This year’s Esedhvos is almost upon us, and on a personal level it will be a hugely important one, as I have been invited to present a paper at the Gorsedh Kernow conference which takes place on Friday 1st September in Launceston Town Hall – more of which later!
The Esedhvos commences on Wednesday 30th August with the Grand Bard’s chair on display at St Mary Magdalene Church in the town.
The main events begin the following day at Launceston Town Hall with a Book Festival from 11am – 3pm, with admission free. A number of new books will be launched at 11:30am including Cornish Bards of the Launceston Area by Bill Roberts, Place Names of Launceston, a facsimile edition of Cornish for All: A Guide to Unified Cornish by Robert Morton Nance and Padstow Carols. The afternoon sees two ‘Meet the Author’ sessions with two writers interviewed on stage in each session. First up at 12:10pm is Judy Scrimshaw, author of The Little Red Egg a children’s book about a family of dragons who lay their final egg in Cornwall, who will be talking to Rael Harvey. Following this sees former Gorsedh Kernow Grand Bard Rod Lyon in discussion with Elizabeth Carne about his work Tenkys. The second batch of ‘Meet the Author’ interviews commences at 1:30pm and Dr. Bernard Deacon, writer of Cornwall’s First Golden Age and the forthcoming collection of essays From A Cornish Study, will be in discussion with Gareth Parry, who will later be joined by David Thorn, who co-authored Bude Pioneers of Photography: Tintagel to Clovelly. From 7:00pm in the same venue, the presentation to winners of Young People’s Awards and Adults Awards & Competitions by Merv Davey, Grand Bard. The evening will be hosted by Ed Rowe (perhaps better known as Kernow King) and will also feature a guest appearance by Jim Causley, folk singer and songwriter who is a relation of the great Cornish poet Charles Causley, who was born in Launceston a hundred years ago this month.
Friday 1st September sees the Annual Gorsedh Kernow Conference at Launceston Town Hall, which this year is entitled ‘Cornish Culture and Tourism: Friends or Foes’. Grand Bard Merv Davey will open the event, before Visit Cornwall’s Malcolm Bell will address the conference. Following this, I will be presentating a paper entitled Cornish Culture & Tourism: A Fine Line Between Authenticity and Disneyfied Kernow. Making presentations after me will be Fiona Wotton (Director of Cornwall 365 – a body aiming to build a network of cultural and tourism players around the territory), Kim Conchie (CEO Cornwall Chamber of Commerce) and Merryn Davies-Deacon (PhD candidate at Queen’s University, Belfast researching Regional Minority Languages of France with a particular focus on Breton). My own paper will be published on this blog in three or four parts on a weekly basis from next week (w/c 4th Sept 2017) onwards. Tickets need to be purchased in advance (£5) to join the audience. The evening sees a Cornish Troyl/Ceilidh with Carmen Hunt & the Scoot Lyskerrys Collective at Launceston Town Hall, which is free to enter.
Saturday 2nd September sees a range of Cornish stalls at Launceston Castle from 11am before the procession of bards from the Central Methodist Church to Launceston Castle from 1:30pm via Church Street, High Street and The Square, with the Bardic Ceremony led by Grand Bard Merv Davey from 2pm at the castle grounds, or, if wet at St. Mary Magdalene Church. The evening sees a host of music. A Gala Concert will take place at Central Methodist Church, Castle Street, Launceston featuring Jane Nancarrow reading poetry of Charles Causley, Rob Strike and students from Launceston College, Mike O’Connor & Barbara Griggs and Launceston Town Band. The event will be compered by Bert Biscoe. Tickets, costing £5 should be purchased in advance from Launceston TIC (Tel 01566 772321). Starting at 8:30pm is the ‘Come All Ye’ Cornish music and song session at The Bell Inn, Tower St, Launceston, and hosted by Rob Strike and there is free entry.
The Esedhvos ends on Sunday 3rd September with three final events. First, from 9.30 – 11.30am ‘Blas a Gernewek – A Taste of Cornish’ session, will take place at Launceston Town Hall with entry free. At 11.00am, a free History Walk around the beautiful town of Launceston, led by bard Rob Tremain, will start at Launceston Town Hall and finish at The Bell Inn before a Choral Evensong in Cornish at St. Mary Magdalene Church from 3:00pm.
If you have never experienced an Esedhvos – do everything possible to get to Launceston this year – it is a fantastic celebration of Cornwall’s indigenous history, culture and language.