April 25, 2021

A PEOPLE WHO THINK THEMSELVES A NATION ARE ONE:

Is a quiet revolution edging Wales down the road to independence? (Julian Coman, 25 Apr 2021, The Guardian)

"There was a village choir; there was a folk group with a harp that won prizes; there was a chapel. And all that culture just went under the water. What you see here is the graveyard of a Welsh community." More than half a century on, Elwyn Edwards still feels a sense of outrage as he contemplates the valley of Tryweryn in north-west Wales, where the thriving village of Capel Celyn was deliberately flooded in 1965.

On the orders of Westminster, the picturesque hamlet was sacrificed to create a reservoir supplying water to Liverpool, 43 miles away. Capel Celyn's inhabitants protested, and there was desperate opposition from Welsh MPs in the House of Commons. Edwards, 13 at the time and living a few miles away, went to the demonstrations and remembers the raw anger. After the deed was finally done, he recalls a sepulchral silence, as labourers built the reservoir dam using the bricks of the village and sand and clay from local farmers. "There were no sheep, no noise or life. It made such an impact on me."

The "drowning" of Capel Celyn - and the brutal truths it exposed about where power lay in 1960s Britain - led to the birth of modern Welsh nationalism.

In 1966, Gwynfor Evans became the first Plaid Cymru candidate to be elected to Westminster, winning the seat of Carmarthen. Bilingual signs became part of the landscape. Devolution and the idea of a Welsh assembly gained political currency, becoming a reality in 1999. Edwards eventually became a nationalist Plaid councillor in the nearby town of Bala. But Welsh independence remained for decades a marginal and even eccentric aspiration. Not any more.

The conventional wisdom is always wrong, but it may never have gotten anything more wrong than the notion that transnationalism was the future. 

Posted by at April 25, 2021 12:00 AM

  

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