Saturday, 18th June, 2011.

A Celtic Connection

     For those of you who are familiar with the works of James Joyce (no, neither am I), the old saying which he created was in the news this week.

Our Celtic cousins have been saying for years that “you can’t cross Dublin without passing a pub”.   And that was accepted folklore until a few days ago when a boffin, using a computer, has shown that it is possible.

The connection with Wales shows the opposite situation.   Not so many years ago, it seems to me, a centre for local folk to meet was the local pub.   It was a place where the community could get to know each other and discuss topics of interest to the area.

And even some of our tinier rural villages boasted more than one public-house.   Along our main roads, too, there were hostelries which had served their customers and the community for decades, if not centuries.

Now as I travel our land, I find empty pubs and hotels nearly everywhere.   “For Sale” notices stand forlornly outside them and, in the current economic situation, may stand there unnoticed for many a moon.

So it could be said that “you can’t cross any town or village in Wales without passing a closed pub”.

The same applies to locally-owned shops, even in our larger conurbations.   And fortunate is the village which still has its own shop or even its own Post Office.   I note that, in many of our once thriving towns, shops stand empty.

The same applies to buildings which once housed local schools.

I do not believe that all this has happened by chance.

The local pubs, local schools and local shops were once social centres inasmuch as those living in the community could get to know each other.   With that coming together of local folk gone, the tight-knit communities for which Wales has always been so renowned have eroded.

We are told that more families are buying cheap booze to consume at home from the ten-mile-and-more distant supermarkets.   We are told that the idea of having a jovial night out is dying out because we all watch television for our entertainment now.

So we have become a land of isolated families, none knowing their neighbours.

And, with that happening, we are easier to control as we lack unity.   How prophetic was ‘1984’?

The question we in Wales who treasure our Welshness must ask is:  “What do we do to restore our community-spirit?”

 archie.lowe@googlemail.com

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About Archie Lowe

Though not born in Wales, I have lived and worked here for many years now. I love the place and love that mercurial thing "Welshness". I have been accused of being "a Taffophile" - which is pretty near the truth. The question I ask whenever some idea comes up for the whole of the UK is: "What's in it for Wales". I believe in an independent Wales and am so pleased that our Assembly is a big step on that road.
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