For football, for sporting,
For drinking black porter as fast as you fill
In all your day’s roving
You’ll find none so jovial
As the Muskerry sportsman
The Bould Thady Quill!
This introduction is being written a few days before St.Patrick ’s Day when the spirit of Irish conviviality seems to sweep us all away into the land of shamrock and porter.
Seven years ago the first official meeting of the Wales Famine Forum took place. No one present had any real idea of how they were going to ensure that those who died and those who were forced into exile by the Great Famine were remembered with compassion and with dig- nity during the 150th anniversary of that national calamity.
In this and previous editions of The Green Dragon there are repeated reports of the happiness despite poverty that has been a feature of all our yesterdays,a happiness reported on by Thackeray (one detects a puzzled envy in his response to it,as if it was unfair that such wretches should be happier than he)after his journey in Ireland a few years before the Famine put an end to so many and to so much.
“If you want a monument,look around you ”are the words in Latin on the plaque in St.Paul ’s Cathedral in London recalling its architect, Sir Christopher Wren. To seek a monument to those who died and to those who left one only needs to look around the world on St. Patrick ’s Day. It has been said that our national day is now the best-known and most widely celebrated festival in the world after Christmas. The coffin ships which brought Irish people to all parts of the world, ‘economic migrants ’ in modern terms, also gave them a chance to save some- thing of their past to hand on to their children and descendants. Saint Patrick ’s Day may be our party but it is their legacy and their monument.
So as we wet the shamrock in keeping with tradition let us remember and honour the past sufferings of our peo- ple while working to ensure it is never repeated, in Ireland or anywhere else.
(Written on 14th March 2002)
This edition was published on St. Patrick’s Day, Sunday 17 March 2002. It is now (21 June 2002) out of print.
Since publication a number of errors have come to our attention. Some are just spelling errors - the 'Grauniad' syndrome - but other involve the printing of the incorrect forms of personal names. We apologise to Steve O’Regan (printed on page 47, column 2 as ‘Steve Regan’), to Edmond Kavanagh (whose name is given on page 55, column 2 as ‘Edward Kavanagh’ and whose late sister’s name is printed incompletely just below as ‘Mrs. Coughlan’ instead of as ‘Mrs. Kathleen Mary Coughlan’) and guarantee that the correct forms will be used when the relevant articles are put ‘online’ below in due course.
In future The Green Dragon will be published on an irregular basis in an online version only. The first such edition, The Green Dragon No 11 was published on Monday 1 April 2002.
The copyright symbol © means that the holder expressly claims full intellectual ownership of the document in question. You may download all or part of it for private use or study but may not publish it elsewhere (including any other website) without the express written consent of the copyright owner. To do so is not only unethical / un‑netical but is also illegal.
2. The Mountjoy martyrs
©: Frank Lane
An account of the funeral in Dublin, on Sunday 14 October 2001, of Kevin Barry and 9 other men executed in Dublin’s Mountjoy Prison between November 1920 and June 1921.
The author, of Irish descent, is a retired Catholic headteacher from Cardiff and a member of the Wales Famine Forum.
3. The life and times of Mary Crofton
Mary Crofton, born in Limerick, spent most of her life in Newport where she became a well‑known activist on behalf of a large number of causes. She died in 2001, aged 82. Her funeral was a major event for the Irish in south east Wales. The attendance at St. Mary’s RC Church, Stow Hill included activists, trade unionists, politicians and ordinary devout Catholics. At the wake in the Irish National Club, Commercial Road, the speakers included former miners' leader, Arthur Scargill.
Tim Bax, a young relative, lives and works in London.
4. Cardiff and the Great Famine
©: Sean Cleary
This is a harrowing, detailed account of the suffering, humiliations and heroism of the early days of Cardiff's Irish community.
Sean Cleary, a retired secondary school teacher, traces his Irish roots back to an immigrant from West Cork who settled in Cardiff in the 1830s.
5. The Wales National Eisteddfod 2000
©: Barry Tobin
An introduction to the following three articles, each of which is an English version of a lecture delivered in Welsh during the Wales National Eisteddfod at Llanelli in August 2000. The series of lectures, arranged by the Wales Famine Forum, was launched by Conor O’Riordan, then Consul General of Ireland in Wales. An English version of his text, which was in Irish, is included here.
The writer, who is Secretary of the Wales Famine Forum, was born in Cork in 1938 and has lived in Cardiff since 1960.
6. C19th Irish Immigration & Integration in Newport
©: Martin Culliford
Another account of famished arrivals forming an integrated community which eventually becomes a solid and essential part of the life of its modern community.
The author is a teacher in a secondary school and a leading local historian. From England, he has learned Welsh thoroughly.
7. The Irish are in town: Port Talbot
©: Sally Roberts Jones
A comprehensive and often deeply moving account of the arrival and eventual integration of the Irish in the steel town of Port Talbot, 30 odd miles west of Cardiff.
Librarian, author and local historian, Sally Roberts Jones wrote a radio play about Irish immigrants to the area which was broadcast by BBC Wales in the 1970s.
8. Swansea Irish
©: Roger Price
This account goes back almost 2000 years as people from West Waterford settled in the part of Wales which now includes Swansea and brings the story up to modern times.
The author, one of whose great‑grandparents came to Wales from Tyrone, has learned Irish and is currently doing doctoral research into the links between Ireland and Wales since the time of Christ.
9. Crossing Cultural Boundaries
©: Trystan Owain Hughes
A look at the Irish Catholic presence in Wales during the 20th century and its difficult relationship with the indigenous Welsh‑speaking and largely Nonconformist culture of Wales.
The author, himself a product of the indigenous culture he describes, is Head of the School of Religious and Theological Studies, Trinity College, Carmarthen.
10. Looking back at Llanwern
©: John O’Sullivan
Following the closure of the Llanwern steelworks, near Newport, in 2001, John O’Sullivan, journalist and historian and Press Officer / PRO to the Wales Famine Forum, interviewed Father Owen Sweeney.
Father Sweeney, who was Chaplain to the thousands of Catholic and mainly Irish workers who moved in during August 1959 to begin the massive construction job, now lives in Dublin.
The O'Sullivan comes from John’s seafaring grandfather, who was born in Cobh, County Cork. A merchant seaman, he met his Welsh sweetheart and wife during a visit to Barry Docks, 10 miles from Cardiff.
11. Famine to Feast
©: Cormac Ó Gráda
This is the text of a lecture on the history of the ‘Celtic Tiger’ delivered in Cardiff University on 25 October 2001.
The author is Professor of Economics at University College Dublin.
12. The Newtown Memorial Garden
©: Mary Sullivan
Newtown, Cardiff, was an Irish community set up in an area of half a dozen streets on the city side of Butetown, Tiger Bay. It was demolished in the 1960s to make room for factories. The Newtown Association was set up a few years ago to make sure the old community was not forgotten. They have received a substantial grant from the National Lottery to set up a Memorial Garden on a site donated by Tarmac.
The author, herself a ‘Newtowner’, is Chair of the Newtown Association.
13. Peerless Jim
©: John O’Sullivan
An account of the most famous ‘Newtowner’ of all, the boxer, ‘Peerless’ Jim Driscoll, by John O’Sullivan, author of the article on Llanwern steelworks mentioned above.
14. Cerdd / Poem: Jim Driscoll Digymar / Peerless Jim Driscoll
©: Grahame Davies
A tribute in Welsh by Cardiff‑based writer, Grahame Davies, who has also supplied a translation into English.
15. Irish Sports in Wales
©: Joe Moore
A look back at the chequered history of sport among the Irish immigrants to Wales from the 19th century to our own time.
The author, from the Armagh shore of Lough Neagh, is Treasurer, Wales Famine Forum and a regular contributor to The Irish Post.
16. Billy O’Neil
©: William O’Neil
An account of the first member of the Irish community to be picked to play for Wales, based on a number of interviews with his son, William O’Neil, now in his nineties, conducted by John Sweeney, Chair, Wales Famine Forum, and a relative of the O’Neil family.
17. A Pilgrims Regress: Some Signs of our Times?
©: David Reid
A retrospective review of the novel, The picture of Dorian Gray, written on the occasion of the centenary of the decease of its author, Oscar Wilde.
The writer, from Durham, who had lived in Cardiff since the late 1960s, died suddenly in New York on January 10, 2003.
18. Émile Nelligan
©: Barry Tobin
An account of an event in Cardiff on 15 November 2001 to mark 60 years since the decease of the Irish‑Canadian poet, Émile Nelligan (1879 ‑ 1941), whose father was from Dublin but who wrote in French.
19. The Welsh Chapel in Dublin
©: Einion Wyn Thomas
The old Welsh chapel is now an inconspicuous shop in Talbot Street, Dublin…
The author, an archivist, is on the staff of the University of Wales, Bangor, Gwynedd.
20. Review: Wherever Green is Worn
©: Joe Moore
A look at Tim Pat Coogan's recent book about the Irish diaspora.
21. Review: The Irish in Wales 1798 ‑ 1922
©: Joe Moore
This is a look at the detailed study by the historian, Paul O’Leary.
22. Review: The Little Earth Book
©: Barry Tobin
This is an introduction to a brief account of the economic, environmental and climatic challenges facing the blue planet.
23. A Millennium Challenge
©: Elfed Jones
This is the text of a meditation at the Wales National Great Famine Memorial in Cathays Cemetery, Cardiff, on St. Patrick’s Day, 2001.
The author has recently retired as Director, CAFOD Wales, the RC charity for the Third World.
24. Future Events
What we plan / hope to arrange before St. Patrick’s Day 2003.
25. List of Benefactors
We take this opportunity to express our thanks and appreciation to all our members, supporters, donors, writers, subscribers etc., whether known or anonymous.
26. The Green Dragon Nos 1 to 9 / Y Ddraig Werdd 1‑2: Tables of Contents
A table of contents for all previous editions of The Green Dragon and its short-lived predecessor, Y Ddraig Werdd.
27. Evergreen Dragon Forever Go Bragh
©: Samuel H. Boyd
A gracious tribute to The Green Dragon.
The author, born in Belfast in 1919, lives in Cwmbran and has been the most tireless contributor to our pages.
28. Dán / Poem: Fáilte don Éan / Welcome to the Bird
Séamus Dall Mac Cuarta (1650 ‑ 1733)
An account by one of the most famous poets of Gaelic Ulster of crowds of people greeting the arrival of the cuckoos in the woods of his locality. That such a lyric should have been written by a blind man during one of the most calamitous periods in Ireland’s history is astonishing.
Translation: Wales Famine Forum.
29. Cerdd / Poem: Mae Cân yn llond yr Awel / Singing fills the Breeze
Richard Davies (‘Mynyddog’ 1833-1877)
Farmer, composer, conductor, singer, and lover of nature, Richard Davies pours out his soul in this hymn‑like poem in praise of the birds of Wales.
Translation: Wales Famine Forum.
30. Poem: Castles of Bones
©: Patrick Egan
In just nine lines the writer manages to produce a slendidly evocative summing up of Ireland’s history from the stone age to now.
Patrick Egan, social worker and poet, is now back in Ireland, having lived in Cardiff for about 20 years. From Westmeath, he spoke fluent school Irish and was instrumental in setting up the Cardiff Irish language group, Comhluadar Caedydd, which had its first meeting at his house in January, 1994. It was a resolution passed at a meeting of their committee in September that same year which resulted in the formation of the Wales Famine Forum in February 1995.
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