“It is now sixteen months since the Government announced that the Cornish were being recognised as a national minority and we need to see signs of implementation and their results as soon as possible,” said Maureen Fuller, Steren Mor, presenting her third and final speech in the role of Grand Bard of Cornwall, penned especially for the Gorsedh Kernow Bardic ceremony held in the warm sunshine on Saturday 5th September in St Austell’s Poltair Park.
The Gorsedh Kernow Bardic ceremony was the focal point for an eventful Esedhvos Festival week which had been organised over many months by Cornish bards working closely with members of the St Austell local organising committee.
Thanking the Mayor, Cllr Brian Palmer and Councillors of St Austell Town Council for their warm welcome Mrs Fuller stood alongside delegates from the Welsh and Breton Gorseddau and reminded the gathered crowds of the importance of equality among all the five nations of the UK – England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Cornwall.
Hugely encouraged by conversations with celebrity poet Benjamin Zephaniah, who she met recently at the Welsh Eisteddfod while he was making a programme for BBC 4, the Grand Bard spoke emphatically about the difficulties of arousing interest in Cornwall’s unique language and history among today’s media.
“Benjamin and I discussed the culture of the indigenous peoples who had lived on these islands,” said Mrs Fuller, “and we both felt passionately that everyone should know about the culture of the original inhabitants and celebrate that as well as the many other cultures seen regularly on our television screens.”
“He wanted to know about Welsh and Cornish culture and about the thousands of people who give expression to their culture at events like the Welsh Eisteddfod and our own Cornish Esedhvos.”
“I found it so refreshing to hear Benjamin’s views and his enthusiasm makes its even more important that we continue to press for our precious Cornish language and history to be taught in our schools so that all children in the British Isles know about all the constituent nations,” continued Mrs Fuller.
Concluding her speech with a call for constant vigilance for the future of Cornwall, Mrs Fuller finally guided the ceremony towards the installation of the new Grand Bard by passing the regalia of office to her successor Dr. Merv Davey, Telynor an Weryn, who in turn passed the role of Deputy Grand Bard to Elizabeth Carne, Melennek.
“As the new Grand Bard I intend to continue with Gorsedh Kernow’s focus on minority status,” said Merv Davey,” and we must all now move on to consolidate and assert this identity.”
“In this inter-connected world of the 21st century we must rise above narrow definitions of Cornishness. At our well attended Conference yesterday we sensed a greater feeling of self confidence that we’d not felt before and that one of our strengths is that we have always made people welcome into our culture and long may this tradition continue.”