Edge of The Celtic World - 150th Anniversary of the Welsh Speaking Enclave of Patagonia

2015 marks the 150th anniversary of the founding in 1865 of Y Wladfa, the Welsh speaking colony in the Chabut Valley area of the southern Argentine region of Patagonia. The story of the founding of this colony revolves around the fascinating figure Michael Daniel Jones who many consider to be one of the founders of modern Welsh Nationalism.  Jones was the leader of a movement to found a haven for the Welsh language and culture to escape the consequences of the rape of Wales by English industrialists during the early 1800's heyday of the industrial revolution. Industry was drawn to Wales in the pursuit of the iron, steel, slate and coal buried under ancient Welsh speaking communities.  The disruption caused by industry in the 1800's to the Welsh tongue is not unlike that caused in the 21st century by property development in the Y Fro Gymraeg (Welsh Speaking Areas). 

Multiple news reports over the past week have told the story of 27 year old Stephanie Davies, from Cardiff, who is setting off on a journey to document the current and future state of the Patagonian Welsh.  According to news reports, there are approximately 50,000 descendents of the Welsh settlers of whom about 12,000 are reported to speak Welsh as their first language. An article in the Western Telegraph titled "Cardiff Woman Embarks on an Exciting Journey of Discovery" describes Davies quest as follows: "The end result will be made up of compelling film, text, stills and audio which will go on display in a multimedia exhibit at the newly restored Cardigan Castle".  The article goes on to quote Davies:  "I want to share my excitement for this inspiring and little known story that deserves to be told. Using a muti-media exhibit will illuminate this almost secret society to all ages and both speakers of Welsh and English.

The Wales-Argentine Society, founded in 1939 and which sponsors a cultural exchange with the Argentine Welsh gives us the following from their web page:

"The Government of Wales, with the support of the British Council, Cardiff University and the Wales-Argentine Society, sponsor the Welsh Language Project in Chubut, sending teachers to teach Welsh and to train the local tutors. Many young people from Y Wladfa visit Wales every year and a delegation of Urdd Gobaith Cymru (The Welsh Youth league)  visits Y Wladfa every autumn.






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