The 2011 Welsh National Eisteddfod (30th July to 6th August 2011) marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Celtic League, which was founded this week fifty years ago at the 1961 Eisteddfod in Rhosllanerugog near Wrecsam/Wrexham.
To mark the anniversary of the organisation the Celtic League has produced a special 150th edition of `Carn’, which should now have been forwarded to members. Carn is now in its 38th year of publication and is edited by Patricia Bridson, who has been in the role since 1984. As part of the 150th edition of the publication, the General Secretary and Convenor of the League have written an editorial that looks back briefly over the last fifty years of the organisation and outlines some of the challenges still facing the Celtic countries today.
The full text of the editorial is set out below.
“Editorial – 50 years of the Celtic League and the Celtic Nations Progress
“This year is the 50th anniversary of the Celtic League, which was founded in Rhosllanerchrugog in Cymru (Wales) on 9th August 1961 by a dozen founding members from Wales, Brittany and Scotland. In that initial first meeting it was agreed that the fundamental aim of the organisation was “To foster national rights of the Celtic Nations, Political (including governing their own affairs),
Cultural and Economics” At the second meeting held in Cardiff on 30th September 1962 representatives of all six Celtic nations were present.
“The Celtic League has developed much since then, The constitution and aims were expanded over the years and now state “The fundamental aim of the Celtic League is to support, through peaceful means, the struggle of the Celtic Nations, Alba, Breizh, Cymru, Éire, Kernow and Mannin to win or to secure the political, cultural, social and economic freedom they need for their survival and development as distinct communities.” Commitments are made in the constitution to work for the restoration of the Celtic languages, to fostering interceltic solidarity and co-operation, to publicising our struggles and achievements, to furthering the establishment of organised relations between the Celtic nations and to socially just societies. The full constitution is available on our website at www.celticleague.net.
“The early years of the League and the events of the first 20 years are outlined in a two part article in the League magazine Carn 35 and 36 published in 1981 ” The Celtic League – 20 Years a Growing” by author and historian Peter Berresford Ellis. On the occasion of our fortieth anniversary in 2011 in an editorial in Carn 116 “40 Years of Progress on the Interceltic Front” the campaigns and developments of the League in the eighties and nineties and the progress made by the Celtic nations are presented. These issues of Carn may be seen on our new multilingual website where all issues of Carn since its launch in 1973 to 2010 are now available.
“For many decades now the Celtic League has been an independent campaigning organisation furthering our aims through Carn, though our website, through a range of activities and through publicity releases on a wide range of issues both on our site and yahoo news groups. Our national and other branches have over the decades organised interceltic events, bilateral interceltic visits, solidarity manifestations at commemorations, summer schools, conferences, assisted in elections, held pickets and demonstrations, and organised visits of political leaders They supported the editor of Carn and the general secretary and director of information on the military monitoring, language, political and cultural campaigns and issues. It can with fairness be said that the League and it activities have had a pivotal role in increasing the level of interceltic consciousness and making our struggles better known in our own countries and abroad.
“Since the initial meeting of the Celtic League the peoples of the Celtic countries are still struggling for the political, cultural and economic freedom of their territories, but there have of course been significant developments towards this end over the last 50 years. The two countries that have made most significant gains over this period are Alba (Scotland) and Cymru (Wales). The political devolution that has occurred in Alba with the Scottish Parliament and in Cymru with the Welsh Assembly has provided a realistic foundation on which to build independent nations.
“The overwhelming vote in the Parliament elections in May in favour of the Scottish National Party (SNP) to form a government in Alba, shows that the people are ready to embrace the opportunity being presented to them for a referendum to determine their own future. A Gaidhlig language Board has been established and some progress made in promoting the language. Similarly in Cymru, a positive referendum vote for greater legislative powers for the Assembly in March means that from June the new Welsh Parliament will be able to exercise greater legislative powers than at any time since the inauguration of Owain Glyndwr’s first parliament in the fifteenth century. Although Welsh is the strongest of the Celtic languages it is still threatened and activists still see problems and fight for improvements.
“Gains have been made in the other Celtic countries too, but they are more contentious and less obvious. In Brittany for example the nationalist party UDB has gained representation in the Regional Assembly but political development towards any from of self government has not progressed and the unification of Brittany is still fought for. The real progress of Diwan and Ofis ar Brezoneg are to be welcomed but there is no halt to the continuing decline in native speakers of Breton.
“In Ireland the economic progress of the nineties in the Republic was shattered in this century by the greed and stupidity of bankers, developers and politicians. The state in now in control of the troika of IMF, ECB and EU and the general population are paying for debts of the banks and developers. In the North institutionalised sectarianism has been largely dismantled and the creation of the Stormont Assembly has given rise to the power sharing executive. Recent events in Belfast show the fragility of this when resurgent Loyalism once again comes to the fore.
“An Official Languages act has been passed in the Republic, a 20 Year Strategy for Irish has been launched, the Irish Language achieved official status in the EU, RnaG and TG4 flourish, Irish medium education expands, sometimes with difficulty, in both parts of the island but the Gaeltacht areas are still under considerable threat.
“Demands for a Cornish Assembly were rejected despite 50,000 signatures but Cornish identity is stronger, the Cornish language has been officially recognised and a Cornish nursery school founded. In Mannin the teaching of Manx has expanded into Manx medium education at primary level and the relationship between the Isle of Man and the UK is being increasingly questioned by each generation.
“While much has been achieved our nations have still a long way to go to secure the political, cultural, social and economic freedom they need for their survival and development as distinct communities. One question that has to be addressed is how this can be achieved in an EU where every treaty cedes more power to the central institutions?
Rhisiart Talebot, General Secretary,
Cathal Ó Luain, Convenor”
This article prepared for Celtic News by Rhisiart Tal-e-bot General Secretary Celtic League. For follow-up comment or clarification contact:
Tel: 0044 (0)1209315884
J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information