Thousands flock to enjoy National Eisteddfod 2017 at Bodedern


Dale Spridgeon

HALF-MILE queues of people lined up for shuttle buses at Mona Showground to take them to and from the National Eisteddfod, at Bodedern, Anglesey this week.

Visitors who arrived on Monday at the Maes, during the annual week-long festival of Welsh language and culture, faced mud after a heavy downpour had soddened the ground on Sunday night.

But, despite the weather, spirits were not dampened, and thousands of people from across the country and the worl, flocked to the festival which runs from August 4-13.

The national celebration alternates between north and south Wales every August, and attracts more than 150,000 visitors, 250 plus trade stands, stalls, and includes a programme of entertainment as well as famous poetry, music, dance and literary competitions.

Highlights include the Gorsedd of the Bards ceremonies led by the Archdruid of Wales former head teacher and poet Geraint Lloyd Owen and the Eisteddfod Chair and the Crown competitions, to find Wales’s best poets.

On Tuesday, the winner of the Crown was announced as father-of-four Gwion Hallam, from Y Felinheli. He won the coveted prize, for his free verse poem entitled Trwy Ddrych (Through the Mirror) inspired by his work with dementia patients.

The Chairing ceremony is on tomorrow (Friday, August 11), at 4.30pm. A new bardic Chair is specially made and awarded for the best poem written in a strict metre called cynghanedd.

The subject is Arwr or Arwres (Hero or Heroine). The Hero was the title of the poem for the competition in 1917, when Welsh poet Ellis Humphrey Evans, ‘Hedd Wyn’ won the Chair posthumously after he died at Passchendaele in 1917. This year the festival marks the 100th anniversary of the Eisteddfod of the black chair.

When opened on Friday night, 1,828 people passed through the Eisteddfod gates, 15,831 arrived on Saturday, 13,286, on Sunday and on Monday, 16,014 people – the latter up 2,000 on 2016, despite the previous night’s rain.

On Monday, the sun shone as the Archdruid presided at the Gorsedd Circle ceremony at 11am.

In his address the Archdruid, in his crown and gown, welcomed the members of the Gorsedd, in their green, blue and white robes. He called for peace three times, prayers were said and hymns sung.

During the ceremony the Archdruid remembered the Gorseddogion who died during the past year and new members to the Order of Bards were admitted.

The history of the Eisteddfod in Wales goes back to 1176, with the modern history of the organisation dating back to 1861.

It has been held every year - other than 1914 - when the outbreak of the First World War saw it postponed.


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