• November 16, 2011

The key note speech at the fiftieth anniversary of the Celtic League on Saturday October 29, 2011 was written by Peter Berresford Ellis and delivered by Professor Kenneth MacKinnon in the absence of Mr Berresford Ellis.

In his speech Mr Berresford Ellis explores some of the developments within the Celtic countries over the fifty year period from when the League was first established in 1961. In his concluding remarks, Mr Berresford Ellis says:

“…our descendants still have much to do during the next fifty years if ever we can hope to see anything remotely looking like sea change that take us significantly along the path to approaching the aims and ideals of this Celtic League.”

The full text of the speech can be found below, including the link to the film taken of Professor Mackinnon delivering the speech at Falkirk Council Chambers on the day.

“The Celtic Nations – 1961- 2011, a Sea Change?

Some personal views

It is with deep regret that I find myself unable to present this talk in person for if there is one event that I desired to attend it is this, the fiftieth anniversary of the foundation of this Celtic League. Alas, a mix-up over dates has prevented me from being with you and so I hand over to the good offices of     Professor Kenneth MacKinnon                                 who will read this talk on my behalf and probably do a better job of it than I.

It is an honour to be invited to address the Celtic League on this particular anniversary. I am aware that there are some who have a better right than I to talk to you about the half century of progress that this movement has made.  But, alas, with the death of Professor Per Denez in July and Yann Fouréré just a week ago I believe that only Seamus Filbin remains  from the founding  members of that first meeting in Wales on 9th August, 1961.

I am sure most of you will be aware of the history of the League and its campaigns and many successes. Therefore, today, I want to outline my personal journey with the League and whether I feel that, in these fifty years, there has been a sea change for the Celtic nations.

I joined what was then the London Branch of the League in late 1964 when, as a young journalist I had just returned to London from Belfast, where I had been covering the general election for a London daily newspaper. I have remained in membership ever since. My entry into the League was through a meeting with the late Pádraig Ó Conchuir,  Pádraig was a graduate of National University of Ireland, Galway, and he had been a Pan Celticist from the days of  An Aimsir Cheilteach, the monthly newspaper for the Celtic peoples which was the central mainspring of the Celtic movement from 1947-1954. Pádraig went on to edit the Celtic League’s little news-sheet Celtic News from 1966-1972 and was chairman of the League for nine years from, 1972-1981.

It was Pádraig who became my mentor on matters Celtic and, I freely admit, gave some order to ideas that had formed during my childhood and youth. My father was from Cork City, my mother was from an old English family from Sussex, but her mother was from a Breton family who had sought refuge in England in the early 19th Century following what became known as the War of the Chouannerie. I grew up in what I can only describe as a pan-Celtic family – with Irish, Breton, Welsh and Scottish aunts, uncles and cousins to counterbalance the English ones.  It was Pádraig who encouraged me to go back to higher education and take my degrees in Celtic Studies.

Now before we go further, and because of the misguided criticisms that have been made of the Celtic League over the years, let me explain what is meant by Celtic.  In the Celtic League it is meant to describe one of six historic nationalities which spoke a Celtic language until modern historical times. It’s that simple.  As Professor Eoin Mac Neill pointed out nearly a century ago – there is no such thing as a Celtic race; any more than there is a Latin race, a Teutonic race, nor a Slavic race. We are all branches of the Indo-Europeans linguistic family – so race is largely a delusion.  The only accurate way to define Celtic is by language and its attendant culture. A Celt is simply one who speaks, or is known to have spoken within the modern historical period, a Celtic language. 

That is why the League has had to consistently reject overtures to recognise Galicia in north-west Spain as a Celtic nation. There are more Celtic loan-words in English and in French than there are in Galician. Galician is a Romance language and closely related to Portuguese. It is not a Celtic language and Celtic has not been spoken in Galician territory since the 10th Century.  In 1992 it fell to me to engage in a debate with the formidable Manuel Fraga Iribarne, who was the 3rd President of the Xunta de Galicia, the head of the Galician government, from 1990-2005. Don Manuel was one of the writers of Spain’s democratic constitution which allowed Galicia self-government and recognition of its language within the Spanish federation.  In spite of references to dialect words, folkloric themes, music and so on, Don Manuel had to admit that Galicia failed the linguistic criteria.

I stress this definition as a corrective to the attempts to denigrate the League and its membership over the years by people who do not know the difference between progressive anti-imperialist nationalism and retrograde imperialist or racist nationalism.  Racism is contrary to the League’s philosophies.

As a socialist involved in anti-imperialist and anti-racist movements, an admirer of works of James Connolly and John MacLean, I saw no contradiction in joining. My pamphlet The Creed of the Celtic Revolution published in 1969 expressed my views at that time; views that I still adhere to, as will be endorsed by any who have followed my writings since then.

Looking back to the 1960s it is amazing to consider the size of the mountain that the League was faced with.  Of the six Celtic countries, Ireland was partitioned and in North-East Ulster there was a regime which denied a third of its people civil rights, endorsing the suppression of any trace of the Irish language or culture. There was a law system in this co-called UK `province’ which, with the Special Powers Act, had been admired by Adolf Hitler as well as the Apartheid Regime in South Africa.  In April, 1963, Johannes Vorster, the Justice Minister, who later became president of South Africa, said that he would willingly exchange all the Apartheid legislation for just one clause of the Northern Ireland Special Powers Act. In the Irish Republic, lip service was paid to the national language and culture and, as for economic independence; the popular saying in the 1960s was that if someone in Westminster sneezed, someone in the Dáil blew their nose.

The Isle of Mann had self-government but was more concerned in building up its off-shore tax haven image than saving its language and culture. As regards Scotland and Wales there seemed no likelihood for any form of self-government at that time, nor any real recognition of their national languages. In Wales, Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg was just starting a campaign of civil disobedience to gain status for the national language.  As for Cornwall, to suggest that it was an entity with any separate Celtic identity from England was to be regaled with scorn and laughter. Mebyon Kernow, the nationalist party, was described in the Daily Telegraph as a bunch of fantasists waiting for King Arthur to arise from his slumber to lead them to Camelot.

Brittany was suffering the worst. Since the Breton parliament had been abolished in 1790, the French state had slowly but firmly set out to eliminate the Breton language and cultural identity.  The Front for the Liberation of Brittany became active in the 1960s, believing they had been left only physical force to progress the Breton cause. This, of course, brought greater repression on the country.

So, the League came into being at a time when the Celtic nations stood within sight of extinction as Celtic entities. Since 1961 we have witnessed incredible changes in the cultural and political landscape even from an international perspective. In November, 1965, the Celtic League submitted a 62 page memorandum to the United Nations on the situation and today the United Nations now recognises the League as an NGO. (non-government organisation).  There is now a parliament in Scotland with an SNP majority which is committed to independence and in Wales the Assembly has been granted much greater  powers in the referendum held earlier this year..The decision to abandon plans for what was to be the first Welsh language daily newspaper due to a lack of funding was a blow for Welsh media in general. With the funding cuts to S4C announced last year and an agreement made with the BBC, the future quality and independence of Welsh language media appears even more uncertain.  The adoption of the Legislative Competence Order on the Welsh language by the Assembly earlier this year, now means that there will be better protection than ever for the language. The creation of an independent Welsh Language Commissioner post to defend the rights of users is another huge step forward. After progressing in the last decade and becoming a party of government for the first time Plaid Cymru suffered losses in the election in 2011 and now has a reduced representation. The subsequent announcement by Plaid’s leader Ieuan Wyn Jones that he intends to step down before the next elections, looks set to herald a leadership contest that could draw the party’s aims back to independence – an issue that has become too infrequently used by the party since Dafydd Iwan dared to use the word and won in 2003.

The Manx Parliament did adopt over the years some few of the positive policies of Mec Vannin but are too reliant on the financial sector. The sixties and seventies saw nationalists (Mec Vannin and Fo Halloo) opposing the New Resident Policy and in the eighties the FSFO campaign against the new financial sector and it affects on young Manx people led to an arson campaign with three men being jailed. There is no sign on the part of the Manx Government or Tynwald of any interest in extending autonomy to independence.  The Manx Government have allowed the language to be taught in schools so that 2.2% of the population assert they now have knowledge of it. There is a Manx Language Development Officer and a small team of peripatetic teachers at primary level, Manx can be taken as a subject in two second level schools and there is a growing body of adult learners. A significant achievement in recent years is the start of Manx medium education at primary level with the founding of An Bunscoill Gaelgagh, which now has sixty five pupils. The Manx language nursery movement, Mooinjer Veggey, is a success.

There is now a recognition of civil rights in Northern Ireland; you can even speak Irish there and not expect to be beaten up by members of the PSNI. In 1961 could we have predicted the marches of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Movement, the reaction of the sectarian northern state, the pogroms of  1969, the rise of the Provisional IRA, Interment,  and Bloody Sunday? These to be followed by an almost thirty years war, the H Block dirty protest and hunger strikes leading to the development of the  political struggle which culminated in the Good Friday agreement and eventually, despite unionist intransigence over a period  of  ten years or so, a functioning power sharing Local Assembly. Some cross border bodies are operating and as part of the process there was a referendum which opened up  the  prospect of a reunification of the country .some time in the future as the demographic shift towards a nationalist majority continues.

In the Republic  the economic development of the sixties became recession in the eighties. The benefits of the expansion years of the Celtic Tiger in the nineties were squandered by the greed of bankers, developers and politicians in the subsequent decade. The state is now effectively ruled by the troika of the IMF, the ECB and the EU Commission with the ordinary taxpayer  paying for the debts of the banks and developers and the folly of politicians.

The position of the Gaeltacht is still precarious although the Official Languages Act, the office of Language Commissioner, official status for Irish in the EU, the success of TG4, the 20 Year Strategy (if funding is forthcoming) and the expansion of Irish medium education ( though often stymied) are all positives.

The Cornish national movement is no longer the butt of jokes as –The UK Government even had to recognise the Cornish language in October, 2002, as a by-product of the UK signing the European Charter for Regional Minority Languages. Nick Raynsford, the Local Government and Regions Minister the Parliamentary Under Secretary at the Department of Communities and Local Government, recently announced funding of £360,000 to the Cornish Language Partnership.  In 1997, the UK Local Government Report (p17) had admitted `the continued existence of the Cornish Stannary Parliament encourages the belief that Cornwall has never legally been incorporated into England.’ So we have seen a profound change of attitude there. Mebyon Kernow has achieved election successes in town, parish and district councils as well as having four councillors sitting on the  current County Council, which is the closest Cornwall has to a parliament.   In 2001 a petition with over 50 000 signatures on it was presented to Downing Street calling for a Cornish Assembly.  The spelling debate that was in danger of crushing the language revival for a time is being gradually won through the skilful leadership and work of Maga. Instrumental in this has been the agreement of what is seen to be the final Standard Written Form of the language on 30 May 2008, which was later adopted by Gorsedh Kernow by an overwhelming majority. There are still major challenges for Cornwall ahead, not least in the plans to reform the parliamentary constituencies of Cornwall by creating a shared constituency or constituencies with Devon and the recognition of the Cornish as a national minority under the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.

Brittany still suffers from the crushing centralism of the French state – we are all aware of the French Government’s position that the French Constitution allows the recognition of no other language in the French State but French, although France has tried to come into a more civilised position by giving some degree of recognition to `regional languages’ from 2008.  But generally, it is just as  difficult ( there are still native speakers and  a generation who has learned the language) today to live one’s life through the Breton language as it was fifty years ago. Even so, bilingual signs, Diwan and Dihun schools, Ofis ar Brezhoneg and other usages of the language are uncomfortable reminders to France that the claims of the Breton nation are not dead. Brittany is still partitioned despite the large demonstrations in favour of unity and the desire of both the four Breton departments and Loire  Atlantique to achieve it. While the UDB and Greens made a breakthrough in the last regional elections and there were signs of progress by new Breton parties, the overall level of support achieved was low.

Changes have been happening and are continuing to happen. But has there truly been a sea change today? I would argue that while the tide of what was once a suffocating imperialism has changed direction, it has certainly not ebbed and is still lapping unabated around the shores of the Celtic peoples. Someone argued that many of those who started out on the journey with the Celtic League in 1961 would be amazed at the changes that have taken place in the Celtic world. Amazed they might well be, but satisfied … ? Of course not. 

So while there has been a tidal shift, there has been no sea change since the League started its voyage. Here in Scotland, while there is now a parliament in Edinburgh, and recognition of the Scottish Gaelic language, that language is still regarded as just a minority language of the Highlands instead of recognition of its true historic position as the national language.  Little emphasis is given to educating Scottish people about the history of the language; that once Gaelic was spoken across all Scotland, language of the monarchy, church and government. There is a mind set against admitting that it was spoken in Galloway as late as the 18th Century.  That even in Northumbria, south of the border, there are traces of the language. Its recession to the Highlands was a slow process.

It is right, as we are meeting here in Scotland, to remind you of one of the Scottish pioneers of the League –  the late Seumas Mac a’ Ghobhainn whose research and pioneering articles should have left no doubt as to the historic position  of the Scottish Gaelic language. In 1969 he inspired students at Glasgow University and helped form Comunn na Cànain Albannaich, a more radical language movement. Seamus’ strength lay in his historical researches clarifying the history of the language. I had the honour to co-author two books with Seumas – The Scottish Insurrection of 1820 in 1970 and The Problem of Language Revival in 1971.

If you have time after this conference, make your way to Sighthill Cemetery, in Glasgow, and pause before the monument to the executed leaders of the 1820 uprising; a rising which had, among its aims, to sever the union with England. That insurrection resulted in 88 trials for High Treason, executions, imprisonments and transportation for life. It was an insurrection that had been written out of Scottish history until our book was published in 1970.  And just beside the 1820 monument is a smaller stone inscribed in Scottish Gaelic and English, which commemorates the life of Seumas Mac a ‘Ghobhainn who died in 1987 and where his ashes were scattered.

 Hopefully, you may still be able to get your hands on some of Seamus’ essays. His papers were given to the Scottish Branch of the Celtic League in 2000 and some of them were contained in the booklet Scotland Not Only Free But Gaelic, published that year.  Professor Kenneth MacKinnon, author of The Lion’s Tongue, among other works, contributed a foreword to the booklet.  What  Comunn na Cànain Albannaich achieved, as Professor MacKinnon has said, was that it raised public awareness about the language and emboldened Gaels to demand and secure  their rights and establish Gaelic medium and Gaelic run initiatives in public life.  But I know that Seumas would have been the first to declare that there is still a mountain to climb in changing Scottish attitudes towards the language in Scotland today. 

In view of the current debate in the League, one of the matters our Celtic League branch in London agreed on during the 1960s was that we stood in need of greater communication and publicity. Communication – not merely to our membership but to the broader public. Needless to say, at this time the Press and Media were no friends to the ideals of the League even when they bothered to notice its existence. It was obvious that the news-sheet Celtic News could not fulfil the task we had in mind. We needed something that would be entirely professional, something that would be a real successor to An Aimsir Cheilteach – and so we decided to attempt to launch a monthly magazine and call it The New Celt.  We had both the talent and the professional expertise in London. We formed a limited company in June, 1968, and directors were appointed representing all the Celtic nations. The chairman of the company was another great pioneer of this League, Coinneach MacDhómhnull, a native of Lewis who taught Gaelic in the London Literary Institute.

Finances began to come in – even the films actors Richard Burton and Hugh Griffith contributed, but it was the Breton branch of the League who raised the most money for the endeavour.  The problem was that we had to guarantee to the printers and distributors an entire year’s costs before we could launch the first issue.  Frankly, there were too many fence-sitters among the people who had the ability to help, too many `nay-sayers’ who wanted the project fail for various reasons. One reason, as I recall, was that this Celtic publication was to be launched from London in England – yet London, at that time, was the one city which not only had residents from all six Celtic nations but where all six language were spoken and taught in night schools and higher education institutions and all the Celtic national movements were represented. Research had found there were some 35,000 Welsh speakers, 30,000 Irish speakers, 1,500 Scots Gaelic speakers, 2-300 Bretons as well as a small mixture of Cornish and Manx speakers. Similar figures were confirmed at a conference at London’s County Hall in 1984.  From 1955 there had been Ysgol Gymraeg Llundain, then the only Welsh language medium school, outside of Wales. Attempting to coordinate all these Celtic educational facilities was the basis for the formation of the London Association for Celtic Education, which was a Celtic League initiative. This was launched in 1989 at a conference of 500 educationalists at London University.  But I still believe that The New Celt in the 1960s was a missed opportunity as a means of influence during the years that lay ahead. By 1969, the money had to be returned to those who had invested and the company folded. 

In June of  1969 I was writing a fortnightly column called `Celtica Today’ for the bilingual Scottish newspaper Sruth. Unfortunately, I was a wee bit too radical and the financiers informed the editor that he should drop my political comments. The editor was Frang MacThomais, another pioneer of the League, who was also editor of the League annual volumes.  Actually, Frang insisted I remain a regular contributor but asked me to write historical articles rather than comment on modern politics.

In spite of The New Celt experience, I still believed that communication was essential if the League was to prosper. At that 1969 AGM I was appointed to chair a League committee to discuss the problem and come up with some less costly plan. We reported back to the 1970 AGM which was held in CornwallThe idea of replacing the newssheet Celtic News, and the annual volume, and using the finance to launch a more professional quarterly was finally taken up by the League and in 1973 the League’s quarterly Carn came into being with Frang MacThomais as its first editor. Happily Carn has continued today and has long been under professional editorship of Patricia Bridson.

It would be very worrying if the League did not have a permanent print voice and therefore an archival record of its activities and policies. The need for good communication against the enmity and mischief making in many areas of the press and media, a means of public correction, has been something that the League needs. During my two years as chair-cum convenor of the League, (1988-1990) I acutely became aware of this need. We were doing very well with newspaper coverage at that time thanks to then General Secretary Bernard Moffatt and his  team who had set up a military monitoring programme in 1985. I still have a letter in my files from an old colleague and friend, the late left-wing journalist and author Paul Foot, who was then writing a column for the Daily Mirror.  Paul wrote to me in September, 1989: `Certainly, the League has a lot to be proud of, especially in its work over the Irish Sea.’

The League has weathered attempts to destroy it, both from within and without. For more details see my articles in Carn 38 and 39 and my book ‘The Celtic Dawn’. But the League and its ideals have proved stronger than individuals. Here we are today – weathering those sea storms which are attracted by the League’s successes. The more successful a movement is the more there is criticism of it and attempts to destroy it. You must be prepared for it.  That is why good communication is essential.

In one of my books, The Celtic Dawn, a history of Pan Celticism, first published in 1993, and still available from Y Lolfa publishers in Wales,  I devoted a chapter on the `Philosophy and Future Developments’ of this movement.  The guide to what must be attained in the future is still enshrined in the list of aims and objectives of the League. 

The League’s main raison d’etre remains that principal aim to achieve cooperation between the six Celtic countries – and with various forms of government in four out of the six nations, we should be seeing more inter Celtic links on the political, economic as well as cultural platforms. Sadly, those links tend to be left to the endeavours of private citizens and movements instead of at governmental level.  We have to ask ourselves why these links are not being put in place.  Many of us, like sirens wailing in the dusk, point out the models of the Nordic Union as the road to progress. But we do not seem to have achieved any meaningful links between the leading politicians of those Celtic nations who have the ability to set in motion the paths to such links.  Certainly there has been no sea change in this respect.

Clearly on the list of aims is that of developing the consciousness of the special relationship and solidarity between the Celtic nations. Since the 19th Century that consciousness has been developing. Celtic Studies has been accepted in many universities and we have seen the rise of the Celtic academic, linguistic, cultural and political movements. We have seen other developments which have saved the Celtic heritage from slipping into oblivion. UNESCO’s Project for the Study and Promotion of Celtic Cultures; Celtic Film and Television Festivals;  Scríf Celt – the Celtic languages book fair (another Celtic League initiative);  the major exhibitions such as the 1991 exhibition at the Palazzo  Grassi in Venice, which brought together over 2,200 Celtic artefacts from, 200 museums, has been one of many exhibitions. I have mentioned the London Association for Celtic Education, recently disappeared sadly through lack of funding. There was even a Celtworld park in Waterford and a Celtic Resource Centre remains at Machynlleth. 

But during the last decade, we have seen an attack on the very concept of Celtic. An attempt to prevent the idea of any special Celtic relationship. This is coming from an interesting source but one that has had, and is having, a profound affect on public perceptions. The question is – did the ancient Celts exist and, if they did not, surely those claiming to be modern Celts can have no existence? Television documentaries concerning the people that we call the Celts have been increasing but viewers will strain to hear that word `Celtic’ mentioned by presenters or even experts brought onto the programmes. Instead they will hear about `Iron Age peoples’. Professor Barry Rafftery, who died last year, Ireland’s leading archaeologist and authority on the early Celtic period, once humorously greeted me, at a meeting of the Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, with the words `Parlez vous Iron Age?’ He was referring to this phenomenon where his fellow experts wanted `Celts’ to vanish entirely from history and `Iron Age folk’ to replace them.

This campaign started in 1996 when an English archaeologist at Sheffield University, John Collis, expressed himself dissatisfied with the use of the term `Celtic’ to describe the pre-Roman period in Britain. Ruth and Vincent Megaw, the Australian specialists on early Celtic art, published a robust reply to this curious idea. There was enough evidence to show people at this time spoke a Celtic language. This, as I have explained before, was the very definition of Celtic. This resulted in Collis launching an attack dismissing this definition as `both false and dangerous’.

In the summer of 1997, Dr Simon James in the British Museum Magazine wrote an article in support of John Collis.  Dr James was a convert to Collis’ cause because he had previously published a study entitled Exploring the World of the Celts in 1993. Once happy calling a Celt a Celt, he now claimed that they did not exist. The London Financial Times came out with a blazing headline `The Celts – it was all just a myth’. This was followed by Dr James launching a new attack on the Megaws in the March, 1998 issue of Antiquity.  The reason seemed to be that if academia could be persuaded that the ancient Celts had not existed then the idea of modern Celts, indeed the Celtic nations, could be dismissed as a modern invention not to be taken seriously.  Indeed, the Megaws, argued that this new theory was motivated, subliminally if not consciously, by the attitude underlying right wing English politics towards the modern Celtic peoples.

The Independent in London telephoned me and invited me to write an article rebutting the ideas of Collis and James. This was published in January, 1999. 

When Dr James’ new book came out entitled The Atlantic Celts: Ancient People or Modern Invention?, BBC Radio 3 invited me to `slug it out’ with Dr James on the airwaves.  Sadly, the presenter was not concerned with a serious debate and changed the format of the programme without warning either of us in order to bring in by telephone new age druids that made the programme ridiculous and embarrassing. Luckily, however, The Scotsman invited Dr James and me to exchange a series of short letters debating the point which were then published as one article on March 27, that year.

Dr James presented his main argument as being that `no one in Britain and Ireland called themselves a Celt before 1700’.  Ergo – if they didn’t call themselves Celts then no Celt existed. As an historian, I had to remind him of the words of Gaius Julius Caesar … qui ipsorum lingua Celtae, nostra Galli appellantur – `in their own language they are called Celts, in our tongue Gauls’.  Of course, I could have become really heavy and thrown Dr Kenneth Jackson’s ground breaking 1953 study Language and History in Early Britain at him. But he would have been equally into denial as he had been in dismissing the fact of Celtic personal names, names recorded on the numerous British Celtic coins, tribal names, place names, and so on, produced centuries before the Romans arrived in Britain. And if we wanted to widen matters to the European mainland, we now have something like 500 pieces of textural evidence written in Continental Celtic forms dating between the 600 BC – 1 BC.

Dr James finally admitted that there were Celtic speaking peoples here in the Iron Age but argued that they were not necessarily Celts. As no Celticist, ancient or modern, has ever defined the Celtic peoples by any means other than the linguistic criteria – a definition incidentally put forward by the Scottish scholar George Buchanan in the 16th Century – how was Dr James defining them?  The answer was obvious. In scrabbling about for a definition to contradict the linguistic one he was reaching for a dangerous biological conclusion.

Dr James continued unrepentant.  As I wrote in The Irish Democrat later `his book is more concerned with decrying modern Celtic nationalism than debating the points of historical and archaeological discrepancy.’  Sadly, however, this `Celts did not exist’ school has continued to gain adherents most noticeably among programmes such as BBC’s `Time Team’. Professor John Collis, the man who started it all, has now produced a book The Celts; Origins, Myths, Inventions. Then we had the geneticist, Stephen Oppenheimer, joining in the fun with his book The Origin of the British – A Genetic Detective Story published in 2006.  He showed there were no genetic differences between the Celts and the Anglo-Saxons and therefore he, too, confirmed the Celts did not exist. Well, seeing that we have always used the linguistic criteria to identify Celts from other Indo-European linguistic branches the conclusion based on genes and DNA, should have come as no surprised to anyone.  But his arguments were spun to claim political points. Looking at Oppenheimer’s bibliography we find our old friends, Simon James, John Collis, Colin Renfrew and Francis Pryor quoted ad nauseam

I make no apology for using this particular example to show you that in considering general attitudes towards the Celtic nations, there is still a mountain to climb and much work to be done.  After fifty years, members who believe in the ideals and aspirations of those who came together to form this League, cannot afford to sit back with any sense of self-satisfaction. A parliament in Scotland -yes; an assembly in Wales – yes; degrees of recognition of the languages of both those nations – yes; Irish republicans being allowed to sit in Stormont and even say a few words of Irish – yes; the Dublin Government thinking that all is well when foreign heads of state, on state visits, utter a few words in Irish;  Tynwald  having finally allowed the Manx language to be taught in schools  and positive developments in the language situations in Cornwall and Brittany … do we truly think these are sea changes?

I would venture to suggest that we and our descendants still have much to do during the next fifty years if ever we can hope to see anything remotely looking like sea change that take us significantly along the path to approaching the aims and ideals of this Celtic League.”


‘The Celtic Nations (1961 – 2011): a Sea Change?’ A speech written by Peter Berresford Ellis and delivered by Professor Kenneth MacKinnon (Saturday 29th October 2001)


About Author


0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
The Celtic League
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x