The Celtic League presents its aims as including:
"Fostering co-operation between Celtic peoples."
"Developing the consciousness of the special relationship and solidarity between them."
"Making our national struggles and achievements better known abroad."
"Campaigning for a formal association of Celtic nations to take place once two or more of them have achieved self-government."
"Advocating the use of the national resources of each of the Celtic countries for the benefit of all its people."
"Each Celtic nation is conditioned by a different history and so we must not expect uniformity of thought, but instead allow diversity to express itself within the Celtic League. In this way, we may better recognise those areas of possible co-operation and eventually formulate a detailed common policy. With this we can work out which kind of relations between our communities will enable them to enjoy freedoms and liberties at both individual and community level."
Politically, the Celtic league seeks to create six sovereign states from the six Celtic nations it acknowledges as existing, unified in some way. There is some variation in the understanding of these aims, which ranges from general meetings, to an actual federation along the lines of the Nordic Council.
There are six main branches of the Celtic League, often utilising local Celtic language place names: Ireland is known as Éire, Scotland as Alba, Wales as Cymru, Brittany as Breizh, Cornwall as Kernow and the Isle of Man as Mannin.
Isle of Man
There is also an International Branch, and others based in the USA and London. There used to be a branch in Cape Breton Island, Canada, where a small Scottish Gaelic-speaking community still exists. Attempts to set up branches in Australia, and the Chubut Valley, Patagonia, (where there is a Welsh-speaking colony) have failed until recently though at the end of 2009 a branch has been set up in Patagonia with the help of Welsh-speaking patagonian enthusiasts led by Mónica Jones.
The Celtic League publishes a quarterly magazine, Carn, which highlights political struggles and cultural preservation issues. The articles are produced in the six living Celtic languages (including Manx and Cornish) in addition to English. The cover of the magazine is a map of the six Celtic countries with their respective Celtic language names beside them. In the past, articles have appeared in French as well. For many years, Carn claimed to be the only regular publication carrying all six surviving Celtic languages.
The Celtic League, American Branch (CLAB) prints its own quarterly newsletter, Six Nations, One Soul, which provides news of Branch activities and events within the Celtic communities in the United States, publishes letters from members, and reviews books and recordings of Celtic interest. It also produces its own calendar each year, with art from members, appropriate quotations and anniversaries.
Other Branches have published their own magazines from time to time, but few have been very long-lived.
Founded in 1961, the present Celtic League grew out of various other Pan-Celtic organisations, particularly the Celtic Congress, but with a more political emphasis. Previously, the likes of Hugh MacDiarmid and others had suggested something along the same lines.
It was started at the 1961 National Eisteddfod which was held at Rhosllanerchrugog near Wrexham in north east Wales. Two of the founding members were Gwynfor Evans and J E Jones, who were respectively president and secretary-general of Plaid Cymru at the time. Interest was expressed by Scottish parties, and also by two prominent Breton exiles, Yann Fouéré and Alan Heusaff.
The Celtic League, American Branch (CLAB) was founded in New York City in 1974. It plays little part in AGMs.
Notable members and former members
Some of the more notable past and present members of the Celtic League have been Plaid Cymru luminary Gwynfor Evans, Alan Heusaff, the historian and writer Peter Berresford Ellis, writer Bernard Le Nail, Manx language revivalist Brian Stowell, and Winnie Ewing, Robert McIntyre and Rob Gibson of the Scottish National Party.
The Celtic League also campaigns for a united Ireland, and the return of the Loire-Atlantique départment to Brittany (see "Bretagne"). Over the years, the Celtic League has campaigned consistently in support of the languages in Celtic nations, and for the return of ancient artefacts, removed from Celtic countries to museums outside of these areas - amongst these are the Lewis Chessmen and the Chronicles of Mann. These campaigns have been conducted in various ways.
The Manx branch of the Celtic League successfully campaigned for the Calf of Man (island) to be transferred from the National Trust in England to the Manx National Trust.
In the mid-1990s, the Celtic League started a campaign to have the word "Alba" on the Scottish football and rugby tops. Since 2005, the SFA have supported the use of Scots Gaelic on their teams's strip in recognition of the language's revival in Scotland. However, the SRU is still being lobbied to have "Alba" on the national rugby strip.
The Celtic League has also passed a motion to support the general aims of Independence First, which aims for a referendum on Scottish independence.
Political status of countries
The political status of the the Celtic League's suggested six Celtic nations varies widely. Both the UK and France were traditionally very centralised states (although France more so).
The following Celtic nations have some degree of autonomy, although Ireland consists of the territory of two sovereign states:
Republic of Ireland (26 counties) - independent.
Northern Ireland (6 counties) - under the Good Friday Agreement some autonomy and various provisions were granted on a power-sharing basis, but various controversies between unionists and republicans have caused the British government to rule directly. Northern Ireland now has its own devolved Assembly since 2007.
The Isle of Man - home rule, a British Crown Dependency outside the UK and European Union, arguably the oldest continuous parliament in the world.
Scotland - has had its own devolved Parliament since 1999.
Wales - has had its own devolved Assembly since 1999.
There is also a campaign for a Cornish Assembly. In 2000 the Cornish Constitutional Convention launched the Declaration for a Cornish Assembly campaign. In less than two years, more than 50,000 people signed the Assembly petition and Lord Whitty, in the House of Lords, recognised that Cornwall has a "special case" for devolution. On a visit to Cornwall, John Prescott said "Cornwall has the strongest regional identity in the UK."
Thus three of the countries are completely within the United Kingdom, one partially, and another is a British dependency. Brittany is part of the French state, and does not have any legislative autonomy, but four départements have some financial autonomy as one of the Regions of France, whilst the fifth département is in another French region. The Republic of Ireland is completely independent.