An Archdruid's Experiences

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Meirion Evans, Archdruid from 1999-2002, shares his experiences.

The former-Archdruid Meirion (Meirion Evans) (1999-2002) describes the nature of the work and his memories of the period with Catrin Stevens:

Well, if you've won either the Crown, or the Literary Prize or the Chair, then you are qualified, so to speak, to become an Archdruid and there's what we call the Eisteddfod (Gorsedd) Board which is a number of people who are representative of the whole Gorsedd movement and the Gorsedd officials, and you are nominated by members of the Board and if there's more than one nominated, then there's an election within the Board. And I was fortunate enough to win that election in 1998.

Catrin: And what is the role of an Archdruid?

Former-Archdruid Meirion: Well, there is the public role, of course, which is to conduct the ceremonies, the three main ceremonies at the Eisteddfod every year, the Crowning ceremony on the Monday, which includes welcoming representatives of the various Celtic countries who visit the Eisteddfod, then there's the …on the Wednesday, you have to conduct the ceremony of the Literary Prize and Friday the Chairing ceremony - those are the obvious things during the week.

Catrin: Have you got any special memories of the time as Archdruid?

Former-Archdruid Meirion: Yes, I was fortunate enough to be Archdruid during the Centenary year of the Gorsedd in Brittany - that was a very fine occasion. I was also privileged to go to Patagonia to re-establish the Gorsedd - there had been a Gorsedd there many years ago - in the Welsh colony, but it had lapsed, and being that the Gorsedd in Wales, Gorsedd Beirdd (Ynys) Cymru is the Mother Gorsedd, consequently the Archdruid in Wales is considered to be the primary amongst the other leaders of Gorsedd elsewhere. … But there were other happy memories and high points. For example, my last duty, my last ceremony, was to chair the first female ever to win the Chair, which was Mererid Hopwood and that was a very big occasion indeed.

Catrin: What is the significance of the Gorsedd for the Welsh people?

Former-Archdruid Meirion: Well, to me one of the main features of the Gorsedd is the fact that it has been a safeguard for the Welsh language within the Eisteddfod … and the fine thing is, of course, is that many people who are not privileged to be Welsh-speaking are totally supportive of keeping the Eisteddfod in that way.

Catrin: And what about the future, then? Is there a future for the Gorsedd?

Former-Archdruid Meirion: Oh yes, definitely! There are young people who come forward to sit entrance examinations for the Gorsedd … there are people, of course, who are invited to become members on the basis of their contribution to life in Wales and throughout the world as a matter of fact, and they consider it a great honour. They realise that this is the way that we in Wales have of honouring sons and daughters who have contributed in certain ways to life in Wales and in other places.

(Copyright: Museum of Welsh Life)

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