Cardiff: Ceremony of Remembrance and Reflection, Saint Patrick’s Day 2008

Wales National Great Famine Memorial
Cathays Cemetery, Cardiff.

( MAP)

Monday 17 March, 2008 — Saint Patrick’s Day
Commencing at 11.00 a.m.

The ceremony was preceded by a special Mass for St. Patrick’s Day at 9.15 am in Saint Joseph’s RC Church, New Zealand Road, Cathays.


The Great Famine in Ireland (1845‑1850) caused the loss of almost two and a half million people who were forced to emigrate "to Heaven or overseas...".
With that history in mind our thoughts will also be with all victims of natural calamities, famine, war, poverty and injustice in our world today.



1. Greetings, John Sweeney, Chair, Wales Famine Forum.

2. Civic welcome on behalf of the City of Cardiff by the Lord Mayor of Cardiff, Councillor Gill Bird.

3. Message in Welsh and English by Lord Dafydd Elis‑Thomas Presiding Officer, National Assembly for Wales.

4. St. Patrick’s Day message from the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, read by Colm McGrady, Consul General for Ireland in Wales.

5. The Cardiff Reds‘ Choir will sing:Sliabh Geal gCua.

This song was originally composed in Irish as Sliabh Geal gCua by Pádraig Ó Miléadha (1877 – 1947), an exile from the Decies area in West Waterford who lived in the Swansea Valley for about 20 years before and after WW1.
It gives exquisite and painful expression to the feelings of those forced by economic necessity to live far from their home, from their friends and from their language.
The choir will begin by singing one verse in the original Irish before singing all of the song in a translation into Welsh.

6. Children from Gladstone Primary School, Cathays:
a) Read: ‘Famine’, a poem dealing with famine in the world today;
b) Placed a bunch of flowers at the base of the Memorial.

7. Children from St. Joseph’s R.C. Primary School, Cathays:
a) Read: The Fields of Athenry;
b) Placed a bunch of flowers at the base of the Memorial.

8. Children from Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Mynydd Bychan, Cathays:
a) Read: Biaffra, a poem in Welsh about famine in Biafra, a province of Nigeria, written by the late Dafydd Rowlands;
b) Placed a bunch of flowers at the base of the Memorial.

9.A reading by Father Edward J. Cody, I.C. of St. Joseph’s RC Church, Cathays.

10. Address by Oliver John Moss, Welsh Affairs Officer, Embassy of the United States of America, London.

11. Dave Burns sang: Emigrant Eyes: a song about the flood of emigration from Ireland.

Dave Burns is a son of Newtown, Cardiff’s former ‘Little Ireland’.

12. Côr Cochion Caerdydd (Cardiff Reds‘ Choir) sang: ‘Thula Thula’, a lullaby from South Africa.
It has been recorded by the group, ‘Ladyship Black Mambazo’, on their CD, ‘Long March to Freedom’.
To hear the track click here.

13. Laying of wreaths during which the Côr Cochion sang Dona Nobis Pacem followed by the Irish folksong, ‘Only Our Rivers Run Free’.
Wreaths / Flowers were laid at the base of the Memorial in the following order:

a) Captain Norman Lloyd Edwards, The Lord Lieutenant of South Glamorgan.
b) The Lord Mayor of Cardiff, Councillor Gill Bird.
c) Jointly by Lord Dafydd Elis‑Thomas, Presiding Officer, National Assembly for Wales and Mr. Colm McGrady, Consul General of Ireland in Wales.
d) Jenny Willott, Member of Parliament, Cardiff Central.
e) Two bouquets were also laid in tribute to the late John O’Sullivan.
One of the founders of the Wales Famine Forum, ‘JOS’ contributed so much to it in ideas, time and effort from November 11, 1994 to his death on January 1, 2008.

14. Dave Burns sang: The Country I’m Leaving Behind

This beautiful and poignant song of exile was regularly sung at the end of a party or other celebration by the people of the former Irish community of Newtown in Cardiff.
Dave Burns was astonished to find that it was quite unknown in Ireland when he first visited his ancestral Irish homeland in the late 1960s.
Although its melody, style and words clearly indicate that it was written – possibly in Scotland or in Wales – by someone from Ireland, this is a song that echoes the deep feelings of hurt, displacement and loss felt by all emigrants no matter where or what their origins.

15. John Sweeney: Closing remarks, including a tribute to John O’Sullivan.

16. Father Michael McCarthy, I.C., Saint Peter’s, Roath: said a prayer and a gave the blessing.

17. Côr Cochion Caerdydd sang: Amhrán na bhFiann, the National Anthem of Ireland.

18. Dave Burns, in response to numerous requests following the splendid recitation of the words by the children of St. Joseph’s RC Primary School sang: ‘The Fields of Athenry’.

19. Côr Cochion Caerdydd sang: Hen Wlad fy Nhadau, the National Anthem of Wales.

All those who wanted to come along were welcomed immediately afterwards at St Joseph’s R.C. Licensed Club, Whitchurch Road, where light refreshments were served.


Dyred pan fynnych, cymer a welych,
A gwedi delych, tra fynnych trig!

Come whenever you wish, take what you see,
And once come, stay as long as you like!

By Sypyn Cyfeiliog, 1340 ‑ 1390.
Translation: Professor Joseph P. Clancy.


Arranged by the The Wales Famine Forum.

We are grateful to the Cardiff City Council Bereavement Services, who give full support to this annual service and who include the Memorial on their heritage trail which also includes the grave of champion boxer Peerless Jim Driscoll, a son of Newtown, who is buried near the Famine Memorial.




A selection of related articles which may bring tears, smiles and some legitimate pride.

The Wales National Great Famine Memorial

Abhaile / Home / Adref.