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Obituary Doyen of Welsh culture Gwyn Griffiths dies (1941-2018)

A FLOOD of words, many beginning with the letter C, filled my mind when I heard that Gwyn had left us.
Cyfaill/ Friend for over half a century.

Cymrawd/ Comrade, Communist and fellow member of the party.
Cyd-ymgyrchydd/ Fellow-activist in campaigns for the Welsh language, peace and social justice, against apartheid and all forms of racism.

Cwmnïaeth/ Sociability, Cyfeddach/ Conviviality, Cwrw/ beer, Cariad/ the loving relationship between Gwyn, his wife Gwen and their children Eleri, Ffion, Gildas and Tristan which sustained his humanism, his joviality and his prodigious literary output as a journalist, historian and translator.

Gwyn was brought up in the village of Swydd Ffynnon in Cardiganshire and educated at Ysgol Gynradd Castell Ffleming, Ysgol Sir Tregaron, Cardiff Teacher Traning College and Cardiff University.

After being employed for four years (1961-65) by Urdd Gobaith Cymru/ The Welsh League of Youth as its Pembrokeshire organiser, he turned to journalism and worked for the weekly newspaper, Y Cymro, until 1969 when he was appointed to the post of BBC Wales press officer.

He became a freelance in 1991 and continued as such until the very end of his life, writing countless articles and features for Welsh, English, Breton and French publications, as well as book reviews for the Morning Star, of course.

Gwyn authored, edited or translated at least 25 substantial publications, including two in the Pembrokeshire dialect, two on the authors and composers of the Welsh National Anthem, Hen Wlad fy and his splendid magnum opus in both Welsh and English, Henry Richard, Pacifist and Patriot (2012) and Henry Richard, Heddychwr a Gwlatgarwr (2013).

Articles by him appeared on the pages of scholarly publication such as Llên Cymru, Educational Media International, Revue Francaise de Civilisation Britannique and Premio Ostana.

He won international acclaim as co-editor with Jacqueline Gibson of The Turn of the Ermine: An Anthology of Breton Literature and, with Meic Stephens, The Old Red Tongue: An Anthology of Welsh Literature, both published by Francis Boutle.

These and similar achievements won Gwyn the Translation Prize at the World Language Workshop in Ostana, Italy, last year.

At the famous Lorient Celtic Festival next August, members of Gwyn’s family will receive on his behalf the Urzh an Erminig/ Order of the Ermine, Brittany’s highest cultural honour.

This will be in recognition of Gwyn’s role in developing and strengthening the historical links between Wales and Brittany.

His books and articles on the Breton onion-sellers, the Sioni Winwns, led to the establishment of Roscoff’s Onion Museum. He also took a leading part in setting up, in 2010, a quadrilingual exhibition which revealed the links between the Welsh coal industry and the Breton steel industry at the beginning of the 20th century — Welsh Coal, Breton Steel; Glo Cymru, Dur Llydaw; Le Charbon Gallois, L’acier Breton; Glaou e Kembre, Dir e Breiz.

Gwyn will be sorely missed by family, friends, readers and fellow writers.


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