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Learned Society of Wales Royal Charter Celebration: address by the Cymmrodorion President

Wednesday 6 January, 2016

Address by the President of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, Professor Prys Morgan DL MA DPhil FSA FRHistS FLSW, on the occasion of the Learned Society of Wales Royal Charter Celebration, 19 November 2015

On the evening of Thursday, 19 November 2015 a formal celebration was held at the Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff, to mark the award of a Royal Charter to the Learned Society of Wales.

Representatives of learned academies in England, Scotland and Ireland congratulated Fellows of the Society and then greetings were given by Professor Christine James, on behalf of the Gorsedd of Bards, and by Professor Prys Morgan, on behalf of the Honourable Society. Prys Morgan explained that he was there not merely as one of the founders of the Learned Society but to represent the attempt by the Welsh to found a learned society as far back as 1751. He said that on St David’s Day 2015 he had represented the Honourable Society at a meeting in London to commemorate the founding in 1715 of the Society of Ancient Britons, the parent society of the Cymmrodorion. So he had come with congratulations not only from the Cymmrodorion, the Aborigines of the British Isles, but even from the Ancient Britons.

He said he did this with deep conviction, because he was a firm believer in celebrating Welsh achievement and, indeed, never tired of reminding everyone that the verb, dathlu, to celebrate something, had been invented by William Owen Pughe, one of the early members of the Cymmrodorion.

He said that he also firmly believed in the importance of all sorts of societies as the ribcage of a nation. It was worth remembering, especially since the great rugby player, Jonah Lomu, had died the day before, what an expert on New Zealand sport has said about the role of rugby: “It has turned a small nation into a big nation”. This was equally true of sports and societies with us in Wales.

He concluded by referring to a recent lecture to the Honourable Society by Professor Thomas Watkin, who was present during the celebration that evening, on the importance of commemorating the Magna Carta of 2015. Magna Carta had been a great achievement in its day but that evening everyone present was celebrating a Magna Carta Academica for Wales, and that with great joy.