History of Wales – redux…

If you have the great fortune (or life planning abilities) to live in this wonderful country then you can buy the Western Mail. Do so today because it’s the start of what looks like being a super series. If by ill-fortune, bad planning, or inconvenient romance you have ended up elsewhere don’t worry it’s on the internet!

A New History of Wales– there’s the home page and quite a nice small montage of well chosen photos from a young Tom Jones to Miners Strikes, the Pontypool Front Row and of those schoolgirls in daft hats…..Take a look. and here’s a summary of the month long project – looks a treat to be honest..
………and a great way to start, the old favourite Are we really Celtic? – slightly seriously Prof Karl I think underplays the Roman cultural influence but it’s a great read.
And finally Quizzes – Don’t you just love them.

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  • Greenflag


    Re the Quiz 😉

    ‘The Newport Rising of 1938 remains one of the most famous moments in the history of the Chartists? How often did this movement want elections to be held?’

    Actually the Newport Rising was in 1839 . I’ll let you tell the Quizmasters of their faux pas 😉

    Okay I got 3 out of 10 which is in the circumstances -location wise not too bad 🙂

    I’ll have a go at Prof Karl’s bit later today .

  • Dewi

    LOL Greenflag – see the first comment under the quiz! T’was me…..3/10 not bad actually – I only got 8…

  • Count me out.

    I still like John Davies’s effort [£8.31 on Amazon, which I reckon undercuts a month of the coal-owners’ and ironmasters’ mouthpiece].

    Anyway, Dewi, my experience is the old rag is easier to buy at Paddington than in the fastnesses of Gogledd Cymru.

  • Greenflag

    Only 8 of 10 😉

    Ah but you had a headstart

  • Dewi

    I Know Malcolm – but we both need to move on! – great edition today honestly….(btw there is a great newsagent off the Euston Road where I got a Western Mail and Irish Times every morning when I was in London)

  • Greenflag

    Twas indeed Dewi 😉 prescient very .

  • Alan Maskey

    Wtf did you buy the I Times? Awash with dosh?
    BTw, I see one of the Welsh kids doing the offerings at the Papal mass spoke of the “history of our nation”. Looks like the Catholics are going UDI in Wales?

  • Ah, the egregious Maskey.

    One should always eat the local dishes, drink the wine of the country, and attempt to read the local newspaper (bits of a classical education, Leaving Cert Irish and comparative philology help). Anything else is merely a package tour.

  • Alan Maskey

    Yes, I suppose when you do your Leaving Cert, you might start reading a British paper in London, as opposed to a West British one.

  • 7/10


    One which had me was the number of conscientious objectors. That one pushed me to look up the actual numbers (OK: wikipedia).

    WW1: 16,000 across the UK. I had forgotten the 35 drummed off to France, willy-nilly, who then continued to resist and were sentenced to death for cowardice (only to be reprieved with ten years gaol: ten of then died in chokey). Seventy others died in prison, too. Some cowardice.

    In WW2, 60,000+ (did the frequency alter after the Nazi invasion of Russia, I wondered?). Similar pattern, 5,500 went to gaol, 1,000+ to military detention. Then again there were those who offered to be Bevan boys, work in the medical corps, and the 350 who volunteered for bomb-disposal. I’m thinking of the one CO in my small town of whom I was aware: it cannot have been an easy decision. I suspect most COs had a far harder time than many who answered the “call up”. Whatever the motive, I doubt if “cowardice” played any significant part.

    That led me on to military executions … suddenly I am very, very depressed.

  • Sorry don’t understand.

    I suspect that’s a version of a particular prejudice I remember only too well: “all prods are West Brits”.

    When I graduated from TCD (1965) I didn’t have the option. Like 85%+ of my cohort, the system made it abundantly clear there effectively were quotas for non-catholics in the careers we wanted to pursue. So it was emigration.

    Around that time I had a really curious interview for a overseas scholarship. The British Council in Davies Street took enough passing interest in me to pay my return air fares to London (I may well have travelled by the mail-boat and pocketed the difference).

    Yes, they turned me down. Subsequently, like the cucumber of the memory, I kept regurgitating the curious questioning. A large amount was about my reading habits: not literature, not my studies, but of the daily and weekly press. Familiarity with the Irish Times was clearly worrisome to the panel. I was therefore reticent in admitting I also had a familiarity with publications originating in the region of Parnell Square.

    Obviously, Mr Maskey, you draw conclusions by the same method, but in the opposing direction. Nice to know we are dealing with open minds, isn’t it?

  • Greenflag

    Malcolm Redfellow

    ‘Egregious ‘ You jest . Maskey is an insufferable bollix plain and simple with absolutely no redeeming features . There are shitehawks and ameba along the Liffeside with a broader mind set than yer man . I do not know nor wish to know where the little bollix is from but I’d hazard a guess at somewhere east of Suez 😉

    If Maskey reads newspapers he probably gets as far as page 3 🙁

  • Greenflag

    7 is good -very good I’d say _Dewi would probably concede that it would be more than the average Welshman ?

    The number of conscientious objectors beat me too . In the context of the times that were in it with the British Empire being at the apex of it’s worldwide power these CO’s must have been brave souls . Must check out the Irish record if there is a separate one . I suspect we might have had fewer objectors on the grounds of pure conscience than on political grounds ?

    World War 1 came about after 44 years of peace in Europe between the major imperial powers . It has now been 65 years since the last World War although several smaller proxie wars have been fought at least up to the end of the Cold War . Recent ‘wars’ have been variously defined as wars against terror and or resource wars .

  • I was assuming that the CO figure for all of Ireland must be nil: no conscription.

    Now, desertion and mutiny: that’s another matter.

    In 1962, in Galway, I met a bloke who claimed to be a survivor of the 1920 Solan mutiny. Admittedly, it was in a pub and I was buying, but there were 400 of them, so it’s a fair bet.

  • Dewi

    Honest Injun? – Malcolm – tell Mick you would like to post on slugger……

  • Greenflag

    ‘When I graduated from TCD (1965) I didn’t have the option.’

    I don’t know what degree subject you took but from what I understand over half the number of graduate doctors and engineers had to emigrate in those years regardless of religious background . The country’s economy probably a quarter of what is now was too small to absorb them and it had been like that since the 1800’s . We may well be unfortunately entering another few years of the same again for many of the next few years crop of graduates .

    But your experience reminded me of an interview I had with a n Irish State /semi state organisation circa 1990 . I had been abroad for a few years having left with some 250,000 others in the mid 1980’s . In my case it was an offer abroad I could not refuse and it offered an escape from the ironically ‘depressive mood ‘ in the country at that time . I knew I was returning but in the final analysis when I did it was more by chance than anything else.

    To cut a long story short one of the ‘interviewing ‘ panel asked me why had I left Ireland in 1984 and why did’nt I stay and ‘build up the country ‘ or words to that effect ‘ . I was a bit taken aback as the question was almost couched in you’re a ‘traitor ‘ for leaving your country terms . . The older members of the panel visibly winced iirc .

    It had not dawned on this cretin that a quarter million of his fellow countrymen had gapped it for better opportunities overseas during those years and that perhaps I I was just one of those who had helped to keep him in clover by not being a drain on the country’s resources !

    To the surprise of the panel I stood up immediately and wished the two older gentlemen a quick and mannerly goodbye by shaking their hands and then as I left I turned to the ‘gobshite’ and told him that he should improve his ‘interviewing ‘ skills as well as his knowledge of the economy of the country that employed him ( or words to that effect spiced up with some crude terms that took the colour from his cheeks !

    Yes some mother’s do have them 😉

  • Greenflag

    Of course Malcolm I stand corrected .

    A good read on the First World War and those times which I read a few weeks ago is

    ‘A Long Long Way’ by Sebastian Barry which was a finalist for the Booker Award . It’s in novel form but I could’nt put it down till I finished it and that’s not something I can say about any other novel I’ve read in recent years .

  • Susan

    Dewi, I got 6 out of 10, but was helped immeasurably by reading all of Malcom’s posts before taking the quiz. I had forgotten how much I missed the Redfellow’s eloquence.

    Also, I reckoned there might just be a Blue Iolo up for a Q Award, but no way could he have safely left the house in the days of Owain Glyndwr.

    I’m off to admire the photographs now.

  • Dewi

    Croeso yn ôl Siwsan – don’t stay away for so long again !

  • Only later did I realise that my cavalier assumption applied only to WW1 — so no regrets or apology needed.

    Then there’s WW2, when it was just as thorny a topic, north and south. The bone-heads of the Craig/Andrews administrations were gung-ho for it: wiser counsels prevailed in London.

    Greenflag‘s comments reminded me to look up this telling exchange (Commons questions, 20 May 1941). I haven’t bothered to add party affiliations: they are too obvious:

    Brigadier-General Clifton Brown (MP for Hexham): asked the Prime Minister whether he will reconsider the question of conscription for Northern Ireland; and whether he can make any statement about it?

    Sir Annesley Somerville (MP for Windsor) asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the strong feeling in Ulster in favour of conscription, he will consider the desirability of introducing this measure?

    Mr Henry Harland (MP for East Belfast) asked the Prime Minister whether His Majesty’s Government will reconsider the policy of not applying military conscription to Northern Ireland, in view of the fact that the people of Northern Ireland are in favour of this course?

    The Prime Minister: This question has for some time past engaged the attention of His Majesty’s Government, and I hope to be in a position to make a statement about it on the first Sitting Day after this week.

    Sir A. Somerville: Does not my right hon. Friend remember that the people of Northern Ireland regard this negative policy up to the present as a slight on their patriotism, and also that one frightful result of it is that the good men volunteer while the less good men get their jobs?

    Sir Hugh O’Neill (MP for Antrim): Would my right hon. Friend agree that the reason conscription was not originally applied in Northern Ireland was that strong representations were made to the British Government by Mr. De Valera against it, and that Mr. De Valera stated that if it were imposed, it would lead to strong opposition from the minority in Northern Ireland? Is not the present time, when people of all classes and parties in Northern Ireland are mercilessly bombed, a good opportunity for reconsidering the whole matter?

    The Prime Minister: The facts are, I believe, as stated by my right hon. Friend, but I hope to be in a position to make a statement on the whole subject shortly.

    Mr George Buchanan (MP for Glasgow, Gorbals): Seeing that the Prime Minister of the Irish Free State did make representation, will the right hon. Gentleman agree that before he makes any statement on the matter, any new representations which Mr. de Valera may make will be considered also?

    The Prime Minister: Representations which reach His Majesty’s Government from any quarter are always considered.

    Professor Douglas Savory (MP for Queen’s University of Belfast): Will the Prime Minister bear in mind that the Cabinet of Northern Ireland were unanimous in 1939 in pressing that conscription should be applied to Northern Ireland?

    I don’t know that Churchill was a cricket enthusiast; but he’s playing a straight and dead bat against some aggressive bowling there.

    Again, apologies for rambling so far from Dewi‘s topic.

  • Greenflag

    malcolm redfellow,

    ‘wiser counsels prevailed in London.’

    Indeed . Britain got almost all it needed from Ireland (North & South ) -volunteers for the services -labour for the factories and farms -virtually non existent oppositon to Britain’s war effort in the North and the few in the South found themselves interned and some were hanged for their efforts by De Valera’s government . And due to De Valera’s intervention Northern Ireland (Belfast) was not subjected to (after the Belfast bombing ) the constant carpet bombing that Coventry, Liverpool , London and all the other major cities suffered .

    And to cap it all 9 VC’s awarded -8 from Free State residents and 1 from NI ( a non unionist apparently )

    So alls well that ends well . Or it might have had the ‘boneheads’ at Stormont learnt anything from the WW2 experience. But alas they did’nt . By the late 1960’s they had reverted to type and despite one or two bright lights trying to emerge from the die hard boneheads – a future of darkness and bigotry seemed preferable to ‘enlightenment ‘!

    Churchill had been to Ireland during the Home Rule era and was a ‘supporter’ of HR for which support he had a bible thrown at him in Belfast on one occasion .

    I suspect Churchill like Gladstone had a good grasp of what Ireland was about and what it could become either way as regards the union . By the time he got to power in 1940 it was of course far too late . The ‘boneheads’ had taken NI and built the pyre 🙁

    While Churchill was ‘upset’ at Irish ‘neutrality’ I suspect he saw the broader picture and had not entirely given up on the possibility that somehow the ‘South’ could be reconciled to a place within the UK .

  • I, Im surprised to say, got 5 right.

  • Dewi

    Very good Sir!

  • Dewi

    Thank you! Im feeling a bit superior right now. My sister in law, who is Welsh, thought I had cheated! I had not.

  • Thanks, Greenflag, for those inputs. I’m always worried when agreement breaks out in a Slugger thread, as here. Such decency and cosiness cannot last.

    Meanwhile, the topic of WW2 conscription and its impact on Ireland, north and south, has sent me back to the shelves. There must be a monograph or thesis on the topic somewhere; but I certainly haven’t seen it. Any advice, anyone? So far I have half-a-page from Bardon, a couple from Girvin, and the odd reference in the other usual suspects.

    I feel an extended blog posting coming on.

  • John D

    Belatedly … Haven’t done the quiz yet but no one should go away with the idea that the Western Mail is an even half-decent newspaper. It’s been cutting staff for years (see for instance http://www.nuj.org.uk/innerPagenuj.html?docid=1377&string=Western Mail) and doesn’t deserve its self-description as “The National Newspaper for Wales”. You in N Ireland don’t know how lucky you are — 3 daily papers for a population of less than 2 million, while Wales with 3 million plus has just one and a half dailies (the half being the Liverpool-based Daily Post).

  • Christian Schmidt

    If the Western Mail had a positive attitude to Wales I would be called the Southern Mail.

  • Dewi

    The History series is, however, looking really good John D.

  • John D

    PS: I got just 5 in the quiz. But then I’m only half-Welsh …

  • Reader

    Malcolm Redfellow: 16,000 across the UK. I had forgotten the 35 drummed off to France, willy-nilly, who then continued to resist and were sentenced to death for cowardice (only to be reprieved with ten years gaol: ten of then died in chokey). Seventy others died in prison, too. Some cowardice.
    I think quite a few were sent to France in some capacity. In Slim’s “Unofficial History”, while discussing a fleeting chance to browse the Official History, he wrote: “The campaign in France and Flanders? No, I went to France with the Conscientious Objectors. You might write a book about that extraordinary collection of exhibitionism, idealism, courage and cold feet, but not an Official History. I doubted if the non-combatant Corps would be mentioned”

  • Dewi

    What 5 did you miss?

  • John D

    Can’t remember. It was mostly the questions of “how many died in …” variety

  • Reader:

    That’s of real interest; I must admit I’d never heard of the “non-combatant corps”.

    When back home, with proper access, will have to investigate.

    Thanks for the heads-up.