The Green Dragon, No 5, Winter 1997

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Editor's Introduction

Who Fears to Speak of…

During a visit to Wales in the early 1970s the then Foreign Secretary, George Brown, said, “Forget your bloody language!” Similar advice, to the effect that “History is bunk” (Henry Ford – descended from Great Famine emigrants) and that we should “forget the past” are routinely heard when Irish people, Orange or Green, try to discuss their history. 1998 marks the bicentenary of a tragic year when Irish Catholics, Protestants and Dissenters faced the forces of the crown. Henry Joy McCracken in North East Ulster and Fr. Murphy in South East Leinster led inadequate forces (men, women and even children took part) into battle in a futile attempt to bring about an Ireland in which everyone would share “the common name of Irishman” (Wolfe Tone). The failure of their desperate attempt resulted in the imposition of ‘direct rule’ from midnight on the 31st of December, 1800. That abolition of the ancient Kingdom of Ireland with its own Houses of Lords and Commons created the United Kingdom.

The 1798 Rebellion will be remembered in Cardiff on Saturday 28 February, 1998 with a Study Day on the theme, Wales and Ireland: Visions of National Identity – Past and Present, arranged, following an approach by the Wales Famine Forum, by the Department for Community Education and Professional Development of Cardiff University in conjuntion with the Welsh Centre for International Affairs. Topics will include ‘Constitutional Ideals of 1798’, ‘The Ideals of Owain Glyndwr’ (1354 - 1416?), ‘The Impact of Welsh Devolution’ and ‘Ulster Unionism’.

Readers may also wish to take part in a recording of the Welsh language hymn singing programme,Dechrau Canu, Dechrau Canmol('Beginning to Sing, Beginning to Praise'). This recording, suggested by the Wales Famine Forum to mark the anniversary of the Great Famine, will take place, with the permission of the Parish Priest, Wexfordman Canon Thomas Dunne, at 7.30 pm on Wednesday 4th February in St. Brigid’s R.C. Church, Crystal Glen, The Heath, Cardiff. The (televised) broadcast, on S4C, will be at 7.30 pm on Sunday 15th March, 1998.


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Contents

1. The Great Famine
© Dr.Harri Pritchard–Jones, doctor, journalist, writer and broadcaster, delivered this lecture in Welsh at the Central Library, Cardiff on 4 April, 1995.

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2. Poem: Farewell to the White Potatoes
Based on a poem in Irish, Na Fataí Bána (‘The White Potatoes’), written at the time of the Famine by Peatsaí Ó Callanáin, a farmer from near Athenry, County Galway. The original poem has twelve verses.
Not many years later this free translation of the first eight was made for the great antiquarian, Eugene O’Curry, by one Thomas Chapman of Dublin.

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3. Poem : The Blight on Mary's Children
© Father Ieuan Wyn Jones, Grangetown, Cardiff. A native Welsh speaker and a convert to Catholicism, Fr. Ieuan is the Celebrant of the regular 11.00 a.m. Sunday Mass in Welsh at the Sacred Heart Church, Broad Street, Leckwith, Cardiff.

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4. Irish Communities in Cardiff
© Owen John Thomas, a former primary school teacher in Cardiff and now a member of the National Assemebly of Wales, writes and speaks regularly, in both English and Welsh, on local history, politics and Welsh affairs.

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5. Remembering St. Paul's
Written by the Editor, this piece looks at the church that served the people of Newtown, Cardiff's best-known Irish quarter, from August, 1893 until the last Mass was celebrated there on October 22, 1967 and at the programme of events arranged jointly by The Newtown Association and The Wales Famine Forum to mark the thirtieth anniversary of that event on Friday and Saturday October 24 and 25, 1997.

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6. Poem : The Spirit of Grangetown
© 'Millie' looks back at the community of her childhood on the edge of Cardiff's former Tiger Bay.

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7. Welsh Connections
© Sam H. Boyd looks at the links beween the Wales where he lives and the Ireland of East Belfast where he grew up.

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8. Christmas in the Galtees
From the book, Christmas on the Galtees by William O’Brien (Dublin, 1878), quoted in The Cork Anthology, edited by Seán Dunne. Cork, The University Press,1993.

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9. Christmas on the Dingle Peninsula
© Muiris Ó Bric who now lives in New York. This passage is from his book, Spotsholas na nDaoine('The Spotlight of the People'), published in 1995 by © Coiscéim, Dublin.

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10. An Aran Islands Christmas
© Dr. Harri Pritchard-Jones, doctor, writer, and broadcaster, lives in Cardiff. His description of a special Christmas in 1964 was published in Welsh in the magazine, Byw, in December, 1965.

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11. Poem : Cuireadh do Mhuire / An Invitation to Mary
© Máirtín Ó Direáin (1910 - 1988), the great poet from the Aran Islands, wrote the poem Cuireadh do Mhuire at Christmas, 1942.

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12. Curranty Cakes
© Máire Phatch Mhór Uí Churraoin was born in Connemara in 1912. Taken from her book of reminiscences, A Scéal Féin ('Her Own Story'), published by © Coiscéim, Dublin, in 1995.

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13. A Country Christmas
© Alice Taylor, Innishannon, County Cork. From her classic book To School Through the Fields – an Irish Country Childhood. First published by © Brandon Books, Dingle, County Kerry, in 1988, it went on to become the most popular and most sold book in the history of publishing in Ireland and has been reprinted many times.

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14. Out for 'The Cure'
© Maidhc Dainín Ó Sé, lorry driver, singer and musician, is also from the Dingle Peninsula. This account of a Christmas in London in the 1950s is taken from his bestselling autobiography in Irish A Thig ná Tit Orm('O House, do not Fall on Me'), Dublin, © Coiscéim, 1987.

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15. The Wonderful Christmas Soup
©: Frank Hennessy, broadcaster, folk musician and songwriter of renown, gave his name to ‘The Hennessys’, Cardiff’s favourite folk group. His Irish forebears came from West Waterford and he has repaid that compliment by writing ‘The Old Dungarvan Oak’. That popular ballad is based on the Welsh folk song, Yr Hen Dderwen Ddu (‘The Old Black Oak’), also written by Frank.

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16. A Light Christmas
©: John O’Sullivan, freelance journalist and writer on local history and Catholicism, who lives in Cardiff. His grandfather was a seaman from Cobh, County Cork. His article looks at Christmas in Cardiff about 100 years ago.

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17. The Christmas Eisteddfod
©: Tom Macdonald. Taken from his book of childhood memories The White Lanes of Summer,London, © Macmillan, 1975. The son of poor Irish parents, he grew up in rural Cardiganshire in the early years of this century. He died in 1980.

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18. Making Toffee on Christmas Eve
From the book, Coelion Cymru (‘Welsh Traditions’) by Evan Isaac, published in 1938.

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19. Bees and Carols
This story of an attempt to hear the bees ‘sing praise’ and the story of the plygain are from the book, Hiwmor, Synnwyr a Halen (‘Humour, wisdom and salt’) by David Delta Evans, published in London about 1937. The author’s mother was born in 1833.

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20. A Christmas Eve in Austria
From a story of his childhood by Austrian writer, Peter Rosseger (1843 – 1918).

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21. The Third Low Mass
By Alphonse Daudet (1840 - 1897). From his book, Lettres de mon Moulin('Letters from my Mill'), this strange Christmas story is based on a legend of old Provence.

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22. The Day before Christmas
© Haralan Popov, a Protestant pastor in Bulgaria, spent 13 Christmases in prison. This excerpt from the book, Tortured for His Faith, describes one of them. It was published in Great Britain by Lakeland in 1970. ‘Lakeland’ no longer exists and all efforts to trace the current copyright owners have failed.

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23. The Search is On
This is a meditation for Christmas by © Canon Seán Kearney, St. Mary’s Priory, Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales.

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24. Love, Justice, Trade
The above is a statement issued by Traidcraft: trading for a fairer world, Kingsway, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear NE11 0NE, UK. Tel: 00 44 191 491 0591.

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25. No Room at the Inn
This is a Christmas reflection on why we need to work for a fair and just humanity by the Reverend Denzil John, Minister of Tabernacl Caerdydd,the Welsh Baptists' place of worship in The Hayes, Cardiff, since 1825.

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26. Green Christianity
This is the text of a sermon preached by © Dr. John Biggs, MA, C.Chem., FRSC, former Chairman of the Free Church Federal Council, during a Morning Worship programme broadcast on Anglia Television in August, 1997.

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27. Poem : An Taoide / The Tide
Domhnall Óg Ó Ceocháin, Cork. A poetic warning about humanity's destruction of the sea from his book of poems in Irish, Rian na Laincisí('The Mark of the Fetters'), Dublin, Clódhanna Teoranta,1978.

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27. Poem : A Psalm to Mother Teresa
© Robin Gwyndaf. Published in Welsh as Salm i’r Fam Teresa in the Welsh language Christian periodical, Cristion. The author is a senior member of staff at the Museum of Welsh Life, St. Fagans, Cardiff.

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