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Llŷn and Eifionydd Eisteddfod – the ‘Eisteddfod we hoped and prayed for’

12 Aug 2023 4 minute read
Michael Strain. Photo Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Cymru

It was worth waiting four years for the Llŷn and Eifionydd Eisteddfod to take place because it has been the “Eisteddfod we hoped and prayed for”, the chairman of the executive committee has said.

The National Eisteddfod was officially invited to the area in November 2019 and it was due to be staged in 2021. But the Covid-19 pandemic intervened and the 2020 Eisteddfod in Ceredigion was twice postponed pushing the festival in Llyn and Eifionydd further back.

It allowed fund-raisers more time to reach the initial target of £400,000 said Michael Strain, the chairman of the Llyn and Eifionydd National Eisteddfod executive committee, “but there were times we thought we would never reach that target and especially after it was raised to £440,000.

But people across Llyn, Eifionydd and Arfon have responded magnificently reaching that target many months ago and surging forward and raising half a million pounds at the start of the Eisteddfod with money still coming in.”

Bad start

Mr Strain accepted the Eisteddfod got off to a bad start with the weather.

“The last time the Eisteddfod was held in the Pwllheli area was 1955 and one newspaper described it as the “Pwll-haul Eisteddfod”, a play on the town’s name because of the endless days of sunshine they enjoyed.

“But despite Storm Antoni we parked more cars on that soggy day than normal on a sunny Monday at the Eisteddfod and there were thousands of people on the Maes.

“The Eisteddfod haven’t revealed the daily attendance for several years but I can say the Eisteddfod’s finance director has been smiling at the end of every day this week.

“People have been coming up to me and congratulating the whole crew – the executive committee, the volunteers, the hundreds who have contributed towards the success of this Eisteddfod.

“The staff have been working long hours for months, and putting in a lot of effort.

“It’s collaboration, and through all this collaboration we’ll reach the successful Steddfod we’ve got.”

The highlight of the Eisteddfod for Michael Strain, a solicitor based in Pwllheli, was the opening concert, Y Curiad.

“We could have filled the main pavilion twice over. It was wonderful to see the choir fill the back of the stage and Pedair, four professional musicians, singing their adaptations of Welsh folk songs.

“We started off on a high and the standard didn’t drop throughout the week,” he said.

Withheld

Mr Strain also said he was delighted to see all the major trophies, prizes and scholarships won during the Eisteddfod: “We didn’t want to have the problem of deciding what to do if the Crown, Prose medal or Chair had been withheld. I was extremely happy to see Alan Llwyd win the chair.

“He spent his childhood in Abersoch and attended Ysgol Botwnnog which is also my old school.

“He was clearly a hero of Emyr Pritchard, the Welsh master at the school, because by the end of my first week at Botwnnog I knew where Alan Llwyd had sat. I knew that he had written his first ode by the time he had reached the old third form, year nine as it’s now known, and while I was in the sixth form I sat facing the wall which had the front page of y Cymro with Alan Llwyd’s photo and a story from the time he won the crown and chair in 1976.”

He hopes the same enthusiasm shown towards the Llŷn and Eifionydd Eisteddfod will be extended to the 2024 National Eisteddfod in Rhondda Cynon Taf.

“The National Eisteddfod is a travelling festival and that’s fundamental to it. The Eisteddfod will visit a very different part of Wales next year and it will be staged in an entirely different setting.

“I wish it well and hope everyone who has volunteered at this Eisteddfod will head south next August and volunteer once again.


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Geoffrey Harris
Geoffrey Harris
8 months ago

As an English speaking Welshman, I am so pleased and proud of the Eisteddfod.

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