There’s understandable celebration in Ireland at present of the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising and the stand that patriotic Celts took against the power of the British State.
However this year also marks the 80th anniversary of an equally courageous stance taken in another Celtic country. It was a stance which was markedly different from the armed conflict in Ireland and which as waged by a very small but unique group of individuals and pacifists.
I reported last year about the wave of anger that swept through Wales in the 1950s following the decision to build a reservoir to supply water to Liverpool. The plan involved the flooding of a Welsh valley and the destruction of its welsh speaking community.
Twenty years earlier a decision by the British government to construct a bombing range and military facilities on the Llyn peninsula prompted similar protest. However despite representations on behalf of 500,000 Welsh people the government of Prime Minister refused to halt the plan (link):
In 1936 construction started at the site at Penrhos and on 8th September 1936 three Welsh academics, dramatist and lecturer Saunders Lewis, poet and preacher Lewis Valentine and novelist DJ Williams, set the buildings on fire and then went to give themselves up at Pwllheli police station, in accordance with Gandhian principles.
Their trial at Caernarfon was a sensation at the time attracting huge protest. It failed to agree on a verdict and the case was sent to the Old Bailey in London so that the British government good get the verdict it wanted. The “Three” were sentenced to nine months imprisonment in Wormwood Scrubs but on their release they were greeted as heroes by fifteen thousand Welsh at a pavilion in Caernarfon.
The bombing school was eventually completed but does not seem to have been a great success as its utilisation thereafter was perfunctory.
As for ‘the three’ the established a principle of non violent protest in the various Celtic countries that has been imitated for the past eighty years.
Image: ‘The Three’ – DJ Williams, Lewis Valentine and Saunders Lewis.
Issued by: The Manx branch of the Celtic League
TEL: 01624 877918 or 07624 491609
THE CELTIC LEAGUE
The Celtic League established in 1961 has branches in the six Celtic Countries including our own Mannin branch. It promotes cooperation between the countries and campaigns on a range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, military activity and socio-economic issues
The link for the main web pages is below: