Archifau Categori: Cyhoeddiadau

Elwyn Roberts – Darlithiau

Elwyn Roberts, craig safadwy Plaid Cymru drwy ran helaeth o’r ugeinfed ganrif, oedd pwnc darlith flynyddol Cymdeithas Hanes y Blaid yn 2017.  Er gwaethaf ei gefndir yn y byd bancio, bu Elwyn Roberts yn genedlaetholwr penderfynol ac ymroddedig a roddodd ei gariad i Gymru o flaen unrhyw fuddiannau personol.

Disgrifiwyd ei waith dros Gymru gan gyn-arweinydd Plaid Cymru Dafydd Wigley, hanesydd Gwynn Matthews ac olynydd i Elwyn fel ysgrifennydd cyffredinol y Blaid, Dafydd Williams.  Cewch ddarllen gopïau llawn o’u darlithiau a gwrando ar recordiad o’r sesiwn ym mhabell y Cymdeithasau ar faes yr Eisteddfod Genedlaethol yn Ynys Môn yn 2017.

 

Cofio Elwyn Roberts

Anerchiad gan Dafydd Wigley i Gymdeithas Hanes Plaid Cymru,

Eisteddfod Ynys Môn; Awst, 2017

Mae’n  bleser cael agor y cyfarfod hwn,  i gofio Elwyn Roberts, un o hoelion wyth y Blaid, ac mae’n addas  mai yma ar faes y Brifwyl ym Môn yr ydym yn ymgasglu, gan iddo fod hefyd yn drefnydd  yr Eisteddfod Genedlaethol ddwywaith.  Bu’n byw am ddegawdau ym Modorgan; er bod ei  wreiddiau yn Abergynolwyn, Meirionnydd.  Roedd yn un â’i ddylanwad i’w deimlo ledled Cymru. 

Mae gennym, fel cenedl, le nid yn unig i barchu’r goffadwriaeth Elwyn; ond hefyd i drosglwyddo’r cyfraniad a wnaed ganddo, fel ysbrydoliaeth i genhedlaeth newydd i dorchi llewys ac i gwblhau’r uchelgais oedd yn ei galon.  Roedd yn genedlaetholwr ymarferol a gredai fod buddugoliaeth yn tyfu ar sail trefniadaeth wleidyddol – trwy harneisio adnoddau pobol a chyllidol i wireddu uchel amcanion ein cenedl.

Bûm yn pendroni a allwn wneud cyfiawnder â’r testun, gan amau a oeddwn yn wir adnabod Elwyn Roberts. Efallai y byddai llawer o’r rhai a weithiodd gydag ef, yn cyfaddef teimladau cyffelyb: oherwydd roedd Elwyn, yn ogystal â bod yn ffigwr cenedlaethol ac yn heavyweight gwleidyddol, hefyd  yn ddyn hynod breifat.

Roedd Elwyn yn un o hanner dwsin a ddylanwadodd  yn sylweddol arna’ i’n bersonol, gan fy nhywys  – o oed ifanc – i weithio dros y Blaid. Y dylanwadau cenedlaethol eraill  oedd Gwynfor Evans a Saunders Lewis;   yn lleol yng Ngwynedd – Dafydd Orwig a Wmffra Roberts; ac o fewn fy nghenhedlaeth innau, y diweddar annwyl Phil Williams.  Gwerth nodi fod tri o’r rhain yn feibion i chwarelwyr llechi – Dafydd Orwig, Wmffra ac, ie, Elwyn Roberts.

Roedd Elwyn yn fab i Evan Gwernol  Roberts, chwarelwr yn Abergynolwyn; ei fam, Mabel, yn brifathrawes ysgol babanod.  Roedd Abergynolwyn mor bwysig iddo, fe drodd  hunangofiant,  yn gyfrol hanes Abergynolwyn – ‘doedd o byth yn siarad amdano fo ei hun!  Felly mae’n ymhyfrydu yn y llyfr mai drwy ymdrechion y Blaid, yn y 70au y cafodd y chwarelwyr, o’r hir hwyr, hawl i iawndal llwch.

Ganwyd Elwyn ym 1905, ac roedd yn ddyn o’i genhedlaeth. Roedd cysgod y rhyfel byd cyntaf, yn drwm arno, fel oedd chwyldro Iwerddon a dirwasgiad y diwydiannau trymion.  Ni chafodd addysg brifysgol – yn wir, ni hidiai lawer am yr addysg a gafodd  yn ysgol Ramadeg Tywyn, a oedd yn llawer rhy Seisnig iddo.

Ar ôl gadael ysgol aeth i weithio i’r banc,  ble fu  am chwarter canrif, yn gyntaf yn Blaenau Ffestiniog, wedyn Bethesda – dwy gymuned chwareli – ac yna, Llandudno  gan godi’n ddirprwy reolwr ac yntau prin yn drideg oed.

Gallai fod wedi esgyn yn uchel yn y  byd  bancio: ond  roedd dyfodol Cymru’n bwysicach iddo na gyrfa a chyfoeth.  Ymunodd â’r Blaid Genedlaethol yn ei dyddiau cynnar; yn un ar hugain oed, fe  sefydlodd gangen Blaenau Ffestiniog – y  gangen fwyaf oedd gan y Blaid  drwy Gymru benbaladr.  Pryd hynny, fel drwy ei yrfa,  gweithiai’n ddygn yn y cefndir, i eraill gael y sylw fel ceffylau blaen.

Pan ddaeth rhyfel ym 1939, gwrthododd Elwyn â listio yn y lluoedd arfog; gwnaeth hyn ar sail cenedlaetholdeb, nid heddychiaeth.  Gwrthododd gydnabod hawl gwladwriaeth Lloegr I’w orchymyn i ymladd drostynt. Gofynnodd un o’r Tribiwnlys iddo  “Fel Cymro ydach chi’n sefyll, ynte?”  Atebodd Elwyn, gyda’i hiwmor sarrug, a’i agwedd gwbl sarhaus tuag at y sefydliad Seisnig,   “Na, fel Tsieini!” Cafodd ei orfodi i weithio fel dyn dal llygod mawr yn ardal Corwen.

Yn ystod y rhyfel – drwy anogaeth Saunders Lewis a J.E. Daniel –  sefydlwyd “Pwyllgor Diogelu Diwylliant Cymru” – yng ngeiriau Gwynfor, “y mudiad cenedlaethol pwysicaf i weithio dros Gymru yn ystod y rhyfel”. Trefnwyd ralïau ledled Cymru, a’r un mwyaf llwyddiannus oll oedd un a gynhaliwyd ym Mae Colwyn.  Holodd Gwynfor pwy oedd yn gyfrifol am gael y math dorf.  Cafodd ar ddeall mai clerc banc ifanc oedd wedi cyflawni’r math wyrth.  Dyna ‘r tro cyntaf i Gwynfor gyfarfod Elwyn; ac fe ffurfiwyd partneriaeth a ddylanwadodd ar ddyfodol ein cenedl. 

Rhaid bod y banc yn meddwl yn uchel ohono, oherwydd er gwaethaf ei genedlaetholdeb tanbaid cafodd ddychwelyd i’r banc cyn diwedd y rhyfel.  Pan safodd Gwynfor dros Feirionnydd yn etholiad 1945, gwnaeth yntau  gais i’r Banc i ryddhau Elwyn i weithio fel trefnydd; a chytunodd y banc i hynny!  Mae Rhys Ifans, yn ei gyfrol ar Gwynfor yn sôn am Elwyn yn serennu fel asiant etholiadol – a dwi’n dyfynnu – “ar gownt ei galedwch diarhebol”.

Dychwelodd Elwyn i’r banc  ar ôl  yr etholiad;  ond roedd ei allu trefniadol yn hysbys, a chafodd wahoddiad i weithio fel Trefnydd Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Bae Colwyn, 1947 – gan gael y banc  i’w ryddhau, eto!

Cafodd ei ben-bachu eto i weithio  fel trefnydd yr Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Llanrwst ym 1951.  Ni ddychwelodd i’r banc wedi hynny, a chafodd ei benodi gan y Blaid, yn Drefnydd Gwynedd a Chyfarwyddwr Cyllid.

Daeth galw arall arno – iddo drefnu’r ymgyrch trawsbleidiol dros Senedd i Gymru. Pan gymerodd Elwyn drosodd, roedd y ddeiseb wedi rhedeg ers dwy flynedd ac ond ychydig gannoedd o enwau arni. Gafaelodd Elwyn yn yr awenau gyda’i unplygrwydd nodweddiadol,  a llwyddodd i gynyddu nifer yr enwau i dros chwarter miliwn.  Arweiniodd hyn i S.O. Davies AS gyflwyno Mesur Senedd i Gymru yn San Steffan ym 1956.

Ym 1958, Elwyn drefnodd wibdaith lwyddiannus  Gwynfor Evans i’r Unol Daleithiau.  Cymerodd Gwynfor ran mewn darllediad a welwyd gan ugain miliwn o bobl; cafodd groeso cynnes  gan John L Lewis arweinydd Undeb Glowyr America; a  threfnodd Elwyn i Gwynfor gael gwahoddiad i gyfarfod â’r Arlywydd Eisenhower – ond i  Lysgenhadaeth Prydain ei rwystro.

Roedd galwadau eraill yn dal i lifo. Pan gafodd gwmni Teledu Cymru anhawster i godi arian ym 1962, at Elwyn y trowyd, a llwyddodd i godi buddsoddiadau i’r fenter, a fyddai heddiw’n cyfateb i dros £1 miliwn.  Roedd codi arian yn un o gryfderau Elwyn: ef, yn ddiweddarach, berswadiodd ddyn busnes cyfoethog i gyflogi Gwynfor,  fel ymgynghorydd rhwng 1970 a 1974, wedi iddo golli Caerfyrddin – a Gwynfor, i bob pwrpas, ar y clwt yn ariannol.

 Tynnwyd Elwyn i mewn i geisio achub Clywedog rhag cael ei boddi, a dyfeisiodd gynllun i gannoedd brynu llathen sgwâr o dir y Cwm, a fyddai’n dyrysu  Corfforaeth Birmingham – cynllun aflwyddiannus, gwaetha’r modd, oherwydd cyngor cyfreithiol diffygiol.

Ym  1964 penodwyd Elwyn yn Ysgrifennydd Cyffredinol y Blaid .  Derbyniodd y swydd – a hynny ar adeg eithriadol o anodd yn hanes y Blaid – ar yr amod y cai weithio o swyddfa Bangor. 

Mae’n deg cydnabod nad oedd pawb o fewn y Blaid yn gallu ymateb yn bositif i bersonoliaeth Elwyn, i’w “galedwch diarhebol” nac i’r math o genedlaetholdeb “traddodiadol” a gynrychiolai; nac i’w uniongrededd ceidwadol o safbwynt trin arian.

Mae llawer wedi ei ysgrifennu am y tensiwn rhwng Emrys Roberts, a weithredai tan 1964, fel Ysgrifennydd Cyffredinol y Blaid yn swyddfa Caerdydd, ac Elwyn Roberts, rheolwr cyllid y Blaid, a weithredai o swyddfa  Bangor. Gallwn, yn bersonol, weld rhinweddau mawr yn y ddau hyn a gyfrannodd cymaint at lwyddiant y Blaid yn eu gwahanol ffyrdd.

Chwaraeodd Elwyn ran allweddol mewn nifer o ymgyrchoedd, gan gynnwys isetholiad Caerfyrddin 1966, ble bu’n cydweithio â’r Cynrychiolydd, Cyril Jones. Elwyn  sicrhaodd yr adnoddau i ennill y dydd.  Ac Elwyn gafodd y fraint o hysbysu Gwynfor, wrth iddo gyrraedd y cownt, ei fod wedi ennill!

Elwyn Roberts oedd Ysgrifennydd Cyffredinol Plaid Cymru drwy’r cyfnod mwyaf  anhygoel yn ei hanes –  isetholiadau Caerfyrddin,  Rhondda Fawr ym 1967, Caerffili ym 1968, heibio  miri’r arwisgo ym 1969 gan ymddeol ym 1971.  Yn syth ar ôl ymddeol – fel petai heb wneud digon dros y Blaid,  cymerodd Elwyn drosodd y swydd ddi-dâl fel  Trysorydd Cenedlaethol y Blaid.

Yn rhinwedd y swydd, aeth ati eto i drefnu – trefnu codi arian  drwy nosweithiau llawen a chyngherddau Tribannau Pop!  Alla’i ddychmygu neb llai tebyg nag Elwyn, yn ei dop-cot llwyd, ei het a’i briff-ces,  fel trefnydd  digwyddiadau roc a rôl y 70au . Ond cododd filoedd i’r achos, ac ef greodd y sylfaen gyllidol ar gyfer etholiadau 1974 pan  enillodd y Blaid dair sedd yn San Steffan.

Efallai fod trefnu ymgyrchoedd etholiadol wedi creu’r awydd ynddo  i fwrw i’r dasg ei hun, oherwydd, yn syth ar ôl ymddeol cafodd ei ethol yn Gynghorydd Sir  yn Ynys Môn; ac yna i Gyngor newydd Gwynedd ym 1973.  Arhosodd fel cynghorydd tan 1985 – gan chwarae rhan flaenllaw i wella economi Gwynedd.

Y tro cyntaf i mi gyfarfod Elwyn oedd ym 1962. Roeddwn yn fyfyriwr ym Manceinion a newydd ymuno â’r Blaid. Yn ystod gwyliau’r coleg, mynychais gyfarfod o Gangen Caernarfon yn y People’s Café – ar y Maes yn y dref.  Elwyn oedd yn siarad yno a soniais yn y gyfrol “O ddifri” sut y cerddodd i mewn yn gwbl bwrpasol a’i brief-case yn orlawn. Daeth nid i  fân-drafod, llai fyth i gymdeithasu,  ond yn hytrach i’n cyfarwyddo. Fo oedd yn gosod yr agenda a’r blaenoriaethau, fel ryw Gomisar sofietaidd.

Yn fuan wedyn, galwais heibio ei swyddfa ym Mangor ac roedd hynny’n brofiad. Trefnai’r gwaith fel peiriant ac roedd yn feistr corn ar bawb a phopeth – fel dwi’n sicr y gallai Nans Couch – Nans Gruffydd fel yr oedd pryd hynny – dystiolaethu o brofiad personol.

Doedd gan Elwyn fawr o amser i ffyliaid – a dangosai hynny’n weddol amlwg.  Ond pe gwelai fod gan rywun gyfraniad i wneud i’r mudiad cenedlaethol, doedd dim yn ormod o drafferth iddo. Penderfynodd yn weddol gynnar fod gennyf innau rywbeth  i’w gynnig – ac fe gymerodd ddiddordeb mawr ym mhopeth a wnawn dros gyfnod o flynyddoedd.

Fo oedd tu cefn i’m mhenodi i weithio fel trefnydd etholaeth Arfon o Fehefin hyd Hydref 1964, ar ôl i mi raddio a chyn dechrau gweithio, cyfnod oedd  yn arwain at etholiad  cyffredinol 1964. Roedd wedi awgrymu, yn gynharach, y dylwn – ar ôl graddio – fynd i chwilio am waith i gymoedd y De i ddod i nabod Cymru’n well.  Pan ddeallodd mod i am fynd i weithio efo cwmni Ford yn Dagenham, fe ffieiddiodd am sbel – roedd wedi digio efo fi oherwydd, mae’n debyg, y tybiodd y byddwn innau’n diflannu o’r Blaid ac o wleidyddiaeth Cymru, fel bu hanes cymaint o fechgyn ifanc pryd hynny.

Cadarnhawyd ei ofnau ar ôl iddo ef a Wmffra Roberts geisio a’m mherswadio i sefyll yn Arfon yn etholiad Mawrth 1966; a minnau’n gwrthod yn fflat ystyried y math beth  – wedi’r cyfan roeddwn ond dwy ar hugain oed, ac roedd llawer yn rhy gynnar.  Ond roedd Elwyn wedi plannu’r syniad yn fy mhen y dylwn baratoi ar gyfer y math bosibilrwydd yn y dyfodol.

Pan welais Elwyn yng Nghaerfyrddin, y Sadwrn olaf cyn yr isetholiad 66, roedd ei agwedd tuag ataf yn dal yn  sarrug, a dweud y lleiaf. Anfonodd fi allan i ganfasio heb fawr ddim sgwrs – roeddwn yn y “bad books” go iawn. Ond pan ddychwelais i adrodd am drwch y gefnogaeth yn y dre, roedd wedi meirioli.  Dwedodd mai dyna’r ymateb drwy’r etholaeth – ac mewn llais isel, rhag i neb glywed, sibrydodd “Dwi’n credu fod Gwynfor am ennill”.

Yn sgil yr isetholiad, aeth nifer ohonom – Phil Williams, Dafydd Williams, Eurfyl ap Gwilym, Gareth Morgan Jones, Rod Evans ac eraill – ati i ffurfio Grŵp Ymchwil y Blaid – i helpu Gwynfor efo agweddau o’i waith seneddol,  ac i baratoi Cynllun Economaidd i Gymru.  Roedd hynny’n plesio Elwyn yn ddirfawr – a darparodd heb berswâd, gyllid o ryw hanner can punt y mis, i ni allu llogi swyddfa fechan iawn a chyflogi teipydd rhan amser.

O fod wedi methu a’m cael i sefyll yn Arfon, Elwyn berswadiodd Bwyllgor Rhanbarth Meirion i’m gwahodd i sefyll yno yn etholiad 1970, er fy mod yn byw yn Llundain ac  yn gweithio i gwmni Mars yn Slough.  Rhoddodd Elwyn gefnogaeth ymarferol i mi o ran adnoddau’r Blaid yn ganolog.

Erbyn 1972, roeddwn wedi dychwelyd i fyw yng Nghymru, yn gweithio efo cwmni Hoover ym Merthyr ac wedi fy ethol i Gyngor Merthyr – roedd fel pe bae cynllun cyfnod hir Elwyn ar fy nghyfer, o’r diwedd yn symud ymlaen fel yr oedd wedi bwriadu.  Pan gefais f’ethol dros Arfon, cefais eto  bob cefnogaeth ganddo, fel y cefais  pan sefais i olynu Gwynfor fel Llywydd.

Er bod Elwyn yn gymaint o gefn i mi, ac yn f’ystyried yn dipyn o protégé iddo, prin allwn ddeud fy mod yn ei wir adnabod – dim ond unwaith bûm heibio ei gartref ym Modorgan – a hynny i bigo ryw bapurau – a phrin erioed y cefais unrhyw sgwrs â’i wraig Nansi. Un felly oedd Elwyn; ac doedd dim dewis ond ei dderbyn fel yr oedd – oherwydd fyddai dim byd yn ei newid.  Roedd fel craig yr oesoedd, yn gyson, yn gadarn, yn unplyg ac yn gwbl ymroddedig i Gymru.

Mae’n dda ein bod ni heddiw yn ei gofio, oherwydd mae gan y Blaid a’r genedl lawer i ddiolch iddo:  Elwyn Roberts,  “Y graig safadwy drwy dymhestloedd”;  y math graig sydd o’r golwg dan wyneb y tir, ond oedd mor hanfodol  os oeddem am adeiladu dyfodol cenedl ar seiliau cadarn.  Diolch amdano a diolch am wrando.

 

 

‘Elwyn y Dyn’

Atgofion Gwynn Matthews

Diolch am y gwahoddiad i rannu  fy adnabyddiaeth o Elwyn, a diolch o galon i Dafydd Wigley am y portread arbennig gawsom ni.  Pwy all ychwanegu i’r pictiwr hwnnw o Elwyn fel ffigwr cenedlaethol?  Dwi ddim yn mynd i geisio gwneud hynny – beth rwy’n mynd i’w wneud yw sôn am Elwyn y dyn – y dyn y mae cymaint o bobl wedi ei gael yn anodd i fynd o dan ei groen.

Gwnes i gyfarfod ag Elwyn gyntaf yn 1961.  Roeddwn i’n fachgen ysgol ar y pryd a doedd  amgylchiadau’r cyfarfod ddim gyda’r hapusaf, oherwydd gwŷs ges i  ymddangos ger ei fron mewn Pwyllgor Rhanbarth! 

Mi oeddwn i wedi sefydlu cangen ysgol o’r Blaid yn Ysgol Ramadeg Dinbych ddechrau’r chwedegau.  Byddem ni’n cyfarfod yn yr awr ginio yn yr ysgol mewn ystafelloedd gwahanol yn ddiarwybod i’r staff.  Roedd hynny’n bosibl  oherwydd bod gen i fathodyn yn dweud ‘Prefect’ ( a hawl felly i adael disgyblion i mewn i’r adeilad) – ond y drwg oedd bod athrawon yn gallu dod heibio, agor y drws a gofyn “What’s going on here, then?”.  Os oedd yn Sais, roeddwn i’n gallu dweud, “Oh, it’s the Welsh Society, sir”.  Ac roedd hynny’n iawn.  Un tro ddaru’r athro ysgrythur ddod a gofyn a oedden ni’n cynnal cyfarfod gweddi – ac mae’n flin gen i gyfaddef i mi ateb fy mod! 

Y ffaith yw, roedd yna berygl cael ein dal, ond maes o law fe gawson ni ddefnyddio Swyddfa’r Blaid yn y dre.  Ond roedd rhywun wedi achwyn fod plant ysgol yn mynd a dod o’r swyddfa ac yn cadw reiat.  A felly dyma fi’n cael gwŷs i fynd i’r Pwyllgor Rhanbarth a rhoi cyfrif  amdanaf fy hun a’m cyd-ddisgyblion, o flaen neb llai na Mr Elwyn Roberts!

I’r rhai ohonoch oedd wedi adnabod Elwyn, gallwch chi ddychmygu sut deimlad oedd ymddangos o’i flaen!  Roeddwn i yn deall – allwch ddim wafflo efo hwn.  Ond y gwir yw mi ddaru o ddod allan o’n plaid ni, a dweud bod perffaith ryddid i ni ddefnyddio’r swyddfa o hynny ymlaen.

Ychydig nes ymlaen, yn 1968, fel y dywedodd Dafydd Williams, mi ges i fy mhenodi ar staff y Blaid.  Fe ges i gyfweliad ym Mhwllheli yn dilyn cyfarfod mabwysiadu Robyn Lewis.  Dyma Elwyn yn dod ata’i ar y diwedd,  – “Reit” medde fo, “dwi eisiau i chi helpu fi lenwi bŵt y car efo’r holl daflenni yma.”  Ac fel oeddwn i’n llenwi’r bŵt, roedd o yn fy holi.  A phan oeddwn i wedi llenwi’r bŵt, dyma fo’n dweud, ” ‘Dech chi wedi cael y swydd”.  Cyfweliad byrraf fy mywyd.

Fel mae Dafydd Wigley wedi dweud, dyn preifat oedd o.  A byddwn i’n dweud ei fod yn ddyn swil mewn gwirionedd.  Ac efallai, roedd ganddo ryw ffasâd sydd gan bobl swil yn aml sy’n gwneud i chi feddwl eu bod nhw’n llai cynnes nag ydyn nhw. Yn y bôn, mi roedd Elwyn yn ddyn cynnes. 

Ac fel yr awgrymodd Dafydd Wigley, pan gafodd o hamdden, ddaru o ddim sgwennu amdano’i hun ond sgwennu am ei fro – sgwennu am yr ardal roddodd ei werthoedd iddo. [Wrth Odre Cadair Idris]  Yno mae o’n sôn am ei blentyndod, ac mae un frawddeg sy’n dipyn o syndod.  Sôn mae o am ei ysgol, ac am athro yr oedd ganddo dipyn o feddwl ohono, Mr Fielding.  O’r Iseldiroedd y deuai teulu Mr Fielding, ond roedd o’n medru Cymraeg.

A dyma’r frawddeg oedd yn fy nharo fel un eithriadol: “Cofiaf rai o’r gwersi mewn rhifyddeg, er bod yn gas gen i’r pwnc.” Meddai hwn, y consuriwr ffigyrau!   Y dyn oedd yn medru cael arian o’r awel – ac roedd yn gas ganddo rifyddeg!  Dywed fod Cymraeg a hanes lleol yn fwy at ei ddant o lawer.  Ie, brogarwch oedd y sail i wladgarwch Elwyn, ac fel mae Dafydd Wigley wedi’i ddisgrifio, gwladgarwch dipyn bach yn hen-ffasiwn.  A baswn i’n cytuno – gwerthoedd y Gymru Gymraeg Anghydffurfiol oedd ganddo.

 Rwy’n cofio mewn un gynhadledd, ddechrau’r saithdegau, fod un o ganghennau’r Rhondda wedi gyrru cynnig gerbron am i’r Blaid sefydlu clybiau yfed. Dim ond dau gerdyn oedd wedi dod i fyny – y cynigydd a’r eilydd.  A dyma Elwyn yn dod ata’i a dweud, “Gwynn, mae rhaid i chi siarad!”  Oeddwn i’n ddim wedi bwriadu siarad ond meddai,  “Mae’n rhaid i chi siarad yn erbyn hwn!  Bobol bach, beth ydech  chi’n meddwl byddai cefnogwyr Goronwy Roberts, y dirwestwr mawr, yn ei ddweud yn Arfon pe baem ni’n pasio’r cynnig yma?” A wyddoch chi, roedd rhaid i mi fynd, ar ddau funud o rybudd, a siarad yn erbyn sefydlu clybiau yfed.  Methu ddaru’r cynnig, ond nid oherwydd unrhyw beth ddywedais i!

Eto, rhan o’i werthoedd Anghydffurfiol oedd ei heddychiaeth.  Rwy’n gwybod mai fel cenedlaetholwr y safodd o yn erbyn gwasanaeth milwrol, ond fe allai fod wedi gwneud hynny fel heddychwr hefyd.

Rwy’n cofio un achlysur adeg yr Arwisgo pan oedd y diweddar ROF Wynne (Garthewin) wedi bod yn mynegi teimladau honedig amwys ynglŷn â’r defnydd o drais mewn ymgyrchoedd dros ryddid cenedlaethol. Gwnaeth aelod weddol flaenllaw o’r Blaid amddiffyn ROF Wynne. Fe wylltiodd Elwyn: “Fo! Fo o bawb! Tase fo’n gweld gwn iawn, base fo’n gwneud yn ‘i glôs!”

Roedd Elwyn yn medru gwylltio, rhaid cyfaddef hynny.  Rwy’n cofio dod o un Eisteddfod lle roedd o wedi ffromi gydag un o weision ffyddlonaf y Blaid, Nans Jones.  (Nans Jones, rhaid dweud, oedd yn tramgwyddo Elwyn yn amlach na neb arall ar y staff!) Pan aeth Elwyn i stondin Y Ddraig Goch (yn y cyfnod pan na nad oedd gan bleidiau gwleidyddol hawl i gael stondin ar y Maes) beth welai o dan y bwrdd ond copïau o lyfr garddio JE Jones.  Beth fyddai Nans yn ei wneud pan welai rywun oedd yn adnabod JE yn dod i mewn i’r babell ond cynnig y llyfr garddio iddyn nhw – yn lle cynnig pamffledi’r Blaid!! “A beth bynnag”, meddai Elwyn, “pryd gafodd JE amser i arddio?”

Bu Elwyn yn drefnydd yr Eisteddfod Genedlaethol ddwywaith. [Eisteddfod Llanrwst, 1951, oedd un o’r rhain.] Un dydd Llun, trefnodd fod Cynan yn dod i Lanrwst i archwilio Cylch yr Orsedd, achos yn ystod yr wythnos flaenorol roedd penseiri wedi bod wrthi yn gosod y meini  yn eu trefn (yn y dyddiau cyn bod rhai plastig, meini go iawn felly).  Ond dros y penwythnos, roedd y ffarmwr wedi gadael i’r bustych ddod ar y safle i bori.  A dyma eiriau Elwyn, “Wyddoch chi beth, roedd y bustych yn codi’u cynffonau yn erbyn y meini – ac aeth Cynan yn wallgof!  ‘Ydach chi ddim yn sylweddoli’, meddai Cynan, ‘fod y meini hyn yn gysegredig?'”. Roedd yn amlwg o wyneb Elwyn wrth  iddo ddweud yr hanes fod ganddo syniad o’r absẃrd.

 Un diwrnod roedden ni’n trafod ceir.  Ymhlith y swyddi bu Elwyn yn eu gwneud oedd gwerthu ceir ail-law. Un da dwi’n siŵr  – roedd ganddo’r ddawn i wahanu pobl â’u harian – megis y gwnaeth flynyddoedd yn ddiweddarach fel Trysorydd y Blaid!  Gwerthai geir dros ddyn busnes o Fae Colwyn, Mr Bill Knowles. Roedd Bill Knowles yn dipyn o gymeriad, yn Dori amlwg, a daeth yn Faer Bae Colwyn. (Fel mae’n digwydd, yn ystod y chwedegau, ddaru o droi’n Bleidiwr, a bu’n Gadeirydd Pwyllgor Rhanbarth Gorllewin Dinbych.)   A dod yn ôl at ein sgwrs, dyma Elwyn yn dweud, Gwynn, os byth y bydd rheiddiadur y car yn gollwng dŵr, dwi’n gwybod sut i’w setlo fo.  Mae isio tywallt paced o bupur i mewn iddo fo, a gwneith hynny i selio fo – rhywbeth ddysgodd Bill Knowles i mi!” Nid oes gan werthwyr ceir ail-law enw da bob amser, ond pe baech chi’n gofyn i mi a fyddwn i’n prynu car ail-law gan Elwyn mi fyddwn yn ateb, “Baswn, o baswn!”

Roedd o weithiau rwy’n meddwl yn or-wyliadwrus.  Dwy enghraifft fach.  Roedd grŵp ymchwil, dan Dewi Watcyn Powell rwy’n credu, wedi paratoi cyfansoddiad i’r Gymru rydd (a chafwyd cynhadledd yn y Deml Heddwch yng Nghaerdydd i’w dderbyn).  Un pwnt a  godwyd oedd beth i alw cynrychiolydd y Goron.  Roedd ‘Viceroy’ allan o’r cwestiwn, ac roedd teimlad fod ‘Governor-General’ yn rhy imperialaidd. Dyma nhw’n penderfynu ei alw’n ‘Dinesydd Cyntaf’, ‘First Citizen’.  Roedd Elwyn yn teimlo fod hyn yn rhy elitaidd i’r Blaid.

“Fedrwch chi’n feddwl, Gwynn, am enw arall fel pennaeth rhywbeth?”

“Wel, mae pennaeth seremonïol Prifysgol yn cael ei alw’n Ganghellor,” meddwn i.

” O reit dda, ia, rwy’n lico hynny – Canghellor Cymru.”

“O feddwl am y peth”, medde fi, “dyna yw teitl prif weinidog yr Almaen.”

“Bobol bach – fedrwn ni ddim cael hynny!  Meddyliwch beth fyddai’r Daily Post yn ei wneud o ‘r peth!”

A ‘First Citizen’ oedd hi!

Rwy’n cofio un diwrnod, roedden ni’n trafod bywyd teuluol, am wn i, a dyma fo’n darganfod mai eglwyswr oeddwn i.  Ac roedd o eisiau egluro rhywbeth i mi.

Yr adeg honno, roedd pob plaid wleidyddol yn cael gwahoddiad i fynd i ryw addoldy ar y Sul o flaen eu cynhadledd.  Roedd yn cael ei drefnu ymlaen llaw, wrth gwrs, pwy fyddai’n rhoi’r gwahoddiad.

“Mae’n rhaid i mi gyfaddef nad ydw’i erioed wedi gofyn i ni gael gwahoddiad i fynd i eglwys, ac mi ddylwn i egluro paham.  Y rheswm yw bod gweddi dros y Frenhines yn rhan o wasanaeth yr eglwys, ac mae arna’i ofn i ryw benboethyn gerdded allan o’r gwasanaeth – a beth fyddai’r papurau yn ei wneud o hynny?”

Ie, gorwyliadwrus, weithiau, efallai.

Ond beth yw’r argraffiadau ohono sy’n parhau? Disgyblaeth, dycnwch a diffuantrwydd.

Disgyblaeth – disgyblaeth bersonol, disgyblaeth mewn gwaith.  Os oeddech chi yn gwneud eich rhan, fyddai Elwyn ddim yn brin o’ch gwerthfawrogi.  Ond os cafodd siom, roedd yn gadael i chi wybod!  Gwnes i ei siomi unwaith – mi fethais fy mhrawf gyrru.  “Damia chi!”.

Dycnwch – dyfalbarhad yn wyneb anawsterau a siom.  Cofiaf Haf 1969 ( haf yr Arwisgiad) – roedd yn gyfnod anodd enbyd – ac un o brif bryderon Elwyn oedd y byddai’r Raffl Haf yn methu!  Roedd y Raffl Haf yn bwysig – dyna le oedd ein cyflogau yn dod ohono – ond cadw ei nerf wnaeth Elwyn.

Yn olaf, ac yn flaenaf, diffuantrwydd.  Dyn cywir.  Rwyf wedi gweithio i nifer o bobl, rhai ohonynt yn bobl dda iawn,  ond mae fy mharch mwyaf, ar sail ei ymroddiad diarbed, i Elwyn.

 

Cofio Elwyn Roberts

Teyrnged gan Dafydd Williams

Des i nabod Elwyn Roberts yn dda ar ôl ymuno â staff Plaid Cymru – am flwyddyn i fod – bron hanner can mlynedd yn ôl, ym Mis Rhagfyr 1967.  Roeddwn wedi cyfarfod ag ef cyn hynny mewn ysgolion haf a’r Gynhadledd, a hefyd ar ddiwrnod cofiadwy yn ystod Isetholiad Caerfyrddin ym 1966. 

Ond yn Swyddfa’r Blaid, Pendre, Bangor y cefais weld y dyn ei hun wrth ei waith bob dydd.  Byddai yno’n ddi-ffael ben bore, ac yn dal ati fel arfer  ar ôl i’r cloc ar y wal yn dweud wrthon ni fynd adre. 

Roedd hi’n gyfnod cyffrous.  Yn dilyn isetholiadau Caerfyrddin a Gorllewin y Rhondda’r flwyddyn wedyn, a Gwynfor yn y Senedd, roedd aelodaeth ar i fyny, ac angen sianelu’r tyfiant hwnnw’n batrwm effeithiol o ganghennau a rhanbarthau ar draws y wlad.  Fel Ysgrifennydd Cyffredinol a Phrif Drefnydd –  dyna oedd teitl ei swydd –  byddai Elwyn Roberts yn delio â’r holl broblemau a ddaeth yn sgil y tyfiant hwnnw, a’r llu o ymwelwyr a fyddai’n galw heibio.

Buan iawn ddes i sylweddoli bod angen rhywun o ddawn, profiad a chymeriad arbennig iawn i fod wrth y llyw.  Rhywun fyddai’n cadw’r llong i fynd yn ei blaen ar gwrs diwyro, drwy hindda a drycin.  A heb os, Elwyn Roberts oedd y gŵr hwnnw.

Yn y cefndir byddai’n gweithredu wrth gwrs.  Er ei fod yn llawn gallu annerch cynhadledd neu gyngor pe bai rhaid, nid y llwyfan cyhoeddus oedd ei gynefin naturiol.

Mae gen i yn fy meddwl lun byw iawn ohono, wrth ei ddesg yn ei siaced – anaml y byddai’n diosg hwnnw – a hances teidi yn y boced top.  Ac yno’n gweithio gydag ef roedd merch ifanc o Ben Llŷn, Nans Gruffydd – Nans Couch erbyn hyn.  Mae Nans yn methu bod gyda ni heddiw oherwydd galwadau teuluol, ond rwy’n ddiolchgar iawn iddi am ei hatgofion.

Fel hyn mae hi’n cofio amdano: “Fo yn sicr oedd yn o fy arwyr yn y Blaid a braint oedd cydweithio efo fo.  Dyn yr ail filltir oedd Elwyn – gweithiwr diflino a roes ei yrfa yn y banc o’r neilltu er mwyn gwasanaethu ei genedl.  Ef fu’r dylanwad mwyaf arnaf … Roedd gweithio efo Elwyn yn well nag unrhyw goleg”.

Roedd Elwyn yn hoff o’i de.  Bron bob awr yn y prynhawn, byddai’r ddau ohonon ni’n clywed llais yn deisyfu o’r stafell gefn: “Oes paned dwym yn y tebot?”   A – cyfaddefiad yn dod! – Nans fyddai’n rhoi ei gwaith o’r neilltu i ddarparu pot o de newydd.  1967 oedd hynny, cofiwch!

Wrth gwrs, yn bell cyn i Nans na minnau ddod i’r golwg, roedd Elwyn eisoes wedi rhoi degawdau o’i fywyd i Gymru a’r Blaid – a hynny ar adegau anodd iawn.  Meddyliwch am hyn:

  • Elwyn yn drefnydd etholiad i Gwynfor Evans ym Meirionnydd yn 1945, yn ennill clod am “ei galedwch diarhebol” fel asiant yn ôl yr awdur Rhys Evans – gyda llaw, yn ystod yr ymgyrch honno, trefnodd gyfarfod cyhoeddus o flaen cofgolofn Hedd Wyn yn Nhrawsfynydd – am 11:30pm y nos!
  • Ddeng mlynedd wedyn yn 1955 – cael ei ryddhau gan y Blaid i achub ymgyrch Senedd i Gymru, a llwyddo hefyd.
  • Neu hyn – yn 1961, codi £62,525 i lansio cwmni Teledu Cymru.

Ac alla’i byth ag olrhain ei holl waith yn codi arian i gadw Plaid Cymru rhag methdalu – dro ar ôl tro, a thrwy bob dull a modd.  Dim syndod iddo gael ei ddyfynu 45 o weithiau yn llyfr Rhys Evans yn ei gofiant am Gwynfor Evans.

Yn 1971, yn annisgwyl iawn, fe ddes i’n olynydd i’r gŵr anhygoel hwn, hynny ar ôl wâc ar y prom yn Aberystwyth gyda Gwynfor, ond stori arall yw honno!  Sut yn y byd oedd llenwi ei sgidie fe?  Rown i’n gwybod yn iawn na allaf byth ei efelychu.

Ond yn ffodus i mi, os oedd Elwyn wedi ymddeol o fod yn Ysgrifennydd Cyffredinol, roedd ei gyfraniad i Blaid Cymru yn bell, bell o fod drosodd.  Yn yr un flwyddyn, fe ddaeth yn Drysorydd mewn enw – swydd yr oedd mewn gwirionedd yn cyflawni ers blynyddoedd.  Ac – anodd falle i rai ohonoch chi gredu hyn – diolch i’w waith caib a rhaw mewn hinsawdd wleidyddol fwy ffafriol, fe wellodd sefyllfa ariannol y Blaid yn sylweddol.

Ac ymlaen ag ef i gyflawni gyrfa newydd fel aelod o Gyngor Sir Gwynedd gan gynrychioli Bodorgan yma yn Sir Fôn, a dal nifer o swyddi cyhoeddus – ar Gorfforaeth Ddatblygu Cymru ac  Awdurdod Iechyd Gwynedd yn eu plith.

Roeddwn i’n ddigon ffodus i ymweld nifer o weithiau â’i gartref – byngalo ar gornel heol fach wledig ym mhentref Bodorgan o’r enw Peniarth, gyda’i do wedi’i growtio yn steil Ynys Môn (clywais lawer am ‘grouting’!) a’r tu fewn yn bictiwr.  Bob tro fe gawn groeso cynnes a charedig gan Elwyn a’i wraig Nansi – trist meddwl bod Elwyn yn treulio blynyddoedd olaf ei fywyd heb ei chwmni afieithus hi.

Clywais am farwolaeth Elwyn Roberts mewn sgwrs ffôn â Gwerfyl yn y Swddfa Ganol y diwrnod cyn ei gladdu, a minnau yn yr Alban gyda’m rhieni ac yn methu mynychu ei angladd.  Roedd yn gysur ymweld â’i fedd yn eglwys Abergynolwyn rai misoedd wedyn.

Ga’i felly derfynu gydag apêl.  Mae gwir angen croniclo hanes bywyd yr arwr unigryw hwn – y bancwr droes yn drefnydd mudiad cenedlaethol.  Mae’r deunydd crai i’w gael – yn y Llyfrgell Genedlaethol, mae cyfrolau o waith papur yn ei gasgliad, a digon o inc coch bid siŵr!  Mae’n stori werth ei hadrodd – testun teilwng iawn o PhD a llyfr wedyn.  Beth amdani, haneswyr Cymru?

I’m cenhedlaeth i, ac i’r to iau, mae hanes Elwyn Roberts yn ysbrydoliaeth – ac yn sialens.  Mae llwyddiant Plaid Cymru heddiw, waeth beth fo’r anawsterau, yn deillio o’r hadau a blannwyd gan Elwyn a’i gyfoedion.

Rhyfedd meddwl ei fod wedi ffarwelio â ni bron ddegawd cyn ennill y frwydr i sefydlu cynulliad cenedlaethol.  Byddai fe wedi bod wrth ei fodd – a byddai wedi rhoi rhywbeth am gael profi a chyfranogi o’r llwyddiant hwnnw.  Diolch am ei fywyd, mae’n haeddu pob anrhydedd.

 

DJ and Noëlle: Shaping the Blaid

Mae Cymdeithas Hanes Plaid Cymru’n falch i gyhoeddi fersiwn estynedig o ddarlith Cynhadledd Wanwyn 2017 a draddodwyd ar Ddydd Gwener 3 Mawrth gan D. Hywel Davies.

Yn dwyn y teitl ‘DJ and Noëlle: Shaping the Blaid’, mae’r ddarlith yn edrych ar y rhan gref y bu Dr DJ Davies a Dr Noëlle Davies yn chwarae ar ddatblygiad Plaid Cymru.

Graddiodd Hywel Davies mewn Gwleidyddiaeth Ryngwladol yng Ngholeg y Brifysgol, Aberystwyth a bu’n Fyfyriwr Ymchwil yng Ngholeg y Brifysgol Caerdydd. Mae’n gyn-olygydd y Merthyr Express a bu hefyd yn newyddiadurwr ac yn gynhyrchydd/gyfarwyddwr teledu gyda HTV/ITV Cymru a Ffilmiau’r Nant. Mae’i lyfr ‘The Welsh Nationalist Party, 1925-1945: A Call to Nationhood’ yn dal yn ffynhonnell glasurol ar sefydlu Plaid Cymru a degawdau cynnar y mudiad.

D.J. Y Cawr o Rydcymerau

D.J.Williams, Abergwaun
(Y Cawr o Rydcymerau)
1885 – 1970

Mae’r Gymdeithas Hanes yn falch iawn o gyhoeddi’r traethawd ar fywyd un o sylfaenwyr Plaid Cymru, DJ Williams. Dyma draethawd a seiliwyd ar y ddarlith a draddodwyd gan Emyr Hywel yn yr Eisteddfod Genedlaethol yn Llanelli Ddydd Mawrth 6 Awst 2014.
Yn enedigol o Flaenporth, Ceredigion bu Emyr Hywel yn brifathro Ysgol Tre-groes hyd at ei ymddeoliad. Astudiodd fywyd a gwaith DJ Williams ar gyfer gradd M Phil. ym Mhrifysgol Cymru Aberystwyth, a chyhoeddwyd sawl llyfr o’i storiâu a’i farddoniaeth i blant.

1885 – 1902: Bro mebyd

Ganwyd D.J. ym Mhen-rhiw, fferm ddiarffordd yng nghyffniau Rhydcymerau, Sir Gaerfyrddin. Yn ei gyfrol Hen Dŷ Ffarm rhydd D.J. inni ddarlun cynnes o’r aelwyd gan gydnabod nad oedd yno foethusrwydd ein cartrefi modern ni:

 

Yn ein hamser ni … yr oedd y gegin yn isel a thywyll – rhwng y trawstiau trwchus a’r ystlysau cig moch, y rhwydi silots, ac, yn fynych, raff neu ddwy o wynwns Llydaw, y dryll yn ei le, a’r ffroenau, bob amser, yn boenus o gywir at dalcen yr hen gloc druan, basgedi o wahanol faint, bwndel neu ddau o wermod lwyd a gawmil wedi eu sychu, a llawer o drugareddau tebyg, anhepgorion tŷ ffarm, yn hongian o dan y llofft.  Yn hirnosau’r gaeaf, rhaid, hefyd, gosod y lamp wen, fantellog, ar y ford fach, a’i golau esmwyth yn ehangu’r gorwelion … yr hen simnai lwfer lydan, a’r awyr i’w gweld drwy’r top.  Weithiau, ar noson stormus, llwyddai ambell ffluwch o gesair gwyllt ddisgyn drwy’r tro yng nghorn y simnai, gan saethu’u hunain ma’s, piff-piff-paff-paff yn y fflam.  I fyny yn y simnai yr oedd y pren croes a’r bar a’r linciau haearn wrthi i hongian y crochanau uwchben y tân.  Islaw yr oedd pentan llydan.  Cyd-ofalai ‘nhad a ‘mam fod yno dân da, yn wastad – tân glo yn y gaeaf, a boncyff o bren go lew, fynychaf, yn gefn iddo.  Tân coed fyddai yno yn yr haf, – ffagl a matsien o dan y tegyl neu’r ffwrn fel y byddai galw.  Ac eithrio’r sgiw a’r glustog goch, hir, arni, a hen gadair freichiau fy nhadcu lle’r eisteddai fy nhad, bob amser, cadeiriau derw trymion, diaddurn oedd yno i gyd, rhai ohonynt, yn  ddiau, yn ganrif a dwy oed.  Yn union gyferbyn â’r drws, wrth ddod i mewn, yr oedd y seld y gwelech eich llun ynddi gan ôl y cŵyr gwenyn a’r eli penelin ar ei phanelau; ac o flaen y ffenestr yr oedd y ford fowr a mainc wrth ei hochr. Yn nes i’r tân, a chadair fy nhad ar y dde iddi, yr oedd y ford fach, gron, lle byddem ni’n pedwar yn cael bwyd.

Syml a phlaen iawn fel y gwelir ydoedd y cysuron corfforol hyn wrth ein safonau trefol ni, heddiw, y cyfan wedi eu llunio a’u llyfnhau gan olwynion peiriannau ffatrioedd mawr Lloegr.  Ond yr oedd pob celficyn yn y tŷ, – yr hen goffrau blawd dwfn ar y llofft, y tolboi a’r leimpres (linen press) – o dderw’r ardal, yn waith crefftwr… (Hen Dŷ Ffarm tt.39-41.)

 

 DJ-Penrhiw

Pen-rhiw – Yr Hen Dŷ Ffarm yn 1986. Nid oes yr un garreg yn sefyll yno heddiw.

 

Oherwydd anghydfod teuluol symudodd y teulu i Abernant, lle bach ar gyrion y pentref, pan oedd D.J. yn chwech a chwarter oed. Yna, pan oedd D.J. yn un ar bymtheg oed, gadawodd yr ardal gan fentro’i lwc ym maes glo de Cymru oherwydd ni allai lle bach fel Abernant, dwy erw ar hugain yn unig, gynnal D.J. a’i rieni. Er iddo adael bro ei febyd mor ifanc, yn ôl cyfaddefiad D.J. ei hun, dyma’r cyfnod a luniodd ei bersonoliaeth. Oherwydd natur y gymdeithas cafodd y cyfle i ymhyfrydu yn nifyrrwch y gyfathrach rhwng trigolion y fro a chlywed nyddu stori a bod yn rhan o gymdeithas lawen. Yma yr ymhoffodd yn ei filltir sgwâr a’i phobl a’r cariad hwn a fu’n sail i’w gariad at Gymru ac at ddynoliaeth. Meddai D.J.:

Os oes gennyf i unrhyw rinwedd o gwbl nad yw’n gywilydd gennyf ei arddel, plwyfoldeb yw hwnnw.  O’r bwrlwm bychan hwn yn fy natur o ryw fath o ymlyniad ffyddlon wrth ardal neilltuol, y tardd fy serch at sir a gwlad a chenedl, at wledydd a chenhedloedd mawr a bach, at bopeth rhywiog a diddorol ac sydd o werth i mi mewn bywyd… (Y Cawr o Rydcymerau t.10.)

Yn ogystal â llunio’i bersonoliaeth a bod, maes o law, yn sail i’w genedlaetholdeb a’i heddychiaeth, ei fagwraeth yn Rhydcymerau a’i gwnaeth yn storïwr ac yn llenor hefyd. Arabedd trigolion y gymdeithas yn Rhydcymerau ar ddiwedd y bedwaredd ganrif ar bymtheg a roddodd iddo ddawn y cyfarwydd. Dyma enghraifft o’r math o ymddiddan a glywodd yn blentyn ar aelwydydd Pen-rhiw ac Abernant:

“’R own i fan ‘na yn ffair Langadog p’y ddwarnod”, meddai John Jenkins, rywdro arall, “yn treio prynu treisiad (anner) flwydd, yr Hereford fach berta welsech chi, byth, gyda Tom Cwm Cowddu, mab yr hen borthmon, Dafydd Gilwenne,’s lawer dydd; a phwy ddaeth yno, o rywle, i dreio’i hwpo hi’n fargen, am ‘wn i, ond ffarmwr bach teidi reit, cymydog i Tom, gallwn feddwl, a phâr o legins yn disgleirio fel y glas am ‘i goese fe.  ‘R own i’n gweld rhywbeth yn debyg yndo fe i rywun ‘r own i wedi ‘weld rywle, o’r bla’n, ac yn ffaelu’n lân â galw hwnnw i gof.  Erbyn siarad, ymhellach, a rowndo tipyn yn ôl a bla’n, pwy ŷch chi’n feddwl oedd e?  Wel, ŵyr  i Twm Mati a arfere, ‘s lawer dydd, fod yn was gyda’r hen Ifan Dafis yn Esger Wen.  Twm Legins Cochon oen ni, gryts yr ardal, yn ei alw e, weithe.  Gydag e y gwelwyd  y pâr cynta o legins lleder coch yn yr ardal.  ‘R oedd e wedi bod yn gwasnaethu ffor’na, tua Talley Road cyn dod lan aton ni; mae tipyn o steil tua Glan Tywi ‘na wedi bod ariod.  A dyna pwy oedd mam y bachan bach, wedyn ‘te, mynte fe wrthw i, – fe fyddech chi, Sara, yn ‘i nabod hi’n net, – ‘r oedd hi’n wha’r i Marged, wraig gynta Hwn a Hwn.  Mae’r byd ma’n fach iawn wedi’r cyfan pan eith dyn i ddechre ‘i rowndo fe.  Ond hyn ‘r own i’n mynd i ‘weud, – aelie a thrwyne ‘r wy ‘i wedi sylwi sy’n dilyn tylwyth, fynycha;  ond, weithie, fe gewch bâr o legins, hefyd”.

“John Jenkins! John Jenkins! ‘r ŷch chi’n siompol, heno, yto”, meddai ‘mam, gan fynd ymlaen yn ofalus â’i ‘chweiro’ sanau.

“Gyda llaw, ddelsoch am y dreisiad?” gofynnai ‘nhad.

“O ie, ‘r own i wedi anghofio am yr Hereford fach.  Naddo, wir, John.  Fe ddaeth rhywun ymlâ’n man ‘ny, pan ‘own i’n siarad ag ŵyr Twm Mati oboutu ‘i dylwyth, a fe gynigiodd goron yn fwy na fi, slap!  Fe adewais i i’r dreisiaf fach fynd, er ‘i bod hi’n llawn gwerth yr arian, cofiwch.  Rhyngom ni’n tri ‘fan hyn, ‘n awr, ‘te, ‘r own i’n eitha balch ‘i gweld hi’n mynd, waeth ‘d oedd arna i ddim o’i heisie hi, o gwbwl, – ond jist ‘y mod i’n nabod yr hen Dom yn dda, ariod, a’i dad e’n well na hynny; a ‘d own i ddim yn leico mynd heibo, rywfodd, heb gynnig rhywbeth, fel math o shwd-ŷch-chi-heddi ‘ma.  Ond ‘feddyliais i ddim mwy na’r ffwrn wal yma am ‘i phrynu hi”. (Hen Dŷ Ffarm  tt.46-47.)

 

A chymeriadau’r ardal a roddodd iddo’i arddull lenyddol unigryw hefyd, yn enwedig Dafydd ’R Efail Fach. Trwy osod ei bortread ohono yn flaenaf yn ei gyfrol Hen Wynebau myn Saunders Lewis mai teyrnged yw’r bennod hon i’r ‘…meistr a luniodd ei frawddegau…’ Meddai D.J. amdano:

Gan nad oes gan neb hawl deg i’n hamau ond y sawl a glybu Dafydd ei hun wrthi, mentraf ddweud fy marn onest yma – mai’r llafurwr anllythrennog hwn, cwbl ddiymwybod â’i ddawn, yw’r person mwyaf dethol a gofalus yn ei eiriau ymadrodd o bawb y cefais i’r pleser o wrando arnynt yn ymddiddan erioed.  Ofer yw ceisio dychmygu beth a allsai ddod o Dafydd pe cawsai fanteision addysg teg.  Canys fel y dywedodd ef ryw fore dydd Sul wedi gwrando pregeth feichus gan ryw ŵr nerthol o gorff, “fe gollwyd nafi da pan gymrodd hwnna yn ‘i ben i fynd yn bregethwr.”  Pe gadawsai Dafydd y gaib a’r rhaw hefyd, a mynd yn “rhywbeth wrth ei ddysg,” collasai’r wlad un o’i gweithwyr mwyaf deheulaw, ac un o’i chymeriadau mwyaf diddan a gwreiddiol.  O’r ochr arall, yr wyf bron mor sicr â hynny i amgylchiadau bore oes, diffyg unrhyw fath o uchelgais, a synnwyr digrifwch anorchfygol Dafydd ei hun beri amddifadu Cymru o delynegwr neu awdur storïau byrion o radd uchel iawn.  Beth bynnag am ei bosibilrwydd ym myd llenyddiaeth, ni sylwodd neb erioed yn graffach a manylach ar fywyd rhwng glannau Teifi a Thywi na Dafydd ‘r Efailfach.  Rhoed iddo’n ychwaneg, ddychymyg bardd a chydwybod y gwir artist wrth drin geiriau.  Gwelsai’r peth a ddisgrifiai mor fyw o’i flaen nes bod ei holl eirfa werinaidd yn dawnsio i’w wasanaeth.  A mynegid asbri’r ddawns yn chwerthin ei lygaid.  Meistr y ddawns oedd yr union air hwnnw na allai neb ei anghofio…                        (Hen Wynebau tud 12-14.)

DJ-cymeriadau

Dafydd r’Efail Fach a Danni’r Crydd, dau o gymeridau lliwgar ardal Rhydcymerau a chydnabod bore oes D.J.

 

 

Ionawr 1902-Mehefin 1906: Y maes glo.

Meddai D.J. am Rydcymerau:

Dyma wlad fy nhadau mewn gwirionedd.  Fe’m meddiannwyd i ganddi; ac, yn ôl y gynneddf syml a roddwyd i mi, fe’i meddiannwyd hithau gennyf innau. (Y Cawr o Rydcymerau t.12.)

Serch hynny, yn un ar bymtheg oed fe’i gorfodwyd i ffarwelio â bro ei febyd a chyfeirio’i wyneb tuag at feysydd glo De Cymru. Dyma oedd cychwyn ei alltudiaeth a’i rwygo oddi wrth ‘hen dud ei dadau’. Er iddo chwennych dychwelyd i’w hen fro i fyw bu ei alltudiaeth yn alltudiaeth oes.

Bywyd digon caled, a pheryglus weithiau, oedd bywyd yng nghefn gwlad, yn ceisio rhwygo bywoliaeth allan o groen tir sâl ac anodd ei drin. Ond yr oedd bywyd yn y maes glo yn galetach a pheryclach. Ys dywed D.J.:

Fel rheol, oes gymharol fer, fel oes y mabolgampwr, ydoedd oes y coedwr a chwaraeai ran mor bwysig yn y pwll glo hyd at y mecaneiddio diweddar arno.  Er dyfod y mwyafrif ohonynt, fel y soniwyd, yn ddynion ifainc yn eu llawn nerth ac iechyd o’r wlad ni allent ddal straen gyson gwaith mor drwm yn yr awyr lychlyd ar hyd y blynyddoedd heb iddo ddweud arnynt.  ‘R oedd rhyw ugain i bum mlynedd ar hugain o’r gorchwyl hwn yn llawn digon i’r cryfaf ohonynt.  Eithriad brin yn ôl yr argraff sydd gennyf, ydoedd gweld coedwr dros ei hanner cant oed.  Ymhell cyn i’r silicosis diweddar gymryd ei doll erchyll ym maes glo’r Deheudir yr oedd glowr trigain oed yn hen, hen ŵr, tra gallai ei frawd na adawsai fywyd iach y wlad, yn fynych yn dal ati yn ei bwysau hyd ei bedwar ugain a mwy.

(Yn Chwech ar Hugain Oed t. 100.)

 

A bu D.J. ei hun yn agos at angau deirgwaith yn ystod ei yrfa fer fel glöwr:

Y tro cyntaf, cafodd ei lusgo drwy ddyfnderoedd du y pwll pan foltiodd ceffyl yr oedd yn ei halio. Drws caeedig ar draws y twnnel a’i hachubodd trwy rwystro rhuthr gwyllt y ceffyl. Yr eildro, teithio’n chwyrn mewn rhes o gerbydau tanddaearol neu spake yr oedd. Trawodd ei ben yn erbyn girder haearn, a bu bron iddo syrthio rhwng dau gerbyd…ym Mhwll Seven Sisters, Blaen Dulais…bu’n agos at angau y trydydd tro…Defnyddiodd ef a chyd-weithiwr ormod o bowdwr wrth danio’r glo. Yn lle ffrwydro, llosgi a wnaethai…Pe bai’r fflamau hynny wedi cyrraedd poced o nwy gerllaw iddynt byddent wedi eu chwythu’n gyrbibion man…’ (Y Cawr o Rydcymerau t.13.)

Ond nid lle diflas i fyw ynddo oedd maes glo’r De. Roedd yno hwyl garw ac yn ei gyfrol Yn Chwech ar Hugain Oed mae D.J. yn disgrifio’r hwyl hwnnw’n hynod effeithiol. Dyma stori fythgofiadwy  Bili Bach Crwmpyn a’r Northman Mowr a D.J. yn ei afiaith yn ei hadrodd:

 

Euthum i’r gwely’n ddistaw  bach heb damaid o swper rhag i neb weld yr addurn arnaf, a holi cwestiynau rhy bersonol.  Sylwais for yr articlyn hwnnw, tra defnyddiol mewn ystafell wely, yn hanner llawn pan ddeuthum i mewn – rhywun wedi anghofio ei wacáu mae’n debyg.  Ond nid oedd y nos ond cynnar eto.  Ymhen tipyn daeth Ernest yno, yntau wedi dal  pwys a gwres dydd o wyliau, gan ychwanegu’n sylweddol at y cynnwys.  Un o’r cyfryw erthyglau at y gwasanaeth cyffredinol ydoedd yno, gyda llaw.

Ond ymhell cyn i mi feddwl am gysgu, a’m bron yn llawn o gynnwrf y noson cynt, dyma sŵn siarad uchel ar y llawr a thrwst mawr a chlambwrian trwm ar y grisiau.  Goleuais y gannwyll, ac wele Bili Bach Crwmpyn a’i goesau eiddil a’r rheini’n siglo tipyn yn dod i mewn drwy’r drws gan arwain cawr o ddyn corffol o’i ôl, a hwnnw, yn amlwg, wedi ei dal hi’n drymach na Bili ei hun; a Bili yntau, fel gwas lifrai o’r Canol Oesoedd yn gweini ar ei farchog, heb ddim yn ormod ganddo i’w wneud dros ei gyfaill.  Ni welais i mo’r marchog mawr, mwstasiog  hwnnw  ond y noson honno yn unig.  Ni chlywais ei enw hyd yn oed ag i mi gofio.  Ond o dipyn i beth fe ddois i ddeall y sefyllfa.  Northman ydoedd o, o’r un ardal â Bili ei hun, hen ffrindiau bore oes; a dyna’r esboniad ar sifalri anghyffredin Bili yn ei ofal amdano, efallai, – ei falchder cudd yn y ffaith fod hen ardal fach ei febyd ef rhwng bryniau Maldwyn draw yn gallu magu cewri hefyd, heblaw ambell ŵr eiddil fel ef ei hun.  Daethai’r Northman Mowr fel y galwaf i ef yma, o beidio â gwybod ei enw, coedwr yn y Rhondda Fawr, yn groes dros fynydd Penrhys y prynhawn hwnnw i’r Sioe Geffylau yn Ferndale.  Ond yng nghwmnïaeth gynnes Bili Bach a rhai hen ffrindiau annwyl eraill o’r Hen Sir, yn ddiweddarach yn y dydd, aethai’n stop tap cyn iddo braidd gael amser i sychu ei fwstas.  ‘R oedd hi’n rhy hwyr iddo bellach, a’r trên olaf wedi hen fynd, a’i goesau a’i ben heb fod yn llwyr ddeall ei gilydd hyd yn oed ar y stryd syth, heb sôn am droeon tolciog llwybr y mynydd yn y tywyllwch, i feddwl am groesi’n ôl y noson honno. (Nid oedd bysys y pryd hwnnw).  Daeth Bili ag ef i’n tŷ ni; ac wedi ymbil taer, gweddigar, ar ran ei bartner, gan fod ei wely ef ei hun yn digwydd bod yn wag o gymar ar y pryd, tymherodd calon yr hen Victoria o landledi, gan ganiatáu’r cais.

Cyn diosg eu dillad yr oedd yn rhaid i’r ddau gyfaill mynwesol hyn  gyflawni’r weithred o ymwacâd.  A’r articlyn crybwylledig hwnnw at y gwaith eisoes mor llawn bron â’r ddau a’i triniai yn awr, nid bychan o gamp ydoedd hynny.  Ond fel macwy parod at wasanaeth ei arglwydd aeth Bili Bach ati’n ddewr gan benlinio o’i flaen a dal y dwfrlestr yn ddefosiynol yn ei ddwylo crynedig mor agos ag oedd bosib at y darged symudol drwy fod ei bartner, ag un llaw ar ystlysbost y gwely, yn tafoli’n ôl a blaen yn beryglus o ansicr. ‘R oedd Ernest yn chwyrnu’n braf ers tro, a finnau a gysgai yn yr erchwyn nesaf at y gwely arall, ac o fewn llathen i hwnnw, yn dyst unllygeidiog o’r cyfan, – ac yn dal fy anadl bob eiliad rhag a allai ddigwydd.  Ond yr hyn a fawr ofnais a ddaeth arnaf; oherwydd dyma’r Northman Mowr yn sydyn yn colli ei falans ac yn syrthio bendramwnwgl tuag ymlaen, gan ddisgyn gyda’i bwysau enfawr yn garlibwns ar ben Bili Bach, a hwnnw â’r pot ar ei fynwes ar wastad ei gefn ar y llawr odano, – a’r culfor rhwng y ddau wely gyda hyn yn un Morfa Rhuddlan.  A dyna’r lleferydd mwyaf ofnadwy yn dilyn – y naill yn bwrw bai ar y llall am ei letwhithdod – wrth iddynt ill dau geisio dadgymalu a chodi eilwaith ar eu traed.

Ond nid dyna’r cyfan.Wrth glywed y trwst enbyd rywle yn y tŷ aethai Mrs Martin a’i merch i mewn i’r siop a oedd yn union o dan ein hystafell ni, gan feddwl fod rhyw silff neu rywbeth a’r cynnwys arni wedi rhoi ffordd yno. Ond yr hyn a welsant ac a glywsant ydoedd y mân ddefnynnau yn dechrau dyhidlo drwy’r byrddau tenau uwchben, gan ddisgyn yn ddyfal ar y bocsys mint a’r loshin a’r poteli candis dros y lle.  Daeth y ddwy i fyny’r grisiau yn bengrych fflamgoch, ac i mewn i’n hystafell ni fel dwy daranfollt o Fynydd Sinai…Wele! nid oes iaith nac ymadrodd  o’r eiddof i a all fynd gam ymhellach i ddisgrifio’r olygfa, o’r ddau tu.  Digon yw dweud i’r Northman Mowr ymadael â’n tŷ ni yn fore, drannoeth a hynny heb damaid o fwyd, a Bili Bach ar ôl te y prynhawn Sadwrn dilynol.(Yn Chwech ar Hugain Oed t.t.139-141.)

DJ-Rhondda

Tŷ lojin D.J. yn Ferndale lle digwyddodd galanas y pot piso. Mae’r    ffenest siop i’w gweld ar y chwith tu ôl i’r car pellaf yn y llun.

Mehefin 1906- Medi 1911: Newid cyfeiriad.

Ym Mehefin 1906 gadawodd D.J. waith glo Seven Sisters oherwydd roedd perthynas iddo, ei ewythr Dafydd Morgan, brawd ei fam, wedi dychwelyd i Gymru o America. Roedd disgwyl iddo ddychwelyd i’r wlad honno yr haf hwnnw a gobeithiai D.J. ymuno ag ef a thrwy hynny wireddu ei freuddwyd gudd o sefydlu ransh yno. Ni ddigwyddodd hynny felly penderfynodd D.J. newid cyfeiriad trwy ymuno ag Ysgol Stephens, Llanybydder ym mis Hydref, efallai er mwyn cymhwyso’i hun i fod yn weinidog yr efengyl. Ond wedi hynny bu’n dilyn Clough’s Correspondence Course, a phasio’r King’s Scholarship ar gyfer mynd yn athro ysgol. Y cam nesaf oedd cael profiad fel disgybl athro, a chafodd ei benodi ym Medi 1908 i swydd o’r fath yn Ysgol Llandrillo yn Edeyrnion, Meirionnydd.

Yn ystod ei arhosiad yno penderfynodd D.J. ddilyn cwrs gohebol pellach er mwyn cael lle ym Mhrifysgol Cymru, Aberystwyth. Methiant fu ei ymgais felly gadawodd ysgol Llandrillo yn haf 1910 a chychwyn cwrs naw mis yn Ysgol Joseph Harry, Caerfyrddin, gan lwyddo yn arholiad y Welsh Matriculation ym Mehefin 1911. Ym mis Hydref 1911 derbyniwyd D.J. yn fyfyriwr ym Mhrifysgol Cymru, Aberystwyth gan wireddu yr ail o’i freuddwydion wedi i’r gyntaf, sef ymfudo i America, fynd i’r gwellt.

 

DJ-Ysgol

Ysgol Joseph Harry, Caerfyrddin.Bechgyn yw’r disgyblion i gyd, mi gredaf. Mae D.J. ar y dde eithaf yn y drydedd res.

 

Yn ystod ei flynyddoedd yn Aberystwyth deffrowyd fflam cenedlaetholdeb yn D.J. Sylweddolodd fod angen ysbrydoli Cymru ‘i gredu ynddi ei hunan’, ac mai ei ddyletswydd ef oedd pregethu cenedlaetholdeb wedi’i drwytho ag ysbryd yr efengyl. Serch hynny ni fynnai, oherwydd ei genedlaetholdeb, gyfyngu ei hun ‘i’r pulpud yn gyfangwbl’. Mater arall a ddrysodd ei gynlluniau i fod yn weinidog yr efengyl oedd ei heddychiaeth. Yn 1914, ar ddechrau’r Rhyfel byd Cyntaf, dymunai ymuno â’r fyddin. Er iddo wadu hynny yn ddiweddarach, mae’n rhaid ei fod wedi credu’r ffiloreg Seisnig a faetumiai y câi cenhedloedd bychain eu rhyddid ar ôl y rhyfel. Ond yn fuan wedi hynny dechreuodd bregethu heddychiaeth ac o’r herwydd ni châi gyhoeddiadau pregethu yn aml gan fod trwch y Cymry capelog o blaid y rhyfel.

 

Yn ystod ei yrfa yn Aberystwyth bu D.J. yn gyfrannwr cyson i gylchgrawn Cymraeg y Coleg, Y Wawr. Yn ogystal, dyma gyfnod ei ymdrechion llenyddol cynnar a chyhoeddodd bedair stori fer yn Cymru ‘O.M.’ rhwng 1914 ac 1918.

Yn 1916 graddiodd D.J. mewn Saesneg a Chymraeg a chafodd dystysgrif athro yn ogystal. Enillodd hefyd Ysgoloriaeth Meyricke am ei draethawd The Nature of Literary Creation ac aeth i goleg Iesu, Rhydychen am ddwy flynedd i astudio Saesneg. Er iddo fwynhau ei gyfnod yn Rhydychen nid cyfnod o heulwen ddiderfyn  oedd hwn oherwydd collodd ei dad a’i fam o fewn chwe wythnos i’w gilydd yn ystod gaeaf 1916-17. Yn ogystal, dyma gyfnod ceisio cyhoeddi yr erthygl ‘Ich Dien’ ar dudalennau Y Wawr. Daeth yr erthygl i sylw’r Ysgrifennydd Cartref ar y pryd ac oherwydd iddo farnu bod iddi elfennau bradwrus  gwaharddwyd y cylchgrawn. Ymddiswyddodd y bwrdd golygyddol  ac ni chyhoeddwyd rhifyn arall.

 

1919-1924: Cyrraedd Abergwaun.

 

Ym mis Ionawr 1919 cafodd D.J. ei benodi’n athro Saeneg ac Ymarfer Corff yn Ysgol Ramadeg Abergwaun ac yno yr arhosodd tan ei ymddeoliad yn 1945. Yn ystod gwyliau’r Pasg y flwyddyn honno cafodd gyfle i ymweld ag Iwerddon a daeth i gysylltiad ag arweinwyr y gwrthryfel yno. Er iddo goleddu syniadau heddychol, ymfalchïai yn ymdrech arwrol y Gwyddelod i sicrhau eu rhyddid gwleiddyddol.

Rhwng 1922 ac 1924 gweithiai D.J. dros y Blaid Lafur yn sir Benfro gan obeithio y byddai’r blaid honno yn cadw at ei hegwyddorion cynnar ac yn hyrwyddo rhyddid gwleiddyddol i Gymru. Nid felly bu. Ar ôl cipio grym yn senedd Lloegr yn 1918 fel prif wrthblaid i lywodraeth y dydd yn 1918, bradychu Cymru a wnaeth y Blaid Lafur a hynny arweiniodd at sefydlu Plaid Cymru yn 1925.

 

DJ-Athrawon

Athrawon Ysgol Ramadeg Abergwaun. D.J. sy’n sefyll ar y dde

 

1925-1936: Ymuno â Phlaid Cymru, cychwyn ar yrfa lenyddol a thanio’r Ysgol Fomio.

Bu 1925 yn flwyddyn dra phwysig yn hanes D.J. Bu gyda’r cyntaf i ymuno â Phlaid Cymru ar anogaeth Saunders Lewis a hynny’n cychwyn ar oes o ymlafnio caled drosti. Ni bu erioed weithiwr caletach yn ei rhengoedd na neb mor driw iddi na D.J. Yna, cyn y Nadolig, priododd Jane Evans, neu Siân fel y’i hadwaenid gan bawb wedi hynny, ac ym mis Ionawr 1926 symudodd y ddau i rif 49, Y Stryd Fawr, Abergwaun, ac yno y bu’r ddau fyw weddill eu dyddiau.

Dyma gychwyn go iawn hefyd ar ei alltudiaeth oes o fro ei febyd, ei filltir sgwâr. Serch hynny dychwelodd i’w hen fro trwy lenydda. Ar ôl ei ymdrechion cynnar ym myd y stori fer tawedog fu D.J. rhwng 1918 a 1927. Yna , ym mis Mai 1927, cyhoeddwyd y cyntaf o’i bortreadau o gymeriadau bro ei febyd, sef ‘John Trodrhiw’ yn Y Ddraig Goch. Dyma gychwyn ar gyfres o bortreadau a gasglwyd at ei gilydd maes o law a’u cyhoeddi yn 1934 dan y teitl Hen Wynebau, a ddaeth ar unwaith yn glasur ym myd rhyddiaith Gymraeg.

Oherwydd diffyg cynnydd cenedlaetholdeb ymhlith y Cymry a diystyru hawliau sylfaenol y genedl gan Loegr teimlai rhai arweinwyr y Blaid yr angen am weithred symbolaidd herfeiddiol er mwyn ysgwyd y Cymry o’u cysgadrwydd. Penderfynwyd llosgi Ysgol Fomio’r Llywodraeth Brydeinig ym Mhenyberth, Pen Llŷn. Saunders Lewis oedd arweinydd y cyrch ac fe’i cynorthwywyd gan Lewis Valentine a D.J. Yn dilyn eu harestio a throsglwyddo eu hachos i Lundain fe’u dedfrydwyd i naw mis o garchar ac fe’u hanfonwyd i Wormwood Scrubs. Yn sgïl y cynnwrf a’r carcharu ni rymuswyd cenedlaetholdeb yng Nghymru a lleisiwyd siom yr ymgyrchwyr mewn llythyr a anfonwyd gan Saunders at D.J. yn 1938.

Angen y Blaid…yw arweinydd…haws iddynt ei ddeall. Pe caffent…ni byddai ein carchariad…wedi mynd yn ofer-wastraff…

Dylid nodi, yng nghanol holl gynnwrf 1936, i D.J. gyhoeddi ei gyfrol gyntaf o storïau byrion, Storiau’r Tir Glas, a oedd yn gyfraniad arall at ei ddull o ddychwelyd i’w filltir sgwâr ac yn ychwanegiad pellach at osod ei enw ymhlith prif awduron Cymru’r ugeinfed ganrif.

 

DJ-SaundersValentine

D.J., Saunders Lewis a Lewis Valentine. Tri taniwr Yr Ysgol Fomio,ym Mhenyberth

 

1937-1953: Gwleidydda a Llenydda.

Yn dilyn y carcharu collodd Saunders Lewis ei swydd yng Ngholeg y Brifysgol, Abertawe. Ar ôl sefyll etholiad yn 1943 a cholli yn erbyn W.J. Gruffydd, ar gyfer cynrychioli Prifysgol Cymru yn San Steffan, rhoddodd Saunders y gorau i arwain y Blaid ac enciliodd i fyd newyddiaduraeth a llenyddiaeth  Cadwodd Valentine ei swydd fel gweinidog yr efengyl a derbyniwyd D.J. yn ôl i’w swydd yn Ysgol Ramadeg Abergwaun. Dal ati i frwydro dros ennill rhyddid gwleidyddol i Gymru a dal ati i lenydda a wnaeth D.J.

Rhwng 1937 a 1943 cyhoeddodd D.J. nifer o erthyglau swmpus ym mhapurau’r Blaid ac ym mhapurau lleol Sir Benfro er mwyn hybu achos cenedlaetholdeb a dangos gwrthuni polisïau’r ymerodraeth Brydeinig. Yna, yn 1941, cyhoeddwyd cyfrol arall o’i storïau byrion, Storïau’r Tir Coch. Ymddeolodd D.J. o’i swydd yn Ysgol Ramadeg Abergwaun ym mis Rhagfyr 1945 ac yn dilyn hynny bu’n brysur yn gwleidydda ac yn ysgrifennu storïau byrion yn ôl ei arfer. Cyhoeddwyd Storïau’r Tir Du yn 1949. Ym mis Hydref 1953 cyhoeddwyd rhan gyntaf ei hunangofiant, Hen Dŷ Ffarm, a gydnabyddwyd yn gampwaith ymhlith hunangofiannau oherwydd mae’r llyfr yn fwy na hunangofiant gan ei fod yn cynnig inni ddarlun o ffordd o fyw mewn ardal arbennig mewn cyfnod arbennig, ffordd o fyw a chymuned sydd bellach wedi diflannu ac ni welir ei thebyg fyth eto.

1954-1970: Dal ati yn wyneb trafferthion.

Bu salwch yn gydymaith parhaus i D.J. a Siân weddill eu dyddiau. Serch hynny parhau i ymlafnio ym mrwydr Cymru a wnâi D.J. gan anwybyddu pob cyngor i beidio â pheryglu ei einioes. Ym mis Gorffennaf  1954 dechreuodd fyfyrio ar ail ran ei hunangofiant ac erbyn mis Tachwedd yr oedd wedi ysgrifennu tua 45 tudalen. Yn ychwanegol at yr ysgrifennu mynnai ymhel â man ddyletswyddau gwleidyddol ynghyd â gofalu ar ôl Siân a oedd yn sâl er Ionawr 1953. Yna, ym Mehefin 1955, cafodd D.J. boen yn ei frest. Angina oedd yr aflwydd a fu’n llestair iddo tan ei farwolaeth yn 1970. Meddai D.J. yn 1965:

…diolch am gael gweithio ambell hanner awr neu awr heb ormod o boen. A gwaed fy nghalon yn llythrennol rwy’n ysgrifennu yn awr…

Yr oedd hi’n fis Tachwedd 1959 ar ail gyfrol ei hunangofiant, Yn Chwech ar Hugain Oed, yn cyrraedd o’r wasg, a hynny’n ffrwyth pum mlynedd hir o lafur caled.

Ym mis Gorffennaf 1959 cyhoeddodd Waldo Williams ei barodrwydd i fod yn ymgeisydd y Blaid yn yr etholiad cyffredinol a dyna gychwyn ymgyrch etholiadol rymus gan D.J. Gweithiai yn ddibaid a diflino gan herio’i iechyd bregus. Er bod D.J. a Waldo yn gyfeillion mynwesol yr oedd y ddau yn bur wahanol o ran personoliaeth. Mynnai D.J. ganfasio’n ddibaid. Ni welai Waldo bod angen hynny ac yn aml roedd eu cyfeillgarwch dan straen a Waldo’n gwylltio’n enbyd. Oherwydd mawredd Waldo, mi gredaf, ni fu i’r anghytuno rhynddynt danseilio’u cyfeillgarwch.

 

DJ-Waldo

Waldo Williams, heddychwr a bardd.

 

Ym mis Mehefin 1965 bu Farw Siân ar ôl blynyddoedd o gystudd blin. Ni ddiflasodd D.J. wrth wynebu ei brofedigaeth. Yn hytrach defnyddiodd ei brofedigaeth i’w ysbarduno i weithio’n galetach dros Gymru. Yn ogystal â gweithio dros Blaid Cymru rhoddodd D.J. ei arian iddi. Ym mis Hydref 1965 trefnodd werthiant Pen-rhiw, yr Hen Dŷ Ffarm, gan drosglwyddo arian y gwerthiant yn ei grynswth yn rhodd i’r Blaid er mwyn hyrwyddo ei hymgyrchoedd etholiadol.

Bu D.J. yn deyrngar i’r Blaid trwy gydol ei oes, er iddi, ym marn Saunders Lewis, fradychu Cymru yn enwedig yn achos brwydr Tryweryn.Teimlai Saunders bod dulliau cyfansoddiadol Gwynfor Evans a’i ddilynwyr yn tanseilio achos Cymru. Serch hynny ceisiai D.J. ddenu Saunders yn ôl i rengoedd y Blaid ac i fywyd cyhoeddus yng Nghymru. Meddai Saunders wrtho mewn llythyr yn Nhachwedd 1959:

Felly fe welwch, Dai, nad chi yw’r unig un sy’n ceisio fy nhemtio yn ôl i fywyd cyhoeddus yng Nghymru.  Gwnes eisoes un camgymeriad – cael fy nhemtio yn ôl i’r Brifysgol.  Ond nid af yn ôl at waith ym Mhlaid Cymru.  Ddaru chi feddwl am funud be’ fyddai’r canlyniad pes gwnawn?  Mi fyddai’n draed moch, – a heblaw hynny, yr wyf yn rhy hen ac wedi pelláu ormod, a’r Blaid hithau wedi symud ymhell iawn oddi wrth yr egwyddorion a osodais i iddi.  Fe’m syrffedwyd i gan agwedd arweinwyr y Blaid tuag at orsaf atomig Trawsfynydd.  Na, nid af yn ôl at waith politicaidd na hyd yn oed at ysgrifennu politicaidd.  Ni ddywedaf air yn gyhoeddus am frad Tryweryn, er imi rai misoedd yn ôl feddwl o ddifri am dorri hyd yn oed gysylltiad mewn enw â’r Blaid ar gyfrif hynny.

Gobeithio i’r nefoedd nad oes sŵn chwerwi yn fy ngeiriau.  Nid wyf yn chwerw.  Ond yr wyf yn gwbl argyhoeddedig nad oes dim lle  imi o gwbl i wenud dim mwyach yng Nghymru.

Yna, ar ôl buddugoliaeth etholiadol Gwynfor Evans ym mis Gorffennaf 1966, credai D.J. y byddai’r llifddorau yn agor a Chymru’n ennill ei rhyddid gwleidyddol yn y man. Meddai’ Saunders Lewis, y realydd, wrtho mewn llythyr ym mis Hydref 1966:

Rydwyf innau’n llawen iawn oblegid buddugoliaeth Gwynfor.  Yn bennaf er ei fwyn ef ei hunan; mae o wedi cael ad-daliad am ei flynyddoedd hir o  lafur, ac wedi cael profi blas buddugoliaeth am dro.  Nid arddu’r tywod a wnaeth.

Ond mae arnaf ofn fod y Blaid yn meddwl mai dyma ddechrau’r diwedd; nad oes ond ennill dwy neu dair sedd seneddol ychwanegol, ac yna fe ddaw senedd i Gymru.

Yn fy marn i, yn awr ac o’r cychwyn cyntaf, ni ddaw senedd i Gymru drwy senedd Loegr.  Petai pob etholaeth Gymreig yn mynd i Blaid Cymru, nid drwy hynny y deuai hunanlywodraeth.  Ni ddaw hunanlywodraeth ond yn unig drwy wneud llywodraethu o Lundain yn amhosibl.  Y mae dysgu mai dulliau cyfansoddiadol sy’n mynd i ennill yn chwarae’n syth i ddwylo llywodraeth Loegr.  A dyna’r hyn y mae Gwynfor a J.E. yn ei ddysgu o hyd ac o hyd, –  ac yn gwneud drwg moesol mawr.  Yn fy marn i y mae bechgyn a merched Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg yn dangos y ffordd well, yn adeiladu Cymreigrwydd yn arf yn erbyn gwasanaeth suful Lloegr, yn codi mur Cymreig.

Nid af i sgrifennu’r pethau hyn.  Nid yw’n debyg y sgrifennaf ddim rhagor am wleidyddiaeth; y mae bwlch rhy fawr rhwng arweinwyr y Blaid a mi, ac ni chymerwyd sylw o ddim a awgrymais iddynt o gwbl, – tyst o ‘Dynged yr Iaith’.  Ond ni wnaf ddim ychwaith i rwystro dim ar eu hymdrechion, dim ond tewi.

Heddiw y bygythiad mwyaf i’n hunaniaeth ni fel cenedl yw’r gwladychu mawr sy’n digwydd yn ein gwlad a’r adeiladu tai yn eu miloedd ar gyfer y mewnlifiad a ddaw dros Glawdd Offa o Loegr. Dyma yw ein Tryweryn cyfoes ni sy’n ddim llai na hil-laddiad llwyr a didostur. Onid adfer dulliau Saunders Lewis yw ein hunig obaith gan na ddaw inni ymwared o du ein Cynulliad Cenedlaethol dirym a diweledigaeth?

Bu farw D.J. ym mis Ionawr 1970 ac yntau ar y pryd mewn cyfarfod yng Nghapel Rhydcymerau. Yr oedd, o’r diwedd, wedi dychwelyd i’w filltir sgwâr. Ar ben hynny yr oedd yn eistedd ar bwys ei arwr, Gwynfor Evans. Ni ellid dychmygu gwell diweddglo i’w fywyd a gysegrodd i frwydr parhad ei genedl ac i hunaniaeth ei bobl.

 

Claddwyd D.J. ym mynwent y capel gyda Siân ei wraig a gwelir yno yr arysgrifau a ganlyn:

 

Dyma fedd Siân a D.J.  Ar y chwith (wrth wynebu’r pennawd a nodwyd);  Siân Williams, 1884-1965, annwyl briod  D.J., 1885-1970, ac yntau’n gorwedd gyda hi a’r Hen Wynebau eraill yn eu tragwyddol hedd.

 

Ar y dde:  Yn gymeradwy ymysg lliaws ei frodyr: yn ceisio daioni i’w bobl, ac yn dywedyd am heddwch i’w holl  hiliogaeth.

 

 

Darllen pellach:

Cyhoeddiadau D.J. Williams.

 

Emyr Hywel, Y Cawr o Rydcymerau (Y Lolfa, 2009).

Emyr Hywel (gol.), Annwyl D.J., (Y Lolfa, 2007).

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
[/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
[/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
[/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

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
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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 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

JE – Pensaer Plaid Cymru Teyrnged Dafydd Williams

Trefnodd Cymdeithas Hanes Plaid Cymru gyfarfod arbennig yn ystod y Gynhadledd yn Llandudno ym Mis Medi 2011 i gofio bywyd JE Jones a fu’n Ysgrifennydd Cyffredinol Plaid Cymru rhwng 1930 a 1962.  Dyma deyrnged gan Gadeirydd y Gymdeithas ac un o’i olynwyr, Dafydd Williams.

JE, Pensaer Plaid Cymru1927 J E Jones

Mae llun cynnar yn oriel Plaid Cymru, llun o Ysgol Haf Llangollen a dynnwyd yn 1927.  Ac ar ben y rhes gyntaf fe welwch ddyn ifanc â gwallt cyrliog, ei wyneb yn llawn egni a brwdfrydedd.  Wrth gwrs nabyddes i erioed y JE cryf, cydnerth yna oedd wrth ei fodd yn crwydro mynyddoedd Cymru.  Erbyn i mi ddod i’w adnabod yng nghanol y chwedegau roedd ei iechyd wedi torri – hynny, meddai rhai, oherwydd gorweithio di-baid dros achos Cymru.  Ond roedd ei ymroddiad i Gymru mor amlwg ag erioed.

Fe aned John Edward Jones ym Mis Rhagfyr 1905.  Roedd felly ryw ddeng mlynedd yn iau na Saunders Lewis a Lewis Valentine, ac yn wahanol iddyn nhw’n perthyn i’r genhedlaeth ffodus a ddihangodd erchyllterau’r rhyfel byd cyntaf.  Ei ardal enedigol oedd Melin-y-wig, ardal fryniog ryw saith milltir o Gorwen a deg o Ruthun, ardal Owain Glyndŵr felly.  Ac os chwiliwn am esboniad am ei gariad at dir, iaith ac etifeddiaeth Cymru, gwrandewch ar ei ddisgrifiad o’r olygfa o’r tir uwchben ei gartref, fferm o’r enw Hafoty Fawr:  “O droi’n araf o’r chwith i’r dde, gwneud un tro’n llawn, gwelem oddi yno orwel pell o fynyddoedd godidog Gwynedd a Phowys – mynyddoedd Iâl; holl res hir y Berwyn; y tair Aran; a’r ddwy Arennig, Fawr a Bach; Moel Siabod; yna holl banorama Eryri, yr Wyddfa a’r Grib Goch a’r ddwy Glyder a’r Tryfan a’r ddwy Garnedd, Dafydd a Llywelyn, hyd y Foel Fras; rhyngom a’r rhain yr oedd gwastatir maith lliwgar Mynydd Hiraethog; ag i gwblhau’r cylch cyflawn, Mynyddoedd Clwyd gyda Moel Famau a’i thŵr ar ei phen.”  Bron yn farddoniaeth; a bron y gellwch ddweud fod JE yn genedlaetholwr o’i grud: mae’n falch o ddisgrifio’i hun yn ‘Fab y Mynydd’.

Mae JE wedi gadael ei hanes ei hun yn ei gyfrol bwysig Tros Gymru: JE a’r Blaid – hanner hunangofiant, hanner hanes deugain mlynedd gyntaf Plaid Cymru.  Collodd ei dad cyn iddo gyrraedd blwydd oed, ond rywsut fe lwyddodd ei fam i gadw’r fferm deuluol i fynd, gyda chymorth ei thylwyth, dau frawd JE yn enwedig, y ddau wedi gadael ysgol yn 14 oed a’r ddau dipyn yn hŷn nag ef.  Cwrs bywyd gwahanol iawn oedd o flaen JE, er cymaint roedd yntau wrth ei fodd gyda gwaith y fferm a bywyd gwledig Melin-y-Wig, gyda’i holl gyngherddau ac eisteddfodau.  Fe aeth i ysgol ramadeg y bechgyn yn y Bala, Ysgol Tŷ Tomen, gan letya yn y Bala yn ystod yr wythnos.  Ond er bod y Bala yn ardal Gymraeg ei hiaith, roedd bron popeth yn yr ysgol yn Saesneg.  Tybed faint oedd hyn yn creu adwaith a’i droi o blaid y Gymraeg?  Mae ganddo stori o sut y bu iddo ef a bachgen arall gymryd safiad yn achos athro feistr oedd yn gas yn erbyn disgybl a’i Saesneg yn brin – a llwyddo rhoi stop iddo.  Yn ystod y gwyliau ym Mis Awst 1923, ar ôl mynd â llwyth o wyau a menyn o’r fferm i siop y pentref, dyma fe’n darllen ar y ffordd yn ôl am gyfarfod yn y Wyddgrug, cyfarfod o fudiad gyda’r enw od ‘Y Tair G’, sef y Gymdeithas Genedlaethol Gymreig.  Hon oedd un o’r tair ffrwd a ddelai ynghyd maes o law i ffurfio Plaid Genedlaethol Cymru, a rhyw flwyddyn wedyn daeth JE yn aelod ohoni, wrth iddo fynd i Brifysgol Bangor i astudio Cymraeg, Saesneg a Mathemateg, “cyfuniad braidd yn anghyffredin”.

Rywbryd wedyn, clywodd sôn am enedigaeth Plaid Genedlaethol Cymru draw ym Mhwllheli; ac ym Mis Hydref 1926 aeth i gyfarfod y Blaid yng Nghaernarfon, gan lenwi ffurflen ymaelodi yn y fan a’r lle.  Dyn ifanc tenau, gwelw ei olwg o’r enw HR Jones oedd yn casglu’r ffurflenni: go brin yr oedd JE yn sylweddoli y byddai’n yn ei olynu yn Ysgrifennydd y Blaid ymhen pedair blynedd.  O fewn mis, roedd cangen o’r Blaid wedi’i sefydlu yn y coleg ym Mangor , a JE yn ysgrifennydd iddi; gyda bron 80 o aelodau erbyn tymor yr haf 1928.  Fe oedd ymgeisydd y Blaid mewn ffug etholiad ym Mis Tachwedd 1927 – ac yn ennill!  Tybed ai dyna’r tro cyntaf i Blaid Cymru ennill etholiad?  “Dysgais y pryd hwnnw,” meddai, “y gellid ennill Saeson rhonc deallus yn haws nag ambell Gymro gwasaidd.”[i]

Ond gyda’r blynyddoedd yn y Brifysgol ar ben, roedd rhaid chwilio am waith.  A’r dirwasgiad eisoes yn y gwynt, fe wnaeth gynnig am swydd athro yn nwyrain Llundain – a’i chael, un o bedwar allan o 60 ymgeisydd.  Mae’n debyg y treuliwyd y rhan fwyaf o’r cyfweliad yn trafod hunanlywodraeth i Gymru!  Ymhen dim o amser roedd e’n ysgrifennydd Cangen y Blaid yn Llundain, er ei fod hefyd yn cael amser i chwarae pêl-droed i ail dîm Cymry Llundain, a thenis yn yr haf.

Yna, tro ar fyd.  Bu farw HR Jones, prif symbylydd bodolaeth Plaid Cymru, ar ôl salwch hir.  Er gwaethaf pryderon nad oedd modd fforddio’r swydd, penderfynodd arweinwyr Plaid Cymru fod rhaid wrth olynydd llawn amser.  Ymateb JE, a ffrind iddo yn Llundain, gohebydd y Guardian o’r enw Gwilym Williams, oedd anfon cais i mewn – gan ddefnyddio’n union yr un geiriad, a rhoi enwau ei gilydd ar gyfer geirda!  JE a benodwyd – i swydd roedd yn ei charu: “yn Ysgrifennydd a Threfnydd mudiad rhyddid Cymru y bûm o Ragfyr 1930 hyd Fai 1962, pan ddywedodd yr hen galon na allai ddal mwy.”[ii]

JE Jones – pensaer Plaid Cymru yn ei swyddfa yng Nghaernarfon

JE Jones – pensaer Plaid Cymru yn ei swyddfa yng Nghaernarfon

Mae’n ddiddorol cymharu’r ddau Jones, HR a JE.  Un manylyn, dibwys efallai ond difyr: llwyddodd y ddau adfer enw traddodiadol eu milltir sgwâr; o Nasareth yn ôl i Ddeiniolen yn achos HR, ac o Gynfal i Melin-y-Wig yn achos JE.  Yn sicr ceir tebygrwydd cymeriad rhwng y ddau mewn un cyfeiriad – cariad diwyro at Gymru a’r Gymraeg, a gweledigaeth o’u cenedl yn un o wledydd cyflawn y byd.  A’r parodrwydd i weithio’n ddi-baid.  Rwy’n ddiolchgar i Dewi Rhys, mab JE, am ei atgofion ohono fe: “Doedd byth yn segur. Byddai ar ei draed tua 5 bob bore – un ai ar y teipiadur bach, neu yn y tŷ gwydr lle’r oedd yn ‘ymlacio’ wrth drawsblannu cannoedd o blanhigion bach, a’r ardd bob haf yn fôr o liw.  Roedd wrth ei fodd yn clywed sgwrs pobl yn pasio oedd yn gwneud sylwadau am yr ardd.  Nid oedd yn segur hyd yn oed ar wyliau. Ysgrifennai ddyddiaduron a’u clymu’n llyfrau wedi dod adref. Dyma oedd sylfaen y llyfr Tro i’r Swistir.”

Ond mae’r gwahaniaeth rhwng y ddau hefyd yn ddadlennol.  Byddai JE, yn ôl ei arfer, yn canmol ei ragflaenydd, ond mae’n derbyn bod canghennau a rhanbarthau wedi llesgáu a marw yn ystod ei gyfnod o afiechyd:  “I bob pwrpas, bu raid i mi ad-adeiladu’r Blaid o’r gwaelod.”[iii] Mae prif hanesydd Plaid Cymru, Hywel Davies, yn mynd ymhellach, gan ddisgrifio HR fel un â gweledigaeth fawr, yn hiraethu am weithredu’n gadarn yn hytrach na gwaith desg.  Mewn gwrthgyferbyniad, roedd  JE “er yn barod i weithredu’n radicalaidd, wedi’i fendithio â natur ddyfal oedd yn fwy addas i’r dasg o gynllunio trefniadau’n ofalus” (cyfieithiad).[iv] Mae Hywel Davies hefyd yn nodi cefndir JE yn un o raddedigion y Brifysgol ac yn athro hyfforddedig, gan farnu bod hyn yn ei wneud yn fwy cyfforddus ymhlith yr aelodau roedd y Blaid yn eu denu.

Dechreuodd JE ar ei swydd ar 1 Rhagfyr 1930, gan weithio o swyddfa fechan yng Nghaernarfon drws nesaf i westy Pendref ble cafodd lety.  Hyn oedd dechrau cyfnod 32 o flynyddoedd pan ddaeth yn ganolbwynt gweithgarwch y Blaid.  Cyn hir roedd JE wedi sefydlu ei hun yn ffocws cyfathrebu a gwybodaeth am y Blaid; ac enillodd Plaid Cymru fri am ansawdd ac ystod ei chyhoeddiadau.  Yn ei phedair blynedd gyntaf o fodolaeth cyn ei benodi, dim ond un pamffledyn sylweddol a gyhoeddwyd gan y Blaid, sef Egwyddorion Cenedlaetholdeb gan Saunders Lewis.  Gyda JE wrth y llyw, dechreuodd gynhyrchu lli cyson o lenyddiaeth.  Mae’n werth nodi i’r cynnyrch hwn gynnwys nifer o weithiau swmpus ar bolisi economaidd – er enghraifft The Economics of Welsh Self-Government gan Dr DJ Davies (Gorffennaf 1931) a dau gan Saunders Lewis ar yr angen am gyngor datblygu yn 1933, a rhan llywodraeth leol wrth ddatblygu diwydiant (1934).  Cyhoeddwyd y rhain ochr yn ochr â’r Ddraig Goch, a ddechreuodd ychydig cyn sefydlu Plaid Cymru, a’i chyd-ymdaith yn yr iaith fain, y Welsh Nationalist, a sefydlwyd yn 1932.

Pwysleisiwyd tanysgrifio ac ymgyrchoedd gwerthu yn hytrach na rhoi’n rhad ac am ddim, er i JE ddatblygu’r arfer o ‘feithrin tawel’, gan ddanfon y cyhoeddiad diweddaraf ynghyd â llythyr cyfeillgar i nifer dethol o bobl enwog – yr artist Augustus John oedd un a ymunodd â’r Blaid fel canlyniad. Cofiaf (er cywilydd) i Gwynfor Evans sôn yn aml am  brinder cyhoeddiadau gan y Blaid yn ystod y 1970au a’r 1980au o’i gymharu â chyfnod JE wrth y llyw.

Wedyn bu cysylltiadau cyhoeddus.  Wrth iddo berswadio eraill i gynhyrchu’r cyhoeddiadau manwl, JE ei hun oedd y meistr ar gasglu’r dyfyniad trawiadol a’r ffeithiau allweddol, yr hyn a alwodd yn ‘fwledi’.  Arweiniodd hyn yn naturiol at gyfathrebu drwy’r wasg, maes y daeth yn grefftwr arno – yn llunio datganiadau i’r wasg a meithrin newyddiadurwyr fel ei gilydd.  Rwy’n dwli ar ei sylwadau cynnil ar rai o’i gyd-genedlaetholwyr yn y maes hwn: “Fe’i cefais yn un o’r pethau anosaf, yn y blynyddoedd cynnar, i ddysgu ein swyddogion lleol – ysgrifenyddion neu ohebyddion – i ysgrifennu ‘darnau effeithiol i’r Wasg ac i feithrin cyfathrach gyfeillgar â gŵyr y Wasg.  Gydag amser, fodd bynnag, fe ddaeth hynny.”  Gallasai JE ddysgu tric neu ddau i sbin-ddoctoriaid yr 21ain ganrif: mae’i gyngor ar ddefnyddio’r wasg yn dal yr un mor wir heddiw ag erioed, er gwaethaf holl newidiadau oes y rhyngrwyd, Facebook a Twitter.

Un flaenoriaeth gynnar oedd adeiladu’r Blaid o’r dyrnaid bach o bobl  a etifeddodd yn 1930.  Proses poenus o araf oedd hyn, er i JE fynd ati â’i ddull nodweddiadol o drylwyr, gan symud o sir i sir, wrth brocio aelodau i sefydlu pwyllgorau sirol ac, o dipyn i beth, canghennau.  Bu Saunders Lewis yn llym ei feirniadaeth am arafwch y cynnydd: ar ddiwedd 1935, ar ôl canmol gwaith JE fe ofynnodd: “Ond pa le y mae ei ddisgyblion?  Byddai trefnydd o’r un rhyw ymhob Pwyllgor Rhanbarth yn gweddnewid hanes y Blaid.”

Ond yma mae’n werth dwyn i gof rhai ffeithiau amlwg.  Roedd Plaid Cymru yn dal yn fach.  Roedd hefyd (yn nhermau oedran ei haelodau) yn ifanc.  Oherwydd ei bod yn fach ac yn ifanc yr oedd hefyd yn dlawd, yn dlawd iawn.  Hyn sy’n esbonio i raddau paham taw ychydig o etholiadau a ymladdodd – un sedd Seneddol yn 1929, dwy yn 1931 (Sir Gaernarfon a’r Brifysgol), lawr i un yn 1935.  Gyda llaw, etholiad 1935 oedd y cyntaf i’r Blaid ddefnyddio’r dull o ganfasio – techneg a addaswyd gan JE o’i gysylltiadau â phleidiau yn Nenmarc, Iwerddon a Lloegr.  Ychydig iawn hefyd oedd yr etholiadau lleol a ymladdwyd.  Efallai nad  tlodi sydd i’w feio am bopeth – cwynodd DJ Williams yn chwyrn am y diffyg ysbryd i ymladd, gan ddisgrifio pwyllgor sirol Caerfyrddin yn “gorff marw”.[v] Cofiwch taw 1935 oedd hyn!

Un dechneg a gyflwynwyd gan JE i fynd i’r afael â phroblemau ariannol y Blaid oedd Cronfa Gŵyl Ddewi, a seiliwyd ar brofiad Fianna Fáil.  Cododd yr apêl gyntaf, yn 1934, y cyfanswm tywysogaidd o £250!  Ochr yn ochr â chodi’r aelodaeth a chyllid ymladdwyd ymgyrchoedd – hynny ar ystod eang o bynciau.  Un enghraifft yn unig – yn fuan ar ôl dechrau ar ei swydd lansiodd ymgyrch i boblogeiddio’r defnydd o faner Cymru yn lle Jac yr Undeb oedd yn bla ymhobman.  Y targed cyntaf oedd Castell Caernarfon – a neb llai na David Lloyd George oedd ei Gwnstabl.  Cais cymedrol dros ben, un anodd ei wrthod, oedd ei gam cyntaf – statws cyfartal i’r ddwy faner ar Ddydd Gŵyl Dewi.  Cafodd y llythyr a ddanfonwyd ymlaen gan Lloyd George i’r Gweinidog yn Llundain ymateb negyddol llawn dirmyg – yn union beth oedd JE ei eisiau.  Fe’i cyhoeddodd ar unwaith!

Ar Ddydd Gŵyl Ddewi 1932, wedi’i wisgo o’r corun i’r sawdl mewn lifrai beic modur fe dalodd JE ei chwe cheiniog a dringo’r grisiau i ben Tŵr yr Eryr, ble cyfarfu â thri arall yn y cynllwyn, gan gynnwys nai Lloyd George, WRP George.  Yna fe dynnwyd Jac yr Undeb i lawr a chodi’r Ddraig Goch yn ei le, gan staplo’r rhaffau’n sownd wrth y polyn – roedd cynllunio JE wrth gwrs wedi cynnwys morthwyl a staplau yn ei sach.  Wrth weld baner fawr y Ddraig Goch ar y tŵr fe gafwyd bonllefau o gymeradwyaeth a pherfformiad sydyn o Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau wrth dorf ar y Maes islaw; er y daeth yr heddlu lleol mewn fawr o dro, a chyn hir aeth Jac yr Undeb yn ôl i’w safle arferol.  Nes ymlaen yn y dydd, fodd bynnag, a hynny’n gwbl annibynnol, cyrhaeddodd grŵp o fyfyrwyr Plaid Cymru o Fangor ar ben lori.  Llwyddon hwythau esgyn Tŵr yr Eryr a mynd â Jac yr Undeb, a gafodd dynged anffodus ar y Maes.

Erbyn Dydd Gŵyl Dewi y flwyddyn wedyn fe welwyd tro bedol ar ran y llywodraeth.  Cafodd Draig Goch fawr ei chodi cyfuwch â Jac yr Undeb mewn seremoni yng Nghastell Caernarfon gyda David Lloyd-George ei hun yn llywyddu!  Cyn hir byddai baner Cymru’n cwhwfan o bob adeilad llywodraeth ar 1 Mawrth: maes o law trefnai JE i ganghennau’r Blaid bwyso ar yr awdurdodau lleol i ddilyn.  Yna fe ofalodd gynhyrchu rhagor o faneri, a’u gwerthu am elw defnyddiol.

Ymhlith ymgyrchoedd eraill cafwyd statws yr iaith Gymraeg – er enghraifft, rhoi cywilydd ar Swyddfa’r Post i dderbyn amlenni taledig gydag enwau lleoedd Cymraeg – i’w dilyn gan ymgyrch lwyddiannus i sicrhau rhaglenni radio Cymraeg ar y BBC.  Un thema amlwg yn yr holl ymdrechion hyn – ac mewn llawer mwy – oedd eu cynllunio manwl a’u natur holistaidd – byth yn colli cyfle am gyhoeddusrwydd da.  Amlygwyd y gofal hwn ar adeg llosgi’r Ysgol Fomio ym Mhenyberth ym Mis Medi 1936, cyrch a fu’n nodedig am ei gyfrinachedd a’i sylw trwyadl i fanylion.  Roedd hyn yn cynnwys spïwraig – merch ifanc o’r enw Alaw Non Rees, a gadwai olwg ar faint o bren oedd yn cyrraedd y safle.

JE oedd un o saith a chwaraeodd ran uniongyrchol yn y weithred – cerddodd ran o’r ffordd yn ôl i Gaernarfon ar hyd y rheilffordd i osgoi cael ei ddal.  Y bore trannoeth yn ei lety derbyniodd lythyr oddi wrth Saunders Lewis – a ymddiheurodd am beidio â rhoi gwybod iddo am y llosgi!  Alibi oedd hwn wrth gwrs – doedd dim modd y gallai arweinwyr y Blaid fforddio gweld ei swyddfa ar gau a’u trefnydd mewn carchar ar adeg mor dyngedfennol.  Arhosodd JE yn rhydd ei draed i drefnu protestiadau ar hyd a lled y wlad.  Mae Dewi Rhys yn cofio gweld bwndeli o frysnegeseuon a anfonwyd i’r Tri a gyhuddwyd – Saunders Lewis, Lewis Valentine a DJ Williams – brysnegeseuon yr oedd JE wedi’u trefnu: yn ôl y gyfraith rhaid oedd eu trosglwyddo ar unwaith, hyd yn oed yn ystod prawf Uchel Lys, gan helpu cynyddu’r argraff o gefnogaeth ymhlith y cyhoedd.  Ef hefyd a drefnodd y rali fwyaf erioed i’w galw gan y Blaid – bu tyrfa o 12,000 yn croesawu’r Tri yn ôl i Gaernarfon o Wormwood Scrubs.

Bu Penyberth a’r ddau achos Uchel Lys a’i dilynodd yn benllanw i Blaid Cymru cyn y rhyfel. Mae JE yn dadlau fod llawer o’r gefnogaeth newydd a enillwyd i’r Blaid wedi’i cholli ar ôl gwrthwynebu coroni Siôr VI, penderfyniad a wnaed yn ystod cyfnod pan oedd Saunders Lewis yn y carchar a JE yn dost.  Defnyddiodd gwrthwynebwyr y ffaith fod Lewis wedi troi at y ffydd Gatholig i gyhuddo Plaid Cymru o fod â chysylltiad â ffasgaeth.  Bu dechrau’r rhyfel yn her anferth – hyd yn oed yn fygythiad i fodolaeth y Blaid, fel y cyfaddefodd Saunders Lewis yn agored ar y pryd.  Ond rywsut fe barhaodd Plaid Cymru, hyd yn oed yn tyfu mewn dylanwad fel yr aeth y rhyfel yn ei blaen.  Tarodd yn ôl at eu gelynion yn hyderus ac egnïol.  Gwrthwynebai wasanaeth milwrol gorfodol, gyda JE yn wynebu chwe llys a thribiwnlys dros gyfnod o dair blynedd, ac yn gwneud hynny mewn steil.  Ymladdodd bob modfedd o’r ffordd i geisio achub dros 40,000 erw o dir ym Mynydd Epynt rhag eu rheibio gan y Weinyddiaeth Amddiffyn i’w defnyddio’n faes tanio.  Felly ym mis Ebrill 1940, cerddai JE y mynyddoedd unwaith yn rhagor, gan ymweld â phob fferm a wynebai berygl; ond cafodd Llundain ei ffordd.

Cynllunio strategaeth dwy blaid genedlaethol – Aelod Seneddol cyntaf yr SNP Dr Robert McIntyre yn ymuno ag arweinwyr Plaid Cymru, 1945

Cynllunio strategaeth dwy blaid genedlaethol – Aelod Seneddol cyntaf yr SNP Dr Robert McIntyre yn ymuno ag arweinwyr Plaid Cymru, 1945

O 1942 ymlaen roedd hi’n amlwg bod tro ar fyd.  Enillodd Saunders Lewis 23 y cant o’r bleidlais mewn isetholiad ar gyfer Prifysgol Cymru: noda JE (gyda chryn foddhad) ddisgrifiad ohono fel trefnydd ‘cyfrwys’ – “assiduous, astute and untiring agent”.[vi] Ac roedd ganddo achos arall i fod yn llawen.  Yn 1940 priododd ag Olwen Roberts, ysgrifennydd rhanbarth Caernarfon, mewn seremoni a lywyddwyd gan Lewis Valentine.  Byddai dau o blant, Angharad a Dewi Rhys, yn dilyn.

Erbyn 1945, daeth Plaid Cymru mâs o heldrin y rhyfel yn gryfach nag erioed.  Am y tro cyntaf gallai hawlio ei bod yn blaid Cymru gyfan, gan ymladd saith o seddi yn yr etholiad cyffredinol.  Yn ystod yr haf dewisodd arweinydd newydd, Gwynfor Evans, 33 oed: byddai ef a JE yn cydweithredu’n glos am y degawd a hanner oedd i ddod.  Mewn gwirionedd, medd Hywel Davies, o 1945 ymlaen yn hytrach nag o 1925 mae modd ystyried Plaid Cymru’n blaid wleidyddol, er ei bod yn dal yn blaid mewn cyflwr embryonig.[vii]

Unwaith yn rhagor bu rhaid ymladd ymgais gan y Weinyddiaeth Ryfel i gipio tir Cymru, y tro yma yn Nhrawsfynydd, Meirionnydd, ac yn llwyddiannus.  Unwaith eto JE a gyfrannodd ei ddawn greadigol: trefnwyd cyrch ffug tra aeth y prif fintai ar hyd heolydd cefn gwlad i ddechrau blocâd a barodd ddau ddiwrnod.  Erbyn 1950 roedd Plaid Cymru’n gweithio’n egnïol o fewn ymgyrch Senedd i Gymru.  Trefnodd JE gyfres o ralïau dros chwarter canrif.  Bu rali 1953 ymhlith y fwyaf a welwyd yng Nghaerdydd.  Yn groes i’w arfer cymerodd y gadair – ond ei fewnbwn gwirioneddol oedd cynllunio a gweithredu.  Roedd y paratoadau’n cynnwys relái o redwyr yn dwyn ffaglau o Senedd-dy Owain Glyndŵr ym Machynlleth i Erddi Soffia yng Nghaerdydd: fe sicrhaodd JE fod yr areithiau a negeseuon yn parhau’n ddigon hir i’r dorf rygbi oedd yn ymadael â Pharc yr Arfau weld yr orymdaith a ddilynai’r rali.  Roedd hefyd yn ymwneud ag amddiffyn Cwm Tryweryn rhag ei foddi gan ddinas Lerpwl, erbyn hyn gyda mwy o gymorth.

JE yn cadeirio Rali Senedd i Gymru yng Ngerddi Soffia, Caerdydd, 1953

JE yn cadeirio Rali Senedd i Gymru yng Ngerddi Soffia, Caerdydd, 1953

Wrth gwrs roedd gan JE Jones ei feirniaid.  Teimlai rhai na allai rhywun o’i gefndir gwledig Cymraeg uniaethu â’r cymunedau diwydiannol, di-Gymraeg yn y deheubarth a’r gogledd-ddwyrain.  Credaf fod ei hanes gwaith yn dangos fel arall.  Mae Tros Gymru yn llawn cyfeiriadau at yr angen i apelio i’r rhai di-Gymraeg.  Cefnogodd JE symud swyddfa’r Blaid o Gaernarfon i Gaerdydd yn 1946 – yn wir fe’n bersonol a gafodd hyd i ystafelloedd yn 8 Queen Street.  Mae Dewi Rhys yn cofio bod yr agoriad swyddogol wedi digwydd ar 1 Mawrth, diwrnod ei eni, gyda “Dad yn trio bod mewn dau le’r un pryd, fel arfer”!  Diolch i’w waith fe lwyddodd Plaid Cymru i ledaenu ei gorwelion yn y De ar ôl y rhyfel.

Byddai JE ei hun yn amharod iawn i feirniadu ei gyd-genedlaetholwyr.  Dyma un enghraifft brin: ar ôl canmol arweinyddiaeth Saunders Lewis, aeth mor bell â rhoi’r sylw hwn: “Ond tyfodd ynddo duedd i fod â rhagfarn anghywir weithiau, o blaid neu yn erbyn rhai mathau o bobl; er enghraifft, gallodd awgrymu, am un a oedd lawn cyn ddewred ag ef ei hun, mai llwfrdra oedd ei basiffistiaeth.”  Y ‘rhywun’ dan sylw wrth gwrs oedd Gwynfor Evans.

Arwain gorymdaith Senedd i Gymru

Arwain gorymdaith Senedd i Gymru

Teimlai eraill ei fod yn rhy agos at elite y Blaid; yn arbennig pan fo straen o fewn y rhengoedd, er enghraifft yn ystod ymgyrch Tryweryn.  Yn 1950, roedd cyn-arweinydd y Blaid, Saunders Lewis, yn breifat yn beirniadu ‘parchusrwydd’ JE, parchusrwydd roedd yn ei gymharu’n anffafriol â thactegau’r Gweriniaethwyr Cymreig.  Ond gŵr teyrngar wrth reddf oedd JE, ymroddedig i gefnogi Plaid Cymru a’i arweinyddiaeth etholedig, doed a ddelo.  Yr oedd wedi profi ei barodrwydd i weithredu’n gadarn: dangoswyd hynny gan ei barodrwydd yn ystod blynyddoedd y rhyfel i wrthwynebu gorfodaeth filwrol fel cenedlaetholwr ac wynebu carchar os bu rhaid.  ‘Parchusrwydd’ Plaid Cymru’n hytrach nag eiddo JE oedd testun cwyn Saunders Lewis; ac roedd ei weithrediadau’n ddrych o benderfyniad Gwynfor Evans ar ôl y rhyfel i roi Plaid Cymru ar gwrs i fod yn blaid i Gymru gyfan yn hytrach na grŵp pwyso cenedlaetholgar.

Wrth edrych yn ôl, yr hyn sy’n drawiadol yw parodrwydd a gallu JE i aros yn ei swydd, er gwaethaf yr holl broblemau a’r pwysau a wynebai’r Blaid.  A fyddai Plaid Cymru wedi goroesi’r 1930au, y 40au a’r 50au heb JE wrth y llyw?  Efallai, ond mae’n anodd gen i weld sut.  Mae ei garreg fedd ym Melin-y-Wig yn dwyn yr ymgysegriad ‘JE Jones, Pensaer Plaid Cymru’ – teyrnged addas i’r un a luniodd fudiad cenedlaethol Cymru.

Claddwyd JE Jones (1905-1970) mewn mynwent gyferbyn â’r capel ym Melin-y-Wig.  Mae plac ar fur yr ysgoldy a fynychai hefyd yn coffáu ei fywyd.  Mae’r englyn yma ar ei fedd.

Pryderu dros Gymru gaeth – ac er hon

Gwario’i holl gynhysgaeth.

Byw’n gyfan i’w gwasanaeth,

Marw’n wir dros Gymru wnaeth.

 


[i] Ibid,t.40

[ii] Ibid, t.70

[iii] JE Jones, Tros Gymru: JE a’r Blaid, t.97.

[iv] D Hywel Davies, The Welsh Nationalist Party 1925-1945:  A Call to Nationhood (Gwasg Prifysgol Cymru, Caerdydd, 1983), t.187.

[v] D Hywel Davies, The Welsh Nationalist Party, t.204.

[vi] JE Jones, Tros Gymru: JE a’r Blaid, t.271.

[vii] D Hywel Davies, The Welsh Nationalist Party, t.268.

Yn y dechreuad … D.Hywel Davies

CYMDEITHAS HANES PLAID CYMRU, 25 MAWRTH, 2011

YN Y DECHREUAD …

Gan D.Hywel Davies B.A., M.Sc.(Econ.)

FEL sy’n addas i gyfarfod cyntaf Cymdeithas Hanes Plaid Cymru, rwyf am eich cymryd am dro yn ôl i’r cyfnod cynharaf yn hanes ffurfiant y mudiad. Ond nid i’r digwyddiad enwog a gynhaliwyd ym Mhwllheli ym 1925 ond at un arall a gynhaliwyd yng Nghaernarfon ym 1924. Alla i ddim cynnig lleoliad llawer mwy cyffrous, mae gen i ofn: y Maesgwyn Temperance Hotel oedd y lle a drefnwyd ym Mhwllheli; y Queen’s Café yw’r gorau alla i gynnig i chi yng Nghaernarfon.

Mae hi’n nos Sadwrn yr ugeinfed o fis Medi, 1924, ac mae cryn nifer o bobl Caernarfon a’r ardal yn cerdded i gyfeiriad y Queen’s Café ynghanol yr hen dref. Mae hi wedi bod yn flwyddyn o gyffro gwleidyddol – sef ffurfiad Llywodraeth Brydeinig am y tro cyntaf gan y Blaid Lafur newydd dan arweinyddiaeth Ramsay Macdonald ’nol ym mis Ionawr. Llywodraeth leiafrifol ydyw, ac mae sôn y bydd Etholiad Cyffredinol arall yn o fuan. Dim pryderon gyda David Lloyd George am hynny. Mae Bwrdeistref Caernarfon yn gadarn iddo ef – ac mae siŵr o fod yn cynllwyno sut y gall ail-gipio allweddNumber 10 rywdro yn y dyfodol. Ond y Blaid Lafur sydd bellach ar i fyny ac eisoes wedi cyrraedd statws yr ail blaid yn yr unig Senedd oedd ganddynt ar y pryd.

Nid Prydain yw’r pwnc trafod ymhlith y rhai sy’n anelu am y Queen’s Café heno. Cymru yw’r pwnc. Gwleidyddiaeth Cymru. Cymru heb gorff cenedlaethol gwleidyddol. Cymru heb fudiad cenedlaethol. Cymru heb is-ganghennau o’r pleidiau Prydeinig i gydnabod ei statws cenedlaethol. Cymru heb y Ddraig Goch ar dyrrau Castell Caernarfon.

Ond mae ’na rywfaint o gyd-destun gwleidyddol Cymreig. Yn benodol, oherwydd ei hanes blaenorol fel prif-lefarydd Cymru yn San Steffan, methiant y Blaid Ryddfrydol fel corff i ail-godi cwestiwn datganoli. Mater crefyddol yw’r datblygiad perthnasol mwyaf diweddar. Cafodd Eglwys Loegr yng Nghymru ei datgysylltu fel rhan o eglwys y wladwriaeth Brydeinig. Yn ei lle, ym 1921, sefydlwyd yr Eglwys yng Nghymru fel eglwys annibynnol Gymreig. Ond gyda’r datganoli crefyddol hwnnw, roedd fel petai’r awelon yn diflannu o hwyliau datganoli gwleidyddol Cymru. Ond nid yn llwyr.

Cynhaliwyd nifer o gynadleddau rhwng 1918 a 1922 i drafod datganoli. Dyrnaid o Aelodau Seneddol Rhyddfrydol unigol a’u trefnodd gan wahodd cynrychiolwyr o gynghorau lleol a mudiadau eraill. Bach iawn oedd yr ymateb i’r gynhadledd gyntaf a gynhaliwyd yn Llandrindod. Cytunwyd y byddai ‘self-government’ yn fuddiol i Gymru ond heb ddiffiniad. Heb dderbyn gwahoddiad i hon, roedd y Blaid Lafur newydd yn gweld y cyfan fel ystryw Ryddfrydol i geisio dal gafael ar bleidleisiau gwladgarwyr Cymreig. Mynegodd Llafurwyr de Cymru eu cefnogaeth nhw i ymreolaeth ym 1918 fel gwnaeth Cynghrair Llafur Gogledd Cymru ym 1924. Serch hynny, fel dywedodd y Llafurwr pwysig David Thomas, a gefnogai ddatganoli, y wir frwydr oedd honno rhwng llafur a chyfalaf.

Y gynhadledd fwyaf llwyddiannus oedd honno ym 1919, eto yn Llandrindod. Cytunwyd yn frwd i alw am ‘full local autonomy’, eto heb ddiffiniad. A galwyd am Ysgrifennydd Gwladol i Gymru ond gyda mwyafrif llai wedi dadlau poeth. Disgrifiodd y Western Mail y cytundeb a gafwyd fel ‘something in the nature of a miracle .. [though it] left the question very much where it found it.’

Chafwyd mawr mwy o oleuni pan ofynnodd grŵp bach o Aelodau Seneddol Rhyddfrydol i’r Prif Weinidog – yr hen genedlaetholwyr David Lloyd George – ym 1920 i greu Ysgrifennydd i Gymru. “Go for the big thing!” atebodd ef, ond ddeallodd neb mo hynny. Cynigiodd David Matthews, AS Rhyddfrydol Cenedlaethol Dwyrain Abertawe, fesur ym 1921 yn galw eto am Ysgrifennydd Gwladol i Gymru, ond doedd neb yn talu sylw. Roedd pethau eraill ar feddyliau arweinwyr y Blaid Ryddfrydol ganolog. Y Blaid Lafur yn arbennig.

Bellach roedd yr ysbrydoliaeth Gymreig yn lleihau’n gyflym. Cynhaliwyd y gynhadledd olaf yn y gyfres hon yn yr Amwythig ym 1922 – yn ddigon eironig ar ddydd llofnodi’r Caniatâd Brenhinol i sefydlu Gwladwriaeth Rydd Iwerddon. Prin oedd y gefnogaeth. Methodd yr ychydig oedd yn bresennol gytuno hyd yn oed i gefnogi mesur preifat Murray Macdonald A.S, The Government of Scotland and Wales a alwai am ddatganoli ffederal. Meddai cylchgrawn y Welsh Outlook, ‘The futile Shrewsbury Conference on March 31st last and the ridiculous debate which followed it in the House of Commons on April 28th, marked the nadir of the Welsh Home Rule movement, and only a small remnant of those who supported it escaped pessimism and despair.’ Methodd mesur Murray Macdonald. Roedd hi’n ddiwedd cyfnod. Diflannodd datganoli yn San Steffan.

Na. Doedd dim llawer o reswm dros fod yn obeithiol gyda’r gwladgarwyr Cymreig hynny oedd yn nesáu at eu dishgledi o de yn y Queen’s Café. Ond, gyda’r brwdfrydedd sydd wedi bod yn ganolog i’n mudiad, byddant, siŵr o fod, yn f’ateb. ‘Hold on! Mae criw gwych o fyfyrwyr wedi codi helynt cenedlaethol ardderchog yn Aberystwyth yn lled ddiweddar. Ac ym Mangor – mae cymdeithas y myfyrwyr yno – cymdeithas Y Tair G – yn llawn bwrlwm Cymreig. A dyna’r sgolor Saunders Lewis yn codi nyth cacwn i boeni’r Cymry parchus, rhagrithiol. Oes, mae ’na obaith!”

Yn barod i’w croesawu i’r Queen’s Café oedd gwr 24 mlwydd oed o’r enw H.R.Jones, chwarelwr oedd wedi gorfod troi’n drafeiliwr – hynny yw arwerthwr teithiol – oherwydd afiechyd. O bentref Ebenezer oedd H.R. – er roedd e’n arwain ymgyrch ar y pryd i gael Deiniolen yn ôl fel enw arno. Fe oedd wedi galw’r cyfarfod ynghyd heno gyda’r pwnc llawer mwy o ddyfodol y genedl. Roedd H.R.Jones wedi bod yn danfon llythyrau allan un ar ôl y llall i bawb y gwyddai amdanynt eu bod yn wladgarwyr – yn bell ac agos, mawr a man. Dewch, meddai, i osod mudiad cenedlaethol gwleidyddol annibynnol Cymreig ar gerdded. Dyn swil oedd H.R. Dyn tawel. Ond roedd e’n berwi gyda rhwystredigaeth.

Cynhadledd arall oedd wedi’i ypsetio’n arbennig. Roedd hon wedi cael ei chynnal yn ystod yr haf gan un o’r mudiadau bach gwlatgar oedd yn codi ac yn diflannu fel tan siafins wrth i’r Cymry pybyr chwilio am ffordd ymlaen. Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg – sef yr un cyntaf o’r enw hwnnw. Urdd y Delyn – yn rhagflas o Urdd Gobaith Cymru. Byddin Cymru y frwdfrydig Fones Mallt Williams o Landudoch (heb arf mewn golwg, er yr enw). Undeb y Ddraig Goch yn Lerpwl. Cymdeithas Cymru Well William George, sef brawd Lloyd George. Byddin yr Iaith y tro hwn, yn cynnal eu cyfarfod blynyddol yn Llandrindod. Er bygythiad ei enw, doedd dim milwrol am Fyddin yr Iaith: roedd aelodau i fod i wisgo bathodyn y mudiad, i siarad Cymraeg mor aml â phosib mewn llefydd fel swyddfeydd post a gorsafoedd trenau, ac i fynnu statws swyddogol i’r iaith Gymraeg. Yn ystod y gynhadledd, roedd mudiad pitw arall gydag enw mawr – Adran Ymreolaeth Cynghrair y Cenedlaetholwyr Cymreig – wedi cynnal eu cyfarfod nhw. Cafwyd areithiau. Cafwyd apêl.

Arswyd, roedd H.R. yn flin. Danfonodd fwy eto o lythyrau. Roedd hi’n bwrw llythyrau H.R. yng Nghymru! Roedd y Parch J. Seymour Rees yn Nhreorci yn falch i gael un. Roedd D.J.Williams yn hapus i dderbyn un yn Abergwaun. Roedd Iorwerth Peate wrth ei fodd, er byddai rhai cwestiynau ganddo. A threfnodd H.R. ei gyfarfod yn y Queen’s Café gyda’r nod o‘sefydlu cymdeithas ar gyfer ymreolwyr ifainc.’

Roedd yn wir, hefyd, bod yr academig a’r ceidwadwr Saunders Lewis – ceidwadwr gydag ‘c’ fach ond ‘C’ go fawr hefyd! – wedi achosi cryn syndod ond flwyddyn ynghynt trwy araith a draddododd yn ystod Eisteddfod Genedlaethol yr Wyddgrug. Rhoddodd sioc ysgytwol i wladgarwyr hirwyntog wrth alw am sefydlu gwersylloedd i ddysgu disgyblaeth. Ond cofiwch mai Lieutenant John Saunders Lewis oedd yn siarad, un a fu yn y ffosydd yn ystod y Rhyfel Mawr ac a anafwyd. Meddai: ‘Nid cynhadledd a achub ein cyflwr eithr disgyblaeth ac ufudd-dod. Na cheisiwch gynhadledd lle y gall holl glebrwyr Cymru areithio’n ddi-fudd, ond y flwyddyn nesaf ffurfiwch fataliwn a gwersyll Cymreig, a phob Cymro a fynno wasanaethu ei wlad i ddyfod yno a drilio ynghyd am bythefnos ac ufuddhau i orchmynion milwriaid fel y caffont wers mewn gweithio ynghyd yn dawel a heb ffraeo, pawb yn fodlon ufuddhau ac i’w gosbi onis gwnelo. A gwnewch hyn am bum mlynedd, heb glebran. Drilio heb arfau, ac felly yn gwbl agored ac heb dorri cyfraith unrhyw wlad, ond ein paratoi ein hunain felly i dderbyn deddfau ac arweiniad gan Gymry. Pe gawn gant neu hanner cant neu ugain yn unig y flwyddyn gyntaf i wneuthur hyn, dyna fudiad pwysicaf Cymru ers dyddiau Glyndŵr. Yr wyf yn hollol ddifrifol.’

Roedd angen i Lewis ychwanegu’r frawddeg olaf honno. Doedd cenedlaetholwyr Cymru ddim i fod i siarad fel hyn. Ond dyna’r math o rwystredigaeth oedd ymhlith cenhedlaeth ifancach. Roedd ymateb arbennig Saunders Lewis yn unigryw, yn estron, ac fe gafodd ei fflangellu. ‘Ffwlbri noeth,’ meddai wythnosolyn Y Darian yng Nghymoedd y de am ei gynllun. ‘The most stupid of reactionaries’ oedd ymateb y Western Mail. ‘Hotheads who propose to give the undergraduates of the Welsh colleges military training in holiday camps!’ meddai’r South Wales News.

Yr unig un i fynegi syniadau tebyg oedd Ambrose Bebb, cyfaill Lewis a cheidwadwr arall gydag ‘c’ fach ond oedd â goblygiadau mwy. Roedd Bebb wedi symud ymlaen o Aberystwyth i astudio a darlithio ym mhrifysgol y Sorbonne ym Mharis. Yno, daeth Bebb o dan ddylanwad mudiad asgell dde Charles Maurras. Cafodd ef, hefyd, ei ysbrydoli i ddatgan yr angen am ddisgyblaeth gymdeithasol dan arweiniad cryf gwleidyddol mewn erthygl ysgrifennwyd ganddo ym 1923. Gyda mwy o rethreg nag o ymresymu, llwyddodd Bebb i gysylltu enwau Lenin a Mussolini â’i gilydd fel patrwm o arwyr i’w hystyried gan y Cymry. Yn fuan, roedd Saunders Lewis a Bebb yn cael eu hadnabod fel pobl Sinn Féin.

Felly, gyda chynadleddau datganoli’r Rhyddfrydwyr gwanllyd wedi methu, y Blaid Lafur newydd ar gynnydd, ynghyd â datganiadau ymfflamychol Lewis a Bebb – roedd gan dyrfa’r Queen’s Café gryn dipyn ar eu platiau.

A dyna nhw’n cyrraedd y Queen’s. Ymhlith y bobl ifainc mae Gwilym R. Jones, un a fyddai’n dod yn Olygydd ar bapur wythnosol pwysig Y Faner. Dyma sut y disgrifiodd ef y cyfarfod: ‘Roedd yn y cyfarfod tua deugain ohonom. Yr oedd yno athrawon, chwarelwyr, gweinidogion, meddyg – ac un trafeiliwr gwelw,’ sef H.R. ei hun. ‘Y trafeiliwr hwn a gynullasai’r cyfarfod, ond ni ddywedai fawr ddim. Nerfus, floesg, bwnglera. Eisiau ‘byddin’ i amddiffyn Cymru a’r iaith.’ Fel rhyw ymgais i gael person o statws wrth y llyw, y meddyg gwlatgar, y Dr Llwyd Owain, Cricieth, oedd yn cadeirio. Ond H.R. oedd sbardun yr achlysur.

Roedd H.R.Jones yn cael ei ystyried yn arbenigwr ar hanes Iwerddon. Rhaid cofio bod brwydr waedlyd Iwerddon i sicrhau rhyddid o rwymau Llundain yn gefndir i’r cyfan o’r trafodaethau ynglŷn ag ymreolaeth yng Nghymru wedi diwedd y Rhyfel Mawr. Barn HR yn ôl ei gyfeillion oedd bod angen gweithgarwch radical tebyg, gan gynnwys trais, i hyrwyddo achos cenedlaetholdeb Cymru hefyd. Byddai’n cael ei ddyfynnu gan Gwilym R. Jones yn ddiweddarach yn datgan yn groyw,“Fedrwn ni byth ddeffro cenedl sy’ wedi cysgu mor hir heb aberthu mwy. Rhaid inni ddiodde’ … rhaid colli gwaed. Mae’n mudiad ni’n rhy ddof, a ninnau’n llwfr.”

Byddai Saunders Lewis yn dweud amdano, “H.R. oedd yr unig un yn ein plith y gellid dychmygu am Michael Collins yn rhoi swydd iddo, un na ellid na’i siocio na’i ddychryn, un a wnâi unrhyw beth, heb falio am ganlyniadau, os dygai ddydd rhyddid Cymru yn agosach.’

Gyda hyn i gyd yn gefndir, datganodd y Dr Llwyd Owen o’r gadair efallai y gellid croesawu ‘agwedd filwriaethol’ i’r mudiad cenedlaethol newydd, ond na fyddai lle i ddulliau ‘trais’. Ategwyd ei sylw gan o leiaf un arall a feirniadodd yn swta unrhyw awgrym o’r hyn a ddisgrifiwyd ganddo fel ‘dulliau Rwsaidd neu Wyddelig.’ Ond dadleuodd un o gymrodyr H.R., Evan Alwyn Owen, i’r gwrthwyneb y byddai ‘cyflwyno tipyn o Sinn Fféin’ i’r mudiad yn gallu bod yn gynorthwyol. Meddai cyfaill arall, y newyddiadurwr Gwilym Williams, ei fod o blaid ‘gorymdeithio gyda drylliau’ a’i fod yn cytuno gydag‘athroniaeth [Patrick] Pearse’.

Ond ni chafwyd unrhyw oleuni pellach yn y Queen’s y noson honno ar gwestiwn dulliau. Ni chafwyd, ’chwaith, gytundeb manwl ar ba fath o ymreolaeth fyddai o fudd i Gymru. Serch hynny, fe gytunwyd ar sefydlu mudiad newydd. Gan adlewyrchu’r teimlad mai’r hyn oedd yn hanfodol oedd cymdeithas a fyddai’n hollol ymroddedig, cytunwyd ar yr enw Byddin Ymreolwyr Cymru a mabwysiadwyd llw o ffyddlondeb yn y gobaith o sicrhau trefnu effeithiol. Ond ar ddulliau gwleidyddol oedd y pwyslais. Meddai H.R.Jones mewn nodyn i’r wasg, ‘Amcanu am ymreolaeth a wnawn ni heddiw, nid yn adfail y Deyrnas Gyfunol ond trwy ymresymu ein hawliau. Hawlir gennym ni, y genedl hynaf yn Ewrop, Senedd a chartref, trwy ba un y trefnir ffordd i’n cenedl ddatblygu ei bywyd ar linellau Cymreig.’

Roedd y ffaith bod cyfarfod y Queen’s Café yn achlysur cyhoeddus yn golygu bod gan y wasg ddigon o ddeunydd i fod yn feirniadol. Dilornus oedd y North Wales Chronicle: ‘Those present,’ meddai, ‘outnumbered the famous tailors of Tooley Street, but, like the latter, their ambition has brought a touch of comedy into a movement which has as much attraction for faddists as a lamp light has for moths.’

Roedd yr Herald Cymraeg lleol yn fwy siomedig na dig: ‘Nid oedd y cyfarfod o ymreolwyr y cylch a gynhaliwyd yng Nghaernarfon y dydd Sadwrn o’r blaen yn unrhyw help i’r mudiad; ond yn hytrach fel arall. Yr oedd y cwbl yn rhy anghyfrifol a phlentynnaidd. Gresyn mawr yw symud ymlaen gyda mudiad mor bwysig heb baratoad priodol ar ei gyfer, a heb sicrhau siaradwyr dylanwadol.’

‘Chwarae plant,’ cwynodd y Darian yn y De.

Cyfeiriodd Gwilym R.Jones ei hun at yr hyn a alwai’n fwnglera. Ond cafwyd cyfarfod, a hwnnw’n gyfarfod cyhoeddus. Roedd bod mor agored – gan wahodd pobl i’r Queen’s Café – yn ddull gwahanol iawn o weithredu i fudiad cenedlaethol arall oedd wedi cael ei sefydlu ar ddechrau’r un flwyddyn. Crëwyd hwnnw gan Saunders Lewis, Ambrose Bebb a Gruffudd John ac Elisabeth Williams ym Mhenarth, ym mhreifatrwydd cartref teulu’r Williams. Doedd fawr neb yn gwybod amdano oherwydd mudiad cyfrinachol ydoedd. Y Mudiad Cymreig oedd yr enw a gai ei sibrwd yn dawel rhwng ei ddyrnaid o aelodau. Eu bwriad oedd aros yn gyfrinachol am gyfnod amhenodol. Fyddai hynny ddim yn anodd gan iddynt benderfynu defnyddio Breiz Atao, papur Llydaweg mudiad cenedlaethol Llydaw, fel prif gyfrwng eu syniadau. Meddai Gruffudd John Williams yn ddiweddarach, ‘Roedd y Ffrangeg a’r Llydaweg wedi troi llawer o bobl i ffwrdd.’ O leiaf roedd Byddin Ymreolwyr Cymru wedi cyrraedd penawdau’r wasg, ac, fel yr honnir, mae pob cyhoeddusrwydd yn gyhoeddusrwydd da.

Serch hynny, proses nid digwyddiad oedd y Queen’s Café. Roedd H.R.Jones wedi rhoi cychwyn ar weithgarwch a fyddai’n ganolog o bwysig yn natblygiad ein mudiad cenedlaethol. Bu cryn drafod ar noson gynta’r Queen’s. Y broblem oedd na chytunwyd ar amcanion clir. Yn wir, bu bron i Fyddin Ymreolwyr Cymru ddod i ben, yn gymdeithas fach fyrhoedlog arall. Dadleuai rhai o blaid ymuno gyda mudiad myfyrwyr Prifysgol Bangor, sef Y Tair G. Ond gwrthwynebwyd hyn gan drysorydd y Fyddin, sef Evan Alwyn Owen. Nod Evan, fel H.R., oedd sefydlu plaid wleidyddol annibynnol. Cytunwyd cwrdd yn y Queen’s Café eto ar Ragfyr 20 i drafod materion ymhellach. Ar y noson honno, cynigiodd Evan y dylid gollwng yr enw Byddin Ymreolwyr Cymru gan fabwysiadu’r enw Plaid Genedlaethol Cymru yn ei le. Dylai’r blaid hon, meddai, godi arian, noddi ymgeiswyr seneddol, cydweithredu gyda chenedlaetholwyr yr Alban, a datgan mai aelodaeth Cymru yng Nghynghrair y Cenhedloedd oedd ei nod. A dyna a fu. Tri mis wedi’i sefydlu, diflannodd Byddin Ymreolwyr Cymru gan ail ffurfio ar unwaith fel Plaid Genedlaethol Cymru. Roedd lle’r Queen’s Café yn saff, wel yn weddol saff yn y llyfrau hanes.

Y Parch Lewis Valentine M.A., gweinidog gyda’r Bedyddwyr, ddewiswyd fel Llywydd y Blaid Genedlaethol newydd, ac H.R.Jones, wrth gwrs, ddaeth yn Ysgrifennydd. Aeth H.R. ati ar unwaith i geisio denu gwladgarwyr o bob cwr o’r wlad i ymuno â’r Blaid Genedlaethol. Mae’n ymddangos ei fod wedi clywed rhyw ychydig am fodolaeth y Mudiad Cymreig swil yn y de, ac fe dderbyniodd Saunders Lewis un o’i lythyrau. Heb wastraffu dim amser, dechreuodd y Blaid Genedlaethol fach annibynnol newydd ar ei weithgarwch a oedd yn hollol wleidyddol ei natur. Llwyr wleidyddol oedd natur eu gweithgarwch. Protestiwyd yn erbyn bwriad y Llywodraeth ganolog i ddarnio’r Bwrdd Addysg Canolog Cymreig ac i gau swyddfa ranbarthol yr Adran Bensiynau yng Nghaerdydd. Galwyd am farnwyr Cymraeg i lysoedd gogledd Cymru. Cysylltwyd â gwleidyddion gan alw arnynt i gefnogi ymreolaeth i Gymru. Yn ganolog oedd y syniad mae ar sail yr uned genedlaethol, a gyda pharch at yr iaith Gymraeg, y dylid trefnu llywodraethu Cymru. Yn benodol ynglŷn ag ystyriaethau ieithyddol, y ffaith arloesol oedd mai’r Gymraeg oedd iaith y blaid wleidyddol newydd hon oedd wedi’i sefydlu yng Nghaernarfon. Trwy’r iaith Gymraeg y cafodd ei ffurfio ac y dechreuodd ymgyrchu.

Yn ganolog i bopeth bellach oedd yr angen i ehangu aelodaeth ac i osod y Blaid ar seiliau cenedlaethol. Ac roedd y trafodaethau rhwng H.R.Jones a Saunders Lewis yn hollbwysig i’r broses honno. Nid peth rhwydd oedd delio â Saunders Lewis. Yn y cyfnod cynnar hwn, fe fynnodd eglurhad llwyr ar ddau faes polisi yn benodol cyn cytuno ymuno â’r Blaid Genedlaethol, hynny yw, ynglŷn â statws yr iaith Gymraeg a natur y gweithredu gwleidyddol. O ran statws yr iaith, cytunai mai ‘Gorfodi’r Gymraeg’ ddylai fod y polisi, meddai, fel roedd H.R.Jones wedi nodi, ond mynnodd fod hyn yn golygu bod y Gymraeg yn iaith gweinyddiad cynghorau lleol, ac iaith ysgolion. Ynglŷn â natur y gweithredu gwleidyddol, cytunai Saunders Lewis, eto, gyda’r nod o ‘Dorri pob cysylltiad â phleidiau gwleidyddol Cymru a Lloegr’. Ond aeth ymhellach. Mynnodd yn ogystal y dylid torri pob cysylltiad gyda ‘Senedd Loegr’ gan weithio’n unig drwy gynghorau lleol Cymru. ‘Ni ddaw dim i Gymru fyth drwy Senedd Loegr,’ meddai, ‘Yn awr, os mabwysiadwch chi fel plaid y ddwy egwyddor yna yn llwyr, mi ymunaf gyda chwi ar unwaith.’

Nid un i oedi oedd H.R.Jones. Cyn i Saunders dderbyn ateb, roedd taflen yn ei law yn datgan ei fod eisoes yn is-lywydd i’r Blaid newydd. Ffromai Lewis a mynnai eglurhad. Ond wrth ei gyd-aelodau yn y Mudiad Cymreig dirgel, roedd yn datgan yn fuan ei falchder bod eu holl syniadau wedi cael eu derbyn. Byddant yn gallu gweithredu fel ‘bloc national’ – yn Ffrangeg Saunders – y tu fewn i’r Blaid newydd oedd wedi codi mor annisgwyl i’w chadw at eu hegwyddorion hwy. ‘Fel y gwelwch,’ meddai,’ heb yn wybod iddynt, maent i gyd yn aelodau o’n mudiad ni.’

Un mater arall oedd ar ôl. Mynnai Saunders Lewis gael cyfarfod i osod y Blaid Genedlaethol ar sail genedlaethol. Roedd y Queen’s Café, Caernarfon, wedi cyflawni’r wyrth gychwynnol. Byddai Saunders Lewis yn nodi, ‘Credaf ei bod yn gywir dweud mai H.R.Jones a sylfaenodd y Blaid Genedlaethol Gymreig’. Nawr aeth H.R. ati i drefnu cyfarfod bach, preifat ar gyfer saith* cynrychiolydd i gwrdd yn y Maesgwyn Temperance Hotel, Pwllheli, yn ystod Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Awst 1925. Ond stori arall yw honno.

Dim ond chwech a gyrhaeddodd, wedi i D.J.Williams golli ei drên.