thomas says of him in one of the Peace Pledge Union’s newsletters:

“This great soul was born in the most violent century in the history of the world.  In the darkness of the warlike twentieth century his life was a beacon.”

FIGHTING FOR THE LANGUAGE

Gwynfor  played a vital role in the campaign to secure a radio service for Wales – in 1939 the BBC removed programmes about Wales completely.  In the National Eisteddfod in Llandybie in 1944 Gwynfor gave a lecture to a packed chapel on Radio In Wales.  The lecture was published in Welsh and in English and 10,000 copies were sold!  Gwynfor argued for devolution in the field of broadcasting, and to cut another long story short – this was successful and he was elected as a member of the BBC’s Welsh Advisory Committee in 1946.  Although it would be a long battle, BBC Wales together with Radio Cymru and Radio Wales were secured later on.

Victory – the first day of the Welsh language television service on S4C, 1982

By the mid 1950s Gwynfor could also see that the arrival of television also meant a revolutionary change in the system of communications that posed a major threat to the Welsh language and culture.  He pressed the idea of Welsh television, but the government did nothing to help, and he did not succeed in fulfilling his aim.  Gwynfor made an important Commons speech in 1969, calling specifically on the government to establish a Welsh Channel, and you know about that campaign in the 1970s.  The story of the campaign to ensure the setting up of S4C is one that will always be associated with Gwynfor and his intention to fast after the Tory Government broke its pledge – that story would be another lecture as later this month we mark the 30th anniversary of broadcasting on C.

Apart from the non-stop leadership Gwynfor provided for every aspect of the language struggle, there was his campaign for a Welsh language College.  He became a member of the University Court and in 1951 he proposed setting up a Welsh College, with a committee set up to consider the idea.  Everyone was opposed apart from Gwynfor, who again in 1953 prepared a detailed memorandum showing the need for this type of college.  He carried on the struggle in following years – another campaign in 1973 and then in 1986 when addressing the first Welsh language graduation ceremony organised by the Welsh Students Union in Aberystwyth.  He showed great determination and unswerving drive – and by now the Welsh College exists, with its administrative centre in Y Llwyfan here in Carmarthen.

THE FAMILY MAN

“He would never tell us or our children – ‘go away, I’m too busy, and he never waved a finger at us to chastise us.  His patience with the children was limitless.”  Those are the words of his daughter Meinir.  The family moved from Wernellyn to Talar Wen in 1953 – “Talar Wen was my father’s wedding present, postponed for fifteen years” said Gwynfor.  “Everything used to build the house was from Wales and Rhiannon’s brother Dewi Prys designed it.”

Gwynfor and his family

They had seven children and in response to a journalist Gwynfor said that his favourite Biblical saying was – “Be fruitful and multiply and fill … the earth”.  He loved playing with the children – and dressing up as Auntie Jini, fooling the grandchildren into believing she was a half sister from America.  He also loved walking with the children, and his favourite place was y Garn Goch – the mountain where his ash was scattered and where a memorial stone stands at the foot of the hillside.  Like his father, Gwynfor was musical and liked to play the piano.  According to his brother Alcwyn, Gwynfor would tend to go to the piano when he faced pressure, and when playing he would be able to relax.

Gwynfor and Rhiannon moved to another Talar Wen in Pencarreg near Llanybydder in the summer of 1984 when he retired.  A big farewell supper was held in Llangadog hall for the community to pay tribute to a couple who did so much for the Welsh traditions of the area for a period of 45 years.  When 17 Plaid Cymru members were elected to the first National Assembly in 1999 they all came to Pencarreg to see Gwynfor and Rhiannon.  Other visitors included Winnie Ewing with Rhodri, Cynog and Roy Llywelyn.

On the day before Gwynfor celebrated his 90th birthday a piece about him was carried in the Western Mail.  He headline read – ‘Pacifist giant of Welsh culture whose place in history is secured – Wales celebrates 90 years of Gwynfor’.

“Gwynfor Evans has been described as ‘one of the greatest souls of the 20th century.  Alongside Lloyd George and Aneurin Bevan he is one of the last century’s three greatest Welsh politicians.  But he arguably stands alone and ahead of them all in the measure of his influence and is one of the few people from any era recognised solely by their Christian name.

“Gwynfor’s place in history is secure, and not just through his achievements and influence but his public acclaim.  He was chosen by readers of Wales on Sunday as Millennium Icon ahead of Lloyd George and Aneurin Bevan, voted Welsh Person of the Millennium ahead of Owain Glyndŵr by readers of Y Cymro and was reader’s choice in the Western Mail’s Person of the Millennium Award.  They were popular endorsements of the greatest living Welshman of the 20th century.”

Gwynfor appeared in public for the last time at the 2,000 National Eisteddfod in Llanelli, where he received the Worldwide Welsh Award for a lifetime’s work for Wales.  The ceremony was full of emotion, with a packed pavilion honouring this very special man.

And to conclude, I would like to quote Professor Geraint Jenkins in his address to the Gymanfa Ganu we held in Capel Heol Awst to mark Gwynfor’s life soon after he died. This is what he said –

“Set about praising and publicly honouring Gwynfor’s name by erecting a fitting monument to him.  What better place could there be to place a fitting memorial than here in Carmarthen, where he experience his big moment on 14 July 1966 so that your children and your children’s children can come here to admire one of the great figures of our nation.”  And as you know that work is now in hand, with the intention of realising a monument by 2,016, the fiftieth anniversary of his great victory in 1966.

Gwynfor Richard Evans died on Thursday morning 21 April 2005 at the age of 92 in his home in Talar Wen, Pencarreg.  Rhys Evans says: “Gwynfor wanted to return to Garn Goch, to the soil, the land of Wales where his politics had taken root.  Nevertheless, as his ashes blow in the wind, his legacy survives.”

And Dr Geraint Jenkins says: “His aim was to build a nation that was free, responsible and confident, by restoring the memory of its people and strengthening its will to live – and we should remember him as ‘Llusernwr y canrifoedd coll’, the illuminator of the lost centuries.  Time after time Gwynfor was there to stand in the breach – his life reflected the history of Wales 1940 on.  The foundation of Gwynfor’s life was his Christianity and his pacifism.”

The last sentences in Rhys Evans’ substantial volume are: “No one did more than Gwynfor in the twentieth century.  It is not the Welsh-speaking Christian Wales that Gwynfor dreamed of, but it is still Wales.  Wales, the nation he loved with such passion, has survived, despite it all.”

Peter Hughes GriffithsGwynfor, capten Tîm Hoci’r Ysgol
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While in University, there took place two events that would have a strong influence on his later life – the first:

“I would marvel at the dedication of the young men and women who sold Y Ddraig Goch on the streets of Aberystwyth – Gwenant Davies, Eic Davies and others.”

And secondly – “but one day he saw a yellow coloured pamphlet outside a bookshop in Aberystwyth – The Economics of Welsh Self Government by DJ Davies.  This booklet removed all kinds of doubt, and in the summer of 1934 he approached Cassie Davies in Barry and joined the national party.”

At the time Cassie Davies was a member of staff at Barry College and in her book Hwb i’r Galon she recalls –

“And this was the time that a remarkably good-looking young man from Barry, wearing an Aberystwyth college blazer, began to call to talk about this new party and ask to join it.”

Gwynfor then went to Oxford University where he set up a party branch and became secretary of the famous Cymdeithas Dafydd ap Gwilym.  He graduated there in 1936.

Although he was to send an article from Oxford for his old school’s magazine, parts of which appeared in the Western Mail, it was in January 1937 that he published his first full article in Y Ddraig Goch, dealing with the establishment of the St Athan camp, and in the Plaid Cymru Summer School in Bala the same year he proposed a motion calling for official status for the Welsh language.  And guess what – 400,000 signatures were collected in support of the proposal before the Second World War put paid to that effort.

So you can see that Gwynfor had already made his first major strides in what was to be his life’s work – for the sake of Wales.  He became a member of Plaid Cymru’s national executive in 1937 and within six years, in 1943, he was chosen as party vice-president.  Then on 1 August 1945 in the Llangollen conference (five days before the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima) he was elected as President of Plaid Cymru at the age of just 32, the start of his great lifetime mission – he would remain president and leader for the next 36 years.

Priodi, 1941 – Gwynfor a Rhiannon a’u teuluoedd (ei dad yng nghyfraith Dan Thomas ar y chwith)Marriage, 1941 – Gwynfor and Rhiannon and their families (his father-in-law Dan Thomas on the left)

Priodi, 1941 – Gwynfor a Rhiannon a’u teuluoedd (ei dad yng nghyfraith Dan Thomas ar y chwith)

In the meantime he had married his lifelong partner Rhiannon and was living in Wernellyn, Llangadog where he launched a market garden venture.  I like his description of how he fell for Rhiannon.  In his autobiography Bywyd Cymro, available in English as For the Sake of Wales, Gwynfor describes how he called on Rhiannon’s parents in Cardiff –

“I have to confess that my heart lost a beat the moment Rhiannon walked into the room.  On seeing her again two months later amid the beauty of a summer’s day at Islaw’r Dref dressed in a very short light frock  – beach wear no doubt – the boy from Barry fell head over heels in love!”

They were married on St David’s Day 1941, and Pennar Davies says in his book that if heaven had ever arranged marriages this was surely one it had done well:  “And the contribution of Rhiannon Evans to the work of her husband cannot be overestimated.”

Gwynfor contested his first Parliamentary election in Meirionydd in 1945.  He led the Llyn y Fan protest on New Year’s Day 1947 and that in Abergeirw in 1948 and was elected a member of the University Court’s Guild of Graduates and of the Welsh Independents the same year, as well as serving as Welsh Secretary of the Celtic League in the Colwyn Bay National Eisteddfod as early as 1947, when he was 34.  It is evident that by the end of the 1940s Gwynfor Evans had established himself as a national leader with wide support among his people.

Arwain protest Abergeirw, 1948Leading the Abergeirw protest, 1948

Arwain protest Abergeirw, 1948

Gwynfor was elected to Carmarthenshire County Council in 1949 and was a County Councillor for 25 years.  The 1956 County Council elections produced an interesting result, with 29 Independent councillors, 29 Labour and 2 Plaid Cymru.  Plaid Cymru held the balance, and stranger still both Plaid councillors bore the name Gwynfor Evans – Gwynfor Evans of Betws, Ammanford and Gwynfor Evans, Llangadog.  Gwynfor Evans, Betws took the county council to the High Court in London for failing to provide nomination papers in Welsh – and won his case, leading significantly to the establishment of the Hughes Parry Committee in 1963 to investigate the legal status of the Welsh language.

In 1949 Gwynfor led Plaid Cymru’s most ambitious Rally ever – 4,000 people came to Machynlleth to call for a Parliament for Wales, and after Gwynfor’s speech one correspondent concluded that the accolade of Wales’ leading orator should be awarded to Gwynfor rather than Aneurin Bevan.  There followed further Parliament for Wales rallies in Blaenau Ffestiniog in 1950 and then the great rally in Cardiff in 1953, with a quarter of a million people signing a petition presented to the House of Commons.  Gwynfor fought Meirionydd in the 1950 General Election, the Aberdare by-election in 1954 and Meirionnydd again in 1955 and 1959.

And what about the fight for Tryweryn?  A rally in Bala in 1956 –

“No sooner had Mr Gwynfor Evans got to his feet to speak than the thousands in the great marquee stood up to welcome him and give him prolonged applause.”  And in his book Bywyd Cymro Gwynfor said– “And except for the Parliament for Wales campaign, Tryweryn was the most important of all our campaigns.”  Gwynfor’s leadership during that battle have been recorded in detail and the deputations to Liverpool and so on are historical events.  Gwynfor wrote – “The Welsh had been as united as ever any nation could be.  Their opinion was completely ignored.  The state of democracy in Wales was exposed.”

Gorymdaith dros gymuned cwm Tryweryn yn LerpwlThe battle for Tryweryn – leading a procession through the streets of Liverpool

Gorymdaith dros gymuned cwm Tryweryn yn Lerpwl

A young woman – Jennie Eirian Davies, married to a minister in Brynaman – stood as Plaid Cymru’s first candidate in Carmarthen in the General Election of 1955 and again in a by-election in 1957.  Dewi Thomas writes about her in a book of tribute to her –

“Her tireless dedication and brilliant talent in the fifties opened the door for Gwynfor’s success in the great victory in Carmarthen later on.”  Indeed Jennie Eirian herself said after the 1957 election – “The Blaid will win this seat within 10 years.”  That happened in 1966 – within 9 years!

Where should I begin with Gwynfor’s victory in the 1966 by-election?  That story deserves a lecture in its own right.  You will get that in 2016 when we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the victory!  All I wish to say tonight is that the fact that result took place changes the political history of Wales for ever.

Gwasg y Dryw brought out a record of Gwynfor speaking after his victory, calling on his country to will a full life and the means of creating it, a Welsh government.  Today that government exists.  We are on the way to securing a comprehensive Welsh government, Gwynfor’s full vision.

Think about him going to London and the House of Commons and entering the lion’s den –

“As he showed me round the tea rooms, Emrys Hughes pointed to the Welsh table, saying, ‘I wouldn’t sit there if I were you ’– ‘Your name is mud there.’  Goronwy Roberts used to pass me in the corridor without looking at me.  It may be difficult for some readers to recall how vicious George Thomas could be.  He was extremely set in his anti-Welsh sentiment.  He was the very scourge of Welsh nationalism and the Welsh language.”

Gwynfor yn mynd mewn i Dŷ’r Cyffredin, 1966Gwynfor entering the House of Commons, 1966

Gwynfor yn mynd mewn i Dŷ’r Cyffredin, 1966

That was the environment Gwynfor entered, but he took advantage of that imperial establishment to fight for Wales and call for self-government.  Things like this –

With the support of Plaid Cymru’s Research Group, he came to the conclusion that the best tactic was to wage a guerrilla war and ask numberless questions about the situation of Wales.  Gwynfor’s question would drive the civil service crazy: by the end of the first year he had asked over 600 questions, all of them published together with their answers in three volumes –the Black Books of Carmarthen.  Then the party set out Plaid Cymru’s case to the Royal Commission on the Commission in 1969.

Losing Carmarthen in 1970 – after the Investiture, direct action by Cymdeithas yr Iaith and the FWA (if such a thing existed!).  Then losing by just 3 votes in March 1974 and scoring a sweeping victory in October 1974.  At half past three in the morning a crowd of 3,000 were on Nott Square to hear the result and that Gwynfor had taken 23,325 votes.  This was the only seat that Labour lost anywhere in the United Kingdom that night.  So back to London, but this time with the two Dafydds for company!  His working day would often commence at nine o’clock in the morning and carry on into the early hours of the following morning.

This was a crucial period for making the case for assemblies for Wales and Scotland – there were three nationalist MPs from Wales as well as seven from Scotland.  The Government’s majority over the other parties was only three.  Gwynfor said – “Here was the most hopeful political situation I had ever encountered”.  The Government was compelled to yield to the pressure for parliaments for Wales and Scotland – and this marked the beginning of a long and difficult journey which has now taken place, much more so in Scotland than in Wales!

The Labour Party took care to ensure that the devolution referendum in Wales and Scotland faced barriers so that it was impossible for the Yes vote to succeed.  We remember Neil Kinnock and others in the Labour Party campaigning strongly against their party’s own policy and getting every facility to do so.  The outcome was the Na vote in the 1979 Assembly referendum in Wales.  Rhys Evans says –

“Gwynfor experienced many highs and lows in his career, but this was the nadir.  For him and his generation of nationalists, the referendum was more than a ballot on the administration of Wales; the referendum was a vote on the spiritual and existential question of whether Wales existed.  He was devastated, not knowing which made him feel more sick … Welsh toadyism or Labour deceit and corruption.”

San Steffan – gyda’i gyd Aelodau Seneddol Dafydd Wigley a Dafydd Elis ThomasWestminister – with his fellow MPs Dafydd Wigley and Dafydd Elis Thomas

San Steffan – gyda’i gyd Aelodau Seneddol Dafydd Wigley a Dafydd Elis Thomas

He lost the General Election that followed the Referendum because of publication of a BBC opinion poll days before the election that predicted that Gwynfor would come a poor third.  In my personal opinion all this had been arranged by the ‘establishment’ to get rid of Gwynfor from the House of Commons.  In fact, the BBC admitted following a detailed review of the company that carried out the opinion poll that were unacceptably far from the mark!

Gwynfor’s response was – if he had won that election, with his health as it was at the time, he would no longer be in the land of the living!  And then in 1981 after 36 years as President of Plaid Cymru Gwynfor stepped down from the helm in the Conference in Carmarthen.

That is a quick sketch of the work and impact of Gwynfor in the field of politics.  It was a very profound impact, and we would never be where we are today but for Gwynfor having accomplished so much.  His political success is now acknowledged by everyone.  A very very special man.

But what is truly remarkable about this man is that he accomplished so much side by side with his political career.  And what I want to do now is give you a taste of those accomplishments, and remind you of the other tremendous pioneering roles he played.

And where should I begin?

THE HISTORIAN

Gwynfor would almost invariably begin every speech with a history lesson.  It didn’t matter where, or what was the occasion, the history of Wales was part of the message.  He believed it was very important that we as a people should get to know our history.  He campaigned to teach Welsh history in our schools – at a time when that was virtually non-existent, and he set about writing and publishing books, and encouraging others to do the same – “Gwynfor’s aim throughout his life was to awaken national consciousness through imbuing people with the history of Wales, restoring  their memory and strengthening their desire to live.” (Dr Geraint Jenkins)

He wrote history classics –Hanes Cymru/ History of Wales, through the South Wales Echo.  Then Aros Mae, Seiri Cenedl y Cymry and Land of My Fathers.  Picture him setting out on Christmas Day 1970 to write the first two pages of notes for Aros Mae!  It was on sale within 7 months, with the first edition selling fast and a second edition soon in hand.  Elin Garlick set about a translation into English, entitled Land of My Fathers.  Three reprints were to follow and the publishers Tŷ John Penry commented– “this was the best seller of all the books we have published.”

His other historical classic is Seiri Cenedl y Cymry, available in English as Welsh Nation Builders, portraits of the history of 65 men and women who contributed in different ways to the building and development of our nation.  Think of all the research work needed to write historical studies and get the facts right!  Gwynfor was a prolific author – of some 30 books in total – as well as pamphlets, leaflets and numerous books, in Welsh and English.  He told me once of his intention to write one more book based on all his travelling around Wales – a study of Welsh chip shops as he had eaten in so many of them as he criss-crossed the country!

THE CHRISTIAN AND PACIFIST

We heard the Reverend Beti Wyn James and Mererid Hopwood assessing the significance of Gwynfor’s contribution in these two fields in the memorial service held in Capel y Priordy on Sunday 2 September.  So I shall just summarise some of the main features.

Gwynfor was a teacher in the young people’s Sunday School in his chapel, Providence Llangadog, for many years, and what is special id this – wherever he had been on the Saturday night  – he would almost always return for his Sunday School class the following day.  Read the full chapter about Gwynfor the Pacifist in the book by Pennar Davies – it gives us a comprehensive and detailed picture of the depth of his thinking and his faith.

Defending the land of Wales – successfully – Trawsfynnydd, 1951

He was brought up in a Christian family in Barry where his grandfather The Reverend Ben Evans was the first Minister of Capel y Tabernacl.  His uncle Idris (his father’s brother) was also a minister and a first-class preacher.  Gwynfor became Chairman of the Union of Welsh Independent Churches when he was just forty-two years of age.  No-one as young as that had ever been elected before.  And his son Guto was also President of the Union in recent times.

It is important to recall that in his maiden speech in the House of Commons Gwynfor based his hopes for Wales on the Christian values of its heritage.  He occupied a number of positions in the Independents’ organisation and he also played a key role in setting up Tŷ John Penry and its administration.  His Christianity was always practical.

“I am first a pacifist and then a nationalist” were Gwynfor’s words when given an unconditional discharge after appearing before a military Tribunal in Carmarthen in 1940.  After writing his first article about St Athan in 1937 he came under the influence of his great hero George M LL Davies, becoming Secretary of Heddychwyr Cymru, the Welsh peace pledge movement and responsible for its tent in the Cardiff National Eisteddfod in 1938.  Throughout his life he led protests and spoke in peace rallies – Swansea Rally in 1940, the great rally to defend Epynt where 400 people were turned out of their homes, the Abergeirw rally of 1948 and Trawsfynydd in 1951, with its celebrated photograph – all of these against the War Office grabbing Welsh land.

The Peace Pledge Union was indebted to him for his support and leadership and Gwynfor published a number of booklets and pamphlets such as They Cry Wolf and Wales Against Conscription.  Then, in 1973, he delivered his famous lecture in the Temple of Peace, Cardiff – Non-violent Nationalism.  He was just as supportive of CND as well, and spoke most strongly time and time against the Vietnam War, offering himself as a human shield in Hanoi in 1968 – but his group were refused admission – nevertheless the act as typical of a man who could not stand by and watch such slaughter.  Dafydd Elis Thomas says of him in one of the Peace Pledge Union’s newsletters:

“This great soul was born in the most violent century in the history of the world.  In the darkness of the warlike twentieth century his life was a beacon.”

FIGHTING FOR THE LANGUAGE

Gwynfor  played a vital role in the campaign to secure a radio service for Wales – in 1939 the BBC removed programmes about Wales completely.  In the National Eisteddfod in Llandybie in 1944 Gwynfor gave a lecture to a packed chapel on Radio In Wales.  The lecture was published in Welsh and in English and 10,000 copies were sold!  Gwynfor argued for devolution in the field of broadcasting, and to cut another long story short – this was successful and he was elected as a member of the BBC’s Welsh Advisory Committee in 1946.  Although it would be a long battle, BBC Wales together with Radio Cymru and Radio Wales were secured later on.

Victory – the first day of the Welsh language television service on S4C, 1982

By the mid 1950s Gwynfor could also see that the arrival of television also meant a revolutionary change in the system of communications that posed a major threat to the Welsh language and culture.  He pressed the idea of Welsh television, but the government did nothing to help, and he did not succeed in fulfilling his aim.  Gwynfor made an important Commons speech in 1969, calling specifically on the government to establish a Welsh Channel, and you know about that campaign in the 1970s.  The story of the campaign to ensure the setting up of S4C is one that will always be associated with Gwynfor and his intention to fast after the Tory Government broke its pledge – that story would be another lecture as later this month we mark the 30th anniversary of broadcasting on C.

Apart from the non-stop leadership Gwynfor provided for every aspect of the language struggle, there was his campaign for a Welsh language College.  He became a member of the University Court and in 1951 he proposed setting up a Welsh College, with a committee set up to consider the idea.  Everyone was opposed apart from Gwynfor, who again in 1953 prepared a detailed memorandum showing the need for this type of college.  He carried on the struggle in following years – another campaign in 1973 and then in 1986 when addressing the first Welsh language graduation ceremony organised by the Welsh Students Union in Aberystwyth.  He showed great determination and unswerving drive – and by now the Welsh College exists, with its administrative centre in Y Llwyfan here in Carmarthen.

THE FAMILY MAN

“He would never tell us or our children – ‘go away, I’m too busy, and he never waved a finger at us to chastise us.  His patience with the children was limitless.”  Those are the words of his daughter Meinir.  The family moved from Wernellyn to Talar Wen in 1953 – “Talar Wen was my father’s wedding present, postponed for fifteen years” said Gwynfor.  “Everything used to build the house was from Wales and Rhiannon’s brother Dewi Prys designed it.”

Gwynfor and his family

They had seven children and in response to a journalist Gwynfor said that his favourite Biblical saying was – “Be fruitful and multiply and fill … the earth”.  He loved playing with the children – and dressing up as Auntie Jini, fooling the grandchildren into believing she was a half sister from America.  He also loved walking with the children, and his favourite place was y Garn Goch – the mountain where his ash was scattered and where a memorial stone stands at the foot of the hillside.  Like his father, Gwynfor was musical and liked to play the piano.  According to his brother Alcwyn, Gwynfor would tend to go to the piano when he faced pressure, and when playing he would be able to relax.

Gwynfor and Rhiannon moved to another Talar Wen in Pencarreg near Llanybydder in the summer of 1984 when he retired.  A big farewell supper was held in Llangadog hall for the community to pay tribute to a couple who did so much for the Welsh traditions of the area for a period of 45 years.  When 17 Plaid Cymru members were elected to the first National Assembly in 1999 they all came to Pencarreg to see Gwynfor and Rhiannon.  Other visitors included Winnie Ewing with Rhodri, Cynog and Roy Llywelyn.

On the day before Gwynfor celebrated his 90th birthday a piece about him was carried in the Western Mail.  He headline read – ‘Pacifist giant of Welsh culture whose place in history is secured – Wales celebrates 90 years of Gwynfor’.

“Gwynfor Evans has been described as ‘one of the greatest souls of the 20th century.  Alongside Lloyd George and Aneurin Bevan he is one of the last century’s three greatest Welsh politicians.  But he arguably stands alone and ahead of them all in the measure of his influence and is one of the few people from any era recognised solely by their Christian name.

“Gwynfor’s place in history is secure, and not just through his achievements and influence but his public acclaim.  He was chosen by readers of Wales on Sunday as Millennium Icon ahead of Lloyd George and Aneurin Bevan, voted Welsh Person of the Millennium ahead of Owain Glyndŵr by readers of Y Cymro and was reader’s choice in the Western Mail’s Person of the Millennium Award.  They were popular endorsements of the greatest living Welshman of the 20th century.”

Gwynfor appeared in public for the last time at the 2,000 National Eisteddfod in Llanelli, where he received the Worldwide Welsh Award for a lifetime’s work for Wales.  The ceremony was full of emotion, with a packed pavilion honouring this very special man.

And to conclude, I would like to quote Professor Geraint Jenkins in his address to the Gymanfa Ganu we held in Capel Heol Awst to mark Gwynfor’s life soon after he died. This is what he said –

“Set about praising and publicly honouring Gwynfor’s name by erecting a fitting monument to him.  What better place could there be to place a fitting memorial than here in Carmarthen, where he experience his big moment on 14 July 1966 so that your children and your children’s children can come here to admire one of the great figures of our nation.”  And as you know that work is now in hand, with the intention of realising a monument by 2,016, the fiftieth anniversary of his great victory in 1966.

Gwynfor Richard Evans died on Thursday morning 21 April 2005 at the age of 92 in his home in Talar Wen, Pencarreg.  Rhys Evans says: “Gwynfor wanted to return to Garn Goch, to the soil, the land of Wales where his politics had taken root.  Nevertheless, as his ashes blow in the wind, his legacy survives.”

And Dr Geraint Jenkins says: “His aim was to build a nation that was free, responsible and confident, by restoring the memory of its people and strengthening its will to live – and we should remember him as ‘Llusernwr y canrifoedd coll’, the illuminator of the lost centuries.  Time after time Gwynfor was there to stand in the breach – his life reflected the history of Wales 1940 on.  The foundation of Gwynfor’s life was his Christianity and his pacifism.”

The last sentences in Rhys Evans’ substantial volume are: “No one did more than Gwynfor in the twentieth century.  It is not the Welsh-speaking Christian Wales that Gwynfor dreamed of, but it is still Wales.  Wales, the nation he loved with such passion, has survived, despite it all.”

Peter Hughes GriffithsGwynfor, capten Tîm Hoci’r Ysgol
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While in University, there took place two events that would have a strong influence on his later life – the first:

“I would marvel at the dedication of the young men and women who sold Y Ddraig Goch on the streets of Aberystwyth – Gwenant Davies, Eic Davies and others.”

And secondly – “but one day he saw a yellow coloured pamphlet outside a bookshop in Aberystwyth – The Economics of Welsh Self Government by DJ Davies.  This booklet removed all kinds of doubt, and in the summer of 1934 he approached Cassie Davies in Barry and joined the national party.”

At the time Cassie Davies was a member of staff at Barry College and in her book Hwb i’r Galon she recalls –

“And this was the time that a remarkably good-looking young man from Barry, wearing an Aberystwyth college blazer, began to call to talk about this new party and ask to join it.”

Gwynfor then went to Oxford University where he set up a party branch and became secretary of the famous Cymdeithas Dafydd ap Gwilym.  He graduated there in 1936.

Although he was to send an article from Oxford for his old school’s magazine, parts of which appeared in the Western Mail, it was in January 1937 that he published his first full article in Y Ddraig Goch, dealing with the establishment of the St Athan camp, and in the Plaid Cymru Summer School in Bala the same year he proposed a motion calling for official status for the Welsh language.  And guess what – 400,000 signatures were collected in support of the proposal before the Second World War put paid to that effort.

So you can see that Gwynfor had already made his first major strides in what was to be his life’s work – for the sake of Wales.  He became a member of Plaid Cymru’s national executive in 1937 and within six years, in 1943, he was chosen as party vice-president.  Then on 1 August 1945 in the Llangollen conference (five days before the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima) he was elected as President of Plaid Cymru at the age of just 32, the start of his great lifetime mission – he would remain president and leader for the next 36 years.

Priodi, 1941 – Gwynfor a Rhiannon a’u teuluoedd (ei dad yng nghyfraith Dan Thomas ar y chwith)Marriage, 1941 – Gwynfor and Rhiannon and their families (his father-in-law Dan Thomas on the left)

Priodi, 1941 – Gwynfor a Rhiannon a’u teuluoedd (ei dad yng nghyfraith Dan Thomas ar y chwith)

In the meantime he had married his lifelong partner Rhiannon and was living in Wernellyn, Llangadog where he launched a market garden venture.  I like his description of how he fell for Rhiannon.  In his autobiography Bywyd Cymro, available in English as For the Sake of Wales, Gwynfor describes how he called on Rhiannon’s parents in Cardiff –

“I have to confess that my heart lost a beat the moment Rhiannon walked into the room.  On seeing her again two months later amid the beauty of a summer’s day at Islaw’r Dref dressed in a very short light frock  – beach wear no doubt – the boy from Barry fell head over heels in love!”

They were married on St David’s Day 1941, and Pennar Davies says in his book that if heaven had ever arranged marriages this was surely one it had done well:  “And the contribution of Rhiannon Evans to the work of her husband cannot be overestimated.”

Gwynfor contested his first Parliamentary election in Meirionydd in 1945.  He led the Llyn y Fan protest on New Year’s Day 1947 and that in Abergeirw in 1948 and was elected a member of the University Court’s Guild of Graduates and of the Welsh Independents the same year, as well as serving as Welsh Secretary of the Celtic League in the Colwyn Bay National Eisteddfod as early as 1947, when he was 34.  It is evident that by the end of the 1940s Gwynfor Evans had established himself as a national leader with wide support among his people.

Arwain protest Abergeirw, 1948Leading the Abergeirw protest, 1948

Arwain protest Abergeirw, 1948

Gwynfor was elected to Carmarthenshire County Council in 1949 and was a County Councillor for 25 years.  The 1956 County Council elections produced an interesting result, with 29 Independent councillors, 29 Labour and 2 Plaid Cymru.  Plaid Cymru held the balance, and stranger still both Plaid councillors bore the name Gwynfor Evans – Gwynfor Evans of Betws, Ammanford and Gwynfor Evans, Llangadog.  Gwynfor Evans, Betws took the county council to the High Court in London for failing to provide nomination papers in Welsh – and won his case, leading significantly to the establishment of the Hughes Parry Committee in 1963 to investigate the legal status of the Welsh language.

In 1949 Gwynfor led Plaid Cymru’s most ambitious Rally ever – 4,000 people came to Machynlleth to call for a Parliament for Wales, and after Gwynfor’s speech one correspondent concluded that the accolade of Wales’ leading orator should be awarded to Gwynfor rather than Aneurin Bevan.  There followed further Parliament for Wales rallies in Blaenau Ffestiniog in 1950 and then the great rally in Cardiff in 1953, with a quarter of a million people signing a petition presented to the House of Commons.  Gwynfor fought Meirionydd in the 1950 General Election, the Aberdare by-election in 1954 and Meirionnydd again in 1955 and 1959.

And what about the fight for Tryweryn?  A rally in Bala in 1956 –

“No sooner had Mr Gwynfor Evans got to his feet to speak than the thousands in the great marquee stood up to welcome him and give him prolonged applause.”  And in his book Bywyd Cymro Gwynfor said– “And except for the Parliament for Wales campaign, Tryweryn was the most important of all our campaigns.”  Gwynfor’s leadership during that battle have been recorded in detail and the deputations to Liverpool and so on are historical events.  Gwynfor wrote – “The Welsh had been as united as ever any nation could be.  Their opinion was completely ignored.  The state of democracy in Wales was exposed.”

Gorymdaith dros gymuned cwm Tryweryn yn LerpwlThe battle for Tryweryn – leading a procession through the streets of Liverpool

Gorymdaith dros gymuned cwm Tryweryn yn Lerpwl

A young woman – Jennie Eirian Davies, married to a minister in Brynaman – stood as Plaid Cymru’s first candidate in Carmarthen in the General Election of 1955 and again in a by-election in 1957.  Dewi Thomas writes about her in a book of tribute to her –

“Her tireless dedication and brilliant talent in the fifties opened the door for Gwynfor’s success in the great victory in Carmarthen later on.”  Indeed Jennie Eirian herself said after the 1957 election – “The Blaid will win this seat within 10 years.”  That happened in 1966 – within 9 years!

Where should I begin with Gwynfor’s victory in the 1966 by-election?  That story deserves a lecture in its own right.  You will get that in 2016 when we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the victory!  All I wish to say tonight is that the fact that result took place changes the political history of Wales for ever.

Gwasg y Dryw brought out a record of Gwynfor speaking after his victory, calling on his country to will a full life and the means of creating it, a Welsh government.  Today that government exists.  We are on the way to securing a comprehensive Welsh government, Gwynfor’s full vision.

Think about him going to London and the House of Commons and entering the lion’s den –

“As he showed me round the tea rooms, Emrys Hughes pointed to the Welsh table, saying, ‘I wouldn’t sit there if I were you ’– ‘Your name is mud there.’  Goronwy Roberts used to pass me in the corridor without looking at me.  It may be difficult for some readers to recall how vicious George Thomas could be.  He was extremely set in his anti-Welsh sentiment.  He was the very scourge of Welsh nationalism and the Welsh language.”

Gwynfor yn mynd mewn i Dŷ’r Cyffredin, 1966Gwynfor entering the House of Commons, 1966

Gwynfor yn mynd mewn i Dŷ’r Cyffredin, 1966

That was the environment Gwynfor entered, but he took advantage of that imperial establishment to fight for Wales and call for self-government.  Things like this –

With the support of Plaid Cymru’s Research Group, he came to the conclusion that the best tactic was to wage a guerrilla war and ask numberless questions about the situation of Wales.  Gwynfor’s question would drive the civil service crazy: by the end of the first year he had asked over 600 questions, all of them published together with their answers in three volumes –the Black Books of Carmarthen.  Then the party set out Plaid Cymru’s case to the Royal Commission on the Commission in 1969.

Losing Carmarthen in 1970 – after the Investiture, direct action by Cymdeithas yr Iaith and the FWA (if such a thing existed!).  Then losing by just 3 votes in March 1974 and scoring a sweeping victory in October 1974.  At half past three in the morning a crowd of 3,000 were on Nott Square to hear the result and that Gwynfor had taken 23,325 votes.  This was the only seat that Labour lost anywhere in the United Kingdom that night.  So back to London, but this time with the two Dafydds for company!  His working day would often commence at nine o’clock in the morning and carry on into the early hours of the following morning.

This was a crucial period for making the case for assemblies for Wales and Scotland – there were three nationalist MPs from Wales as well as seven from Scotland.  The Government’s majority over the other parties was only three.  Gwynfor said – “Here was the most hopeful political situation I had ever encountered”.  The Government was compelled to yield to the pressure for parliaments for Wales and Scotland – and this marked the beginning of a long and difficult journey which has now taken place, much more so in Scotland than in Wales!

The Labour Party took care to ensure that the devolution referendum in Wales and Scotland faced barriers so that it was impossible for the Yes vote to succeed.  We remember Neil Kinnock and others in the Labour Party campaigning strongly against their party’s own policy and getting every facility to do so.  The outcome was the Na vote in the 1979 Assembly referendum in Wales.  Rhys Evans says –

“Gwynfor experienced many highs and lows in his career, but this was the nadir.  For him and his generation of nationalists, the referendum was more than a ballot on the administration of Wales; the referendum was a vote on the spiritual and existential question of whether Wales existed.  He was devastated, not knowing which made him feel more sick … Welsh toadyism or Labour deceit and corruption.”

San Steffan – gyda’i gyd Aelodau Seneddol Dafydd Wigley a Dafydd Elis ThomasWestminister – with his fellow MPs Dafydd Wigley and Dafydd Elis Thomas

San Steffan – gyda’i gyd Aelodau Seneddol Dafydd Wigley a Dafydd Elis Thomas

He lost the General Election that followed the Referendum because of publication of a BBC opinion poll days before the election that predicted that Gwynfor would come a poor third.  In my personal opinion all this had been arranged by the ‘establishment’ to get rid of Gwynfor from the House of Commons.  In fact, the BBC admitted following a detailed review of the company that carried out the opinion poll that were unacceptably far from the mark!

Gwynfor’s response was – if he had won that election, with his health as it was at the time, he would no longer be in the land of the living!  And then in 1981 after 36 years as President of Plaid Cymru Gwynfor stepped down from the helm in the Conference in Carmarthen.

That is a quick sketch of the work and impact of Gwynfor in the field of politics.  It was a very profound impact, and we would never be where we are today but for Gwynfor having accomplished so much.  His political success is now acknowledged by everyone.  A very very special man.

But what is truly remarkable about this man is that he accomplished so much side by side with his political career.  And what I want to do now is give you a taste of those accomplishments, and remind you of the other tremendous pioneering roles he played.

And where should I begin?

THE HISTORIAN

Gwynfor would almost invariably begin every speech with a history lesson.  It didn’t matter where, or what was the occasion, the history of Wales was part of the message.  He believed it was very important that we as a people should get to know our history.  He campaigned to teach Welsh history in our schools – at a time when that was virtually non-existent, and he set about writing and publishing books, and encouraging others to do the same – “Gwynfor’s aim throughout his life was to awaken national consciousness through imbuing people with the history of Wales, restoring  their memory and strengthening their desire to live.” (Dr Geraint Jenkins)

He wrote history classics –Hanes Cymru/ History of Wales, through the South Wales Echo.  Then Aros Mae, Seiri Cenedl y Cymry and Land of My Fathers.  Picture him setting out on Christmas Day 1970 to write the first two pages of notes for Aros Mae!  It was on sale within 7 months, with the first edition selling fast and a second edition soon in hand.  Elin Garlick set about a translation into English, entitled Land of My Fathers.  Three reprints were to follow and the publishers Tŷ John Penry commented– “this was the best seller of all the books we have published.”

His other historical classic is Seiri Cenedl y Cymry, available in English as Welsh Nation Builders, portraits of the history of 65 men and women who contributed in different ways to the building and development of our nation.  Think of all the research work needed to write historical studies and get the facts right!  Gwynfor was a prolific author – of some 30 books in total – as well as pamphlets, leaflets and numerous books, in Welsh and English.  He told me once of his intention to write one more book based on all his travelling around Wales – a study of Welsh chip shops as he had eaten in so many of them as he criss-crossed the country!

THE CHRISTIAN AND PACIFIST

We heard the Reverend Beti Wyn James and Mererid Hopwood assessing the significance of Gwynfor’s contribution in these two fields in the memorial service held in Capel y Priordy on Sunday 2 September.  So I shall just summarise some of the main features.

Gwynfor was a teacher in the young people’s Sunday School in his chapel, Providence Llangadog, for many years, and what is special id this – wherever he had been on the Saturday night  – he would almost always return for his Sunday School class the following day.  Read the full chapter about Gwynfor the Pacifist in the book by Pennar Davies – it gives us a comprehensive and detailed picture of the depth of his thinking and his faith.

Defending the land of Wales – successfully – Trawsfynnydd, 1951

He was brought up in a Christian family in Barry where his grandfather The Reverend Ben Evans was the first Minister of Capel y Tabernacl.  His uncle Idris (his father’s brother) was also a minister and a first-class preacher.  Gwynfor became Chairman of the Union of Welsh Independent Churches when he was just forty-two years of age.  No-one as young as that had ever been elected before.  And his son Guto was also President of the Union in recent times.

It is important to recall that in his maiden speech in the House of Commons Gwynfor based his hopes for Wales on the Christian values of its heritage.  He occupied a number of positions in the Independents’ organisation and he also played a key role in setting up Tŷ John Penry and its administration.  His Christianity was always practical.

“I am first a pacifist and then a nationalist” were Gwynfor’s words when given an unconditional discharge after appearing before a military Tribunal in Carmarthen in 1940.  After writing his first article about St Athan in 1937 he came under the influence of his great hero George M LL Davies, becoming Secretary of Heddychwyr Cymru, the Welsh peace pledge movement and responsible for its tent in the Cardiff National Eisteddfod in 1938.  Throughout his life he led protests and spoke in peace rallies – Swansea Rally in 1940, the great rally to defend Epynt where 400 people were turned out of their homes, the Abergeirw rally of 1948 and Trawsfynydd in 1951, with its celebrated photograph – all of these against the War Office grabbing Welsh land.

The Peace Pledge Union was indebted to him for his support and leadership and Gwynfor published a number of booklets and pamphlets such as They Cry Wolf and Wales Against Conscription.  Then, in 1973, he delivered his famous lecture in the Temple of Peace, Cardiff – Non-violent Nationalism.  He was just as supportive of CND as well, and spoke most strongly time and time against the Vietnam War, offering himself as a human shield in Hanoi in 1968 – but his group were refused admission – nevertheless the act as typical of a man who could not stand by and watch such slaughter.  Dafydd Elis Thomas says of him in one of the Peace Pledge Union’s newsletters:

“This great soul was born in the most violent century in the history of the world.  In the darkness of the warlike twentieth century his life was a beacon.”

FIGHTING FOR THE LANGUAGE

Gwynfor  played a vital role in the campaign to secure a radio service for Wales – in 1939 the BBC removed programmes about Wales completely.  In the National Eisteddfod in Llandybie in 1944 Gwynfor gave a lecture to a packed chapel on Radio In Wales.  The lecture was published in Welsh and in English and 10,000 copies were sold!  Gwynfor argued for devolution in the field of broadcasting, and to cut another long story short – this was successful and he was elected as a member of the BBC’s Welsh Advisory Committee in 1946.  Although it would be a long battle, BBC Wales together with Radio Cymru and Radio Wales were secured later on.

Victory – the first day of the Welsh language television service on S4C, 1982

By the mid 1950s Gwynfor could also see that the arrival of television also meant a revolutionary change in the system of communications that posed a major threat to the Welsh language and culture.  He pressed the idea of Welsh television, but the government did nothing to help, and he did not succeed in fulfilling his aim.  Gwynfor made an important Commons speech in 1969, calling specifically on the government to establish a Welsh Channel, and you know about that campaign in the 1970s.  The story of the campaign to ensure the setting up of S4C is one that will always be associated with Gwynfor and his intention to fast after the Tory Government broke its pledge – that story would be another lecture as later this month we mark the 30th anniversary of broadcasting on C.

Apart from the non-stop leadership Gwynfor provided for every aspect of the language struggle, there was his campaign for a Welsh language College.  He became a member of the University Court and in 1951 he proposed setting up a Welsh College, with a committee set up to consider the idea.  Everyone was opposed apart from Gwynfor, who again in 1953 prepared a detailed memorandum showing the need for this type of college.  He carried on the struggle in following years – another campaign in 1973 and then in 1986 when addressing the first Welsh language graduation ceremony organised by the Welsh Students Union in Aberystwyth.  He showed great determination and unswerving drive – and by now the Welsh College exists, with its administrative centre in Y Llwyfan here in Carmarthen.

THE FAMILY MAN

“He would never tell us or our children – ‘go away, I’m too busy, and he never waved a finger at us to chastise us.  His patience with the children was limitless.”  Those are the words of his daughter Meinir.  The family moved from Wernellyn to Talar Wen in 1953 – “Talar Wen was my father’s wedding present, postponed for fifteen years” said Gwynfor.  “Everything used to build the house was from Wales and Rhiannon’s brother Dewi Prys designed it.”

Gwynfor and his family

They had seven children and in response to a journalist Gwynfor said that his favourite Biblical saying was – “Be fruitful and multiply and fill … the earth”.  He loved playing with the children – and dressing up as Auntie Jini, fooling the grandchildren into believing she was a half sister from America.  He also loved walking with the children, and his favourite place was y Garn Goch – the mountain where his ash was scattered and where a memorial stone stands at the foot of the hillside.  Like his father, Gwynfor was musical and liked to play the piano.  According to his brother Alcwyn, Gwynfor would tend to go to the piano when he faced pressure, and when playing he would be able to relax.

Gwynfor and Rhiannon moved to another Talar Wen in Pencarreg near Llanybydder in the summer of 1984 when he retired.  A big farewell supper was held in Llangadog hall for the community to pay tribute to a couple who did so much for the Welsh traditions of the area for a period of 45 years.  When 17 Plaid Cymru members were elected to the first National Assembly in 1999 they all came to Pencarreg to see Gwynfor and Rhiannon.  Other visitors included Winnie Ewing with Rhodri, Cynog and Roy Llywelyn.

On the day before Gwynfor celebrated his 90th birthday a piece about him was carried in the Western Mail.  He headline read – ‘Pacifist giant of Welsh culture whose place in history is secured – Wales celebrates 90 years of Gwynfor’.

“Gwynfor Evans has been described as ‘one of the greatest souls of the 20th century.  Alongside Lloyd George and Aneurin Bevan he is one of the last century’s three greatest Welsh politicians.  But he arguably stands alone and ahead of them all in the measure of his influence and is one of the few people from any era recognised solely by their Christian name.

“Gwynfor’s place in history is secure, and not just through his achievements and influence but his public acclaim.  He was chosen by readers of Wales on Sunday as Millennium Icon ahead of Lloyd George and Aneurin Bevan, voted Welsh Person of the Millennium ahead of Owain Glyndŵr by readers of Y Cymro and was reader’s choice in the Western Mail’s Person of the Millennium Award.  They were popular endorsements of the greatest living Welshman of the 20th century.”

Gwynfor appeared in public for the last time at the 2,000 National Eisteddfod in Llanelli, where he received the Worldwide Welsh Award for a lifetime’s work for Wales.  The ceremony was full of emotion, with a packed pavilion honouring this very special man.

And to conclude, I would like to quote Professor Geraint Jenkins in his address to the Gymanfa Ganu we held in Capel Heol Awst to mark Gwynfor’s life soon after he died. This is what he said –

“Set about praising and publicly honouring Gwynfor’s name by erecting a fitting monument to him.  What better place could there be to place a fitting memorial than here in Carmarthen, where he experience his big moment on 14 July 1966 so that your children and your children’s children can come here to admire one of the great figures of our nation.”  And as you know that work is now in hand, with the intention of realising a monument by 2,016, the fiftieth anniversary of his great victory in 1966.

Gwynfor Richard Evans died on Thursday morning 21 April 2005 at the age of 92 in his home in Talar Wen, Pencarreg.  Rhys Evans says: “Gwynfor wanted to return to Garn Goch, to the soil, the land of Wales where his politics had taken root.  Nevertheless, as his ashes blow in the wind, his legacy survives.”

And Dr Geraint Jenkins says: “His aim was to build a nation that was free, responsible and confident, by restoring the memory of its people and strengthening its will to live – and we should remember him as ‘Llusernwr y canrifoedd coll’, the illuminator of the lost centuries.  Time after time Gwynfor was there to stand in the breach – his life reflected the history of Wales 1940 on.  The foundation of Gwynfor’s life was his Christianity and his pacifism.”

The last sentences in Rhys Evans’ substantial volume are: “No one did more than Gwynfor in the twentieth century.  It is not the Welsh-speaking Christian Wales that Gwynfor dreamed of, but it is still Wales.  Wales, the nation he loved with such passion, has survived, despite it all.”

Peter Hughes GriffithsGwynfor, capten Tîm Hoci’r Ysgol
[/caption]

While in University, there took place two events that would have a strong influence on his later life – the first:

“I would marvel at the dedication of the young men and women who sold Y Ddraig Goch on the streets of Aberystwyth – Gwenant Davies, Eic Davies and others.”

And secondly – “but one day he saw a yellow coloured pamphlet outside a bookshop in Aberystwyth – The Economics of Welsh Self Government by DJ Davies.  This booklet removed all kinds of doubt, and in the summer of 1934 he approached Cassie Davies in Barry and joined the national party.”

At the time Cassie Davies was a member of staff at Barry College and in her book Hwb i’r Galon she recalls –

“And this was the time that a remarkably good-looking young man from Barry, wearing an Aberystwyth college blazer, began to call to talk about this new party and ask to join it.”

Gwynfor then went to Oxford University where he set up a party branch and became secretary of the famous Cymdeithas Dafydd ap Gwilym.  He graduated there in 1936.

Although he was to send an article from Oxford for his old school’s magazine, parts of which appeared in the Western Mail, it was in January 1937 that he published his first full article in Y Ddraig Goch, dealing with the establishment of the St Athan camp, and in the Plaid Cymru Summer School in Bala the same year he proposed a motion calling for official status for the Welsh language.  And guess what – 400,000 signatures were collected in support of the proposal before the Second World War put paid to that effort.

So you can see that Gwynfor had already made his first major strides in what was to be his life’s work – for the sake of Wales.  He became a member of Plaid Cymru’s national executive in 1937 and within six years, in 1943, he was chosen as party vice-president.  Then on 1 August 1945 in the Llangollen conference (five days before the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima) he was elected as President of Plaid Cymru at the age of just 32, the start of his great lifetime mission – he would remain president and leader for the next 36 years.

Priodi, 1941 – Gwynfor a Rhiannon a’u teuluoedd (ei dad yng nghyfraith Dan Thomas ar y chwith)Marriage, 1941 – Gwynfor and Rhiannon and their families (his father-in-law Dan Thomas on the left)

Priodi, 1941 – Gwynfor a Rhiannon a’u teuluoedd (ei dad yng nghyfraith Dan Thomas ar y chwith)

In the meantime he had married his lifelong partner Rhiannon and was living in Wernellyn, Llangadog where he launched a market garden venture.  I like his description of how he fell for Rhiannon.  In his autobiography Bywyd Cymro, available in English as For the Sake of Wales, Gwynfor describes how he called on Rhiannon’s parents in Cardiff –

“I have to confess that my heart lost a beat the moment Rhiannon walked into the room.  On seeing her again two months later amid the beauty of a summer’s day at Islaw’r Dref dressed in a very short light frock  – beach wear no doubt – the boy from Barry fell head over heels in love!”

They were married on St David’s Day 1941, and Pennar Davies says in his book that if heaven had ever arranged marriages this was surely one it had done well:  “And the contribution of Rhiannon Evans to the work of her husband cannot be overestimated.”

Gwynfor contested his first Parliamentary election in Meirionydd in 1945.  He led the Llyn y Fan protest on New Year’s Day 1947 and that in Abergeirw in 1948 and was elected a member of the University Court’s Guild of Graduates and of the Welsh Independents the same year, as well as serving as Welsh Secretary of the Celtic League in the Colwyn Bay National Eisteddfod as early as 1947, when he was 34.  It is evident that by the end of the 1940s Gwynfor Evans had established himself as a national leader with wide support among his people.

Arwain protest Abergeirw, 1948Leading the Abergeirw protest, 1948

Arwain protest Abergeirw, 1948

Gwynfor was elected to Carmarthenshire County Council in 1949 and was a County Councillor for 25 years.  The 1956 County Council elections produced an interesting result, with 29 Independent councillors, 29 Labour and 2 Plaid Cymru.  Plaid Cymru held the balance, and stranger still both Plaid councillors bore the name Gwynfor Evans – Gwynfor Evans of Betws, Ammanford and Gwynfor Evans, Llangadog.  Gwynfor Evans, Betws took the county council to the High Court in London for failing to provide nomination papers in Welsh – and won his case, leading significantly to the establishment of the Hughes Parry Committee in 1963 to investigate the legal status of the Welsh language.

In 1949 Gwynfor led Plaid Cymru’s most ambitious Rally ever – 4,000 people came to Machynlleth to call for a Parliament for Wales, and after Gwynfor’s speech one correspondent concluded that the accolade of Wales’ leading orator should be awarded to Gwynfor rather than Aneurin Bevan.  There followed further Parliament for Wales rallies in Blaenau Ffestiniog in 1950 and then the great rally in Cardiff in 1953, with a quarter of a million people signing a petition presented to the House of Commons.  Gwynfor fought Meirionydd in the 1950 General Election, the Aberdare by-election in 1954 and Meirionnydd again in 1955 and 1959.

And what about the fight for Tryweryn?  A rally in Bala in 1956 –

“No sooner had Mr Gwynfor Evans got to his feet to speak than the thousands in the great marquee stood up to welcome him and give him prolonged applause.”  And in his book Bywyd Cymro Gwynfor said– “And except for the Parliament for Wales campaign, Tryweryn was the most important of all our campaigns.”  Gwynfor’s leadership during that battle have been recorded in detail and the deputations to Liverpool and so on are historical events.  Gwynfor wrote – “The Welsh had been as united as ever any nation could be.  Their opinion was completely ignored.  The state of democracy in Wales was exposed.”

Gorymdaith dros gymuned cwm Tryweryn yn LerpwlThe battle for Tryweryn – leading a procession through the streets of Liverpool

Gorymdaith dros gymuned cwm Tryweryn yn Lerpwl

A young woman – Jennie Eirian Davies, married to a minister in Brynaman – stood as Plaid Cymru’s first candidate in Carmarthen in the General Election of 1955 and again in a by-election in 1957.  Dewi Thomas writes about her in a book of tribute to her –

“Her tireless dedication and brilliant talent in the fifties opened the door for Gwynfor’s success in the great victory in Carmarthen later on.”  Indeed Jennie Eirian herself said after the 1957 election – “The Blaid will win this seat within 10 years.”  That happened in 1966 – within 9 years!

Where should I begin with Gwynfor’s victory in the 1966 by-election?  That story deserves a lecture in its own right.  You will get that in 2016 when we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the victory!  All I wish to say tonight is that the fact that result took place changes the political history of Wales for ever.

Gwasg y Dryw brought out a record of Gwynfor speaking after his victory, calling on his country to will a full life and the means of creating it, a Welsh government.  Today that government exists.  We are on the way to securing a comprehensive Welsh government, Gwynfor’s full vision.

Think about him going to London and the House of Commons and entering the lion’s den –

“As he showed me round the tea rooms, Emrys Hughes pointed to the Welsh table, saying, ‘I wouldn’t sit there if I were you ’– ‘Your name is mud there.’  Goronwy Roberts used to pass me in the corridor without looking at me.  It may be difficult for some readers to recall how vicious George Thomas could be.  He was extremely set in his anti-Welsh sentiment.  He was the very scourge of Welsh nationalism and the Welsh language.”

Gwynfor yn mynd mewn i Dŷ’r Cyffredin, 1966Gwynfor entering the House of Commons, 1966

Gwynfor yn mynd mewn i Dŷ’r Cyffredin, 1966

That was the environment Gwynfor entered, but he took advantage of that imperial establishment to fight for Wales and call for self-government.  Things like this –

With the support of Plaid Cymru’s Research Group, he came to the conclusion that the best tactic was to wage a guerrilla war and ask numberless questions about the situation of Wales.  Gwynfor’s question would drive the civil service crazy: by the end of the first year he had asked over 600 questions, all of them published together with their answers in three volumes –the Black Books of Carmarthen.  Then the party set out Plaid Cymru’s case to the Royal Commission on the Commission in 1969.

Losing Carmarthen in 1970 – after the Investiture, direct action by Cymdeithas yr Iaith and the FWA (if such a thing existed!).  Then losing by just 3 votes in March 1974 and scoring a sweeping victory in October 1974.  At half past three in the morning a crowd of 3,000 were on Nott Square to hear the result and that Gwynfor had taken 23,325 votes.  This was the only seat that Labour lost anywhere in the United Kingdom that night.  So back to London, but this time with the two Dafydds for company!  His working day would often commence at nine o’clock in the morning and carry on into the early hours of the following morning.

This was a crucial period for making the case for assemblies for Wales and Scotland – there were three nationalist MPs from Wales as well as seven from Scotland.  The Government’s majority over the other parties was only three.  Gwynfor said – “Here was the most hopeful political situation I had ever encountered”.  The Government was compelled to yield to the pressure for parliaments for Wales and Scotland – and this marked the beginning of a long and difficult journey which has now taken place, much more so in Scotland than in Wales!

The Labour Party took care to ensure that the devolution referendum in Wales and Scotland faced barriers so that it was impossible for the Yes vote to succeed.  We remember Neil Kinnock and others in the Labour Party campaigning strongly against their party’s own policy and getting every facility to do so.  The outcome was the Na vote in the 1979 Assembly referendum in Wales.  Rhys Evans says –

“Gwynfor experienced many highs and lows in his career, but this was the nadir.  For him and his generation of nationalists, the referendum was more than a ballot on the administration of Wales; the referendum was a vote on the spiritual and existential question of whether Wales existed.  He was devastated, not knowing which made him feel more sick … Welsh toadyism or Labour deceit and corruption.”

San Steffan – gyda’i gyd Aelodau Seneddol Dafydd Wigley a Dafydd Elis ThomasWestminister – with his fellow MPs Dafydd Wigley and Dafydd Elis Thomas

San Steffan – gyda’i gyd Aelodau Seneddol Dafydd Wigley a Dafydd Elis Thomas

He lost the General Election that followed the Referendum because of publication of a BBC opinion poll days before the election that predicted that Gwynfor would come a poor third.  In my personal opinion all this had been arranged by the ‘establishment’ to get rid of Gwynfor from the House of Commons.  In fact, the BBC admitted following a detailed review of the company that carried out the opinion poll that were unacceptably far from the mark!

Gwynfor’s response was – if he had won that election, with his health as it was at the time, he would no longer be in the land of the living!  And then in 1981 after 36 years as President of Plaid Cymru Gwynfor stepped down from the helm in the Conference in Carmarthen.

That is a quick sketch of the work and impact of Gwynfor in the field of politics.  It was a very profound impact, and we would never be where we are today but for Gwynfor having accomplished so much.  His political success is now acknowledged by everyone.  A very very special man.

But what is truly remarkable about this man is that he accomplished so much side by side with his political career.  And what I want to do now is give you a taste of those accomplishments, and remind you of the other tremendous pioneering roles he played.

And where should I begin?

THE HISTORIAN

Rhai o lyfrau niferus GwynforA few of Gwynfor's many books

Rhai o lyfrau niferus Gwynfor

Gwynfor would almost invariably begin every speech with a history lesson.  It didn’t matter where, or what was the occasion, the history of Wales was part of the message.  He believed it was very important that we as a people should get to know our history.  He campaigned to teach Welsh history in our schools – at a time when that was virtually non-existent, and he set about writing and publishing books, and encouraging others to do the same – “Gwynfor’s aim throughout his life was to awaken national consciousness through imbuing people with the history of Wales, restoring  their memory and strengthening their desire to live.” (Dr Geraint Jenkins)

He wrote history classics –Hanes Cymru/ History of Wales, through the South Wales Echo.  Then Aros Mae, Seiri Cenedl y Cymry and Land of My Fathers.  Picture him setting out on Christmas Day 1970 to write the first two pages of notes for Aros Mae!  It was on sale within 7 months, with the first edition selling fast and a second edition soon in hand.  Elin Garlick set about a translation into English, entitled Land of My Fathers.  Three reprints were to follow and the publishers Tŷ John Penry commented– “this was the best seller of all the books we have published.”

His other historical classic is Seiri Cenedl y Cymry, available in English as Welsh Nation Builders, portraits of the history of 65 men and women who contributed in different ways to the building and development of our nation.  Think of all the research work needed to write historical studies and get the facts right!  Gwynfor was a prolific author – of some 30 books in total – as well as pamphlets, leaflets and numerous books, in Welsh and English.  He told me once of his intention to write one more book based on all his travelling around Wales – a study of Welsh chip shops as he had eaten in so many of them as he criss-crossed the country!

THE CHRISTIAN AND PACIFIST

We heard the Reverend Beti Wyn James and Mererid Hopwood assessing the significance of Gwynfor’s contribution in these two fields in the memorial service held in Capel y Priordy on Sunday 2 September.  So I shall just summarise some of the main features.

Gwynfor was a teacher in the young people’s Sunday School in his chapel, Providence Llangadog, for many years, and what is special id this – wherever he had been on the Saturday night  – he would almost always return for his Sunday School class the following day.  Read the full chapter about Gwynfor the Pacifist in the book by Pennar Davies – it gives us a comprehensive and detailed picture of the depth of his thinking and his faith.

Defending the land of Wales – successfully – Trawsfynnydd, 1951

He was brought up in a Christian family in Barry where his grandfather The Reverend Ben Evans was the first Minister of Capel y Tabernacl.  His uncle Idris (his father’s brother) was also a minister and a first-class preacher.  Gwynfor became Chairman of the Union of Welsh Independent Churches when he was just forty-two years of age.  No-one as young as that had ever been elected before.  And his son Guto was also President of the Union in recent times.

It is important to recall that in his maiden speech in the House of Commons Gwynfor based his hopes for Wales on the Christian values of its heritage.  He occupied a number of positions in the Independents’ organisation and he also played a key role in setting up Tŷ John Penry and its administration.  His Christianity was always practical.

“I am first a pacifist and then a nationalist” were Gwynfor’s words when given an unconditional discharge after appearing before a military Tribunal in Carmarthen in 1940.  After writing his first article about St Athan in 1937 he came under the influence of his great hero George M LL Davies, becoming Secretary of Heddychwyr Cymru, the Welsh peace pledge movement and responsible for its tent in the Cardiff National Eisteddfod in 1938.  Throughout his life he led protests and spoke in peace rallies – Swansea Rally in 1940, the great rally to defend Epynt where 400 people were turned out of their homes, the Abergeirw rally of 1948 and Trawsfynydd in 1951, with its celebrated photograph – all of these against the War Office grabbing Welsh land.

The Peace Pledge Union was indebted to him for his support and leadership and Gwynfor published a number of booklets and pamphlets such as They Cry Wolf and Wales Against Conscription.  Then, in 1973, he delivered his famous lecture in the Temple of Peace, Cardiff – Non-violent Nationalism.  He was just as supportive of CND as well, and spoke most strongly time and time against the Vietnam War, offering himself as a human shield in Hanoi in 1968 – but his group were refused admission – nevertheless the act as typical of a man who could not stand by and watch such slaughter.  Dafydd Elis Thomas says of him in one of the Peace Pledge Union’s newsletters:

“This great soul was born in the most violent century in the history of the world.  In the darkness of the warlike twentieth century his life was a beacon.”

FIGHTING FOR THE LANGUAGE

Gwynfor  played a vital role in the campaign to secure a radio service for Wales – in 1939 the BBC removed programmes about Wales completely.  In the National Eisteddfod in Llandybie in 1944 Gwynfor gave a lecture to a packed chapel on Radio In Wales.  The lecture was published in Welsh and in English and 10,000 copies were sold!  Gwynfor argued for devolution in the field of broadcasting, and to cut another long story short – this was successful and he was elected as a member of the BBC’s Welsh Advisory Committee in 1946.  Although it would be a long battle, BBC Wales together with Radio Cymru and Radio Wales were secured later on.

Victory – the first day of the Welsh language television service on S4C, 1982

By the mid 1950s Gwynfor could also see that the arrival of television also meant a revolutionary change in the system of communications that posed a major threat to the Welsh language and culture.  He pressed the idea of Welsh television, but the government did nothing to help, and he did not succeed in fulfilling his aim.  Gwynfor made an important Commons speech in 1969, calling specifically on the government to establish a Welsh Channel, and you know about that campaign in the 1970s.  The story of the campaign to ensure the setting up of S4C is one that will always be associated with Gwynfor and his intention to fast after the Tory Government broke its pledge – that story would be another lecture as later this month we mark the 30th anniversary of broadcasting on C.

Apart from the non-stop leadership Gwynfor provided for every aspect of the language struggle, there was his campaign for a Welsh language College.  He became a member of the University Court and in 1951 he proposed setting up a Welsh College, with a committee set up to consider the idea.  Everyone was opposed apart from Gwynfor, who again in 1953 prepared a detailed memorandum showing the need for this type of college.  He carried on the struggle in following years – another campaign in 1973 and then in 1986 when addressing the first Welsh language graduation ceremony organised by the Welsh Students Union in Aberystwyth.  He showed great determination and unswerving drive – and by now the Welsh College exists, with its administrative centre in Y Llwyfan here in Carmarthen.

THE FAMILY MAN

“He would never tell us or our children – ‘go away, I’m too busy, and he never waved a finger at us to chastise us.  His patience with the children was limitless.”  Those are the words of his daughter Meinir.  The family moved from Wernellyn to Talar Wen in 1953 – “Talar Wen was my father’s wedding present, postponed for fifteen years” said Gwynfor.  “Everything used to build the house was from Wales and Rhiannon’s brother Dewi Prys designed it.”

Gwynfor and his family

They had seven children and in response to a journalist Gwynfor said that his favourite Biblical saying was – “Be fruitful and multiply and fill … the earth”.  He loved playing with the children – and dressing up as Auntie Jini, fooling the grandchildren into believing she was a half sister from America.  He also loved walking with the children, and his favourite place was y Garn Goch – the mountain where his ash was scattered and where a memorial stone stands at the foot of the hillside.  Like his father, Gwynfor was musical and liked to play the piano.  According to his brother Alcwyn, Gwynfor would tend to go to the piano when he faced pressure, and when playing he would be able to relax.

Gwynfor and Rhiannon moved to another Talar Wen in Pencarreg near Llanybydder in the summer of 1984 when he retired.  A big farewell supper was held in Llangadog hall for the community to pay tribute to a couple who did so much for the Welsh traditions of the area for a period of 45 years.  When 17 Plaid Cymru members were elected to the first National Assembly in 1999 they all came to Pencarreg to see Gwynfor and Rhiannon.  Other visitors included Winnie Ewing with Rhodri, Cynog and Roy Llywelyn.

On the day before Gwynfor celebrated his 90th birthday a piece about him was carried in the Western Mail.  He headline read – ‘Pacifist giant of Welsh culture whose place in history is secured – Wales celebrates 90 years of Gwynfor’.

“Gwynfor Evans has been described as ‘one of the greatest souls of the 20th century.  Alongside Lloyd George and Aneurin Bevan he is one of the last century’s three greatest Welsh politicians.  But he arguably stands alone and ahead of them all in the measure of his influence and is one of the few people from any era recognised solely by their Christian name.

“Gwynfor’s place in history is secure, and not just through his achievements and influence but his public acclaim.  He was chosen by readers of Wales on Sunday as Millennium Icon ahead of Lloyd George and Aneurin Bevan, voted Welsh Person of the Millennium ahead of Owain Glyndŵr by readers of Y Cymro and was reader’s choice in the Western Mail’s Person of the Millennium Award.  They were popular endorsements of the greatest living Welshman of the 20th century.”

Gwynfor appeared in public for the last time at the 2,000 National Eisteddfod in Llanelli, where he received the Worldwide Welsh Award for a lifetime’s work for Wales.  The ceremony was full of emotion, with a packed pavilion honouring this very special man.

And to conclude, I would like to quote Professor Geraint Jenkins in his address to the Gymanfa Ganu we held in Capel Heol Awst to mark Gwynfor’s life soon after he died. This is what he said –

“Set about praising and publicly honouring Gwynfor’s name by erecting a fitting monument to him.  What better place could there be to place a fitting memorial than here in Carmarthen, where he experience his big moment on 14 July 1966 so that your children and your children’s children can come here to admire one of the great figures of our nation.”  And as you know that work is now in hand, with the intention of realising a monument by 2,016, the fiftieth anniversary of his great victory in 1966.

Gwynfor Richard Evans died on Thursday morning 21 April 2005 at the age of 92 in his home in Talar Wen, Pencarreg.  Rhys Evans says: “Gwynfor wanted to return to Garn Goch, to the soil, the land of Wales where his politics had taken root.  Nevertheless, as his ashes blow in the wind, his legacy survives.”

And Dr Geraint Jenkins says: “His aim was to build a nation that was free, responsible and confident, by restoring the memory of its people and strengthening its will to live – and we should remember him as ‘Llusernwr y canrifoedd coll’, the illuminator of the lost centuries.  Time after time Gwynfor was there to stand in the breach – his life reflected the history of Wales 1940 on.  The foundation of Gwynfor’s life was his Christianity and his pacifism.”

The last sentences in Rhys Evans’ substantial volume are: “No one did more than Gwynfor in the twentieth century.  It is not the Welsh-speaking Christian Wales that Gwynfor dreamed of, but it is still Wales.  Wales, the nation he loved with such passion, has survived, despite it all.”

Peter Hughes GriffithsGwynfor, capten Tîm Hoci’r Ysgol
[/caption]

While in University, there took place two events that would have a strong influence on his later life – the first:

“I would marvel at the dedication of the young men and women who sold Y Ddraig Goch on the streets of Aberystwyth – Gwenant Davies, Eic Davies and others.”

And secondly – “but one day he saw a yellow coloured pamphlet outside a bookshop in Aberystwyth – The Economics of Welsh Self Government by DJ Davies.  This booklet removed all kinds of doubt, and in the summer of 1934 he approached Cassie Davies in Barry and joined the national party.”

At the time Cassie Davies was a member of staff at Barry College and in her book Hwb i’r Galon she recalls –

“And this was the time that a remarkably good-looking young man from Barry, wearing an Aberystwyth college blazer, began to call to talk about this new party and ask to join it.”

Gwynfor then went to Oxford University where he set up a party branch and became secretary of the famous Cymdeithas Dafydd ap Gwilym.  He graduated there in 1936.

Although he was to send an article from Oxford for his old school’s magazine, parts of which appeared in the Western Mail, it was in January 1937 that he published his first full article in Y Ddraig Goch, dealing with the establishment of the St Athan camp, and in the Plaid Cymru Summer School in Bala the same year he proposed a motion calling for official status for the Welsh language.  And guess what – 400,000 signatures were collected in support of the proposal before the Second World War put paid to that effort.

So you can see that Gwynfor had already made his first major strides in what was to be his life’s work – for the sake of Wales.  He became a member of Plaid Cymru’s national executive in 1937 and within six years, in 1943, he was chosen as party vice-president.  Then on 1 August 1945 in the Llangollen conference (five days before the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima) he was elected as President of Plaid Cymru at the age of just 32, the start of his great lifetime mission – he would remain president and leader for the next 36 years.

Priodi, 1941 – Gwynfor a Rhiannon a’u teuluoedd (ei dad yng nghyfraith Dan Thomas ar y chwith)Marriage, 1941 – Gwynfor and Rhiannon and their families (his father-in-law Dan Thomas on the left)

Priodi, 1941 – Gwynfor a Rhiannon a’u teuluoedd (ei dad yng nghyfraith Dan Thomas ar y chwith)

In the meantime he had married his lifelong partner Rhiannon and was living in Wernellyn, Llangadog where he launched a market garden venture.  I like his description of how he fell for Rhiannon.  In his autobiography Bywyd Cymro, available in English as For the Sake of Wales, Gwynfor describes how he called on Rhiannon’s parents in Cardiff –

“I have to confess that my heart lost a beat the moment Rhiannon walked into the room.  On seeing her again two months later amid the beauty of a summer’s day at Islaw’r Dref dressed in a very short light frock  – beach wear no doubt – the boy from Barry fell head over heels in love!”

They were married on St David’s Day 1941, and Pennar Davies says in his book that if heaven had ever arranged marriages this was surely one it had done well:  “And the contribution of Rhiannon Evans to the work of her husband cannot be overestimated.”

Gwynfor contested his first Parliamentary election in Meirionydd in 1945.  He led the Llyn y Fan protest on New Year’s Day 1947 and that in Abergeirw in 1948 and was elected a member of the University Court’s Guild of Graduates and of the Welsh Independents the same year, as well as serving as Welsh Secretary of the Celtic League in the Colwyn Bay National Eisteddfod as early as 1947, when he was 34.  It is evident that by the end of the 1940s Gwynfor Evans had established himself as a national leader with wide support among his people.

Arwain protest Abergeirw, 1948Leading the Abergeirw protest, 1948

Arwain protest Abergeirw, 1948

Gwynfor was elected to Carmarthenshire County Council in 1949 and was a County Councillor for 25 years.  The 1956 County Council elections produced an interesting result, with 29 Independent councillors, 29 Labour and 2 Plaid Cymru.  Plaid Cymru held the balance, and stranger still both Plaid councillors bore the name Gwynfor Evans – Gwynfor Evans of Betws, Ammanford and Gwynfor Evans, Llangadog.  Gwynfor Evans, Betws took the county council to the High Court in London for failing to provide nomination papers in Welsh – and won his case, leading significantly to the establishment of the Hughes Parry Committee in 1963 to investigate the legal status of the Welsh language.

In 1949 Gwynfor led Plaid Cymru’s most ambitious Rally ever – 4,000 people came to Machynlleth to call for a Parliament for Wales, and after Gwynfor’s speech one correspondent concluded that the accolade of Wales’ leading orator should be awarded to Gwynfor rather than Aneurin Bevan.  There followed further Parliament for Wales rallies in Blaenau Ffestiniog in 1950 and then the great rally in Cardiff in 1953, with a quarter of a million people signing a petition presented to the House of Commons.  Gwynfor fought Meirionydd in the 1950 General Election, the Aberdare by-election in 1954 and Meirionnydd again in 1955 and 1959.

And what about the fight for Tryweryn?  A rally in Bala in 1956 –

“No sooner had Mr Gwynfor Evans got to his feet to speak than the thousands in the great marquee stood up to welcome him and give him prolonged applause.”  And in his book Bywyd Cymro Gwynfor said– “And except for the Parliament for Wales campaign, Tryweryn was the most important of all our campaigns.”  Gwynfor’s leadership during that battle have been recorded in detail and the deputations to Liverpool and so on are historical events.  Gwynfor wrote – “The Welsh had been as united as ever any nation could be.  Their opinion was completely ignored.  The state of democracy in Wales was exposed.”

Gorymdaith dros gymuned cwm Tryweryn yn LerpwlThe battle for Tryweryn – leading a procession through the streets of Liverpool

Gorymdaith dros gymuned cwm Tryweryn yn Lerpwl

A young woman – Jennie Eirian Davies, married to a minister in Brynaman – stood as Plaid Cymru’s first candidate in Carmarthen in the General Election of 1955 and again in a by-election in 1957.  Dewi Thomas writes about her in a book of tribute to her –

“Her tireless dedication and brilliant talent in the fifties opened the door for Gwynfor’s success in the great victory in Carmarthen later on.”  Indeed Jennie Eirian herself said after the 1957 election – “The Blaid will win this seat within 10 years.”  That happened in 1966 – within 9 years!

Where should I begin with Gwynfor’s victory in the 1966 by-election?  That story deserves a lecture in its own right.  You will get that in 2016 when we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the victory!  All I wish to say tonight is that the fact that result took place changes the political history of Wales for ever.

Gwasg y Dryw brought out a record of Gwynfor speaking after his victory, calling on his country to will a full life and the means of creating it, a Welsh government.  Today that government exists.  We are on the way to securing a comprehensive Welsh government, Gwynfor’s full vision.

Think about him going to London and the House of Commons and entering the lion’s den –

“As he showed me round the tea rooms, Emrys Hughes pointed to the Welsh table, saying, ‘I wouldn’t sit there if I were you ’– ‘Your name is mud there.’  Goronwy Roberts used to pass me in the corridor without looking at me.  It may be difficult for some readers to recall how vicious George Thomas could be.  He was extremely set in his anti-Welsh sentiment.  He was the very scourge of Welsh nationalism and the Welsh language.”

Gwynfor yn mynd mewn i Dŷ’r Cyffredin, 1966Gwynfor entering the House of Commons, 1966

Gwynfor yn mynd mewn i Dŷ’r Cyffredin, 1966

That was the environment Gwynfor entered, but he took advantage of that imperial establishment to fight for Wales and call for self-government.  Things like this –

With the support of Plaid Cymru’s Research Group, he came to the conclusion that the best tactic was to wage a guerrilla war and ask numberless questions about the situation of Wales.  Gwynfor’s question would drive the civil service crazy: by the end of the first year he had asked over 600 questions, all of them published together with their answers in three volumes –the Black Books of Carmarthen.  Then the party set out Plaid Cymru’s case to the Royal Commission on the Commission in 1969.

Losing Carmarthen in 1970 – after the Investiture, direct action by Cymdeithas yr Iaith and the FWA (if such a thing existed!).  Then losing by just 3 votes in March 1974 and scoring a sweeping victory in October 1974.  At half past three in the morning a crowd of 3,000 were on Nott Square to hear the result and that Gwynfor had taken 23,325 votes.  This was the only seat that Labour lost anywhere in the United Kingdom that night.  So back to London, but this time with the two Dafydds for company!  His working day would often commence at nine o’clock in the morning and carry on into the early hours of the following morning.

This was a crucial period for making the case for assemblies for Wales and Scotland – there were three nationalist MPs from Wales as well as seven from Scotland.  The Government’s majority over the other parties was only three.  Gwynfor said – “Here was the most hopeful political situation I had ever encountered”.  The Government was compelled to yield to the pressure for parliaments for Wales and Scotland – and this marked the beginning of a long and difficult journey which has now taken place, much more so in Scotland than in Wales!

The Labour Party took care to ensure that the devolution referendum in Wales and Scotland faced barriers so that it was impossible for the Yes vote to succeed.  We remember Neil Kinnock and others in the Labour Party campaigning strongly against their party’s own policy and getting every facility to do so.  The outcome was the Na vote in the 1979 Assembly referendum in Wales.  Rhys Evans says –

“Gwynfor experienced many highs and lows in his career, but this was the nadir.  For him and his generation of nationalists, the referendum was more than a ballot on the administration of Wales; the referendum was a vote on the spiritual and existential question of whether Wales existed.  He was devastated, not knowing which made him feel more sick … Welsh toadyism or Labour deceit and corruption.”

San Steffan – gyda’i gyd Aelodau Seneddol Dafydd Wigley a Dafydd Elis ThomasWestminister – with his fellow MPs Dafydd Wigley and Dafydd Elis Thomas

San Steffan – gyda’i gyd Aelodau Seneddol Dafydd Wigley a Dafydd Elis Thomas

He lost the General Election that followed the Referendum because of publication of a BBC opinion poll days before the election that predicted that Gwynfor would come a poor third.  In my personal opinion all this had been arranged by the ‘establishment’ to get rid of Gwynfor from the House of Commons.  In fact, the BBC admitted following a detailed review of the company that carried out the opinion poll that were unacceptably far from the mark!

Gwynfor’s response was – if he had won that election, with his health as it was at the time, he would no longer be in the land of the living!  And then in 1981 after 36 years as President of Plaid Cymru Gwynfor stepped down from the helm in the Conference in Carmarthen.

That is a quick sketch of the work and impact of Gwynfor in the field of politics.  It was a very profound impact, and we would never be where we are today but for Gwynfor having accomplished so much.  His political success is now acknowledged by everyone.  A very very special man.

But what is truly remarkable about this man is that he accomplished so much side by side with his political career.  And what I want to do now is give you a taste of those accomplishments, and remind you of the other tremendous pioneering roles he played.

And where should I begin?

THE HISTORIAN

Rhai o lyfrau niferus GwynforA few of Gwynfor's many books

Rhai o lyfrau niferus Gwynfor

Gwynfor would almost invariably begin every speech with a history lesson.  It didn’t matter where, or what was the occasion, the history of Wales was part of the message.  He believed it was very important that we as a people should get to know our history.  He campaigned to teach Welsh history in our schools – at a time when that was virtually non-existent, and he set about writing and publishing books, and encouraging others to do the same – “Gwynfor’s aim throughout his life was to awaken national consciousness through imbuing people with the history of Wales, restoring  their memory and strengthening their desire to live.” (Dr Geraint Jenkins)

He wrote history classics –Hanes Cymru/ History of Wales, through the South Wales Echo.  Then Aros Mae, Seiri Cenedl y Cymry and Land of My Fathers.  Picture him setting out on Christmas Day 1970 to write the first two pages of notes for Aros Mae!  It was on sale within 7 months, with the first edition selling fast and a second edition soon in hand.  Elin Garlick set about a translation into English, entitled Land of My Fathers.  Three reprints were to follow and the publishers Tŷ John Penry commented– “this was the best seller of all the books we have published.”

His other historical classic is Seiri Cenedl y Cymry, available in English as Welsh Nation Builders, portraits of the history of 65 men and women who contributed in different ways to the building and development of our nation.  Think of all the research work needed to write historical studies and get the facts right!  Gwynfor was a prolific author – of some 30 books in total – as well as pamphlets, leaflets and numerous books, in Welsh and English.  He told me once of his intention to write one more book based on all his travelling around Wales – a study of Welsh chip shops as he had eaten in so many of them as he criss-crossed the country!

THE CHRISTIAN AND PACIFIST

We heard the Reverend Beti Wyn James and Mererid Hopwood assessing the significance of Gwynfor’s contribution in these two fields in the memorial service held in Capel y Priordy on Sunday 2 September.  So I shall just summarise some of the main features.

Gwynfor was a teacher in the young people’s Sunday School in his chapel, Providence Llangadog, for many years, and what is special id this – wherever he had been on the Saturday night  – he would almost always return for his Sunday School class the following day.  Read the full chapter about Gwynfor the Pacifist in the book by Pennar Davies – it gives us a comprehensive and detailed picture of the depth of his thinking and his faith.

Amddiffyn tir Cymru – yn llwyddiannus – Trawsfynnydd, 1951Defending the land of Wales – successfully – Trawsfynnydd, 1951

Amddiffyn tir Cymru – yn llwyddiannus – Trawsfynnydd, 1951

He was brought up in a Christian family in Barry where his grandfather The Reverend Ben Evans was the first Minister of Capel y Tabernacl.  His uncle Idris (his father’s brother) was also a minister and a first-class preacher.  Gwynfor became Chairman of the Union of Welsh Independent Churches when he was just forty-two years of age.  No-one as young as that had ever been elected before.  And his son Guto was also President of the Union in recent times.

It is important to recall that in his maiden speech in the House of Commons Gwynfor based his hopes for Wales on the Christian values of its heritage.  He occupied a number of positions in the Independents’ organisation and he also played a key role in setting up Tŷ John Penry and its administration.  His Christianity was always practical.

“I am first a pacifist and then a nationalist” were Gwynfor’s words when given an unconditional discharge after appearing before a military Tribunal in Carmarthen in 1940.  After writing his first article about St Athan in 1937 he came under the influence of his great hero George M LL Davies, becoming Secretary of Heddychwyr Cymru, the Welsh peace pledge movement and responsible for its tent in the Cardiff National Eisteddfod in 1938.  Throughout his life he led protests and spoke in peace rallies – Swansea Rally in 1940, the great rally to defend Epynt where 400 people were turned out of their homes, the Abergeirw rally of 1948 and Trawsfynydd in 1951, with its celebrated photograph – all of these against the War Office grabbing Welsh land.

The Peace Pledge Union was indebted to him for his support and leadership and Gwynfor published a number of booklets and pamphlets such as They Cry Wolf and Wales Against Conscription.  Then, in 1973, he delivered his famous lecture in the Temple of Peace, Cardiff – Non-violent Nationalism.  He was just as supportive of CND as well, and spoke most strongly time and time against the Vietnam War, offering himself as a human shield in Hanoi in 1968 – but his group were refused admission – nevertheless the act as typical of a man who could not stand by and watch such slaughter.  Dafydd Elis Thomas says of him in one of the Peace Pledge Union’s newsletters:

“This great soul was born in the most violent century in the history of the world.  In the darkness of the warlike twentieth century his life was a beacon.”

FIGHTING FOR THE LANGUAGE

Gwynfor  played a vital role in the campaign to secure a radio service for Wales – in 1939 the BBC removed programmes about Wales completely.  In the National Eisteddfod in Llandybie in 1944 Gwynfor gave a lecture to a packed chapel on Radio In Wales.  The lecture was published in Welsh and in English and 10,000 copies were sold!  Gwynfor argued for devolution in the field of broadcasting, and to cut another long story short – this was successful and he was elected as a member of the BBC’s Welsh Advisory Committee in 1946.  Although it would be a long battle, BBC Wales together with Radio Cymru and Radio Wales were secured later on.

By the mid 1950s Gwynfor could also see that the arrival of television also meant a revolutionary change in the system of communications that posed a major threat to the Welsh language and culture.  He pressed the idea of Welsh television, but the government did nothing to help, and he did not succeed in fulfilling his aim.  Gwynfor made an important Commons speech in 1969, calling specifically on the government to establish a Welsh Channel, and you know about that campaign in the 1970s.  The story of the campaign to ensure the setting up of S4C is one that will always be associated with Gwynfor and his intention to fast after the Tory Government broke its pledge – that story would be another lecture as later this month we mark the 30th anniversary of broadcasting on C.

Apart from the non-stop leadership Gwynfor provided for every aspect of the language struggle, there was his campaign for a Welsh language College.  He became a member of the University Court and in 1951 he proposed setting up a Welsh College, with a committee set up to consider the idea.  Everyone was opposed apart from Gwynfor, who again in 1953 prepared a detailed memorandum showing the need for this type of college.  He carried on the struggle in following years – another campaign in 1973 and then in 1986 when addressing the first Welsh language graduation ceremony organised by the Welsh Students Union in Aberystwyth.  He showed great determination and unswerving drive – and by now the Welsh College exists, with its administrative centre in Y Llwyfan here in Carmarthen.

THE FAMILY MAN

“He would never tell us or our children – ‘go away, I’m too busy, and he never waved a finger at us to chastise us.  His patience with the children was limitless.”  Those are the words of his daughter Meinir.  The family moved from Wernellyn to Talar Wen in 1953 – “Talar Wen was my father’s wedding present, postponed for fifteen years” said Gwynfor.  “Everything used to build the house was from Wales and Rhiannon’s brother Dewi Prys designed it.”

Gwynfor and his family

They had seven children and in response to a journalist Gwynfor said that his favourite Biblical saying was – “Be fruitful and multiply and fill … the earth”.  He loved playing with the children – and dressing up as Auntie Jini, fooling the grandchildren into believing she was a half sister from America.  He also loved walking with the children, and his favourite place was y Garn Goch – the mountain where his ash was scattered and where a memorial stone stands at the foot of the hillside.  Like his father, Gwynfor was musical and liked to play the piano.  According to his brother Alcwyn, Gwynfor would tend to go to the piano when he faced pressure, and when playing he would be able to relax.

Gwynfor and Rhiannon moved to another Talar Wen in Pencarreg near Llanybydder in the summer of 1984 when he retired.  A big farewell supper was held in Llangadog hall for the community to pay tribute to a couple who did so much for the Welsh traditions of the area for a period of 45 years.  When 17 Plaid Cymru members were elected to the first National Assembly in 1999 they all came to Pencarreg to see Gwynfor and Rhiannon.  Other visitors included Winnie Ewing with Rhodri, Cynog and Roy Llywelyn.

On the day before Gwynfor celebrated his 90th birthday a piece about him was carried in the Western Mail.  He headline read – ‘Pacifist giant of Welsh culture whose place in history is secured – Wales celebrates 90 years of Gwynfor’.

“Gwynfor Evans has been described as ‘one of the greatest souls of the 20th century.  Alongside Lloyd George and Aneurin Bevan he is one of the last century’s three greatest Welsh politicians.  But he arguably stands alone and ahead of them all in the measure of his influence and is one of the few people from any era recognised solely by their Christian name.

“Gwynfor’s place in history is secure, and not just through his achievements and influence but his public acclaim.  He was chosen by readers of Wales on Sunday as Millennium Icon ahead of Lloyd George and Aneurin Bevan, voted Welsh Person of the Millennium ahead of Owain Glyndŵr by readers of Y Cymro and was reader’s choice in the Western Mail’s Person of the Millennium Award.  They were popular endorsements of the greatest living Welshman of the 20th century.”

Gwynfor appeared in public for the last time at the 2,000 National Eisteddfod in Llanelli, where he received the Worldwide Welsh Award for a lifetime’s work for Wales.  The ceremony was full of emotion, with a packed pavilion honouring this very special man.

And to conclude, I would like to quote Professor Geraint Jenkins in his address to the Gymanfa Ganu we held in Capel Heol Awst to mark Gwynfor’s life soon after he died. This is what he said –

“Set about praising and publicly honouring Gwynfor’s name by erecting a fitting monument to him.  What better place could there be to place a fitting memorial than here in Carmarthen, where he experience his big moment on 14 July 1966 so that your children and your children’s children can come here to admire one of the great figures of our nation.”  And as you know that work is now in hand, with the intention of realising a monument by 2,016, the fiftieth anniversary of his great victory in 1966.

Gwynfor Richard Evans died on Thursday morning 21 April 2005 at the age of 92 in his home in Talar Wen, Pencarreg.  Rhys Evans says: “Gwynfor wanted to return to Garn Goch, to the soil, the land of Wales where his politics had taken root.  Nevertheless, as his ashes blow in the wind, his legacy survives.”

And Dr Geraint Jenkins says: “His aim was to build a nation that was free, responsible and confident, by restoring the memory of its people and strengthening its will to live – and we should remember him as ‘Llusernwr y canrifoedd coll’, the illuminator of the lost centuries.  Time after time Gwynfor was there to stand in the breach – his life reflected the history of Wales 1940 on.  The foundation of Gwynfor’s life was his Christianity and his pacifism.”

The last sentences in Rhys Evans’ substantial volume are: “No one did more than Gwynfor in the twentieth century.  It is not the Welsh-speaking Christian Wales that Gwynfor dreamed of, but it is still Wales.  Wales, the nation he loved with such passion, has survived, despite it all.”

Peter Hughes GriffithsGwynfor, capten Tîm Hoci’r Ysgol
[/caption]

While in University, there took place two events that would have a strong influence on his later life – the first:

“I would marvel at the dedication of the young men and women who sold Y Ddraig Goch on the streets of Aberystwyth – Gwenant Davies, Eic Davies and others.”

And secondly – “but one day he saw a yellow coloured pamphlet outside a bookshop in Aberystwyth – The Economics of Welsh Self Government by DJ Davies.  This booklet removed all kinds of doubt, and in the summer of 1934 he approached Cassie Davies in Barry and joined the national party.”

At the time Cassie Davies was a member of staff at Barry College and in her book Hwb i’r Galon she recalls –

“And this was the time that a remarkably good-looking young man from Barry, wearing an Aberystwyth college blazer, began to call to talk about this new party and ask to join it.”

Gwynfor then went to Oxford University where he set up a party branch and became secretary of the famous Cymdeithas Dafydd ap Gwilym.  He graduated there in 1936.

Although he was to send an article from Oxford for his old school’s magazine, parts of which appeared in the Western Mail, it was in January 1937 that he published his first full article in Y Ddraig Goch, dealing with the establishment of the St Athan camp, and in the Plaid Cymru Summer School in Bala the same year he proposed a motion calling for official status for the Welsh language.  And guess what – 400,000 signatures were collected in support of the proposal before the Second World War put paid to that effort.

So you can see that Gwynfor had already made his first major strides in what was to be his life’s work – for the sake of Wales.  He became a member of Plaid Cymru’s national executive in 1937 and within six years, in 1943, he was chosen as party vice-president.  Then on 1 August 1945 in the Llangollen conference (five days before the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima) he was elected as President of Plaid Cymru at the age of just 32, the start of his great lifetime mission – he would remain president and leader for the next 36 years.

Priodi, 1941 – Gwynfor a Rhiannon a’u teuluoedd (ei dad yng nghyfraith Dan Thomas ar y chwith)Marriage, 1941 – Gwynfor and Rhiannon and their families (his father-in-law Dan Thomas on the left)

Priodi, 1941 – Gwynfor a Rhiannon a’u teuluoedd (ei dad yng nghyfraith Dan Thomas ar y chwith)

In the meantime he had married his lifelong partner Rhiannon and was living in Wernellyn, Llangadog where he launched a market garden venture.  I like his description of how he fell for Rhiannon.  In his autobiography Bywyd Cymro, available in English as For the Sake of Wales, Gwynfor describes how he called on Rhiannon’s parents in Cardiff –

“I have to confess that my heart lost a beat the moment Rhiannon walked into the room.  On seeing her again two months later amid the beauty of a summer’s day at Islaw’r Dref dressed in a very short light frock  – beach wear no doubt – the boy from Barry fell head over heels in love!”

They were married on St David’s Day 1941, and Pennar Davies says in his book that if heaven had ever arranged marriages this was surely one it had done well:  “And the contribution of Rhiannon Evans to the work of her husband cannot be overestimated.”

Gwynfor contested his first Parliamentary election in Meirionydd in 1945.  He led the Llyn y Fan protest on New Year’s Day 1947 and that in Abergeirw in 1948 and was elected a member of the University Court’s Guild of Graduates and of the Welsh Independents the same year, as well as serving as Welsh Secretary of the Celtic League in the Colwyn Bay National Eisteddfod as early as 1947, when he was 34.  It is evident that by the end of the 1940s Gwynfor Evans had established himself as a national leader with wide support among his people.

Arwain protest Abergeirw, 1948Leading the Abergeirw protest, 1948

Arwain protest Abergeirw, 1948

Gwynfor was elected to Carmarthenshire County Council in 1949 and was a County Councillor for 25 years.  The 1956 County Council elections produced an interesting result, with 29 Independent councillors, 29 Labour and 2 Plaid Cymru.  Plaid Cymru held the balance, and stranger still both Plaid councillors bore the name Gwynfor Evans – Gwynfor Evans of Betws, Ammanford and Gwynfor Evans, Llangadog.  Gwynfor Evans, Betws took the county council to the High Court in London for failing to provide nomination papers in Welsh – and won his case, leading significantly to the establishment of the Hughes Parry Committee in 1963 to investigate the legal status of the Welsh language.

In 1949 Gwynfor led Plaid Cymru’s most ambitious Rally ever – 4,000 people came to Machynlleth to call for a Parliament for Wales, and after Gwynfor’s speech one correspondent concluded that the accolade of Wales’ leading orator should be awarded to Gwynfor rather than Aneurin Bevan.  There followed further Parliament for Wales rallies in Blaenau Ffestiniog in 1950 and then the great rally in Cardiff in 1953, with a quarter of a million people signing a petition presented to the House of Commons.  Gwynfor fought Meirionydd in the 1950 General Election, the Aberdare by-election in 1954 and Meirionnydd again in 1955 and 1959.

And what about the fight for Tryweryn?  A rally in Bala in 1956 –

“No sooner had Mr Gwynfor Evans got to his feet to speak than the thousands in the great marquee stood up to welcome him and give him prolonged applause.”  And in his book Bywyd Cymro Gwynfor said– “And except for the Parliament for Wales campaign, Tryweryn was the most important of all our campaigns.”  Gwynfor’s leadership during that battle have been recorded in detail and the deputations to Liverpool and so on are historical events.  Gwynfor wrote – “The Welsh had been as united as ever any nation could be.  Their opinion was completely ignored.  The state of democracy in Wales was exposed.”

Gorymdaith dros gymuned cwm Tryweryn yn LerpwlThe battle for Tryweryn – leading a procession through the streets of Liverpool

Gorymdaith dros gymuned cwm Tryweryn yn Lerpwl

A young woman – Jennie Eirian Davies, married to a minister in Brynaman – stood as Plaid Cymru’s first candidate in Carmarthen in the General Election of 1955 and again in a by-election in 1957.  Dewi Thomas writes about her in a book of tribute to her –

“Her tireless dedication and brilliant talent in the fifties opened the door for Gwynfor’s success in the great victory in Carmarthen later on.”  Indeed Jennie Eirian herself said after the 1957 election – “The Blaid will win this seat within 10 years.”  That happened in 1966 – within 9 years!

Where should I begin with Gwynfor’s victory in the 1966 by-election?  That story deserves a lecture in its own right.  You will get that in 2016 when we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the victory!  All I wish to say tonight is that the fact that result took place changes the political history of Wales for ever.

Gwasg y Dryw brought out a record of Gwynfor speaking after his victory, calling on his country to will a full life and the means of creating it, a Welsh government.  Today that government exists.  We are on the way to securing a comprehensive Welsh government, Gwynfor’s full vision.

Think about him going to London and the House of Commons and entering the lion’s den –

“As he showed me round the tea rooms, Emrys Hughes pointed to the Welsh table, saying, ‘I wouldn’t sit there if I were you ’– ‘Your name is mud there.’  Goronwy Roberts used to pass me in the corridor without looking at me.  It may be difficult for some readers to recall how vicious George Thomas could be.  He was extremely set in his anti-Welsh sentiment.  He was the very scourge of Welsh nationalism and the Welsh language.”

Gwynfor yn mynd mewn i Dŷ’r Cyffredin, 1966Gwynfor entering the House of Commons, 1966

Gwynfor yn mynd mewn i Dŷ’r Cyffredin, 1966

That was the environment Gwynfor entered, but he took advantage of that imperial establishment to fight for Wales and call for self-government.  Things like this –

With the support of Plaid Cymru’s Research Group, he came to the conclusion that the best tactic was to wage a guerrilla war and ask numberless questions about the situation of Wales.  Gwynfor’s question would drive the civil service crazy: by the end of the first year he had asked over 600 questions, all of them published together with their answers in three volumes –the Black Books of Carmarthen.  Then the party set out Plaid Cymru’s case to the Royal Commission on the Commission in 1969.

Losing Carmarthen in 1970 – after the Investiture, direct action by Cymdeithas yr Iaith and the FWA (if such a thing existed!).  Then losing by just 3 votes in March 1974 and scoring a sweeping victory in October 1974.  At half past three in the morning a crowd of 3,000 were on Nott Square to hear the result and that Gwynfor had taken 23,325 votes.  This was the only seat that Labour lost anywhere in the United Kingdom that night.  So back to London, but this time with the two Dafydds for company!  His working day would often commence at nine o’clock in the morning and carry on into the early hours of the following morning.

This was a crucial period for making the case for assemblies for Wales and Scotland – there were three nationalist MPs from Wales as well as seven from Scotland.  The Government’s majority over the other parties was only three.  Gwynfor said – “Here was the most hopeful political situation I had ever encountered”.  The Government was compelled to yield to the pressure for parliaments for Wales and Scotland – and this marked the beginning of a long and difficult journey which has now taken place, much more so in Scotland than in Wales!

The Labour Party took care to ensure that the devolution referendum in Wales and Scotland faced barriers so that it was impossible for the Yes vote to succeed.  We remember Neil Kinnock and others in the Labour Party campaigning strongly against their party’s own policy and getting every facility to do so.  The outcome was the Na vote in the 1979 Assembly referendum in Wales.  Rhys Evans says –

“Gwynfor experienced many highs and lows in his career, but this was the nadir.  For him and his generation of nationalists, the referendum was more than a ballot on the administration of Wales; the referendum was a vote on the spiritual and existential question of whether Wales existed.  He was devastated, not knowing which made him feel more sick … Welsh toadyism or Labour deceit and corruption.”

San Steffan – gyda’i gyd Aelodau Seneddol Dafydd Wigley a Dafydd Elis ThomasWestminister – with his fellow MPs Dafydd Wigley and Dafydd Elis Thomas

San Steffan – gyda’i gyd Aelodau Seneddol Dafydd Wigley a Dafydd Elis Thomas

He lost the General Election that followed the Referendum because of publication of a BBC opinion poll days before the election that predicted that Gwynfor would come a poor third.  In my personal opinion all this had been arranged by the ‘establishment’ to get rid of Gwynfor from the House of Commons.  In fact, the BBC admitted following a detailed review of the company that carried out the opinion poll that were unacceptably far from the mark!

Gwynfor’s response was – if he had won that election, with his health as it was at the time, he would no longer be in the land of the living!  And then in 1981 after 36 years as President of Plaid Cymru Gwynfor stepped down from the helm in the Conference in Carmarthen.

That is a quick sketch of the work and impact of Gwynfor in the field of politics.  It was a very profound impact, and we would never be where we are today but for Gwynfor having accomplished so much.  His political success is now acknowledged by everyone.  A very very special man.

But what is truly remarkable about this man is that he accomplished so much side by side with his political career.  And what I want to do now is give you a taste of those accomplishments, and remind you of the other tremendous pioneering roles he played.

And where should I begin?

THE HISTORIAN

Rhai o lyfrau niferus GwynforA few of Gwynfor's many books

Rhai o lyfrau niferus Gwynfor

Gwynfor would almost invariably begin every speech with a history lesson.  It didn’t matter where, or what was the occasion, the history of Wales was part of the message.  He believed it was very important that we as a people should get to know our history.  He campaigned to teach Welsh history in our schools – at a time when that was virtually non-existent, and he set about writing and publishing books, and encouraging others to do the same – “Gwynfor’s aim throughout his life was to awaken national consciousness through imbuing people with the history of Wales, restoring  their memory and strengthening their desire to live.” (Dr Geraint Jenkins)

He wrote history classics –Hanes Cymru/ History of Wales, through the South Wales Echo.  Then Aros Mae, Seiri Cenedl y Cymry and Land of My Fathers.  Picture him setting out on Christmas Day 1970 to write the first two pages of notes for Aros Mae!  It was on sale within 7 months, with the first edition selling fast and a second edition soon in hand.  Elin Garlick set about a translation into English, entitled Land of My Fathers.  Three reprints were to follow and the publishers Tŷ John Penry commented– “this was the best seller of all the books we have published.”

His other historical classic is Seiri Cenedl y Cymry, available in English as Welsh Nation Builders, portraits of the history of 65 men and women who contributed in different ways to the building and development of our nation.  Think of all the research work needed to write historical studies and get the facts right!  Gwynfor was a prolific author – of some 30 books in total – as well as pamphlets, leaflets and numerous books, in Welsh and English.  He told me once of his intention to write one more book based on all his travelling around Wales – a study of Welsh chip shops as he had eaten in so many of them as he criss-crossed the country!

THE CHRISTIAN AND PACIFIST

We heard the Reverend Beti Wyn James and Mererid Hopwood assessing the significance of Gwynfor’s contribution in these two fields in the memorial service held in Capel y Priordy on Sunday 2 September.  So I shall just summarise some of the main features.

Gwynfor was a teacher in the young people’s Sunday School in his chapel, Providence Llangadog, for many years, and what is special id this – wherever he had been on the Saturday night  – he would almost always return for his Sunday School class the following day.  Read the full chapter about Gwynfor the Pacifist in the book by Pennar Davies – it gives us a comprehensive and detailed picture of the depth of his thinking and his faith.

Amddiffyn tir Cymru – yn llwyddiannus – Trawsfynnydd, 1951Defending the land of Wales – successfully – Trawsfynnydd, 1951

Amddiffyn tir Cymru – yn llwyddiannus – Trawsfynnydd, 1951

He was brought up in a Christian family in Barry where his grandfather The Reverend Ben Evans was the first Minister of Capel y Tabernacl.  His uncle Idris (his father’s brother) was also a minister and a first-class preacher.  Gwynfor became Chairman of the Union of Welsh Independent Churches when he was just forty-two years of age.  No-one as young as that had ever been elected before.  And his son Guto was also President of the Union in recent times.

It is important to recall that in his maiden speech in the House of Commons Gwynfor based his hopes for Wales on the Christian values of its heritage.  He occupied a number of positions in the Independents’ organisation and he also played a key role in setting up Tŷ John Penry and its administration.  His Christianity was always practical.

“I am first a pacifist and then a nationalist” were Gwynfor’s words when given an unconditional discharge after appearing before a military Tribunal in Carmarthen in 1940.  After writing his first article about St Athan in 1937 he came under the influence of his great hero George M LL Davies, becoming Secretary of Heddychwyr Cymru, the Welsh peace pledge movement and responsible for its tent in the Cardiff National Eisteddfod in 1938.  Throughout his life he led protests and spoke in peace rallies – Swansea Rally in 1940, the great rally to defend Epynt where 400 people were turned out of their homes, the Abergeirw rally of 1948 and Trawsfynydd in 1951, with its celebrated photograph – all of these against the War Office grabbing Welsh land.

The Peace Pledge Union was indebted to him for his support and leadership and Gwynfor published a number of booklets and pamphlets such as They Cry Wolf and Wales Against Conscription.  Then, in 1973, he delivered his famous lecture in the Temple of Peace, Cardiff – Non-violent Nationalism.  He was just as supportive of CND as well, and spoke most strongly time and time against the Vietnam War, offering himself as a human shield in Hanoi in 1968 – but his group were refused admission – nevertheless the act as typical of a man who could not stand by and watch such slaughter.  Dafydd Elis Thomas says of him in one of the Peace Pledge Union’s newsletters:

“This great soul was born in the most violent century in the history of the world.  In the darkness of the warlike twentieth century his life was a beacon.”

FIGHTING FOR THE LANGUAGE

Gwynfor  played a vital role in the campaign to secure a radio service for Wales – in 1939 the BBC removed programmes about Wales completely.  In the National Eisteddfod in Llandybie in 1944 Gwynfor gave a lecture to a packed chapel on Radio In Wales.  The lecture was published in Welsh and in English and 10,000 copies were sold!  Gwynfor argued for devolution in the field of broadcasting, and to cut another long story short – this was successful and he was elected as a member of the BBC’s Welsh Advisory Committee in 1946.  Although it would be a long battle, BBC Wales together with Radio Cymru and Radio Wales were secured later on.

Buddugoliaeth – dechrau gwasanaeth teledu Cymraeg S4C, 1982Victory – the first day of the Welsh language television service on S4C, 1982

Buddugoliaeth – dechrau gwasanaeth teledu Cymraeg S4C, 1982

By the mid 1950s Gwynfor could also see that the arrival of television also meant a revolutionary change in the system of communications that posed a major threat to the Welsh language and culture.  He pressed the idea of Welsh television, but the government did nothing to help, and he did not succeed in fulfilling his aim.  Gwynfor made an important Commons speech in 1969, calling specifically on the government to establish a Welsh Channel, and you know about that campaign in the 1970s.  The story of the campaign to ensure the setting up of S4C is one that will always be associated with Gwynfor and his intention to fast after the Tory Government broke its pledge – that story would be another lecture as later this month we mark the 30th anniversary of broadcasting on C.

Apart from the non-stop leadership Gwynfor provided for every aspect of the language struggle, there was his campaign for a Welsh language College.  He became a member of the University Court and in 1951 he proposed setting up a Welsh College, with a committee set up to consider the idea.  Everyone was opposed apart from Gwynfor, who again in 1953 prepared a detailed memorandum showing the need for this type of college.  He carried on the struggle in following years – another campaign in 1973 and then in 1986 when addressing the first Welsh language graduation ceremony organised by the Welsh Students Union in Aberystwyth.  He showed great determination and unswerving drive – and by now the Welsh College exists, with its administrative centre in Y Llwyfan here in Carmarthen.

THE FAMILY MAN

“He would never tell us or our children – ‘go away, I’m too busy, and he never waved a finger at us to chastise us.  His patience with the children was limitless.”  Those are the words of his daughter Meinir.  The family moved from Wernellyn to Talar Wen in 1953 – “Talar Wen was my father’s wedding present, postponed for fifteen years” said Gwynfor.  “Everything used to build the house was from Wales and Rhiannon’s brother Dewi Prys designed it.”

Gwynfor and his family

They had seven children and in response to a journalist Gwynfor said that his favourite Biblical saying was – “Be fruitful and multiply and fill … the earth”.  He loved playing with the children – and dressing up as Auntie Jini, fooling the grandchildren into believing she was a half sister from America.  He also loved walking with the children, and his favourite place was y Garn Goch – the mountain where his ash was scattered and where a memorial stone stands at the foot of the hillside.  Like his father, Gwynfor was musical and liked to play the piano.  According to his brother Alcwyn, Gwynfor would tend to go to the piano when he faced pressure, and when playing he would be able to relax.

Gwynfor and Rhiannon moved to another Talar Wen in Pencarreg near Llanybydder in the summer of 1984 when he retired.  A big farewell supper was held in Llangadog hall for the community to pay tribute to a couple who did so much for the Welsh traditions of the area for a period of 45 years.  When 17 Plaid Cymru members were elected to the first National Assembly in 1999 they all came to Pencarreg to see Gwynfor and Rhiannon.  Other visitors included Winnie Ewing with Rhodri, Cynog and Roy Llywelyn.

On the day before Gwynfor celebrated his 90th birthday a piece about him was carried in the Western Mail.  He headline read – ‘Pacifist giant of Welsh culture whose place in history is secured – Wales celebrates 90 years of Gwynfor’.

“Gwynfor Evans has been described as ‘one of the greatest souls of the 20th century.  Alongside Lloyd George and Aneurin Bevan he is one of the last century’s three greatest Welsh politicians.  But he arguably stands alone and ahead of them all in the measure of his influence and is one of the few people from any era recognised solely by their Christian name.

“Gwynfor’s place in history is secure, and not just through his achievements and influence but his public acclaim.  He was chosen by readers of Wales on Sunday as Millennium Icon ahead of Lloyd George and Aneurin Bevan, voted Welsh Person of the Millennium ahead of Owain Glyndŵr by readers of Y Cymro and was reader’s choice in the Western Mail’s Person of the Millennium Award.  They were popular endorsements of the greatest living Welshman of the 20th century.”

Gwynfor appeared in public for the last time at the 2,000 National Eisteddfod in Llanelli, where he received the Worldwide Welsh Award for a lifetime’s work for Wales.  The ceremony was full of emotion, with a packed pavilion honouring this very special man.

And to conclude, I would like to quote Professor Geraint Jenkins in his address to the Gymanfa Ganu we held in Capel Heol Awst to mark Gwynfor’s life soon after he died. This is what he said –

“Set about praising and publicly honouring Gwynfor’s name by erecting a fitting monument to him.  What better place could there be to place a fitting memorial than here in Carmarthen, where he experience his big moment on 14 July 1966 so that your children and your children’s children can come here to admire one of the great figures of our nation.”  And as you know that work is now in hand, with the intention of realising a monument by 2,016, the fiftieth anniversary of his great victory in 1966.

Gwynfor Richard Evans died on Thursday morning 21 April 2005 at the age of 92 in his home in Talar Wen, Pencarreg.  Rhys Evans says: “Gwynfor wanted to return to Garn Goch, to the soil, the land of Wales where his politics had taken root.  Nevertheless, as his ashes blow in the wind, his legacy survives.”

And Dr Geraint Jenkins says: “His aim was to build a nation that was free, responsible and confident, by restoring the memory of its people and strengthening its will to live – and we should remember him as ‘Llusernwr y canrifoedd coll’, the illuminator of the lost centuries.  Time after time Gwynfor was there to stand in the breach – his life reflected the history of Wales 1940 on.  The foundation of Gwynfor’s life was his Christianity and his pacifism.”

The last sentences in Rhys Evans’ substantial volume are: “No one did more than Gwynfor in the twentieth century.  It is not the Welsh-speaking Christian Wales that Gwynfor dreamed of, but it is still Wales.  Wales, the nation he loved with such passion, has survived, despite it all.”

Peter Hughes GriffithsGwynfor, capten Tîm Hoci’r Ysgol
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While in University, there took place two events that would have a strong influence on his later life – the first:

“I would marvel at the dedication of the young men and women who sold Y Ddraig Goch on the streets of Aberystwyth – Gwenant Davies, Eic Davies and others.”

And secondly – “but one day he saw a yellow coloured pamphlet outside a bookshop in Aberystwyth – The Economics of Welsh Self Government by DJ Davies.  This booklet removed all kinds of doubt, and in the summer of 1934 he approached Cassie Davies in Barry and joined the national party.”

At the time Cassie Davies was a member of staff at Barry College and in her book Hwb i’r Galon she recalls –

“And this was the time that a remarkably good-looking young man from Barry, wearing an Aberystwyth college blazer, began to call to talk about this new party and ask to join it.”

Gwynfor then went to Oxford University where he set up a party branch and became secretary of the famous Cymdeithas Dafydd ap Gwilym.  He graduated there in 1936.

Although he was to send an article from Oxford for his old school’s magazine, parts of which appeared in the Western Mail, it was in January 1937 that he published his first full article in Y Ddraig Goch, dealing with the establishment of the St Athan camp, and in the Plaid Cymru Summer School in Bala the same year he proposed a motion calling for official status for the Welsh language.  And guess what – 400,000 signatures were collected in support of the proposal before the Second World War put paid to that effort.

So you can see that Gwynfor had already made his first major strides in what was to be his life’s work – for the sake of Wales.  He became a member of Plaid Cymru’s national executive in 1937 and within six years, in 1943, he was chosen as party vice-president.  Then on 1 August 1945 in the Llangollen conference (five days before the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima) he was elected as President of Plaid Cymru at the age of just 32, the start of his great lifetime mission – he would remain president and leader for the next 36 years.

Priodi, 1941 – Gwynfor a Rhiannon a’u teuluoedd (ei dad yng nghyfraith Dan Thomas ar y chwith)Marriage, 1941 – Gwynfor and Rhiannon and their families (his father-in-law Dan Thomas on the left)

Priodi, 1941 – Gwynfor a Rhiannon a’u teuluoedd (ei dad yng nghyfraith Dan Thomas ar y chwith)

In the meantime he had married his lifelong partner Rhiannon and was living in Wernellyn, Llangadog where he launched a market garden venture.  I like his description of how he fell for Rhiannon.  In his autobiography Bywyd Cymro, available in English as For the Sake of Wales, Gwynfor describes how he called on Rhiannon’s parents in Cardiff –

“I have to confess that my heart lost a beat the moment Rhiannon walked into the room.  On seeing her again two months later amid the beauty of a summer’s day at Islaw’r Dref dressed in a very short light frock  – beach wear no doubt – the boy from Barry fell head over heels in love!”

They were married on St David’s Day 1941, and Pennar Davies says in his book that if heaven had ever arranged marriages this was surely one it had done well:  “And the contribution of Rhiannon Evans to the work of her husband cannot be overestimated.”

Gwynfor contested his first Parliamentary election in Meirionydd in 1945.  He led the Llyn y Fan protest on New Year’s Day 1947 and that in Abergeirw in 1948 and was elected a member of the University Court’s Guild of Graduates and of the Welsh Independents the same year, as well as serving as Welsh Secretary of the Celtic League in the Colwyn Bay National Eisteddfod as early as 1947, when he was 34.  It is evident that by the end of the 1940s Gwynfor Evans had established himself as a national leader with wide support among his people.

Arwain protest Abergeirw, 1948Leading the Abergeirw protest, 1948

Arwain protest Abergeirw, 1948

Gwynfor was elected to Carmarthenshire County Council in 1949 and was a County Councillor for 25 years.  The 1956 County Council elections produced an interesting result, with 29 Independent councillors, 29 Labour and 2 Plaid Cymru.  Plaid Cymru held the balance, and stranger still both Plaid councillors bore the name Gwynfor Evans – Gwynfor Evans of Betws, Ammanford and Gwynfor Evans, Llangadog.  Gwynfor Evans, Betws took the county council to the High Court in London for failing to provide nomination papers in Welsh – and won his case, leading significantly to the establishment of the Hughes Parry Committee in 1963 to investigate the legal status of the Welsh language.

In 1949 Gwynfor led Plaid Cymru’s most ambitious Rally ever – 4,000 people came to Machynlleth to call for a Parliament for Wales, and after Gwynfor’s speech one correspondent concluded that the accolade of Wales’ leading orator should be awarded to Gwynfor rather than Aneurin Bevan.  There followed further Parliament for Wales rallies in Blaenau Ffestiniog in 1950 and then the great rally in Cardiff in 1953, with a quarter of a million people signing a petition presented to the House of Commons.  Gwynfor fought Meirionydd in the 1950 General Election, the Aberdare by-election in 1954 and Meirionnydd again in 1955 and 1959.

And what about the fight for Tryweryn?  A rally in Bala in 1956 –

“No sooner had Mr Gwynfor Evans got to his feet to speak than the thousands in the great marquee stood up to welcome him and give him prolonged applause.”  And in his book Bywyd Cymro Gwynfor said– “And except for the Parliament for Wales campaign, Tryweryn was the most important of all our campaigns.”  Gwynfor’s leadership during that battle have been recorded in detail and the deputations to Liverpool and so on are historical events.  Gwynfor wrote – “The Welsh had been as united as ever any nation could be.  Their opinion was completely ignored.  The state of democracy in Wales was exposed.”

Gorymdaith dros gymuned cwm Tryweryn yn LerpwlThe battle for Tryweryn – leading a procession through the streets of Liverpool

Gorymdaith dros gymuned cwm Tryweryn yn Lerpwl

A young woman – Jennie Eirian Davies, married to a minister in Brynaman – stood as Plaid Cymru’s first candidate in Carmarthen in the General Election of 1955 and again in a by-election in 1957.  Dewi Thomas writes about her in a book of tribute to her –

“Her tireless dedication and brilliant talent in the fifties opened the door for Gwynfor’s success in the great victory in Carmarthen later on.”  Indeed Jennie Eirian herself said after the 1957 election – “The Blaid will win this seat within 10 years.”  That happened in 1966 – within 9 years!

Where should I begin with Gwynfor’s victory in the 1966 by-election?  That story deserves a lecture in its own right.  You will get that in 2016 when we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the victory!  All I wish to say tonight is that the fact that result took place changes the political history of Wales for ever.

Gwasg y Dryw brought out a record of Gwynfor speaking after his victory, calling on his country to will a full life and the means of creating it, a Welsh government.  Today that government exists.  We are on the way to securing a comprehensive Welsh government, Gwynfor’s full vision.

Think about him going to London and the House of Commons and entering the lion’s den –

“As he showed me round the tea rooms, Emrys Hughes pointed to the Welsh table, saying, ‘I wouldn’t sit there if I were you ’– ‘Your name is mud there.’  Goronwy Roberts used to pass me in the corridor without looking at me.  It may be difficult for some readers to recall how vicious George Thomas could be.  He was extremely set in his anti-Welsh sentiment.  He was the very scourge of Welsh nationalism and the Welsh language.”

Gwynfor yn mynd mewn i Dŷ’r Cyffredin, 1966Gwynfor entering the House of Commons, 1966

Gwynfor yn mynd mewn i Dŷ’r Cyffredin, 1966

That was the environment Gwynfor entered, but he took advantage of that imperial establishment to fight for Wales and call for self-government.  Things like this –

With the support of Plaid Cymru’s Research Group, he came to the conclusion that the best tactic was to wage a guerrilla war and ask numberless questions about the situation of Wales.  Gwynfor’s question would drive the civil service crazy: by the end of the first year he had asked over 600 questions, all of them published together with their answers in three volumes –the Black Books of Carmarthen.  Then the party set out Plaid Cymru’s case to the Royal Commission on the Commission in 1969.

Losing Carmarthen in 1970 – after the Investiture, direct action by Cymdeithas yr Iaith and the FWA (if such a thing existed!).  Then losing by just 3 votes in March 1974 and scoring a sweeping victory in October 1974.  At half past three in the morning a crowd of 3,000 were on Nott Square to hear the result and that Gwynfor had taken 23,325 votes.  This was the only seat that Labour lost anywhere in the United Kingdom that night.  So back to London, but this time with the two Dafydds for company!  His working day would often commence at nine o’clock in the morning and carry on into the early hours of the following morning.

This was a crucial period for making the case for assemblies for Wales and Scotland – there were three nationalist MPs from Wales as well as seven from Scotland.  The Government’s majority over the other parties was only three.  Gwynfor said – “Here was the most hopeful political situation I had ever encountered”.  The Government was compelled to yield to the pressure for parliaments for Wales and Scotland – and this marked the beginning of a long and difficult journey which has now taken place, much more so in Scotland than in Wales!

The Labour Party took care to ensure that the devolution referendum in Wales and Scotland faced barriers so that it was impossible for the Yes vote to succeed.  We remember Neil Kinnock and others in the Labour Party campaigning strongly against their party’s own policy and getting every facility to do so.  The outcome was the Na vote in the 1979 Assembly referendum in Wales.  Rhys Evans says –

“Gwynfor experienced many highs and lows in his career, but this was the nadir.  For him and his generation of nationalists, the referendum was more than a ballot on the administration of Wales; the referendum was a vote on the spiritual and existential question of whether Wales existed.  He was devastated, not knowing which made him feel more sick … Welsh toadyism or Labour deceit and corruption.”

San Steffan – gyda’i gyd Aelodau Seneddol Dafydd Wigley a Dafydd Elis ThomasWestminister – with his fellow MPs Dafydd Wigley and Dafydd Elis Thomas

San Steffan – gyda’i gyd Aelodau Seneddol Dafydd Wigley a Dafydd Elis Thomas

He lost the General Election that followed the Referendum because of publication of a BBC opinion poll days before the election that predicted that Gwynfor would come a poor third.  In my personal opinion all this had been arranged by the ‘establishment’ to get rid of Gwynfor from the House of Commons.  In fact, the BBC admitted following a detailed review of the company that carried out the opinion poll that were unacceptably far from the mark!

Gwynfor’s response was – if he had won that election, with his health as it was at the time, he would no longer be in the land of the living!  And then in 1981 after 36 years as President of Plaid Cymru Gwynfor stepped down from the helm in the Conference in Carmarthen.

That is a quick sketch of the work and impact of Gwynfor in the field of politics.  It was a very profound impact, and we would never be where we are today but for Gwynfor having accomplished so much.  His political success is now acknowledged by everyone.  A very very special man.

But what is truly remarkable about this man is that he accomplished so much side by side with his political career.  And what I want to do now is give you a taste of those accomplishments, and remind you of the other tremendous pioneering roles he played.

And where should I begin?

THE HISTORIAN

Rhai o lyfrau niferus GwynforA few of Gwynfor's many books

Rhai o lyfrau niferus Gwynfor

Gwynfor would almost invariably begin every speech with a history lesson.  It didn’t matter where, or what was the occasion, the history of Wales was part of the message.  He believed it was very important that we as a people should get to know our history.  He campaigned to teach Welsh history in our schools – at a time when that was virtually non-existent, and he set about writing and publishing books, and encouraging others to do the same – “Gwynfor’s aim throughout his life was to awaken national consciousness through imbuing people with the history of Wales, restoring  their memory and strengthening their desire to live.” (Dr Geraint Jenkins)

He wrote history classics –Hanes Cymru/ History of Wales, through the South Wales Echo.  Then Aros Mae, Seiri Cenedl y Cymry and Land of My Fathers.  Picture him setting out on Christmas Day 1970 to write the first two pages of notes for Aros Mae!  It was on sale within 7 months, with the first edition selling fast and a second edition soon in hand.  Elin Garlick set about a translation into English, entitled Land of My Fathers.  Three reprints were to follow and the publishers Tŷ John Penry commented– “this was the best seller of all the books we have published.”

His other historical classic is Seiri Cenedl y Cymry, available in English as Welsh Nation Builders, portraits of the history of 65 men and women who contributed in different ways to the building and development of our nation.  Think of all the research work needed to write historical studies and get the facts right!  Gwynfor was a prolific author – of some 30 books in total – as well as pamphlets, leaflets and numerous books, in Welsh and English.  He told me once of his intention to write one more book based on all his travelling around Wales – a study of Welsh chip shops as he had eaten in so many of them as he criss-crossed the country!

THE CHRISTIAN AND PACIFIST

We heard the Reverend Beti Wyn James and Mererid Hopwood assessing the significance of Gwynfor’s contribution in these two fields in the memorial service held in Capel y Priordy on Sunday 2 September.  So I shall just summarise some of the main features.

Gwynfor was a teacher in the young people’s Sunday School in his chapel, Providence Llangadog, for many years, and what is special id this – wherever he had been on the Saturday night  – he would almost always return for his Sunday School class the following day.  Read the full chapter about Gwynfor the Pacifist in the book by Pennar Davies – it gives us a comprehensive and detailed picture of the depth of his thinking and his faith.

Amddiffyn tir Cymru – yn llwyddiannus – Trawsfynnydd, 1951Defending the land of Wales – successfully – Trawsfynnydd, 1951

Amddiffyn tir Cymru – yn llwyddiannus – Trawsfynnydd, 1951

He was brought up in a Christian family in Barry where his grandfather The Reverend Ben Evans was the first Minister of Capel y Tabernacl.  His uncle Idris (his father’s brother) was also a minister and a first-class preacher.  Gwynfor became Chairman of the Union of Welsh Independent Churches when he was just forty-two years of age.  No-one as young as that had ever been elected before.  And his son Guto was also President of the Union in recent times.

It is important to recall that in his maiden speech in the House of Commons Gwynfor based his hopes for Wales on the Christian values of its heritage.  He occupied a number of positions in the Independents’ organisation and he also played a key role in setting up Tŷ John Penry and its administration.  His Christianity was always practical.

“I am first a pacifist and then a nationalist” were Gwynfor’s words when given an unconditional discharge after appearing before a military Tribunal in Carmarthen in 1940.  After writing his first article about St Athan in 1937 he came under the influence of his great hero George M LL Davies, becoming Secretary of Heddychwyr Cymru, the Welsh peace pledge movement and responsible for its tent in the Cardiff National Eisteddfod in 1938.  Throughout his life he led protests and spoke in peace rallies – Swansea Rally in 1940, the great rally to defend Epynt where 400 people were turned out of their homes, the Abergeirw rally of 1948 and Trawsfynydd in 1951, with its celebrated photograph – all of these against the War Office grabbing Welsh land.

The Peace Pledge Union was indebted to him for his support and leadership and Gwynfor published a number of booklets and pamphlets such as They Cry Wolf and Wales Against Conscription.  Then, in 1973, he delivered his famous lecture in the Temple of Peace, Cardiff – Non-violent Nationalism.  He was just as supportive of CND as well, and spoke most strongly time and time against the Vietnam War, offering himself as a human shield in Hanoi in 1968 – but his group were refused admission – nevertheless the act as typical of a man who could not stand by and watch such slaughter.  Dafydd Elis Thomas says of him in one of the Peace Pledge Union’s newsletters:

“This great soul was born in the most violent century in the history of the world.  In the darkness of the warlike twentieth century his life was a beacon.”

FIGHTING FOR THE LANGUAGE

Gwynfor  played a vital role in the campaign to secure a radio service for Wales – in 1939 the BBC removed programmes about Wales completely.  In the National Eisteddfod in Llandybie in 1944 Gwynfor gave a lecture to a packed chapel on Radio In Wales.  The lecture was published in Welsh and in English and 10,000 copies were sold!  Gwynfor argued for devolution in the field of broadcasting, and to cut another long story short – this was successful and he was elected as a member of the BBC’s Welsh Advisory Committee in 1946.  Although it would be a long battle, BBC Wales together with Radio Cymru and Radio Wales were secured later on.

Buddugoliaeth – dechrau gwasanaeth teledu Cymraeg S4C, 1982Victory – the first day of the Welsh language television service on S4C, 1982

Buddugoliaeth – dechrau gwasanaeth teledu Cymraeg S4C, 1982

By the mid 1950s Gwynfor could also see that the arrival of television also meant a revolutionary change in the system of communications that posed a major threat to the Welsh language and culture.  He pressed the idea of Welsh television, but the government did nothing to help, and he did not succeed in fulfilling his aim.  Gwynfor made an important Commons speech in 1969, calling specifically on the government to establish a Welsh Channel, and you know about that campaign in the 1970s.  The story of the campaign to ensure the setting up of S4C is one that will always be associated with Gwynfor and his intention to fast after the Tory Government broke its pledge – that story would be another lecture as later this month we mark the 30th anniversary of broadcasting on C.

Apart from the non-stop leadership Gwynfor provided for every aspect of the language struggle, there was his campaign for a Welsh language College.  He became a member of the University Court and in 1951 he proposed setting up a Welsh College, with a committee set up to consider the idea.  Everyone was opposed apart from Gwynfor, who again in 1953 prepared a detailed memorandum showing the need for this type of college.  He carried on the struggle in following years – another campaign in 1973 and then in 1986 when addressing the first Welsh language graduation ceremony organised by the Welsh Students Union in Aberystwyth.  He showed great determination and unswerving drive – and by now the Welsh College exists, with its administrative centre in Y Llwyfan here in Carmarthen.

THE FAMILY MAN

“He would never tell us or our children – ‘go away, I’m too busy, and he never waved a finger at us to chastise us.  His patience with the children was limitless.”  Those are the words of his daughter Meinir.  The family moved from Wernellyn to Talar Wen in 1953 – “Talar Wen was my father’s wedding present, postponed for fifteen years” said Gwynfor.  “Everything used to build the house was from Wales and Rhiannon’s brother Dewi Prys designed it.”

Gwynfor and his family

They had seven children and in response to a journalist Gwynfor said that his favourite Biblical saying was – “Be fruitful and multiply and fill … the earth”.  He loved playing with the children – and dressing up as Auntie Jini, fooling the grandchildren into believing she was a half sister from America.  He also loved walking with the children, and his favourite place was y Garn Goch – the mountain where his ash was scattered and where a memorial stone stands at the foot of the hillside.  Like his father, Gwynfor was musical and liked to play the piano.  According to his brother Alcwyn, Gwynfor would tend to go to the piano when he faced pressure, and when playing he would be able to relax.

Gwynfor and Rhiannon moved to another Talar Wen in Pencarreg near Llanybydder in the summer of 1984 when he retired.  A big farewell supper was held in Llangadog hall for the community to pay tribute to a couple who did so much for the Welsh traditions of the area for a period of 45 years.  When 17 Plaid Cymru members were elected to the first National Assembly in 1999 they all came to Pencarreg to see Gwynfor and Rhiannon.  Other visitors included Winnie Ewing with Rhodri, Cynog and Roy Llywelyn.

On the day before Gwynfor celebrated his 90th birthday a piece about him was carried in the Western Mail.  He headline read – ‘Pacifist giant of Welsh culture whose place in history is secured – Wales celebrates 90 years of Gwynfor’.

“Gwynfor Evans has been described as ‘one of the greatest souls of the 20th century.  Alongside Lloyd George and Aneurin Bevan he is one of the last century’s three greatest Welsh politicians.  But he arguably stands alone and ahead of them all in the measure of his influence and is one of the few people from any era recognised solely by their Christian name.

“Gwynfor’s place in history is secure, and not just through his achievements and influence but his public acclaim.  He was chosen by readers of Wales on Sunday as Millennium Icon ahead of Lloyd George and Aneurin Bevan, voted Welsh Person of the Millennium ahead of Owain Glyndŵr by readers of Y Cymro and was reader’s choice in the Western Mail’s Person of the Millennium Award.  They were popular endorsements of the greatest living Welshman of the 20th century.”

Gwynfor appeared in public for the last time at the 2,000 National Eisteddfod in Llanelli, where he received the Worldwide Welsh Award for a lifetime’s work for Wales.  The ceremony was full of emotion, with a packed pavilion honouring this very special man.

And to conclude, I would like to quote Professor Geraint Jenkins in his address to the Gymanfa Ganu we held in Capel Heol Awst to mark Gwynfor’s life soon after he died. This is what he said –

“Set about praising and publicly honouring Gwynfor’s name by erecting a fitting monument to him.  What better place could there be to place a fitting memorial than here in Carmarthen, where he experience his big moment on 14 July 1966 so that your children and your children’s children can come here to admire one of the great figures of our nation.”  And as you know that work is now in hand, with the intention of realising a monument by 2,016, the fiftieth anniversary of his great victory in 1966.

Gwynfor Richard Evans died on Thursday morning 21 April 2005 at the age of 92 in his home in Talar Wen, Pencarreg.  Rhys Evans says: “Gwynfor wanted to return to Garn Goch, to the soil, the land of Wales where his politics had taken root.  Nevertheless, as his ashes blow in the wind, his legacy survives.”

And Dr Geraint Jenkins says: “His aim was to build a nation that was free, responsible and confident, by restoring the memory of its people and strengthening its will to live – and we should remember him as ‘Llusernwr y canrifoedd coll’, the illuminator of the lost centuries.  Time after time Gwynfor was there to stand in the breach – his life reflected the history of Wales 1940 on.  The foundation of Gwynfor’s life was his Christianity and his pacifism.”

The last sentences in Rhys Evans’ substantial volume are: “No one did more than Gwynfor in the twentieth century.  It is not the Welsh-speaking Christian Wales that Gwynfor dreamed of, but it is still Wales.  Wales, the nation he loved with such passion, has survived, despite it all.”

Peter Hughes Griffiths

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