Competing, shearing, harvest and singing – all in a month’s work!

by Angharad Evans, Welsh Editor, Y Tir

Can you believe that we're half way through 2018 already? Time flies!  June has been a busy month for us, the first show of the season, shearing, being able to make silage on the longest day of the year, summer solcstice. It’s been nice not to have to worry about the weather forecast and no real rush to get the harvest done. The month concluded with a very special weekend of celebrating countryside culture at its best.

I am very fortunate to live in a very special place. Mynydd Bach stands above the farm, and this is the area between Cors Goch Glan Teifi to the east and Cardigan Bay to the west. At the western slopes of the mountain lies Llyn Eiddwen, a natural lake which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. A narrow rural lane crosses the mountain connecting Trefenter and Blaenpennal. The villages that make up Mynydd Bach are: -Bethania, Blaenpennal, Bronant, Llangwyryfon, Lledrod, Penuwch and Trefenter.

Cwrdd Gweddi’r Mynydd or the 'Mountain's Prayer Meeting' was held outdoors on the slopes of the Mynydd Bach every June, a practice that began at the Reform of 1904-1905. Hundreds of people visited this special event, from near and far. It continues to be a popular event, although it is now held in the chapel.

To coincide with this year's Cwrdd y Mynydd weekend, a very special singing festival was held on Mynydd Bach as part of the Wales-Ohio celebrations. This was one of a number of events held over a whole week to celebrate the bicentenary of six families emigrating from the Aeron Valley to the United States.

Siân Thomas, who played an active part in the celebration arrangements tells us more about the history of Wales-Ohio:-

"Between 1818 and 1865, around 3,000 people emigrated from the Mynydd Bach area in mid-Ceredigion to the United States. An incredible number to leave their area for a future full of promises with most of them replanting their roots in the state of Ohio.

To mark the bicentenary since the first six families left, it was decided to hold a full week of events within the area that had lost so much of their neighbourhood, with that area extending from the source of the river Aeron down to its estuary in the town of Aberaeron.

From pub evenings to exhibitions, from chapel services to a grand concert on Cae Sgwar, Aberaeron, one of the most exciting events to organise was the Gymanfa Ganu on Mynydd Bach, Trefenter near the old Cofadail School. Cwrdd Gweddi’r Mynydd was a very important occasion in the area's calendar with hundreds turning up to listen to preachers and sing hymns annually. Llangwyryfon School now ensures that the tradition continues by holding Cwrdd y Mynydd at Bethel Chapel, Trefenter at the end of June. This is a rural community at its best. The headteacher at the piano, the children entertaining for a whole hour, the Minister welcoming everyone, a speech by a guest preacher, the women preparing a feast of refreshments at the end and the audience joining in with the enjoyment.

What better event to welcome the Americans who wanted to visit their ancestral lands than to recreate the outdoor singing.

The conductor, Delyth Morgans Philips, the artists Dafydd and Gwawr Edwards and the accompanist Menna Griffiths had a number of their American relatives present in the audience and items were performed by the pupils of Llangwyryfon School”.

Think of the bravery of these people, two centuries ago, leaving a simple, and quiet life in the heart of Ceredigion to travel over the sea to start a new life.

Therefore, it was a pleasure and quite thrilling to spend a few hours of a very sunny Sunday evening seeing history being recreated on Mynydd Bach.  It  was quite a sight to see hundreds of people gathered for the Gymanfa Ganu and the atmosphere was spine-tingling. There is no doubt, our countryside communities are very special.


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