Thursday, 9 August 2007

News From The Pan-Celts


This was held during the last week of July and was well attended by 130 people from the other Celtic Nations (Alba (Scotland), Mannin (the Isle of Man), Eire (Ireland), Cymru (Wales), Breizh (Brittany and of course Kernow (Cornwall)).
It was a week of celebration of Celtic Culture through music traditional and contemporary, poetry, literature, travel and food and what a fantastic week it was.
Next year, the Celtic Congress meets from Monday 28th July until Saturday 2nd August, 2008 at the Campus of the University of Wales in Aberystwyth with a theme 'The natural environment - a sustainable Celtic future ?' The cost is set at £285 for adults, £200 for students and £150 for children, this including all accommodation, activities and food. Why not join the Cornish Branch of the Celtic Congress. Enquiries may be made through its website:

(The Cornish Branch of the International Celtic League)

Unlike the Celtic Congress, which is a Celtic Cultural Organisation, The Celtic League is an international organisation that campaigns for the social, political and cultural rights of Celtic nations. (The same nations that enjoy membership of the Celtic Congress) Jack Bolitho is the Convener of the Cornish Branch and I am its Secretary and Membership Secretary. We maintain a high profile organisation with a continuously increasing membership.

The Celtic League's Cornish Branch is an extremely active branch with lively monthly meetings where current Cornish issues are discussed. It is at the forefront of a committed and focused activism in Cornwall including the housing and other community issues. Recent campaigns include a sustained programme to achieve a designated Cornish tick-box in the 2011 Census which is seen as essential in obtaining accurate statistical data of the Cornish, the successful action to reverse Government attempts to require planning permission to fly the St Piran's flag and fronting the reaction against the Bruno Peek / St George's flag of England debacle in Truro earlier this year. The Celtic League keeps the Council of Europe closely informed of discriminatory practices against the Cornish and annually sends a delegation to the St David's Day Parade in Cardiff as well as supporting our own Cornish activities.

Although we maintain an ever-growing branch, we always welcome new members not only within Kernow, but from further afar (we even have a member who is from India and who still lives on that sub continent!)
Further details are available from our website at:

Taken from the CornishNotEnglish Newsletter (Mike Chappell)

1 comment:

Jacky said...

Dear Paul,

I'm not of Celtic descent myself but as someone with an anthropological bent, I've taken a strong interest in measures to help preserve and advance the Celtic languages as media not just of curiosity, but active use. I can't stand the idea of the Celtic languages perishing, which would represent both a major victory for English imperialism against their long-oppressed Celtic subjects but, also, a major loss of cultural wealth, with the disappearance of an entire branch of languages. I'm happy to see the recent revivals of Irish Gaelic, Scottish Gaelic and Welsh picking up so much momentum, and hope that this can continue.

One idea I had, to help propel these languages from merely secondary media of communication (and obligatory school subjects)-- it's always seemed to me that the most successful languages, and the ones most resistant to capitulating to a dominant or imperialistic language (English today, French in previous centuries), are the ones that have a vibrant tradition as vehicles of great literature and theater.

This sort of use as a cultural vehicle helps to draw people in, especially the youth, which can then be parlayed into more technical applications of the language, use as a medium of instruction in schools, among other things.

I was just wondering-- are there efforts to produce major Hollywood-style epic film productions using Irish, Scottish and/or Welsh as the languages of the film? (Which could of course be subtitled into other languages.)

For example, the idea would be to help sponsor film productions on a variety of topics, using exclusively actors who speak Irish Gaelic, maybe starting with historical themes and then branching out to other interesting topics that draw in people's attention.

Sample subjects for the Irish Gaelic films could be e.g. sophisticated elaborations of Irish legends and folktales, and especially heroes of Irish history-- I'm thinking of something like a "Braveheart-type" movie but performed in Irish Gaelic, using Irish-speaking actors.

Some examples of Irish "Braveheart" figures I can think of-- the earliest example would be e.g. Hugh O' Neill Earl of Tyrone, probably the most successful Irish soldier until the victors of the 1921 Anglo-Irish War who defeated the British.

O'Neill was active in the Irish rebellion against Queen Elizabeth I, the so-called Nine Years' War from 1594-1603, when the Irish enjoyed a remarkable level of military success against the English, who had been trying to employ brutal scorched-earth and massacring tactics to subdue the native Irish (including burning down Irish fields and mass killings of Irish women and children by the English officer Mountjoy). In spite of this, the Irish rebels, led by O'Neill, utterly defeated the English forces in numerous battles such as Yellow Ford and the Ford of the Biscuits, causing heavy losses that severely damaged the treasury in Elizabethan England. O'Neill did eventually reach a peace deal with the new James I in power in England, but he continued such damaging guerrilla war that the English were never able to capture him.

It's a great story, both in the form of O'Neill himself and other colorful figures (e.g. his friend Red Hugh O'Donnell), and in female pirate and Irish resistance fighter Gráinne Ní Mháille (aka Grace O' Malley), who also fought the English in impressive fashion. And the generally successful Irish rebellion (even after Kinsale in 1601, O'Neill and his colleagues still ravaged the English through guerrilla warfare) served as a template for the independence fight from 1916-1921.

Other Irish Bravehearts include more familiar names from the 19th and 20th centuries, and of course the heroes of the Easter Rebellion and the Anglo-Irish War where Irish forces defeated the British conclusively in 1921. Maybe another film on Rob Roy or Michael Collins would be a draw, in fact any film about the Anglo-Irish War would be impressive.

Again, the key is that the film would be shot entirely in Irish Gaelic. It could then be subtitled into e.g. French, German, English, Spanish, Japanese and so on. (And to anyone who objects that audiences don't like subtitled films, I'd say, bull-- just look at The Passion for example, which was shot in Aramaic, a rarely used ancient language, and then subtitled, doing very well.)

Similar enterprises could be conducted for e.g. Scottish Gaelic, and of course for Welsh. Once again, these Celtic lands are full of fascinating human interest stories, and the Celts are natural storytellers. Historical figures such as William Wallace or Robert the Bruce of course are great foci for Scottish Gaelic films. Wales is full of interesting history, of course, not only great kings such as Llewelyn the Great (who not only expelled the English but conquered English cities) and Llewelyn II ap Gruffydd, but also fascinating political-romantic tales such as that of Nest verch Rhys, her abduction and the bitter rivalry involving Owain ap Cadwgan and Gerald of Pembroke.

From such historical and legend-based Celtic-language films, of course, could then emerge more mainstream filmmaking in everything from comedy to action to science fiction-- but again, in Irish, Scottish Gaelic and Welsh.

IMHO this sort of approach may be the best way to secure the future of the Celtic languages, and such films (and other media) would have a big audience not only in Scotland/Wales/Ireland themselves, but among those of Celtic descent in North America and Australia/NZ who want to connect to their heritage and all its fascinating stories. Again, subtitling can be used as a "transitional hook" to help bring in people of Celtic descent who might not speak the languages initially.

Such films would capture the imagination of Celtic youth. Moreover, especially as Scotland and Wales both move toward independence, such media can help to forge a more concrete national identity among the new Celtic nations that, like Ireland after 1921, may still be feeling somewhat insecure at first.

Plus, the films would help to generate a new Celtic-language media industry and further incentivize the learning and active use of Irish, Scottish Gaelic and Welsh-- probably the most effective means to advance them. Also by attracting investment, the films would help to nourish a general flowering in the Celtic languages overall.