The collection towards renewing DJ’s grave proved to be so successful we now have a surplus. The amount now stands at £608. We have already paid for the restoration of the grave and have earmarked £200 towards the newly formed Plaid Cymru History Society.
We now have to decide what to do with the remaining money.
Both the graves of Saunders Lewis and Lewis Valentine are in good condition since they have family. We also looked at the grave of D.G. Davies, Carmel another of Plaids founding fathers.
The wish of the Constituency is that we place a bench bearing a plaque, at the foot of Garn Goch where the memorial to Gwynfor Evans. We are in negotiation with the Beacons National Park
Terry O’Neill, a Plaid stalwart for over forty years, died on 14th May 2010.
Owen John Thomas writes:
Terry was one of Plaid’s heroes – an activist since 1969, when he and his brother Dennis joined without each other’s knowledge during the same week. A committed letter writer, he often commented perceptively on current topics in the columns of the Echo and the Western Mail.
One of his passions was music, particularly rhythm and blues, an interest shared with a young lady called Patricia James, and their rock ‘n roll partnership lasted almost 50 years.
He and I avidly studied election results, looking for a glimmer of hope on many a dark day. He worked with me in the National Assembly and will be remembered as the only one wearing a bootlace tie in the Assembly!
We treasure his memory – a pillar of Plaid for over 40 years.
On retiring as deputy headteacher from Ysgol Gymraeg Sant Baruc, Gwenno Hughes decided that it was time to recognise the connection between Gwynfor Evans, past President of Plaid Cymru, and the town, as he was born and raised in Barry attending Gladstone Junior School and the Barry Boys Grammar School. He died aged 92 in 2005 and so under the leadership of Gwenno Huws a fund was raised to pay for a bust of this unique gentleman and the artist John Meirion Morris, Llanuwchllyn near Bala, was commisioned to create the sculpture.
There was a large audience at the Barry Library on 28 February 2010 to see Lord Dafydd Ellis-Thomas unveiling the bronze bust and realising Gwenno Huws’ dream of seeing a worthy memorial to Gwynfor Evans in his home town. The ceremony was presided by Dulyn Griffiths, head teacher of Ysgol Sant Baruc and the school choir performed under the direction of Gwenno Huws and the guest speaker was Professor Gareth Williams from the University of Glamorgan.
(to be read in conjunction with my sound-tape and photographs)
We are accustomed to having Plaid Cymru’s views and policies aired in the press and on radio and television these days. But things were quite different fifty years ago. Radio broadcasts by the political parties were allocated on a UK-wide basis only, according to the number of seats contested during the previous election. All parties who had put up candidates in at least 50 constituencies (i.e. about one-twelfth of the total) were granted air-time. But even if Plaid Cymru were to fight all the then 36 Welsh seats, we would not qualify.
Under the chairmanship of Lord Macdonald of Gwaunysgor, former Labour MP and last Governor of Newfoundland, the Welsh Broadcasting Council, set up by the BBC’s 1952 charter, was given control of programmes on the Welsh Home Service (a similar situation obtained in Scotland). So it was gratifying to learn that, mindful of their duty to give ‘full regard to the distinctive culture, interests and tastes’ of the people they served, Lord Macdonald & Co decided to apply the same one-twelfth rule to Wales, and proposed two 15-minute radio broadcasts per annum (in Welsh or English as desired) on Welsh Home Service to all parties who had contested at least three out of the 36 constituencies in Wales. Plaid Cymru would have been well-qualified, having fielded eleven candidates in 1955 and gaining over 45,000 votes.
So far, so good. But things did not go quite to plan, as Gwynfor Evans related in his persuasive pamphlet The Wicked Ban and the SNP in their analytical Broadcasting in Scotland, an Examination of B.B.C. Policies. The Welsh Broadcasting Council duly called a meeting of all four qualifying parties – Labour, Conservative, Liberal and Plaid Cymru – to discuss their proposals. However, a letter from the BBC’s Welsh headquarters, dated 20 January 1955 cancelled the follow-up meeting scheduled for eight days later. Gwynfor refers to two meetings calculated to bring pressure to bear on the Broadcasting Council: one in February attended by Labour and Tory bigwigs and one in April with Postmaster General Dr Charles Hill. In the ensuing press conference Lord Macdonald announced that if he and his colleagues persisted with their plan, the good doctor would issue a directive preventing them.
The Postmaster General acts
Did the Welsh Broadcasting Council yield to pressure? Oh no, they didn’t! So, on 27 July, Hill wrote two letters to the Rt Hon Sir Alexander George Montagu Cadogan, OM, GCMG, KCB, PC, Chairman of the BBC Board of Governors. The lengthy one explained why HM Government and Official Opposition agreed that giving ‘full regard to the distinctive culture, interests and tastes …’ could not apply to what he called ‘regional’ party political broadcasts. The second, terse, missive required the Corporation to ‘refrain at all times from sending … any controversial party political broadcast on behalf of any political party, other than any series … arranged by the Corporation in agreement with the leading political parties for broadcasting throughout the United Kingdom’. Coincidentally, it is sad to note that when appointed Chairman of the Board of Governors, this distinguished former diplomat and senior civil servant had expressed his concern to Winston Churchill that he lacked appropriate qualifications, and that the response he received was ‘There are no qualifications. All you have to do is to be fair’.
‘This is the first time’, concluded Lord Macdonald, ‘a Postmaster General has exercised his right of veto, and we regret that he should have found it necessary to do it against Wales’. The Western Mail said: ‘If they [the Labour and Conservative Parties] are content, as British parties, to broadcast on a British scale only, then they could well allow a specifically Welsh party to broadcast on a Welsh scale. The first duty of the majority is to assure the rights of the minority – however wrong-headed that minority may appear to be’. Conversely, when I questioned Caerffili MP Ness Edwards in a Labour Party public meeting at Deri, near Bargoed some time later, he reiterated his opinion that BBC [clearly meaning Lord Macdonald and the Welsh Broadcasting Council] regarded Plaid Cymru as its ‘favourite child’. Diplomatically, I made no comment!
During the next few years, various groups of Plaid members started to take to the airwaves in an unofficial and illegal campaign to overcome this Labour-Tory collusion. Fearing possible eavesdropping on clandestine planning by telephone, some Welsh-speaking participants would use the cryptic message ‘Mae’r ceiliog yn canu heno’ [the cockerel is crowing tonight’]. One name frequently mentioned was university mathematics lecturer Dr Gareth Evans, who was generous with his advice about obtaining equipment via cheap sources such as the Exchange & Mart weekly. He was to stand as the party’s Ceredigion candidate in 1959 and again in 1964. Plaid’s 1959 conference was held in Llangefni, where talk about illegal broadcasting was rife. That was when I received my initiation into its operation. I was asked by none other than General Secretary J.E. Jones to take two gentlemen of the press to a local broadcast at the dead of night. In the words of Cymro newspaper reporter Dyfed Evans, they were carried in a [pre-war] Standard 9 ‘a swniai yn y tywyllwch fel pe bai’n prysur datgymalu’ [which sounded in the darkness as if it was rapidly disintegrating’]. His report and the picture of the transmission taken by celebrated photographer Geoff Charles are reproduced on page 278 of Tegwyn Jones’s massive Llyfr y Ganrif [Book of the Century].
‘East Glamorgan Station’
The photographs bring back fond memories of an enthusiastic Rhymney Valley fraternity born out of a sense of injustice perpetuated by those who should have known better. From the top, left to right, they show:-
Plaid Cymru amateur leaflet and printed poster: 1959 general election campaign in West Flint (candidate: Nefyl Williams)
My Austin A35 Countryman loaded with all the equipment required for transmission (By then I had traded in my ‘rapidly disintegrating’ 1930s vehicle for something more reliable)
Yours truly editing sound-tapes in my Troedyrhiw ‘studio’. By then I was teaching at Ysgol Glan Clwyd, Rhyl (the first Welsh-medium secondary school) and returning home to my parents’ home during school holidays
From the Ebbw Vale by-election. The late Glyn James tries to shield his face during a broadcast
Dave Pritchard. On the floor: his portable battery-operated tape-recorder, on which he had recorded the speeches delivered by Emrys Roberts and Labour’s Michael Foot in a public meeting. Here he is re-recording extracts for transmission by holding the microphone of a larger machine above his portable one. No wonder the sound quality leaves much to be desired at times!
Glyn James again, this time succeeding in shielding his face. I cannot take all the credit for these two photographs. A local party member was there in his professional capacity as a journalist. He instructed me to set my camera at a long exposure while he set off his high-power instantaneous flash. The result: two well-illuminated photographs. I regret, however, that I cannot remember his name
My Troedyrhiw ‘studio’ again: record-player and male-voice choir record for use during the mid-programme interval, script and large tape-recorder on the table
My Standard 9 (of Cymro fame) in the dramatic scenery of the Horseshoe Pass, near Llangollen
Deri Smith transmitting. We would use the television wavelength, but wait patiently until the obligatory God Save the Queen had finished at the end of the day’s programmes
‘Free Wales’ artwork and a missing Union Jack
I write elsewhere about my Rhymney Valley ‘Radio Wales’ broadcasting colleagues of the early 1960s. One diversion of theirs was to roam their home area (and slightly farther afield) with paint-pot and brush. They were so proud of their handiwork that they insisted on taking me to see it. These photographs are a record of my tour:-
A colliery halt near Bedlinog at night. I am particularly proud of this effort, with an exposure lasting for scores of seconds
At the former Fidler’s Elbow road junction, near the point where the old Merthyr / Cardiff road aproaches the modern dual-carriageway A470
The main gates of Brecon Barracks, after they had been cleaned. How did they do it?
A Remarkable Pioneer: Dr Ceinwen H. Thomas (1911–2008)
An article based on a tribute delivered by Dr E. Wyn James at the funeral of Dr Ceinwen H. Thomas at Thornhill Crematorium, Cardiff, 7 February 2008. It was translated into English by Rhodri Jones. An earlier version was published inDawns, the journal of the Welsh National Folk Dance Society, in 2008.
It would be difficult to begin any tribute to Dr Ceinwen Hannah Thomas without mentioning the word ‘Nantgarw’. Although she lived in Whitchurch, Cardiff, among other places, for much of her life, you would not be long in her company before being told that she came originally from Nantgarw and that, although that village is situated only seven miles to the north of central Cardiff, she was only the second generation of her family to be able to speak English.
Dr Ceinwen came from a family which had its roots deep in the lower reaches of the Taff Valley, and she lived in Nantgarw until she had completed her studies at University College, Cardiff in 1937. She attended the infant school at Nantgarw, and then the junior and secondary schools at Caerffili. She always complained bitterly of the anglicised nature of her education prior to reaching the secondary school. For example, although her junior school in Caerffili was near Tonyfelin Welsh Baptist Chapel, none of the teachers ever referred to the fact that the famous preacher, Christmas Evans, had been a minister there and had his home near the school. Even the massive Caerffili Castle was never mentioned in history lessons at the junior school; the focus of such lessons was, rather, on the likes of Walter Raleigh and Francis Drake. The secondary school was more enlightened: a fair amount of Welsh history was taught as part of the curriculum, there was a branch of Urdd Gobaith Cymru (the Welsh League of Youth) in the school, and a number of the teachers spoke Welsh naturally both to each other and to the Welsh-speakers among the pupils. Whilst a student at Cardiff, Ceinwen Thomas gained a first-class honours degree in Welsh and then went on to gain an MA in 1936 (and then a Doctorate from the University of Ireland in 1940) – a rare educational achievement for a man, let alone a woman, in those days.
Although Ceinwen Thomas left Nantgarw in 1937, it can be said that the whole of her very full and long life revolved around that village and the Welsh language. With her mother, Mrs Margretta Thomas – another remarkable woman – Dr Ceinwen made an extremely important contribution in recording the Welsh-language folk culture of Nantgarw and its environs. One example of their work was the transcribing of the Nantgarw Dances, dances that are by now such an important part of the folk dance scene in Wales. Indeed, it would not be too much to assert that Dr Ceinwen Thomas and her mother have set Nantgarw – alongside D. J. Williams’s Rhydcymerau, say, or O. M. Edwards’s Llanuwchllyn – in that pantheon of villages which have come to be regarded as the embodiment of Welsh folk culture at its best.
In 1993 the University of Wales Press published her detailed description of the Welsh dialect of Nantgarw in two voluminous tomes. This was her magnum opus, the culmination of many years’ study of the phonetics and grammar of Welsh (and especially the language of south-east Wales). In the 1960s and the 1970s she directed the newly-established Language Research Unit in the Welsh Department at University College, Cardiff. Due to the fact that the number of speakers of the ‘Wenhwyseg’ – the Welsh spoken in south-east Wales – was diminishing significantly by that time, the Unit gave its study special attention, and Dr Ceinwen Thomas’s period there witnessed a flood of theses by the Unit’s research students describing the Welsh dialects of various parts of south-east Wales, a corpus which forms a notable contribution to the study of the Welsh language.
However, this academic work in Welsh linguistics was a second career for Dr Ceinwen Thomas. During the twenty years between leaving University College, Cardiff in 1937 and her return in 1958, she was a Welsh teacher in Pen-y-cae (Ebbw Vale) and then in Bryn-mawr. She joined the newly-established Plaid Cymru as a student in Cardiff and remained an unflinching nationalist throughout her life. The 1940s and the 1950s proved to be battlefield years in her history: battling to promote the principles of Plaid Cymru; over interpreting the history of Wales from a Welsh standpoint rather than from that of English imperialism; over the place of Welsh in the world of education; and for the recognition of Monmouthshire as an intrinsic part of Wales. These were years of being at the front line in a time and at a place where things were very hard for the language and the national movement – but she lived long enough to see Plaid Cymru become a part of the government in the Senedd; the emergence of a generation of younger historians who interpret the history of Wales with a far greater Welsh flavour; a tremendous growth in Welsh-medium education; and the death of that hardy chestnut, ‘Wales and Monmouthshire’.
Ceinwen Thomas was a well-read and intelligent woman. She was a woman of strong convictions, and was ready to stand resolutely for those convictions, and fearlessly argue their cause. A small example of this was her persistent campaigning for the use of the old indigenous Welsh names for places in the Taff Valley, rather than the English versions or those coined in Welsh by ‘dynion dŵad’ (newcomers): ‘Y Mynydd Bychan’ (not ‘The Heath’ or ‘Y Waun’), ‘Draenen Pen-y-graig’ (not ‘Thornhill’ or ‘Bryn-drain’), ‘Rhiwbina’ (not‘Rhiwbeina’), ‘Rhydfelen’ (not ‘Rhydyfelin’).She gave generously and consistently to those causes close to her heart: causes that were philanthropic, ecological and national in nature. It is also worth emphasising that she came to prominence in public and academic life from the 1940s onward, when those circles were to a great extent male dominated
One aspect of the Nantgarw life of her childhood against which Dr Ceinwen Thomas turned her back for many years was the world of the ‘tŷ cwrdd’ (the meeting house/chapel). According to her own attestation she was quite agnostic in her response to Christianity for a long time. Then, fairly soon after her retirement, she ventured one Sunday morning to one of the services of the newly-formed Welsh Evangelical Church in Cardiff. She was reminded at the meetings of that church of the warm atmosphere and the similar theological emphasis of the ‘tŷ cwrdd’ where she was raised in Nantgarw. After a period of time she came to profess anew the Christian faith. She did not do so in an unthinking or sentimental way. Dr Ceinwen was not like that! Rather, she weighed up with great seriousness the words coming from the pulpit and re-assessed her situation and creed in the light of what she had heard. The result was that, towards the end of her life, she returned to the faith of her mother and of her forbears in Nantgarw.
During this period she would delight in reciting some of the folk hymns from the time of the revivals that her great-grandmother loved to sing. That great-grandmother, Ann Meredydd – who lived in a cottage on Caerffili Mountain near the Clwyd y Gurnos tavern (now the Black Cock Inn) – was also quite a character and one who refused to bow or curtsey to the gentry of the area, as was the custom in that period. It is appropriate to end this tribute to Dr Ceinwen Thomas in the sound of one of those verses, a verse that likens salvation in the Christ of Calvary to that of a ship carrying her treasures to us. Here is the verse; the orthography reflects Dr Ceinwen’s own dialectal pronunciation (and that of her great-grandmother before her):
’en lestar iachawdwria’th Dear vessel of salvation
A ddæth o’r nef i ni; That came from heaven for we;
Tramwyws fôr o gariad Travelled o’er a sea of love
’yd bartha’ Calfari; To the shores of Calvary;
Dadlwythws ei thrysora’ Unloaded all her treasures
Mewn tair awr ar y gro’s; In three hours on the cross;
Rhows fodd i rif nas rhifir And gave unnumber’d numbers
A memorial stone to Gwynfor Evans was unveiled at Garn Goch on Saturday 15 July 2006 as part of the Remember ’66 Rally to celebrate exactly 40 years since he was elected as the first Member of Parliament for Plaid Cymru in an historical by-election on 14 July 1966. Everyone who was at the Square in Carmarthen that night remembers the wonderful jubilation and unreasonable hope that was fired there.
The massive stone, which weighs 7.5 tons, was quarried near Llandybie. Gwynfor’s name was carved on it by the famous artist Ieuan Rees who has been responsible for a number of carvings on memorials to famous people in the history of Wales. He is considered to be one of the most versatile artist/craftsmen in Britain in the field of lettering, carving letters, calligraphy, heraldry a graphic communication.