The Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion

Recognising the contribution of Wales in contemporary society

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home > Transactions > Volume 21 - 2015 > Eisteddfod Genedlaethol 2014, Anerchiad Llywydd yr Ŵyl National Eisteddfod 2014, Festival President’s Address

Eisteddfod Genedlaethol 2014, Anerchiad Llywydd yr Ŵyl National Eisteddfod 2014, Festival President’s Address

Mr Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is an enormous pleasure for me to stand before you today for several reasons.
Firstly, I appreciate most deeply the honour which has been bestowed upon me by being selected to be President of the Eisteddfod for this year. I wish therefore in the first place to express my thanks to you, Gethin [Thomas], and your fellow- members on different committees for this honour.

Secondly, because I consider that the National Eisteddfod is an essential part of being Welsh, I am happy, I am proud, indeed I rejoice in the fact of my being a Welshman. The National Eisteddfod emphasizes and gives us an opportunity to celebrate our identity as Welsh.

Thirdly, we know that in 1176 AD – some forty years before the University of Cambridge was established – Lord Rhys held an eisteddfod in Cardigan castle. So the eisteddfod tradition is ancient. But we, the Welsh, are an ancient nation – ‘This is the Gododdin; Aneirin commemorates them’. The poet Aneirin composed his poetry in the sixth century AD. The Gododdin were a tribe living in the north of England and the south of Scotland. So, Aneirin and his contemporary Taliesin were composing poetry eight hundred years before Geoffrey Chaucer, the most famous English poet of the Middle Ages. In his authoritative volume, The Oxford Book of Welsh Verse (1962), Sir Thomas Parry states, ‘ … a sixth-century Welsh poem can, with a little annotation, be made intelligible to an educated speaker of the language’. This is a miraculous fact and gives us the right to rejoice in, to be glad of, and indeed to wallow in our Welshness. In addition, the fact of the very existence of the Black Book of Carmarthen, which was compiled no later than 1250 AD, reminds us of our inheritance as a nation.

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