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The Community Significance of the Eisteddfod

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On Saturday, Apil 27th, Wrexham welcomed the procession (gorymdaith) of hundreds of adults, children, members of the Bardic Circle and local politicians through the city centre.

Proclamation Ceremony

This inspirational event was to extend a welcome (croeso) to Wrexham for The National Eisteddfod/yr Eisteddfod Genedlaethol for a week in August 2025. There was also a proclamation ceremony (gwyl cyhoeddi) at Llwyn Isaf in front of the Guildhall.

The Eisteddfod is a unique annual celebration of music, poetry, dance, business and other prominent aspects of cultural and community life for people from all parts of Wales and across the globe, both Welsh and English-speaking. A key feature of the National Eisteddfod is that it is not in a fixed location but moves annually to a new location.

In August 2024, the Eisteddfod will be held in Pontypridd, a valley town in Cwm Rhondda.

Up the Rhondda

In Up the Rhondda, an enthralling and engaging range of anecdotes and stories of life in a valley town. John Geraint gives the reader insight into this vibrant former mining community.

He examines personalities, inspirational and talented individuals, and the closeness of communities alongside their struggles and resilience.

In many ways, the community has endured similar social, cultural and economic struggles as those faced by the people of Wrexham with a “hiraeth” (longing) and determination.

Hardship and Toil

Historically, Pontypridd was dominated by the local coal mining industry as demand for cheap coal increased. Workers came from all parts of England, Ireland, other parts of Wales, and further afield, including the Bardi area of Italy, to find work in the mines or to start new enterprises like cafes and ice cream making.

John Geraint recalls the Tonypandy Riots in 1910 as the people of The Rhondda struggled for a better social order. He highlights the lockout by the pit owners and the never-to-be-forgotten actions by Winston Churchill in sending in troops against the unarmed Welsh miners.

The anecdotal stories illustrate how the boom in demand for coal sucked out fortunes for the mine owners. But left communities “high and dry” when the mines were closed. The text is full of interesting social facts.

The author notes that the National Anthem of Wales, “Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau”, was written and composed in Pontypridd by James Jones and his father Evan. It was the first anthem to be sung before an international sports fixture when Wales defeated the New Zealand All Blacks in 1905.

He highlights how the Miners Institute and the library, like the Stiwt in Rhosllanerchrugog, gave the workers power by putting education at the heart of working-class life.

Dr John Geraint
Dr John Geraint

“Corona”

Pontypridd was where Wiliam Evans and William Thomas created a new type of mineral water. They marketed it under the label “Corona”. The town has been prominent in the world of sport, in particular rugby and boxing.

Famous Pontypridd international rugby players include Tommy David, Neil Jenkins and Martyn Williams. It also produced the great heavyweight boxer Tommy Farr.

The Rhondda is famous for male voice choirs such as Cor Meibion Pendyrus and Cor Meibion Treorchy. They have competed on many occasions against Cor Meibion Y Rhos. Pontypridd was a Welsh-speaking village in the 1820s, but by 1900, it was a large, mainly English-speaking town.

John Geraint recalls how when he was at school, only one small primary school had Welsh as the main language. When the children came to secondary age, there was no Welsh medium secondary school.

He highlights how The Rhondda can now boast five Welsh language medium schools. Full to overflowing, with two Welsh medium secondary schools at Rhydfelen and Cymmer.

Geraint emphasises how this social change has shown that the Welsh language is alive and kicking in Cwm Rhondda. Readers may well reflect how Welsh medium primary schools, along with secondary and further education establishments, are also flourishing in Wrexham.

This event attracts extensive television, radio and other media attention. The impact on the profile of Wrexham as a city of culture and business will be immense. John Geraint has written an inspirational book that contains many observations on how his “Cwm Rhondda” has changed, similar to the City of Wrexham.

Finally, for more book reviews, click here.

Up the Rhondda! by John Geraint

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