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Bards raise a cry for peace in a troubled world

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 10, 2013

By Bert Biscoe

  • Bards walk through Penryn town centre on their way to the Gorsedh ceremony

  • Former Grand Bards, Jori Ansell, Rod Lyon, Mick Paynter and Ann Trevenen Jenkin

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All the forecasts and websites said "rain in Penryn on Saturday" – causing many to fear the 85th Cornish Gorseth of the modern era would be forced under cover. It did not rain. Indeed, for the great procession of bards, dignitaries and international guests from Penryn Methodist Church to Glasney Field, the sun shone. As bards wound through St Thomas Street and College Ope, many admired the quality of conservation which makes the town so beautiful and authentic. A crowd of people came to watch and participate.

The ceremony was held in secluded field which was the site of Glasney College until it was dissolved by Edward VI in 1548. Today, very little remains of this religious and educational centre, but its legacy was plain to hear in the abundance of Kernewek which was spoken ceremonially and informally throughout this very Cornish day when, as well as recognising achievements of all kinds, Gorseth Kernow reasserted her Celtic identity in filial accord with Wales and Brittany.

Following a perfect rendition of Inglis Gundry's fanfare, Entry of the Grand Bard to the Circle, Penryn mayor Beverley Hulme welcomed bards and spoke of the new link between the "town" and the "gown" of the university at Tremough.

In a substantial bilingual address, Grand Bard Maureen Fuller made a very strong case, stating: "Cornish children have the right to learn Cornish history in Cornish schools."

She then proclaimed to all Cornwall to hear the call of the Gorsedh, asking: "Eus kres?" (Is there peace?). To which the blue-robed circle replied: "Kres!" (Peace). A split sword, carried by Cornish and Breton bards, was joined and presented to Christine James, Archdruid of Wales, who held it aloft to signify the ancient and enduring bonds between the three nations.

The Flower Dance, performed by Penryn's Tanya Hardy School of Dance, was a prelude to the entry of the Lady of the Flowers. Invited by Sword Bearer Pol Hodge to enter the circle, Jess George offered "fruit of the world from the hearth of Cornwall". Deputy Grand Bard Merv Davey then called the names of bards passed away during the previous year, amongst whom were Lord St Levan and Barry Kinsman.

Eighteen men and women were then initiated as new bards. They were Delia Brotherton of St Ives, Mike Cawley of St Mawgan, Edwina Dorman of London, Richard Evans of Penzance, Nicholas Hart of St Neot, Pam Lomax of Newlyn, Simon Margetts of St Dennis, Robin Menneer of Sancreed, Roger Radcliffe of St Agnes, Anabelle Read of Newlyn, Angela Renshaw of Truro, Ani Saunders of Wales, Tassy Swallow of St Ives, Patricia Tremain of Launceston, David Trethewey of Truro, Heather West of Callington, June Whiffin of Australia, and Carlene Woolcock of Australia.

The Archdruid, with an eye on events elsewhere, eloquently said: "In a world where there is conflict, meetings such as Gorseth Kernow, which celebrate fraternity, culture and language, are important. Indeed, it is our responsibility to take care of such things."

There were awards for long service and to those who had excelled during the year, with the loudest cheer of the day reserved for Ed Buckingham, who became the first Cornishman to scale Mount Everest and raise a St Piran flag.

All bards then gathered around Bardh Mur to evoke the spirit of Arthur and to sing Bro Goth Agan Tasow.

The day concluded with the traditional bardic tea, at which guest of honour Colonel Edward Bolitho, Lord Lieutentant of Cornwall, said: "I so strongly support what you all do. Our Celtic culture, history and traditions are such an important part of Cornish life and they help to shape and form the character of all who live here. As emigration and immigration, transport, the internet and other forms of communication all seem to make the world a smaller, yet more muddled up, place, it is even more important that our Cornish past is preserved, encouraged and developed."

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