Cardiff: Ceremony of Remembrance and Reflection, Saint Patrick’s Day 2009

Wales National Great Famine Memorial
Cathays Cemetery, Cardiff.

( MAP)

Tuesday 17 March, 2009 — Saint Patrick’s Day
Commencing at 11.00 a.m.

The ceremony will be 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.


(MC: Colin Sangster, Saint Joseph’s RC Parish)

1. Foreword by John Sweeney, Chair, the Wales Famine Forum

2. Welcome on behalf of the City of Cardiff by the Lord Mayor of Cardiff, Councillor Kate Lloyd.

3. St. Patrick’s Day message from the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, read by Gearóid MacNamara, Consul General for Ireland in Wales.

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

5. Dave Burns: The Country I’m Leaving Behind

This beautiful and poignant song of exile was regularly sung at 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 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.

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

6. 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.

7. Gladstone Primary School, Cathays:
a) The children will recite: Famine, a poem by Anne Kelly;
b) The children will place a bunch of flowers or a similar token of sympathy at the base of the Memorial.

8. Saint Joseph’s RC Primary School, Cathays:
a) The children will recite the words of: The Fields of Athenry;
b) The children will place a bunch of flowers or a similar token of sympathy at the base of the Memorial.

9. Saint Patrick’s RC Primary School, Grangetown:
a) The children will recite: The Famine, a movingly simple poem by Róisín Hambly;
b) ) The children will place a bunch of flowers or a similar token of sympathy at the base of the Memorial.

10. Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Mynydd Bychan, Cathays:
a) The children will sing Weithiau rwy’n gofyn;
b) The children will place a bunch of flowers or a similar token of sympathy at the base of the Memorial.

11. Corpus Christi RC High School, Llanishen;
a) The young people will sing the song: Irish Blessing.

b) The young people will place a bunch of flowers or a similar token of sympathy at the base of the Memorial.

12. Brother Brian Butler I.C. from Saint Joseph’s RC Church, Cathays, will read the account of the flight into Egypt (Matthew 2.13 ‑ 18).

13. Reflection: The Reverend Aled Edwards, Chief Executive, CYTUN – Churches Together in Wales.

14. The placing of wreaths or flowers at the base of the Memorial while the Cardiff Reds Choir sings Dona Nobis Pacem followed by the memorable song from Ireland, Only Our Rivers Run Free.

The laying of wreaths will take place in the following order:

a) The Vice Lord Lieutenant for South Glamorgan, Commander John Curteis.

b) The Lord Mayor of Cardiff, Councillor Kate Lloyd.

c) Jointly by Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas, Presiding Officer, the National Assembly for Wales and Mr. Gearóid MacNamara, the Consul General of Ireland in Wales.

d) By Olwen on behalf of the Cardiff Reds Choir.

15. Dave Burns will sing: ‘The Parting Glass’
This song of farewell is particularly associated with Donegal and other counties in the western parts of the ancient nine county province of Ulster.

16. Blessing / prayer by clergy; Brother Brian Butler, I.C., the Reverend Aled Edwards, the Reverend John Rowe (Cathays Methodist Church).

17. Afterword by Harri Pritchard‑Jones, doctor, writer and broadcaster.

18. The Cardiff Reds Choir will lead everyone in singing ‘Amhrán na bhFiann’, The National Anthem of Ireland.

19. The Cardiff Reds Choir will lead everyone in singing‘Hen Wlad fy Nhadau’, The National Anthem of Wales.

All will be welcome immediately afterwards at St Joseph’s R.C. Licensed Club, Whitchurch Road, where light refreshments will be 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.

Special thanks to all the participants without whom this ceremony could not have taken place.

Particular thanks, of course, to our indispensable MC, Colin Sangster.


National Famine Memorial Day

In 2003 Dublin taxi driver Michael Blanch arranged a ceremony to remember the victims of the Great Famine.
In the event, the only people who came along were Michael himself and his wife, Betty.
Just five years later the persistence of this very ordinary couple resulted in the Irish government announcing an annual National Famine Memorial Day...

Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

The Wales National Great Famine Memorial

An account of the first ceremony at the Famine Memorial on Saint Patrick’s Day, 1999.

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

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