Ceremony of Remembrance and Reflection 2003

Wales National Great Famine Memorial
Cathays Cemetery, Cardiff
Monday 17 March, 2003 - St. Patrick's Day
Commencing at 11.00 a.m.

This ceremony was preceded by a special Mass at 9.15 am in St. Joseph's RC Church, New Zealand Road for St. Patrick's Day, for famine victims everywhere and for peace in the world.
Among those who took part were children from St. Joseph's RC Primary School.


1. Address of Welcome by Mary Newman, Acting Chair, Wales Famine Forum.

From this point on all items were introduced by the MC, Colin Sangster, a member of the congregation at St. Joseph's RC Church, to whom we wish to express our thanks and appreciation.

2. The Cardiff Red Choir sang Tomos John Williams.

3. The poem, Biafra, by the late Dafydd Rowlands (1931 - 2002) was read:
a) In Irish by James Carroll, Consul General of Ireland in Wales.
b) In English by children from St. Joseph's RC Primary School who will be introduced by Councillor Christine Priday, Cardiff City and County Council.
St. Joseph's School celebrates its 75th anniversary on Wednesday 19 March, the feast of St. Joseph.
c) In the original Welsh by children from Ysgol Mynydd Bychan, the local Welsh language primary school, who were introduced by Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas, Presiding Officer, National Assembly for Wales.
'Ysgol Mynydd Bychan' occupies the original 'St. Joseph's RC Primary School' in Whitchurch Road. This gives the two schools a shared history and a common bond which was strengthened by their joint participation in this ceremony.

4) The St. Patrick's Day Message from President Mary MacAleese was read by James Carroll.

5. Father J. Breidenback, IC, Parish Priest, St. Joseph's RC Church, Cathays read: Matthew 11, 25-30.

6. Canon Robert Reardon, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cardiff, read an extract from the recently published lenten message by Archbishop Peter Smith.

7.The Reverend Matthew Hill, representing the Right Reverend Barry Morgan, Bishop of Llandaff, spoke on behalf of the Bishop.

8. Reflection by the Reverend Jeff Williams, Director, Chistian Aid Cymru.

9. One minute's silence.

10. Wreaths were placed by:
a) Councillor Christine Priday, on behalf of the City and County of Cardiff.
b) Jointly by Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas and James Carroll.
c) Mary Newman, Acting Chair, the Wales Famine Forum, on behalf of the Forum.

11. The children of Ysgol Mynydd Bychan sang Mawl i'r Ior am Wledydd y Byd.

12. The Cardiff Red Choir sang Mynydd Cwa Disglair, a Welsh translation of the song, Sliabh Geal gCua, by Waterford born Pádraig Ó Miléadha (1877 - 1947).

12.Prayers for Peace:
a) Said by Tom McGarry, President, NUS Wales.
Then, the Cardiff Reds Choir sang the Latin words, Dona Nobis Pacem ('Give Us Peace').
Then everyone shook hands as a sign of peace.

b) Said by Sue Scanlon, Director, CAFOD Cymru.
Then the Cardiff Reds Choir sang Dona Nobis Pacem.

c) Said by Mary Sullivan, Chair, the Newtown Association.
Then the Cardiff Reds Choir sang Dona Nobis Pacem.

The three prayers for peace said as above were first used at the special Mass for deceased members of the Newtown community which was celebrated at 12.15 p.m. in St. Peter's RC Church, Roath, Cardiff, on Sunday 16 March. We wish to thank Mary Sullivan, Chair, the Newtown Association, for allowing us to use slightly modified versions of those prayers.

13. Then Dave Burns of Newtown, Cardiff's 'Little Ireland', sang The Country I'm Leaving Behind.
Dave Burns, who has sung with 'The Hennessys' and with 'Ar Log' for many years, grew up in the former Irish community of Newtown, Cardiff's 'Little Ireland', an area of just six streets between Tyndall Street and the railway line. He first learned this majestic song of Irish exile from his mother. Later, when he began to sing it in Ireland, he was amazed to find that it was quite unknown there or indeed anywhere else for that matter. It seems to be unique to Cardiff and is a fitting way to end this ceremony.

14. The Cardiff Reds Choir brought the ceremony to a fitting close as they sang the National Anthem of Ireland.

Arranged by The Wales Famine Forum with the co-operation of St. Joseph's Parish and Cardiff City and County Council.

We wish to express our gratitude to all the participants named above and to everyone who attended the event or who supported us in any other way.

We hope to be able to arrange a similar event on St. Patrick's Day, March 17, 2004.


It was brilliant day for a festival as the sun shone from a cloudless sky.
The events began with a special Mass at St. Joseph's RC Church, New Zealand Road, celebrated by Father E.J.Cody,IC. The congregation of over 70 people (it is normally about 12 on a weekday) included Jim Carroll, the Consul General of Ireland in Wales, who read a lesson.
At the end of the Mass John O'Sullivan, our PRO, gave a short talk during which he explained why we were planning to celebrate St. Patrick's Day by going to a cemetery! He outlined the history of the Great Famine in Ireland. He pointed out how the great diaspora that followed had the side effect that those unwilling exiles took their faith, their culture and their customs to all parts of the world, including Wales.
Their faith, culture and customs combined at best on their national day, St. Patrick's Day, in such a remarkable way that it is now the best known national day in the world and is, after Christmas, the best-known and most widely celebrated festival of all.
Finally he linked Ireland's tragic experience of poverty, famine and exile with the continuation of the same problems in our modern world where thousands die unnecessarily every day for want of water, food and basic medication.

The ceremony at the cemetery attracted about 150 people,the largest gathering at the Memorial since the massive turnout at the inaugural ceremony on St. Patrick's Day, 1999.
Those present, apart from those mentioned in the programme above, included Mr. Anthony Ernest, Honorary Consul of Costa Rica, Mr. Anthony Packer, Honorary Consul of Lithuania, Madame Claude Annick Rapport, Honorary Consul of France and Frau Helga Rother-Simmonds, Honorary Consul of Germany.
The four children from St. Joseph's RC Primary School and the thirty children from Ysgol Mynydd Bychan (in green school sweaters) added a particular charm and grace to the whole ceremony, drawing the attention of the crowd away from the the many VIPs present - even from the S4C television camera crew!

After the ceremony had ended everyone was invited to St. Joseph's Catholic Social Club, Whitchurch Road.Those who accepted the invitation included Jim Carroll, Anthony Packer, Dave Burns, the Cardiff Reds Choir,and County Carlow man, Rickie Ormonde, the former Lord Mayor of Cardiff. At the club Sue Scanlon of CAFOD and various helpers provided a free 'famine lunch' of bread and cheese. There was a collection afterwards towards famine relief. Entertainment was provided by Dave Burns, the Cardiff Reds Choir and by that dynamic duo, John O'Sullivan and Rickie Ormonde.And of course everyone, in accordance with ancient custom and tradition, 'wet the shamrock' as well as they were able!

Later, shortly after 7.00 pm, our Secretary was interviewed live at St. Joseph's Club by another S4C camera crew who wanted to know why St. Patrick's Day is more widely celebrated than St. David's Day, perhaps even in Wales itself.
Part of the answer may be that some scholars (including the famous Michael McGrath who was Archbishop of Cardiff from 1940 to 1961) claim that St. Patrick was probably born in the part of Roman Britain now called Wales. If that is so then Ireland's patron saint and supreme national hero is the most famous and most popular Welshman ever!


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