Wednesday, 11 August 2010
Speaking Welsh at the National Eisteddfod
It was great to be able to pop across to the National Eisteddfod in Ebbw Vale this month. It was billed as an Eisteddfod for the whole of the Heads of the Valley area so I hope people from the Rhondda were able to go along and sample some unique Welsh culture. The week seemed to be a great success with record attendance numbers recorded on the Sunday, weather that was more good than bad and a significant shot in the arm for the local economy.
There were many highlights for me over the days that I visited but the stand-out moment has to be meeting the granddaughter of the legendary singer and political activist, Paul Robeson. I was introduced to Susan Robeson (pictured above) following an excellent lecture that focused on the meeting that took place between her grandfather and Aneurin Bevan at the National Eisteddfod of 1958; which was the last time the event was held in Ebbw Vale.
Mr Robeson, an internationally renowned singer and actor from New Jersey, was also a beacon of light for working class people and the oppressed the world over. A special place in his heart was reserved for the miners of South Wales and the welcome received by Susan Robeson at the Maes is testament to her grandfather’s lasting legacy.
Although I have been to the Eisteddfod many times before, this was the first time I have had the confidence to properly use my Welsh language skills in conversation. What made this Eisteddfod different was a week I recently spent at a Welsh language learners’ ‘bootcamp’ in the glorious Ceredigion seaside village of Tresaith. Over the course of seven days, spoken English was prohibited and we were only allowed to communicate in Welsh. Tutors from the ‘Say Something in Welsh’ course, who organised the ‘bootcamp’, were on hand to help overcome any difficulties. I managed to survive the week and was surprised how much Welsh was in my head, I just needed the confidence to use it. I would wholeheartedly recommend the course, and the internet podcasts from Say Something in Welsh, to any learner.