Of Dante and Chile and Idris Davies……and Rhodri’s Uncle..

Thanks to Siwsan, of this parish, for sending me this:
In Chile, love moves the sun and the stars. Read it all but here’s a great bit:
“The first miner, Florencio Avalos, appears–like a newborn. His kid and wife are there. He hugs them. He looks fine. After 68 days under the Earth, his eyes, with sunglasses though, are the first to look up at the stars.

And we feel, with old Dante, that on this night in Chile, love moves the sun and all the other stars.
Sometimes, after all, life is as it should be.” (Love that last sentence).

Our First Minister has written to Chile’s President,  Dr Miguel Juan Sebastián Piñera Echenique, as Betsan reports:

“Dr Miguel Juan Sebastián Piñera Echenique
President of the Republic of Chile
Palacio de La Moneda

Dear President Piñera

I write to congratulate you and the people of Chile on the remarkable rescue of Los 33 at the San José copper-gold mine near Copiapó.

As a nation with a history of mining dating back to the Bronze Age, the people of Wales have followed the events of the last ten weeks with great admiration and solidarity.

We have memories of many mining disasters where sadly the outcome proved very different. The names of these tragedies – Senghennydd, Gresford, Cilfynydd and many, many more – are part of our national consciousness. Those experiences mean we feel a deep sympathy with mining communities worldwide.

We have admired the courage of those trapped and shared the emotions of their families. It has been a joy for us to witness the skill and determination of the rescuers and to join the celebrations of your people.

One of our country’s poets, Idris Davies, once wrote of how the bells of Wales echoed the feelings of our people:

“O what will you give me?

Say the sad bells of Rhymney.

Is there hope for the future?

Cry the brown bells of Merthyr”

As the terrible events of the 5th August unfolded to the world, the bells recovered from the Cathedral of Santiago disaster in 1863 were travelling between Wales and Chile.

Just as the words of our poet provide a link with events of the past, today, they reflect the spirit of your miners and the resolve of all involved in their rescue.

You have shown how hope can triumph over adversity – and on behalf of the people of
Wales, we offer you our best wishes and congratulations.

Yours truly


Well said Carwyn.

Update – Rhodri Morgan from today’s Western Mail:

“…Everyone in Wales will feel a special sense of solidarity with the 33 of them because most of us have an uncle of father or grandfather who worked underground and some will recall the two worst disasters in British mining history, both in Wales, Senghenydd before the First World War and Gresford before the second.

That consciousness of what might happen if there was a roof fall or an explosion is what makes miners so special. You can’t work underground with someone who would let you down if the worst happened.

My father’s older brother Gwyn was a coal-miner until the dust got to him.

He was a man of few words, certainly far fewer than my professor father.

But he had a withering way of summing up his fellow human beings, especially those who didn’t pull their weight or who had ideas about their own importance and status in life.

I remember my father giving him a lift to the Globe, his favourite pub in Glais in the Swansea Valley.

As we drove the few hundred yards to the pub, we passed a few men in Dai caps and mufflers doing nothing in particular, chatting by the roadside. Gwyn would always speak to me in Welsh but would sometimes turn to English for extra emphasis.

Pointing to one of the men in caps and mufflers, he said: “That’s Watty Jenkins there. Wonderful side-step but never over fond of work.””

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    And of course Chiles national hero is……Ambrosio O’Higgins.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    and er his better known even more heroic son……Bernardo

  • pippakin

    What can anyone say at such a triumph of hope, skill and determination over adversity. More than a billion people all over the world watched the rescue, which proves, if nothing else, we all love a happy ending.

  • Greenflag

    Thanks Dewi for that piece . A triumph for humanity in an environment where the odds are stacked heavily against survival when anything goes amiss . Someone on the BBC coverage made the point that some 3,600 Ukrainian lost their lives over the past 10 years – one a day . Not too long ago 29 miners lost their lives in West Virginia and that was the third major mining disaster in 4 years in that state .

    And then there is the long history of Welsh mining disasters both above (Aberfan) and below ground .

    But we all ‘rejoice’ in this remarkable rescue and the expression of real human emotion shown live on screens everywhere .

  • The Raven

    …and boy do we need it at the minute. Genuine delight watching this happy ending in an era of utter cynicism.

  • For me it was the realisation of a hope that someone would come and rescue them. Over two weeks of hearing nothing and then on the seventeenth day….

    And .. i could be wrong here… it was not the company but the president who decided to extend the initial searches and bring in external expertise which resulted in the breakthrough on the seventeenth day

    Whatever the cost it was worth it in terms of the bond between the governed and the government in Chile. There are few countries in the world where its citizens deep down know their government will “rescue” them in whatever scenario.

  • Susan

    Dewi, I just knew that luminous piece would resonate with a son of the valleys. Very well said by Carwyn Jones, too — and on the anniversary of Senghennydd I now see.

    Fitzjameshorse I’d forgotten all about Bernardo O’Higgins — (not to intimate that I had more than the very vaguest ideas of who he was in the first place). Epaulletes to die for.

    To Bernardo and the bells ringing out for the living, drill bits and determination, endurance and la esperanza!

  • joeCanuck

    The whole story should be inspirational for all who struggle against adversity – Never give up hope.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    How could anyone forget Bernardo? LOL
    Ambrosio is mistakenly credited with being a “Wild Geese” soldier. He was actually a merchant/engineer who went to Spain and most parts of Latin America, where he got lucky on the poorer Pacific coast.
    Bernardo is oft referred to as his illegitimate son but there was probably a church marriage between him and a very young bride. The issue of illegitimacy being Spanish colonial law forbidding inter-marriage.
    The whole Irish experience in Latin America is much under-stated.
    William Brown in Argentina is a national hero.
    As of course are los San Patricios in Mexico.
    Not to mention the best known son of the Wild Geese….Ernesto Che Guevara Lynch.

  • Greenflag

    best not to mention that other Lynch i.e Eliza the eh Queen of Paraguay and warmonger extraordinaire who attacked /invaded Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia simultaneously and kept fighting until 94% of the Paraguayan male population were removed from their mortal coils .

    A heroine to Paraguayans nonetheless . Her body having been disinterred from Paris and reinterred in a national monument in Asuncion.

    Micheal LIllis former Irish diplomat has written a ‘revised’ history of the Queen . Brazilians are not enamoured of the revision.

    There is also the English club in Buenos Aires -Hurlingham and the Welsh of Patagonia .

    Whereas Canadians have been defined as ‘unarmed Americans with health insurance and a monarch ‘

    Argentinians have been defined as ‘Uruguayans with illusions of grandeur’ 😉

    Although a fine equestrian statue to the great Bernardo is still to be seen in Santiago I believe he spent his last days in exile in Bolivia in true South American fashion . For what I know not but those interested South American history might want to dig up the story.

  • Greenflag

    Churchillian , Dewi very and to the point 🙂 The baby born to one of the miner’s Esperanza will grow up having no doubt as to why she was so named . I imagine ‘Esperanza ‘ will become a popular gir’s name in l South America and perhaps elsewhere soon enough.

  • pippakin

    The Raven

    Yes absolutely delighted for them and a kind of privilege to witness a shining example of the human spirit.

  • Susan

    You are all good for the soul. In the exuberance and emotion of the rescues I posted this Arturo Fontaine piece on Facebook last night, thinking it was one of those rare transcendent “We are all Chileans” type moments.

    I awoke to find myself referred to a “corrective” link by Daniel Herrigan in the Wall Street Journalism on how unrestrained free markets got the the miners out of the hole: http://online.wsj.com/article/wonder_land.html. Had it been Slugger I could have gently enquired as to what did they think put the miners in a hole in a condemned mine with almost none of the required worker protections, the Effing Easter Bunny — but as it was Facebook I had to be far more diplomatic.

    As I said, though, you all have restoreth my soul. :o)

    Greenflag, Fitzjameshorse, one night last week in a fit of insomnia I stumbled on a brilliant RTE radio Documentary on One Link about the Irish that settled the Pampas of Argentina beginning in the 1830s. The producer of the piece went to South America looking for relatives who’d gone four or five generations earlier — and found them, with intact Westmeath accents yet. I will post the link when I recover it.

    Provided of course anyone’s interested, lol.

  • Susan

    there, there, don’t start a stampede!

    Here, despite all lack of popular demand, is the link to RTE radio doc on the Irish in Argentina:


    Highly recommended the next time you can’t sleep — (and not because it’s dull — it isn’t!)

  • Let’s start with The Bells of Rhymney. I came across that, almost simultaneously, in the Pete Seeger adaptation and in a Faber anthology, speculatively published over the name of Dylan Thomas.

    It originally appeared as XV in Davies’s collection: Gwalia Deserta (1938): find a copy and treasure it, they’re as rare as a fair-minded Sun editorial. That collection puts Bells where it should be, firmly in the context of the collapse of the 1926 Strike and the onset of the Great Depression.

    I suspect fewer (outside South Wales) know that Max Boyce [Blah!] did another Idries Davies: The Road to Merthyr Tydfil. There’s an “interpretation” on YouTube.

    There’s little abstruse about Davies’s poems: they just work. Here’s another:

    High Summer on the Mountains
    High summer on the mountains
    And on the clover leas,
    And on the local sidings,
    And on the rhubarb leaves.

    Brass bands in all the valleys
    Blaring defiant tunes,
    Crowds, acclaiming carnival,
    Prize pigs and wooden spoons

    Dust on shabby hedgerows
    Behind the colliery wall,
    Dust on rail and girder
    And tram and prop and all.

    High summer on the slag heaps
    And on polluted streams,
    And old men in the morning
    Telling the town their dreams.

    For the fiftieth anniversary of the General Strike, the TUC did a fine poster (I wish I had it still) with — as my fallible memory has it — VIII from Gwalia Deserta. I reckon it one of the most emotive bits of social resistance ever:

    Do you remember 1926 ? That summer of soups and speeches,
    The sunlight on the idle wheels and the deserted crossings,
    And the laughter and the cursing in the moonlight streets?
    Do you remember 1926 ? The slogans and the penny concerts,
    The jazz-bands and the moorland picnics,
    And the slanderous tongues of famous cities?
    Do you remember 1926 ? The great dream and the swift disaster,
    The fanatic and the traitor, and more than all,
    The bravery of the simple, faithful folk?
    ‘Ay, ay, we remember 1926,’ said Dai and Shinkin,
    As they stood on the kerb in Charing Cross Road,
    “And we shall remember 1926 until our blood is dry.”

    Then there’s this:

    Send out your homing pigeons, Dai,
    Your blue-grey pigeons, hard as nails,
    Send them with messages tied to their wings,
    Words of your anger, words of your love.
    Send them to Dover, to Glasgow, to Cork,
    Send them to the wharves of Hull and of Belfast,
    To the harbours of Liverpool and Dublin and Leith,
    Send them to the islands and out of the oceans,
    To the wild wet islands of the northern sea
    Where little grey women go out in heavy shawls
    At the hour of dusk to gaze at the merciless waters,
    And send them to the decorated islands of the south
    Where the mineowner and his tall stiff lady
    Walk round and round the rose-pink hotel, day after day.
    Send out your pigeons, Dai, send them out
    With words of your anger and your love and your pride,
    With stern little sentences wrought in your heart,
    Send out your pigeons, flashing and dazzling towards the sun.
    Go out, pigeons bach, and do what Dai tells you.

    [I love being able to smuggle some real red-blooded socialism into Sluggerdom. Formatting errors included.]

  • Oh, and the bit that got lost in the final copy-and-paste:

    Thanks, Dewi. Another good ‘un.

  • On a different topic (though one related to Susan @ 8:51 PM), my agnostic spirit was been:
    (a) rather taken by the simple, honest faith of the rescued miners. Even so, they would have been better equipped with a strong trade union to militate against their appalling working conditions in the first place.
    (b) the rapidity with which the skypilot-botherers claimed that marvels of 21st century technology and human skill (I gather the capsule was “borrowed” from a 1980s German original) were somehow divinely-inspired and implemented.

    As the nephew, cousin, grandson, great-grandson … etc, etc for numerous generations … of Derbyshire and South Yorkshire men who went da’n t’pit, I rejoice.


  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Susan….most interesting . I will check it out.
    The “Irish” presence in South America is actually over two distinct waves of migration…..one into Spains Empire and the other into the newly independent nations.
    The first was largely military.
    The second “settlors”.
    I recall watching Argentina in World Cup footbal with an O;Neill on the team and a rugby team with a Phelan in it.
    Theres actuallya Valez Sarsfield football team.
    The only other historical characters I can recall are Camilla O’Gorman and Benedicto Lynch.
    But during the Malvinas War (1982) many of the English speaking officers were of Irish descent.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Max Boyce is surely a poet of the Coal Mine. His rugby stuff leaves him open to pompous charges of a lack of seriousness. Of course its his declaration of being politically “Plaid Labour” that really gets under the skin of professional lefties.

    “Harder than they will ever know.
    And it’s they must take the blame,
    The price of coal’s the same.
    And the pithead baths is a supermarket now.

    I always got the impression that BBC had him pigeon-holed as a Welsh boyo with the big leak and when he did stuff that was political……the Beeb didnt like it so much.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Actually just finished listening to it. I think the surprising thing was the Irish accent. Thank you.

  • Greenflag

    ‘on how unrestrained free markets got the the miners out of the hole:’

    The unrestrained free market in particular the currency markets with the ever increasing gold price now heading to 1400 dollars an ounce is probably instrumental in that mine being allowed to operate -until it was shut down by the Chilean Government in the wake of the disaster . The Germans were already using similar technology to rescue miners in the 1950’s and 1963 (Dahlbusch and Lengewede). The Phoenix was an upgrade of the earlier prototypes and was unique in the depth it had to penetrate to reach the miners and of course the San Jose miners are the longest to have survived and be rescued from any mine in history .

    I sometimes read the WSJ the week end version and it never ceases to amaze me how some of their journalists seem to have no connection whatsoever with the ‘real world’ about them .

    ‘The producer of the piece went to South America looking for relatives who’d gone four or five generations earlier — and found them, with intact Westmeath accents yet. ‘

    I’m not surprised . Westmeath and Longord accents (the Midlands generally) are in any event as flat and dry as the pampas . NIall Toibin if you can track him down ma ybe on you tube does a tremendous leg pull on the accent and associated character in his sketch on the ‘the man from Cootin ‘ I looked for a link a while back but was unsuccessful -maybe theres one out there now ?

  • Greenflag

    And then theres Felipe Contepomi (Leinster Rugby ) who started his rugby career for Newman (Buenos Aires) and went on to win the 2007 rugby player of the year award in Ireland .

    English soccer fans in particular will remember the great Ossie Ardiles a much loved gentleman who continued to play his soccer during the ‘estupido’ Falklands war 😉

  • Susan

    Marvelous, both of you. Thanks.

    I’m caving in to the urge to post a link to Luke Kelly’s rousing version of “The Molly Maguires.” I’ve no idea when it was written, and whether it refers to the Donegal Mollies or the Molly Maguires of Pennsylvania’s anthracite coal region, but it was a favourite of my grandfather’s.

    Also, I’ve just had the pleasure of overhearing my youngest daughter, who is a high soprano, hum the chorus bent over her geography homework.

    “Make way for the Molly Maguires, they’re drinkers, they’re liars, but they’re men…”


    and one last hurrah for the rescued 33 — Vive! Vive! Vive!

  • Yeah. That one got to me for other reasons, about which I’m trying to blog right now.

    You are right that Boyce (more number one albums than Hendrix and the Kinks together!) was shuffled off into the “ethnic” niche by the London media, especially the Beeb. Shall we wince, however, about blind Irish referees? he is still doing the business. I believe he even has a tribute band.

  • Greenflag

    That’s all that simple people have MR -that faith and hope and in the circumstances who would begrudge them ? – Not I – not you , not anybody with any humanity .

    But you are correct re having a strong union to help counteract the oft malevolent force and careless greed of the ‘market ‘

    The definitive mining disaster song imo

  • That’s a Phil Coulter song. The Dubliners put it first (I believe) on their 1969 At Home With … album:

    Down the mines no sunlight shines,
    Those pits they’re black as hell .
    In mud and slime they do their time
    It’s Paddy’s prison cell.
    And they curse the day they travelled far,
    And drown their tears with a jar.

    Phil Coulter? Who else could bash out trivia like Puppet on a String and Congratulations … and then also The Town I Loved So Well. [Sorry about the sub-titles.]

  • Susan

    Phil Coulter!?! Asked and answered, thank you — once again.

  • Indeed.

    If I was stuck down a hole that long, I too would discover their are no atheists in a foxhole.

    As for The Springfield Disaster, fan as I am of Luke Kelly, I’d prefer the original unaccompanied Peggy Seeger/Ewan MacColl version which is around here somewhere.

  • I wince at the homophonic typo.

  • Susan

    I also admire the miners’ faith, and their dignity — They also had some advice and some counselling (whilst underground) from NASA psychologists and Chilean psychologists too.

    Greenflag, you are probably right about the Springhill Disaster, but as I don’t get to visit Slugger very often anymore Ill take your Springhill Disaster and raise you Woddy Guthrie’s “Ludlow Massacre”:


    “I said ‘God bless the coal-miners union, and then I hung my head and cried….”

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    One of the things about Coulter is that he has this strange mix of bubblegum and meaningful stuff. He wrote a lot of Bay City Rollers stuff but effectively at the same time he was “discovering” Planxty and even Billy Connolly. Even “Celtic Thunder” is artificial to some extent.
    Takes himself a little too seriously for my taste…trying to distance himself from the bubblegum.
    Although “The Town I Loved So Well” is specifically about Derry, there are bits that are jus as valid about Belfast. ut arguably his “Scorn Not His Simplicity” is his best and most personal work.

  • Dewi

    Great conversation – sorry not been about:
    FJH – here’s Max’s Rhondda Grey – super.
    GF – get with it – U2’s version the best:
    “…Had it been Slugger I could have gently enquired as to what did they think put the miners in a hole in a condemned mine with almost none of the required worker protections, the Effing Easter Bunny?”
    Wonderful!. You ain’t lost it have you!!
    Malcolm – Idris – idiot or genius?…deconstructionist:
    “I lost my native language
    For the one the Saxon spake
    By going to school in order
    For education’s sake”
    ..and then he calls it all “Gwalia Deserta”….hmmm why not “Empty Wales”…Jury’s been out 60 years and still considering..

  • Fitzjameshorse1745 @ 1:25 am:

    “Bubblegum” indeed, but a man has to live! Even Ewan MacColl scored the Number One Soul song of all time in the BBC millennium rankings. Thanks to Roberta Flack and others, with a little help from Clint Eastwood in Play Misty for Me (all of which the man himself loathed). There are more ironies out there than one might believe.

    Confession time: I had unaccountably orgotten Scorn not His Simplicity. Thanks for the correction.

    Susan @ 12:22 AM

    I’ll double you with The Gresford Disater of which the MacColl version is on my iPod: notice a pattern? And if you really, really push me, I’ve got an ace in the hole: Dick Gaughan doing Which Side are You On? for the ’84-5 Miner’s Strike … aw, heck, pretty well anything done by Dick Gaughan.

    Dewi @ 2:46 AM:

    Rhondda Grey! Ah, bless!

    You’re being a bit hard with those allegations of pretentiousness. Time and place and everything. In another dimension Davies represents an exemplar of all those South Walian elementary-schoolteachers the LCC attracted to London. When they came they brought with them a whit of acquired teacher-college culture, a strong right arm, the great days of London Welsh, and several Welsh-speaking chapels (a couple of which survive).

    And, by the way, thanks again for an uplifting (indeed!) thread, even if we have drifted off the main bore.

  • Greenflag

    Dewi ,

    An excellent performance by U2 considering the occasion but on a point of historical accuracy Bono got the year wrong;)
    Forgiven of course . 🙂


    ‘ll take your Springhill Disaster and raise you Woody Guthrie’s “Ludlow Massacre”:’

    And I’ll take your ‘ ‘Ludlow Massacre’ and I’ll and I’ll fold 😉

    Malcolm ,

    I recall having a somewhat eccentric English teacher (the language -he was a Dubliner – forcing a bunch of acned teenagers to sing ‘The Shoals of Herring ‘ and ‘My Lagan Love ‘ during ‘music ‘class. And thus I learnt to appreciate Ewan McColl and the Seegers .

    And Phil Coulter composed ‘Puppet on a String ‘ ? Now that fact I somehow missed .

  • Susan

    Greenflag — “I’ll fold.” Thank heaven! I am literally physically afraid to click on Malcolm’s links going double on “Ludlow Massacre” — it will have to wait until tomorrow, in hopes I survive today’s full work schedule plus that darkest of long day’s journeys into night known as the hosting of a little girls’ sleepover party.

    Mention of Ewan MacColl reminds me of one of the most emotionally intense concerts I ever attended — Christy Moore in London, October of ’89, and moments before he came on stage Christy was told that Ewan macColl, his friend and mentor, had passed that very day. In case there three or four people in the sold out venue — somewhere large off Tottenham Court Road is all I can remember now — Paul Hill of the Guildford Four was in attendance days after being released, along with his 12 year old daughter and his mother. Christy hit every note but you sensed the cost of the effort was high — very high.

    I’ll depart reluctantly for the day with a newish (to me) coal mining song I happened to hear on a country radio station last weekend driving across America from Chicago through Ohio and what was once Kentucky coal country for a family wedding. I mention the station and setting only as it is conceivable a coal miner or two might have actually been listening to the song as I drove down I -64 —


  • fitzjameshorse1745

    I am unreliably informed that the Bay City Rollers wrote their own stuff (thanks to an email from a person who admits to having BCR 45s). My understanding remains these were written by Coulter and Martin but for appearances purposes the writing credit on labels were the tartan clad boys from Auld Reekie.
    I should also point out that I dont actually own a BCR record and if I did.I wouldnt admit it.
    I do on the other hand “Live at Treorchy” (sp) by Max Boyce. Alas its vinyl and Ive not actually heard it for years.

    I raise you all the Bee Gees “New York Mining Disaster 1941”

  • Greenflag

    Fitzer ,

    I’ll fold -again 😉

  • Greenflag

    ‘as I drove down I -64 –’

    Been there done that – believe it or no I have -in laws from that general neck of the woods although closer to 1-81 just about over the Virginia state line . Lovely country especially in the fall. I’ll not say where in order to protect the guilty 😉 Great folks btw .

    About a decade or so ago I found myself driving down through North Eastern Kentucky into that out jutting north eastern part of Tennesee . American writer Bill Bryson in his book ‘The Lost Continent ‘ mentions an encounter in those parts near to Sneedville /Bristol where a London journalist came into contact with some local ‘Melungeons’ and was never heard from again . Bears most probably but guess who got the rap ?

    May you get all the sleep you need and not a wink more although thats probably a given in the circumstances.

  • Susan @ 2:09 PM:

    You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive: that Patty Loveless version is the definitive one. I’d chuck in “more commercial”; but that may not be a criticism in this case. It’s by Darrell Scott, who did it at the Transatlantic Sessions in Glasgow a couple of years ago: brought the house down. You can see the original notion on YouTube. Make the click: I promise it’s worth the trip.

    Kathy Mattea put the song on her Coal concept album, which starts with Jean Ritchie’s The L&N Don’t Stop Here Anymore, nips through the likes of Coal Tattoo and winds up with a searing a capella
    Black Lung/a>. There are better versions of most of the tracks by others; but the album works (if Mattea is monotonously up-beat for my taste).

    Perhaps we few, we happy few, we band of folkies need to migrate to another chatroom for stuff like this. At the moment I feel I’m trespassing on Dewi‘s good grace.

  • Oh Lord! I’ve offended the WordPress too-many-hotlinks taby. So, here goes in bits:

    Susan @ 2:09 PM:

    Parte Ye Firste:

    You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive: that Patty Loveless version is the definitive one. Were I being sniffy, I’d chuck in “more commercial”; but that may not be a criticism in this case. It’s by Darrell Scott, who did it at the Transatlantic Sessions in Glasgow a couple of years ago: brought the house down. You can see the original notion on YouTube. Make the click: I promise it’s worth the trip.

  • Susan @ 2:09 PM:

    Parte Ye Second

    Kathy Mattea put tYou’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive on her Coal concept album, which starts with Jean Ritchie’s The L&N Don’t Stop Here Anymore, nips through the likes of Coal Tattoo and winds up with a searing a capella treatment of Black Lung.

    I’ve pulled the hot-links for those last two, but they appear in the YouTube side-bar. Others have done better versions of most of the tracks; but I reckon the whole album is a decent experience.

    Meanwhile, going back to late nights belting out stuff in dark cellars:

    They say in Harlan County
    There are no neutrals there:
    You either are a union man
    Or a thug for J.H.Blair.

    Allow me to add to the list of reprobates: The Colorado Fuel & Iron Company (a Rockefeller subsidiary), the Rocky Mountain Fuel Company), and the Victor-American Fuel Company. They inspired the Colorado National Guard who perpetrated the Ludlow Massacre of 20 April, 1914. Ludlow is now a ghost-town; but the Union of Mineworkers of America own the massacre site; and have put up a granite memorial to dead “who lost their lives in freedom’s cause”: two women, six children, six miners and their officials, and a National Guardsman. It’s a National Landmark site since last year.

    Y’know, we’ve not got round to the Sid Chaplin, Alan Plater and Alex Glasgow 1979 masterpiece, Close the Coalhouse Door. That would give us the chance to be thoroughly offensive about our own dear Lord Londonderry.

    Now let’s see if I get pulled in by the WordPress thought-police.

  • Dewi

    Why not get to Joe Hill with Joan Baez,,,

  • pippakin

    I have so enjoyed this thread!

    It has given me so many reminders, I’m saving them all and planning on a happy Sunday.

  • Ah, Joanie: nice, impressive, emotive. I think her first two albums were among the first vinyl I spent real money on. They’re still up in the attic. [Thank heaven for mp3s.]

    I suggest two which get to me even more:

    Paul Robeson, because, like an onion, there’s a pain in every layer;


    Utah Phillips. There’s some Utah Phillips on YouTube, but the thing I’m looking for is on the We Have Fed You for a Thousand Years album. By this stage we are away, if not with the fairies, at least with the Wobblies.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    How could we forget “The Collier Lad”. My version (alas on vinyl) is by Liverpool folk group The Spinners.
    “Oh the collier lad is a canny lad and he’s always
    of good cheer
    And he knows how to work and he knows how
    to shirk and he knows how to sup good beer”.

    Its a song from NE England and sung in a Geordie accent. It has also a cornet backing (giving it a colliery band feel)

  • joeCanuck

    Don’t go down the mine, Da, there’s plenty of coal in the yard.
    And a wee fishy when the boat comes in.

  • susan

    Nine hours into my daughter’s sleepover party (and a few of them are still giggling), five or six hours before they all go home, the knowledge that I will be able to curl up into an exhausted antisocial ball and listen to all the links in this thread I’ve missed is all that is standing between me and a major migraine.

    Thank you one and all.

  • The Spinners did a good concert and a song well: they came as close as any to being the English equivalent of the pub-Oirish phenomenon that was the Clancy light-industry.

    If he wants the authentic hard-spirit rather than small beer, I diffidently suggest that fitzjameshorse1745 @ 11:21 pm search out The Bonnie Pit Laddie [Topic Records TSCD486] with the High Level Ranters, as well as Harry Boardman and a young Dick Gaughan. On that disc, relevant to this thread, are The Hartley Calamity (5 died in the shaft fall, 204 more asphyxiated below; 1862)The Auchegeich Disaster (47 dead; 1959).

  • Oh tush! Insert end-bold!

    I demand the restoration of preview rights!

  • Susan @ 10:46 AM:

    Matthew 24, verse 45 and 25, verse 23.

  • Dewi

    Back to Idris…
    Don’t tarry long on that site – It’s pretty addictive…

  • Greenflag

    The IMF, Wall St and the Banking sector are noted in Matthew 24 verse 28 where they get a brief mention as a winged creature 🙂

    And I’ll second the demand for the restoration of preview rights as enunciated above by our esteemed chief Warbler whose collection of awesome music and songsters would as they ‘d say in the ‘midlands ‘ (the Irish ones) bate Banagher 😉

  • susan


    Bless your secular yet celestially articulate heart Malcolm. I have about an hour’s peace now, and I am getting vertigo getting used to the new format where new posts might be anywhere in a thread.

    I’ve been trying to make my way back to Idris Davies for ten minutes now, and I keep getting lost. And now I see our irreplaceable gatekeeper Dewi has added a new Idris Davies link — but I will resume trying to begin again at the beginning. Bit like climbing a seacliff though.

  • susan

    “I have about an hour’s peace now…”

    Ha. Not three seconds later came the tap on the shoulder and now I’m consigned back to the trenches of explaining photosynthesis, plant adaptations, and how to build a model demonstrating both with coloured pipecleaners and clay.

    Idris I am on my way. Just not …yet.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    We say that here too
    “That bates Banagher and Banagher bates all”

  • Dewi

    Updated with Rhodri Morgan from today’s Western Mail – very good.

  • Susan

    ah, bliss. Found a moment to savour this threads links to “When We Walked to Merthyr Tydfil,” “Rhondda Grey” and “Collier Boys.”

    And returning to the rightful subject of Dewi’s thread, enjoyed Rhodri Morgan’s take on the resonance of the Chilean miners’ survival, too.

    To those who gave all “until the dust got to them.”