The Green Dragon No 8, Spring 1999

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Editor's Introduction

We’re on the One Road…

Although poverty and the emigration it spawned were to continue to be part of Irish life until the 1980s the Great Famine itself probably ended in 1849. However, pockets of starvation, fever and death could be found in remoter parts for many years afterwards. Indeed the Editor’s mother (now 89) remembers – can’t ever forget – seeing the bodies of two old people who had died of cold and hunger lying in a ditch in Muskerry, County Cork, when she was about 10. “Everyone had to look after their own”, she recalls in an attempt to come to terms with something that still gnaws in her memory.

As we now (1 March – St. David’s Day) go to press we reflect on a Study Day at Tabernacl Caerdydd (the Welsh Baptists’ place of worship in The Hayes, Cardiff, since 1825) on Saturday, 27 February during which speakers from various charities were joined by Derry-born Don Mullan and about 40 participants in considering ‘Ireland’s Great Famine and Famine in Today’s World’. History can be relevant to our own time and it has been our constant concern since our first meeting in February, 1995, to remind ourselves that we, the Irish people, have walked down a death-dealing Famine Road. Today, 150 years on, an Independent Ireland has become known as ‘The The Wales Famine Forum, recalling that in the years leading up to the Great Famine Ireland’s economy was crippled by a foreign debt of about 7m per year to absentee landlords, fully endorses and supports the campaigning efforts of the Jubilee 2000 Coalition to bring about a cancellation of the crippling debts of the world’s poorest nations as both a truly religious and a truly humanist way of marking the Millennium.

We also look forward to St.Patrick’s Day, Wednesday 17 March, not just for all of the usual good reasons (the feastday of our nation’s Welsh-born patron – possibly the world’s best known and most popular saint – is now second only to Christmas as a worldwide festival) but because at 11.00 a.m. on that day The Wales National Great Famine Memorial will be unveiled jointly by John Owen Jones MP, Minister of State at the Welsh Office and Conor O’Riordan, the Consul General of Ireland in Wales, during a public ceremony in the Catholic plot of Cardiff’s Cathays Cemetery attended by dignitaries from both Ireland and Wales.

Perhaps at this point a word of apology is due to our patient subscribers and other readers for the long delay in publishing this edition, due to be published in September last! We can only plead that we are a voluntary organisation of no more than six active members all of whom are beset by life’s usual package deal of sickness, toil and trouble, not to mention problems with our computer and its associated team of technologically challenged wrinklies! That said, we are now looking forward to producing two further editions before we all become millennarians!

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1. An Irish Life in Wales

A transcript of a tape recording of the recollections of Ben 'Blow' Whelan, born in Ireland over 100 years ago, who spent all his working life in Wales.

Transcription : The Wales Famine Forum.


2. Wales, Ireland and Lloyd George

Dr.John Davies, author of Hanes Cymru (History of Wales) – the first book in Welsh published by Penguin – delivered this paper in Welsh on Wednesday 6 August 1988 at the National Eisteddfod in Bridgend. One of a series of four lectures about Irish-Welsh links arranged by the Wales Famine Forum it is an updated version of his article in English published in Planet 67, February / March, 1988 under the same title.


3. Murder and Transportation : Cardiff 1848

John O’Sullivan, a freelance journalist and author, living in Cardiff, who descibes the turmoil that followed the killing of a Welshman by an Irishman in a brawl.


4. 'A new Irish Invasion'?

Twentieth century Immigration and the growth of the Roman Catholic Church in Wales.

Dr. Trystan Hughes is Head, School of Theology and Religious Studies, Trinity College, Carmarthen .


5. Nora

John O’Sullivan, a Catholic freelance journalist based in Cardiff, who tells of Nora O'Connor of Cardiff whose father was killed in action during the Great War. Her mother died later when a ferry travelling to Wales from Ireland was torpedoed on October 11, 1918.


6. Of Cats and Men

This is an extended essay on relations between Ireland, Wales, Britain and North America with particular emphasis on Northern Ireland. The author, Billy Mathias, is a former North Londoner resident in Roath, Cardiff. A Q. & A. quiz based upon this essay appeared in the Church in Wales parish magazine in Cardiff, Roath News, in November (the Questions) and December 1998 (the Answers), as a celebration of an historic year in Ireland. With an added note for the British PM in the Dublin Parliament in November, the two pieces noted six Irish ‘first evers.’


7. The Belfast Agreement - further Reflections

This article on the state of the Northern Ireland peace process is by Sam H. Boyd, Cwmbran, Wales who was born in Belfast in 1919 into a working class Presbyterian family.


8. Bridgend's Irish Lane

Hilary M. Rowley. A shortened version of this article has been published previously in Ireland’s Own and in the anthology Voices from Wales published last year by the Bridgend Writers’ Circle of which the author is a member. Bridgend (pop. about 35,000) is about 20 miles west of Cardiff.


9. Those Blue Remembered Hills

This is a trip 70 years down memory lane to Belfast's famous Cave Hill by regular contributor Sam H. Boyd, Cwmbran, Gwent, South Wales, who was born in Belfast in 1919.


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