A Cofiwch Dryweryn mural has appeared in a remote part of America
When the Cofiwch Dryweryn mural was vandalised in 2019 it prompted a spate of similar murals to be painted in solidarity with the original artwork sited on a wall near Llanrhystud in Ceredigion.
The original mural commemorates the drowning of the village of Capel Celyn and the Tryweryn valley near Bala in 1965 in order to supply water for the city of Liverpool. Eight hundred acres of land was drowned to create the Llyn Celyn reservoir, which included the school, the post office, the chapel and the cemetery.
Since the vandalising of the wall which was quickly repaired by volunteers, new murals have sprung up across the UK and internationally.
The latest to appear is in the state of Nebraska in the city of Wymore. Although officially known as a city its population is only 1,400, however it’s significance in the history of Wales is huge.
Wymore was founded in 1881 as a railroad town, on land donated by Sam Wymore. Known as the Welsh capital of the Great Plains, Wymore became home to generations of immigrants from Wales, who continued their culture in day-to-day life, founding a Welsh-language church, school and cemetery, as well as preserving the Welsh traditions of poetry, dance, and music.
In 2000, the Great Plains Welsh Heritage Centre was founded to preserve the legacy of these early settlers. It has since expanded to include a museum, an archive of genealogical records, and one of the largest Welsh-language libraries in North America.
While one side of the building features a stunning mural depicting Welsh emigration from Wales to Nebraska, the other side has been blank – until now.
A Cofiwch Dryweryn was added to the building by Robert Humphries, who has been involved with the centre for around a decade, as a board member, historical researcher and Welsh-language translator.
Originally from Newport, he now lives in Wisconsin, driving 500 miles to Wymore several times a year. On his latest trip he came bearing a couple tins of paint.
“On one wall, overlooking our memorial garden, we already have a stunning mural depicting Welsh emigration from Wales to Nebraska,” said Robert. “However, the wall on the other side has been blank for a long time.
“I was inspired by the popularity of Cofiwch Dryweryn murals in Wales in recent years, and have seen the original Tryweryn wall near Llanrhystud,” he said. “As a Welshman, I recognise the significance of the drowning of Capel Celyn and the symbolism of this message in our culture.”
Robert adds that he also took inspiration from the other Cofiwch Dryweryn murals in the US – one in Rio Grande in Ohio, which has ties with Wales through immigration and two in Chicago, both created by David Parry, the man behind the Welsh expat group Chicago Tafia.
“David stopped by the Great Plains Welsh Heritage Centre a few months ago and mentioned to me on Facebook that there was a perfect spot for one on that wall,” said Robert.
“So, a few weeks ago, while visiting Wymore, we broke out some red and white paint and made it happen! I painted the lettering, and the red background was painted by Gary Colgrove, husband of our board president, Gwenith Closs Colgrove. Her ancestors came to Nebraska almost 150 years ago. But she still stays in contact with cousins in Wales, and regularly visits.”
It’s a big year for Wymore and the Great Plains Welsh Heritage Centre.
“This year, for the first time ever, the North American Festival of Wales (NAFOW) is coming to Lincoln, the state capital of Nebraska, and we are very much involved in the festivities,” said Robert. “Many NAFOW attendees, including Welsh Americans and Welsh Canadians, as well as guests from Wales, will be visiting our Welsh Heritage Centre.
“With NAFOW coming up, we all agreed this would be a welcome sight to many of our visitors during the festival. We can also explain its significance to anyone else who visits in the coming years.
“While at the Great Plains Welsh Heritage Centre we focus on the history of Welsh people who emigrated to the United States over a century ago, our Cofiwch Dryweryn mural connects us to the experiences of people in Wales today.”
Find out more about the Great Plains Welsh Heritage Centre HERE
Discover more about the North American Festival of Wales HERE
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