I have just returned from a two week stint working at the National Eisteddfod, which took place in Denbigh this year. I have visited the Eisteddfod many times (there is also an Urdd Eisteddfod) and it was so refreshing to be around people who place importance on the Welsh language and Welsh culture. The most amazing thing about the Eisteddfod was hearing thousands of teenagers speaking Welsh amongst themselves with no teachers or parents to force them to do it. They do it for the love of the language.
I am usually made to feel like a complete nutter because I, a girl from Wales who speaks Welsh and was educated in Welsh, dare to say that Welsh should be prioritised in Wales. The way some people react to my views on Wales, you would think that I had told them that I boil puppies alive. One person said to me that, after I had expressed my pro-devolution, pro-Welsh language views, I was not as “dainty” as I seemed. This is after I had explained that no, I don’t believe in blowing up people or killing anyone, not even the English (haha!).
On the very last day of the Eisteddfod, I heard a very rousing speech in the main pavilion where the speaker pointed out the bleeding obvious which, somehow, has been forgotten or ignored: we should not have to apologise for demanding that our country be a Welsh Wales. By this I mean that we should not apologise if some things (or everything) is in Welsh. You are in Wales, learn the language. We should not have to justify children in English language schools having to learn Welsh as a second language. You are in Wales, learn the language. If you lived in Spain, would you be outraged if you were expected to at least be able to understand Spanish? Honestly? If so, you should probably just stay in England (or wherever you come from) and never leave because seriously, nobody wants you as a foreigner in their country, especially not the Welsh (yeah, don’t go to Corsica either).
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes Welsh nationalists get on my nerves too (one man at the Eisteddfod said he would walk out of the room if I played anything other than Welsh music to myself on my laptop during a very quiet couple of hours), but Welsh nationalists (and I guess I am a nationalist too) have a point, you know. I will stand with them every time because the Welsh have put up with a lot and I don’t feel particularly guilty because I clearly got a better education at a Welsh language school than other people got at an English language school in the same town. It’s been a long time coming for Welsh education!
When will English speakers finally understand this very simple message?