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Articles / Erthyglau

Rali Cilmeri 2012

(March 01, 2013)

William Powell AC/AM
on the importance of supporting the Cilmeri Commemoration
and its place in Welsh political history

William Powell AMWilliam Powell AC/AM


William recounts his personal journey to Rali Cilmeri 2012 and discusses the importance of that iconic site to Wales


Commemorative stone - Cilmeri 2012Rali Cilmeri 2012

On Saturday, 8th December last year, I made the short trip from my home at Pengenffordd in the Black Mountains to join in the annual commemoration of the death of Llywelyn Ein Llyw Olaf at the hands of Edward I of England's forces.

It was the first time that I have attended the event, around the standing stone erected in 1956 to mark the spot where Llywelyn was murdered - a distinction that I share with Dai Barnaby, Co-editor of this magazine. I intend to make sure that it was not the last.

To my shame, I had not visited the memorial for over two decades- the last time with my late father back in the 1980s. His own Welsh identity was as passionate as it was understated - but our visit together to Cilmeri left me with the clear impression of an iconic place, of real importance to our history as a Nation.

I would like to say that my presence at the 2012 Commemoration was as a result of my disquiet and disapproval of the furore around the 2011 event. Alternatively that it was a sign of my determination that Cilmeri should be safeguarded for the many, not the few – not just for the Welsh and for the Welsh Diaspora - but also for those of all nations and cultural backgrounds who wish to learn more about our way of life and rich heritage. All this in the face of concern that the Cilmeri memorial was in danger of being hijacked by a troop of idealists, with an inward looking, sectarian agenda. However, while all of these would have been admirable reasons for my decision to attend, the truth was much simpler.

Cilmeri 2012 - poster Martin ShiptonBanner outside the monument to Llywelyn Ein Llyw Olaf at Cilmeri,
referencing Labour's attack on Plaid Cymru MEP Jill Evans in an article by Martin Shipton of the Western Mail

In large part, my attendance was in tribute to my own political mentor, the late and much loved Lord Richard Livsey of Talgarth, who was a faithful supporter of the Cilmeri Commemoration, culminating in the years when he represented his native Brecon and Radnorshire in Parliament, from 1985 to 1992 and then, after the aberration of the 1992 -1997 Parliament, from 1997 – 2001. Richard Livsey was a man of unquestioned integrity and his quiet but consistent love for Wales was profound. He worked tirelessly to support the cause of Devolution in Wales, as part of a longstanding commitment, shared by our Party, to a Federal Britain in a strong European Union. Following his elevation to the Upper House, Lord Livsey – who still insisted on being just plain 'Richard' - continued to keep the faith and to fight the corner for his beloved Wales.

Anyone who knew Richard would regard it as patently absurd that he would support some narrow, sectarian paramilitary style demonstration, as Cilmeri has been dismissed in some quarters. After his untimely death in September 2010, his friend and successor Roger Williams MP stepped up to the plate. Last December, Roger was unable to attend, and so I was delighted to join my own Party Leader, Kirsty Williams in attending the Cilmeri ceremony, at which she spoke without notes and to widespread public acclaim. The site where Llywelyn Ein Llyw Olaf, was killed by the forces of the Edward I of England is a vital part of our national story – and as always, we are infinitely the poorer if we are either ignorant of our history – or seek to suppress it. People from across the political and social spectrum in Wales should be encouraged to recognise this – and safeguard the Cilmeri Commemoration for the Nation as a whole. A good first step would be for people to come along and discover the event for themselves.

Kirsty Williams addressing Rali Cilmeri 2012Kirsty Williams AC/AM addressing Rali Cilmeri 2012

For me, attending the ceremony last December was also another step for me deepening my understanding of my own Welsh identity. I took an early step in this direction on Saturday, 6th October 2001 when I attended the unveiling of Toby and Gideon Petersen’s spectacular stainless steel statue of Llewelyn ap Gruffydd Fychan on the Castle Mound in Llandovery. I take every opportunity to call by at this stunning monument in Llandovery’s main car park and spend a few moments reflecting, when heading to the West of my Region. My attendance at the Lloyd George Society Weekend School in Llandrindod every February, learning more about the life and political motives of that great Welsh Prime Minister have also played an important part in this journey. More recently, my week at the Canolfan Iaith Cenedlaethol at Nant Gwrtheyrn on the Llyn Peninsula was a hugely enriching experience.

Apart from the boost in confidence that the course at the Nant has given me for some of my public roles, it also served as an introduction to some literary works that have made a further contribution to this process. Firstly, in the Plas at the Nant, I discovered Jasper Rees’ Bred of Heaven with its moving account of his journey back to his Welsh roots, which I have recently read at a couple of sittings. And even more recently, returning to my starting point, I have also discovered Gerallt Lloyd Owen’s own masterpiece Cilmeri. The Bard’s evocation of the Battle scene at Cilmeri from 11th December 1282 is profoundly moving.

For all the reasons that I have outlined, I am determined to continue playing my part in safeguarding the future of the Cilmeri Commemoration, as well as promoting the physical regeneration and enhancement of this most poignant of Welsh memorials. I would urge all Welsh people – and others of goodwill – to do the same.

William Powell, 1 March 2013

William Powell is Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for Mid and West Wales

Twitter: @williampowellam

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