Ardderchog! I hope you will have a chance to visit Wales soon. And to exchange greetings in Welsh with Mr. Abrams. During Eisteddfod Week perhaps?
Meredith, nice piece. Have you come across global welsh. May be worth a look.
The only disagreement I would have that welsh history from a welsh perspective I would say is generally taught in wales and I can introduce you to many welsh history teachers who are annoyed that it’s regualarky suggested that we don’t. The past we may not have and even now the syllabus may cover other areas but welsh history is certainly taught and available for those who want it.
Thank you, Ceri! I am happy to be wrong about the Welsh history thing—thank you for that perspective. You’re right that the perception in the media is different. I taught middle school history and English for a short time and am very passionate about education. I would love to know more about the Welsh education system!
The Welsh Education System today is far superior compared to when I sent to school in the 1970s. British Colonialism and Imperial over Welsh History was rife back then. A great read by the way! Cymru Rydd.
Nothing I disagree with here. Excellent article. Reaching out to those of Welsh heritage around the globe is very important – it shows we are outward looking internationalists (which we are). Looking at the Irish influence in the states I confess a pang of disappointment that the same cannot be said for Welsh influence. St. Padraig’s Day is like a national thing over there…. St David’s not so much. Hopefully see that change in the future though. 🙂
I’m wondering about:
“My understanding is that few schools in Wales teach children Welsh history from a Welsh perspective. Wales’s history has largely been portrayed as that of England, from an English viewpoint.”
Is this the case? When I was in school in Wales we did have a Welsh slant on our history, along history from England – tutor kings and queens… but I only did it for 3 years, and in primary school, which was definitelt Weldh history. But that was all a long time ago.
Primary for me was Rebecca Riots. Wasn’t really in depth though – as it wouldn’t be. Secondary in Years 7 and 8 touched on Owain and Llywelyn but was more on the side – as in it wasn’t covered in any exams we did. As with yourself it was mixed in with a lot of English history – Norman invasion, Tudors etc. – beyond that it was Russia, Germany and USA in the 20th century. Some have said they had an option for Welsh history… but I think we need to abandon English history beyond where it effected us personally…… Read more »
I went to English medium school….nothing about local or Welsh history……John Prescott at the time was dead against it…yet supported Cornish devolution .. funny thing….he was scared of tribalism lol
Great article! Really love hearing views from Welsh-Americans across the pond. Also, you managed to sum up my thoughts on the Abrams article which, quite frankly, annoyed me to a great extent.
What an incredible article – thank you Meredith for restoring some much needed balance in a media environment that appears hell-bent on labelling those who would see the preservation of Welsh history, language and culture as “racist” and in Abrams’ case “anti-semitic’. You have coined a very apt and relevant phrase: “English fragility” – I see evidence of that every day, especially from British (English) nationalists: Welsh history and culture reminds them that “Wales was Wales before England existed”.
Also, you must come to Wales – we have a guest room near Cardiff!
Gwych! Diolch Meredith.
A heartwarming article and well written.Visit soon and enjoy a warm welcome.Our history has been systematically air brushed by the establishment for so long.However,the truth exists for those of us who want to find it, and this will always be a fly in the ointment of English historians – We are still here despite everthing.The truth against the world.Come to the Merthyr rising festival some time and many good people will open their doors to you and yours.
This woman should be running the Senedd. Or how about Queen of Wales? I’m regularly struck by the extent to which Welsh Americans are validated positively by their own Welsh identity (however distant), and the affection they have for this country. It contrasts with the anglo-centrism of of some of our own citizens (‘True Wales’, for instance, or the man in my village who flies the Union Jack, or Alun Cairns). And boy, doesn’t it contrast with the attitude of many people from England! When the American actress and singer Juliette Lewis (of Welsh origin) appeared on the Jonathan Ross… Read more »
P.S. Anyone else noticed how Welsh she looks after five generations in the USA?
Yes. I thought, for a sec. it was a photo of my first girlfriend.
Likewise my ex, now you mention it.
This was beautiful. *wipes away a tear. I find your framing of “English fragility” very useful as an explanatory term for this phenomenon. I hope you won’t mind if I borrow it. I myself have been using ‘Anglo-supremacy’ or ‘Anglo-centrism’ for a similar purpose, (potentially applying to the Anglophone sphere in language issues and media, as well as merely observations of the still entrenched colonial viewpoint we endure all too often in Cymru). It seems to me something akin to white-supremacy etc., not merely an issue of the actions and attitudes of individuals, but a wider (often less intentionally hurtful)… Read more »
Ned Thomas wrote a book way back in the 1970s called ‘The Welsh Extremist’. Maybe you’ve read it? If you haven’t, I suggest you do, then you will know why you’re regarded as an extremist, just for doing what people in any other country would be regarded as unremarkable. It’s perhaps one of the books that should be required reading in the Cwriciwlwm Cymreig.
However, the point of the book was that we should bear the title of extremist with pride.
Diolch, it is on my bookshelf from a year ago… I got distracted and haven’t finished reading it yet. Thanks for the reminder. 😀
Not sure about this. A family can move to America and we applaud their retention of ‘Welshness’ even unto the 5th generation, but if an English family moves to Sir Ddinbych, what then? Part of me wants to applaud Meredith for ensuring that the cultural memory lives on, and part of me wonders why she’s not learning Comanche (or whatever language is native to her part of Texas). Or maybe she can do (or even is doing) both?
There are big questions here that I really have no idea how we answer.
The language of the most recent indigenous people to live in what is now Austin, Texas, is Tonkawan. http://www.tonkawatribe.com/history.html Sadly, the Tonkawa were forcibly removed first by the Republic of Texas and then the United States to Indian Territory (now the state of Oklahoma) in the 19th century. The language has no remaining native speakers; however, a restoration effort is underway, thanks to the language having been recorded from native sources. http://www.tonkawatribe.com/language.html As a fellow Welsh-American of many generations hence, also learning the Welsh language while living in Austin, I, too, have thought quite a bit about these issues. In… Read more »
a fair point……however the universe constantly changes…..even the “sir” in Sir ddinbych is a colonialist relic
I wish the Europeans and Native americans could have shared their best cultural parts and intermixed….without the whole US empire thing…..but thats life
it is a bit of a tangle
I too live in the US, in Florida. I would trade the heat and humidity here for cold rainy Wales in a heartbeat! My grandparents came over in 1912 to Philadelphia. They lived in Penmaenmawr which I visited once and felt right at home. Cynru am byth!
Not surprised to hear that your family went from Wales to Philadelphia from North Wales. One third of Welsh Americans live in Pennsylvania. Scranton PA has the largest community of people of Welsh blood outside Wales, and as you probably know, there’s a plaque in Welsh on the wall of Philadelphia City Hall commemorating the Welsh contribution to Pennsylvania. The Welsh built that state!
I think you might change your mind after a year or two of the unrelenting wet stuff. We only know it’s summer because the rain gets warmer!
When you retire you could house-swop with someone; Summer in Wales – Winter in Florida. (And maybe little trips to various cities in europe.) Of course you’ll need similar friendly people.
Moderation? I live in Fenno Scandia!
There are a.ot of welsh poeple in Australia
I was taught no history of my country when in school. When I went to grammar school, the history teacher ran thru the syllabus for us- when I then asked the question ‘Why is there no Welsh history in this syllabus?’, the reply I got was ‘. Don’t be stupid boy, there is no such thing as Welsh history!’
Was your teacher Dai Smith? You ride with the Romans, you survive all the tribes ending in ANS & ONS, your language and civilisation remain unbroken for for almost 2 millennia, you rule over vast parts of the island of Britain for a 100 years, you forge international royal dynasties, have the first written law in Europe, you take 200 years to be affected by a people that took your neighbours in 4 years, you have the oldest written literature that exists on these Isles, and on and on and on and on – you’ve got to be a pretty… Read more »
Haha. But please, don’t be too hard on Dai Smith. When I was an undergraduate I once went to get some advice from Dai Smith about an idea I had for a long essay, namely the history of teaching Welsh history in Wales. At that time, Welsh history could only be studied as a joint honours degree, along with something else. It seemed that us Welsh only had half a history! I distinctly remember Dai Smith telling me, ( and yes, I did nearly fall over!) that, in his opinion, Welsh history was deserving of being studied as a degree… Read more »
Grrr, this site really does need an edit button – Ifan, please take note! That last paragraph is rubbish, and I inadvertently pressed the ‘Post comment’ button prematurely. So here is the amended paragraph: I know that he has been a much maligned historian of Wales, (and with some good reason) but I have often wondered why there appeared to be such a difference from the public persona that promoted the orthodox Welsh Labour Party view that early Welsh history was nothing more than about Medieval robber barons, and that proper Welsh history only started in the 18th century with… Read more »
Very good summing up of the situation.Hopeyou can make it over here in the not too distant future.Yoy seem to know more about Wales than a lot who live here.
Meredith. Erthygl wych (fantastic article).
Im a Texan too, who has come to this wonderful country, made it my home and learned Cymraeg. Keep at it with Cymraeg, the cultural rewards are at first minute but increase exponentially.
I made these words in Welsh for our homeland.
Techas (Texas). Trehuws (Houston). Techiad (Texan). Techies (woman Texan). Dôl las (Dallas). Bwymon (Beaumont).
How about Mynydd Teg for Beaumont, Ben?
Does dim mynydd yno. Ond mae llawer o ‘gwymon’.
Wir? Yn yr anialwch?
Anyone heard the Merle Travis song “There Ain’t A Cow In Texas”? Absolutely the best of his, apart from “Sixteen Tons” and “Too Much Sugar For A Dime”. You can see ’em all on You Tube.
What a man!
It is unfortunate that this article on Welsh identity spends a lot of its time blaming us English for a lack of Welsh identity. I agree that Welsh and Scottish history are ignored for example by the BBC in programmes such as David Starkey’s Monarchy and it is wrong. Equally I object to English history being conflated with British history. To many in the media and politics there is Scottish Welsh Irish and British. We English don’t exist politically. That is why the political classes refer to England as ‘this country’. They refuse to say even England. So we all… Read more »
Even when (if) we get independence, we’ll still blame the English for everything! It’s an old (bad) habit, but if we stopped doing that, we’d then have to blame ourselves!
“…[not] forced to do anything it doesn’t want to.” Grannies selling up and buying Welsh properties that are unaffordable to local house-hunters, English local authorities dumping troublemakers in Welsh towns, planning-authorities building unwanted houses to help solve England’s housing problem. And Wales is forced to fund it all.
So, yes, we really should vote for independence if we can’t put a stop to these colonial practices.
You were borderline fragile there for a moment.
Bendegedig !! Meredith …..a beautiful old Welsh name as I am sure you know…I really enjoyed reading your piece and agree with it. Thank you for taking your time to compose it and I sincerely hope you get to visit your ancestral home sooner rather than later. Dymuniadau gorau.
By the way, Nathan has this BIG thing going for him; he has skin involved. The family children are in Welsh medium education. They will go the the Urdd, read poetry, mix, and probably contribute more to welsh culture, and science than I ever did. So caps off to Mr Nathan Abrams, please.
Two of the three Roman legions had to be permanently stationed in Wales back then, making it the Afghanistan of its day.The Cymru then defended its land from the Angles,Saxons,Jutes and assorted pagan tribes for 650 years after Rome left,whilst also fending off seaborne attacks by Danes and Irish.The Norman French then took from 1066 until around 1415 to finaly subdue Wales.The Normans,combined with fresh waves of Frenchmen,Anglo Saxons,Flemings and mercenaries from all over Europe joined in.The most expensive and extensive program of castle bulding required to do this almost bankrupt England,and all to subdue little old Wales. Holding out… Read more »
We look forward to seeing you in Nant Gwrtheyrn Meredith! Croeso unrhyw amser.
Having lived and worked in North Carolina for several years, I was amazed to find many settlements of people of Welsh origin in the Blue Ridge mountain range stretching from Virginia to Tennessee. There are more Welsh speakers, holding more eisteddfodae and sustaining more Welsh culture than in all of Wales today! This is yet another expat community we should be reaching out to.
And their not afraid of being proud of their Welsh ancestry, which some are in this benighted country of ours.
It is interesting to note that the Mormon Bible calls heaven ‘Beulahland’. There are at are at least three villages in Wales called Beulah. I’ve often wondered which one is the Mormon heaven named after – the one near Builth Wells or the one in the North. Many of the religious dissidents (persecuted in Wales) that helped found Mormonism were Welsh. Interestingly, the Mormons allegedly own much of the English county of Kent! south of the M25 to the coast.
‘Beulah’ is from the book of Isiah, and I would strongly suspect that all those places thus named here in Cymru were named after that reference. We also have a Bethlehem and a Nazareth, as well as quite a few places named after places mentioned in the Bible. I don’t know whether this happened due to a consciousness of the idea that the Welsh are the descendants of one of the Lost Tribes of Israel, or in anticipation of the Second Coming. You could have easily checked, ignorance in the age of the the internet is a choice! Wikipedia is… Read more »
Well said Meredith ! Welsh history is important and should be used as one of the cornerstones of Welsh culture. We Welsh need to be confident in our history, our language, our culture and in our capabilities ! Regardless of what people (mainly English people ) say the Welsh have a strong identity that has survived 600 years of subjugation and often persecution. Belief in self determination must start with belief in ourselves !