03 December 2006

Hanes Rali Cilmeri 1966 - 2006.

Hanes Rali Cilmeri 1966 - 2006.

Introduction: If the COFIWN story begins anywhere then it has to be at Cilmeri in the 60’s and thus, I’m moved to begin this blog archive history of COFIWN with a need to clarify the myth (that is in danger of becoming part of our history) that the poet Harri Webb and company had initiated the Cilmeri rally. Such is not a truth, what Harri, and a group within Plaid Cymru called the ‘New Nation Group’, did was rather singularly use Cilmeri to launch a magazine entitled ‘Cilmeri Centrepoint’ in 1965. However, the publicity generated by this event did inspire a number of radical patriots, the nucleus of what later became the ‘Patriotic Front’, to initiate the first Cilmeri Rally in the following year. If any one person should be credited with the launch of what became this annual Cilmeri Patriotic Gathering then the credit must go to A.H. Lewis RIP who organised a bus of patriots out of the ‘Patriots Rest Club’ of Cwmbran to attend that first Cilmeri rally. “Toni” and myself had seen the need for and had co-founded the Patriotic Front and had set up the ‘Patriots Rest’ as a means of uniting radical patriots such as members of the Free Wales Army and “Young Republican Nationalist elements” of Plaid Cymru and for much of the remaining years of the 1960’s, it was this ‘Patriotic Front' that succeeded in consolidating this annual Cilmeri gathering as the font and focus of resistance and protest against the imposition of an English man as Prince of Wales. Thus, between 1966 – 1969, the annual Cilmeri Rally became, for the most part, the focus for the Anti – Investiture campaign protest. This patriotic principle of opposition to the English Monarchy’s claim to rule over Cymru remains the central ethos of Cilmeri’s annual gathering and will remain so. Patriots keep in mind the plans for Investiture III are well under way under the orchestration of the English establishment and their Neo – Colonial lackeys in Cymru.

Following on the 60’s…The COFIWN Years: A major admission in any attempted “Hanes Cilmeri” has to be that of the great contribution of “Mudiad COFIWN”. The “Cymric Consciousness Movement” that was very active in Wales in the period 1972 – 1986. COFIWN was an idea initiated by myself on my return from spending 2 years in exile in Ireland following my imprisonment in 1969 with other Anti – Investiture “Conspirators”. Whilst in Ireland, I had become aware of the important emphasis placed on history by Irish Republicans and such groups as the ‘National Graves Association’. This led me to conceive of the idea of the launching of a Welsh ‘National Commemoration Association’ and on my return to Cymru, Tony Lewis became a Co – founder. Later, the N.C.A. was re-named ‘COFIWN’ due to the inspired suggestion of another Co – Founder, the much missed patriot Eurig ap Gwylim. The ‘Ivy Leaf’ adopted as the badge of COFIWN was, by the way, another idea borrowed from Irish Nationalists who wore the Ivy in memory of Parnell. It did not take too long to also become aware of the fact that the Ivy is an ancient Greek and fairly universal symbol of remembrance. The Llywelyn connection was obvious, he was crowned with Ivy following his execution but the wearing of the Ivy Leaf annually upon 11 Rhagfyr was not the only significant contribution initiated by COFIWN to remembering ‘Hanes Cofia 1282’. It was also COFIWN who declared 11 Rhagfyr as our National Day of Mourning - and not only in memory of those sad events which took place at Cilmeri in 1282 but also in regards to all those who have died in the struggle to retain Welsh Independence. This was an ideal COFIWN promoted to be observed throughout the land and not just at Cilmeri,

1282 - 1982: Without any doubt, the greatest COFIWN contribution was in 1982, on the 700th anniversary of Prince Llywelyn ap Gruffydd's death in 1282. During 1982, COFIWN organised a programme of very successful monthly commemorative events that took place throughout the land. This ‘Gwaith Cofia 1282 – 1982’ concluded with the most successful and greatest of the Cilmeri commemorative gatherings; over 3,000 people converged on Cilmeri for a very impressive commemorative rally and then marched on and around Llanfair ym Muallt to attend the commemorative gathering at the Wye Side Arts Centre. Dr Gwynfor Evans proudly spoke on behalf of Plaid Cymru whose membership, along with those of Cymdeithas yr Iaith, The Celtic League and numerous other groups and societies were there in force. Schoolchildren from all parts of Wales lined up to climb the Cilmeri mound to be presented with a commemorative scroll registering their attendance at the historic event, Cayo Evans and Dennis Cosslett laid their wreath on behalf of the FWA - as did many others on behalf of their organisations. All were there to honour Llywelyn ap Gruffydd and most lined up to sign a covenant to continue our patriotic struggle for Independence. That was not the end of the matter for in 1983 COFIWN took on the struggle against ‘Gŵyl y Cestyll’ that concluded with 300 patriots closing down Caernarfon Castle, a momentous event that made news throughout the world. This part of ‘COFIWN’ history will be published at a later date in the full ‘COFIWN’ history and film footage of the protest will be on the ‘HISTORY OF COFIWN DVD’

Abaty Cwm Hir Llywelyn ap Gruffydd Memorial and Commemoration: Welsh Establishment aside, It is most unfortunate that certain patriots would prefer to ignore the truth that it was COFIWN who, again in connection with it’s 1282 consciousness work, initiated the annual Abaty Cwm Hir 1282 Remembrance Sunday Service and in time, saw to it that a suitable memorial was set up at Abaty Cwm Hir. I am proud to say that I took a personal interest in pioneering this project by making a simple hand painted wooden plaque and nailed it to the old thorn tree that had grown up over the remains of the high alter of Abaty Cwm Hir. Thanks must also go to the project work of Eurig ap Gwylim and Peter Barnes who did a great deal to see the project become a reality. Later, on completion of COFIWN’s work on this project, a well attended meeting was held at Abaty Cwm Hir to hand on responsibility for the future upkeep and completion of the memorial to a Memorial Trust. This Trust was to be in the form of elected Representatives of Welsh communities that were present at this meeting, from all over Wales. This National Memorial Trust to complete the memorial clearly did not manifest and therefore is ‘COFIWN’ unfinished business which will be taken care of for once and for all next year.

Cilmeri - The Future: Next year. 2007 will mark the 725th anniversary of 1282 and 25th anniversary of the great COFIWN Rally of 1982, we do not think that what was achieved in 1982 can ever be repeated in our present time – and we will not attempt to do so but instead, via this COFIWN Archive blog, we will attempt to educate patriots on new 1282 Remembrance Directions. These new directions will take us along the path originally advanced by historian Anthony Edwards seeking to inform as to the truth of the last days of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd in December of 1282. Such will see us advance awareness of Aberedw as the location where Llywelyn was killed and not Cilmeri and thus, in 2007, we shall promote much commemoration in that direction rather than at Cilmeri. We have already initiated an annual TAITH COFFAD 1282 and information on this initiative shall be posted to this blog soon. I will conclude now by informing that our chief contribution to the 1282 – 2007 commemoration other than aforementioned will be putting much of our Cilmeri Film Archive footage onto a DVD that will have as its title ‘The Road to Cilmeri’. The intention is to ensure that this film, with footage taken over many years, is made available to a wider public and it is hoped to have it ready in time to premier it in association with the 1282 – 2007, 725th anniversary commemoration in a private viewing ex – COFIWN members and supporters. If wishing to attend do contact us via the E-mail address given on this COFIWN Archive Blog.

I have already set up a Cilmeri 1966 – 2006 40th Anniversary tribute blog which may be accessed via the Brit Blog Directory. Simply do a search on Google for ‘Cilmeri Commemoration’ or ‘Antur Ysbryd Cofiwn’ to view.

Gethin ap Gruffydd