“Let us begin, here in Hayle, to call for greater respect between all nations and cultures”, said the Grand Bard of Cornwall, Pol Hodge Mab Stenak Veur, as he welcomed bards, dignitaries, guests, banner bearers and members of the public to Gorsedh Kernow’s annual bardic ceremony, held this year in Hayle Academy.
Despite wonderful weather in the preceding week, rain forced the annual ceremony indoors, but nothing could dampen the enthusiasm of bards and especially initiate bards. No less than 19 new bards were welcomed into the Gorsedh by the Grand Bard last Saturday, from all over Cornwall and beyond. One had travelled with her family all the way from Boston, USA in order to be initiated into the Gorsedh. The ceremony was also attended by delegates from Cornwall’s sister Gorsedhow in Wales and Brittany. The ceremony was live-streamed and can now be seen on the Gorsedh Kernow website.
The Mayor of Hayle, Cllr. Anne Marie Rance, welcomed the Gorsedh back to Hayle for the first time since 1999. She spoke of the first Grand Bard of Cornwall, Henry Jenner, who lived in Hayle and whose wife came from the town and who was also instrumental in founding the first Old Cornwall Society. She noted that Hayle Old Cornwall Society will celebrate its centenary in 2023 and it was therefore very fitting that the Gorsedh should be visiting Hayle in the lead up to that anniversary.
Thanking members of the local organising committee for all their hard work and the Mayor of Hayle for such a warm welcome, the Grand Bard spoke of the conflicts in the current world which often stemmed from lack of respect for other nations and cultures. He highlighted the need to ensure that Cornwall’s distinct status and culture is acknowledged and respected and encouraged everyone to find respect for every nation and every culture.
The colourful ceremony was the centrepiece of the Esedhvos Festival of Cornish Culture, which also included an evening where the Gorsedh Annual Awards were presented to both Young People and Adults for achievement in a number of categories across Community and Creativity. Heritage talks and presentations, drama from Story Republic and an evening ceilidh provided the Friday programme, while a concert with performances from Bryher’s Boys singing group, St Ives duo Tir ha Tavas, local musician Tom Dale and virtuoso duo MacQuarrie and Toms , ably compered by Bert Biscoe, topped off the Saturday night. On Sunday a taster session on the Cornish language was well attended, as was a guided walk around Hayle by Cllr John Pollard. An uplifting Evensong service in Cornish at Phillack church, with bell ringing and three choirs in attendance, completed the festival.