“A Oes Heddwch?” 100 years pursuing Peace at the National Eisteddfod
Written on 03-08-2018 by Craig Owen
100 years ago this week, at the Neath National Eisteddfod in August 1918, a soldier – returned from the trenches of WW1 – took to the stage to propose the creation of a ‘Welsh League of Nations Union’. David Davies of Llandinam, horrified by what he had witnessed in war, called for all at that Eisteddfod to pledge to the pursuit of peace – 3 months ahead of the Armistice that would end WW1 on 11.11.1918.
100 years later, as the crowds descend on Cardiff, Peace campaigners repeat this call from the Peace Tent at the 2018 National Eisteddfod – with a programme of events marking the week.
Neath Eisteddfod 100
Cardiff Peace Trail
Wales’ National Garden of Peace
Annual Peace Lecture
Peace Tent and Hiroshima Day event
Welsh Refugee Coalition Tent Programme
“At the National Eisteddfod in Neath in August 1918, David Davies first suggested the formation of the Welsh League of Nations Union, saying that Wales had an important role to play in the campaign for world peace. As the Union was formed in 1918 it had 3,217 members, but by 1922 this had grown dramatically to over 200,000. In 1920, Davies donated £30,000 to set up an endowment fund to establish a Welsh National Council of the League of Nations Union. By 1922 it had 280 local branches, and by 1926 the number had grown to 652.”
By Elgan Philips, “When Aberystwyth hosted an International Peace Congress,” May 2016
The Welsh League of Nations Union borne out of the 1918 Neath Eisteddfod, grew to play an instrumental role in shaping national life in the 1920s and 30s, and much of the ‘psyche’ of Wales as we know it to today. Women, children, teachers, religious leaders, workers, artists, academics and philanthropists led the world in grassroots peace building initiatives.
Welsh Efforts for World Peace, 1920s
- View Welsh League of Nations Union Report 1927 on People’s Collection Wales.
- View Daffodil Days for Peace 1926 (organised alongside many local Eisteddfodau through the 1920s and 30s)
Launch of City of Cardiff Peace Trail – Tuesday 7th, 2.45 / 3.30pm, Societies 3 (Senedd Building)
In 2013, a Temple75 Peace Trail was trialled around Cardiff as part of WCIA’s 75th Anniversary of the Temple of Peace. Between 2016-18, Cymdeithas y Cymod with funding from Annibynwyr (the Union of Welsh Independent Churches) have been working with journalist Jon Gower and ex-Eisteddfod President Dr. R Alun Evans to develop a new ‘City of Cardiff Peace Trail’ which will be launched at the Eisteddfod:
- 2.45 – Launch of Taith Heddwch Caerdydd / Cardiff Peace Trail. Join Jon Gower and R Alun Evans for the launch of the Cardiff Peace Journey booklet. A trip will follow at 15:30. (NB Please allow 15 minutes for passage through security) . A Cymdeithas y Cymod Session
- 3.30 – Cardiff Peace Tour. Join Jon Gower and R Alun Evans on a tour by the Fellowship of Reconciliation in Wales, ending at Wales’ National Garden of Peace.
Wales National Garden of Peace was first dedicated on 23rd November 1988, to mark the 50th Anniversary of the opening of the Temple of Peace. A time capsule was buried by 8-year old Cardiff school pupil Richard Mears with 93 year old Irene Chamberlain, one of the women representing WW1 war mothers who were asked to open the Temple of Peace. To date, over 40 memorials have been dedicated to peace movements and individuals.
For the launch of the Cardiff Peace Trail, WCIA’s Wales for Peace volunteers have produced a new leaflet offering a guide to these memorials, including stories of just some of the inspiring people commemorated in this national monument in the heart of Cardiff.
DOWNLOAD PEACE GARDEN MEMORIALS GUIDE.
In November 2018, the Welsh Centre for International Affairs will be holding a month long programme of events to mark the 80th anniversary of the Temple of Peace – to include a 30th anniversary rededication of the Peace Garden with International Youth Service volunteers and peace groups on Sunday 25th November. WCIA’s #Temple80 programme will be available from early September at www.wcia.org.uk and www.WalesforPeace.org
Members of Cymdeithas y Cymod as well as Welsh Historic Garden Trust have expressed interest in ‘adopting’ the Peace Garden after WCIA’s HLF-funded Wales for Peace project comes to a close at the end of 2018.
Lifelong peace activist Jane Harries MBE, WCIA’s Wales for Peace Learning Coordinator, will be presenting the 2018 Quakers in Wales Annual Eisteddfod Lecture: “Our third lecture will be given by Jane Harries, on aspects of the legacy of peace and peace-making in Wales, as commemoration of World War I comes to a close.” Quakers
(Eisteddfod event post – WCIA Event post)
View Jane Harries’ article in Freedom News, “A Oes Heddwch?”
Jane Harries MBE introduces the Quaker Annual Eisteddfod Lecture for 2018:
You can listen to audio translation into English (please note – low quality due to being through a translation headset) at:
WCIA hope to recruit a volunteer to add English subtitles to the video recording. If you would be interested in this opportunity, please contact email@example.com
The Peace Tent (stalls 415-6), adjacent to the Norwegian Church in Cardiff Bay, will be open through Eisteddfod week supported by volunteers from Cymdeithas y Cymod and CND Cymru, with a week-long programme of events.
On Monday, a gathering was held at the Eisteddfod to mark Hiroshima Day – the 73rd anniversary of the world’s first atomic bomb dropped on the city of Hiroshima, Japan, killing 297,684 people who are remembered worldwide. Jill Evans MEP spoke at this year’s Cardiff Eisteddfod Hiroshima Day event in support of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, in particular supporting CND Cymru’s call for the UK to sign up to the UN Nuclear Prohibition Treaty.
Last year, in December 2017, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons – ICAN – were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their decades of work campaigning for the UN treaty. CND Cymru have been campaigning for nuclear disarmament since the 1960s.
Many Welsh schools and youth groups in recent years have participated in Paper Cranes projects inspired by Sadako Sasaki, a child victim of the nuclear bomb, as their expression of a desire for a world of nuclear disarmament.
Throughout the week, CND Cymru will be promoting and gathering signatures on the ‘Peace Train Petition’, to be taken from all over Wales to London on World Peace Day, September 21st 2018 calling for the UK Government to sign up to the UN Nuclear Prohibition Treaty.
Cymdeithas y Cymod will also be promoting and gathering signatures for the Heddwch Nain Mamgu petition, inspired by the 1920s Women’s Peace petition to America, calling for greater international cooperation towards peace through the United Nations.
peace through the United Nations.
WCIA (the Welsh Centre for International Affairs) are partners in the Welsh Refugee Coalition, whose stall (117-118) in Cardiff Bay will be supporting visitors to understand how we can all support refugees fleeing war as part of Wales’ commitment to becoming a ‘Nation of Sanctuary’.
View article “Hundreds of teddies looking for a home“ – the Welsh Refugee Coalition at the Eisteddfod
View the Welsh Refugee Coalition’s timetable of events at the National Eisteddfod.
View WCIA’s Wales for Peace ‘Refugees and Sanctuary’ hidden histories timeline.