Dathlu 150 ym Mhatagonia // Celebrating 150 in Patagonia


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This year we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Welsh settlement in Patagonia. On May 28th 1865, around 160 welsh men and women sailed aboard The Mimosa to Southern Argentina where they started a new life. Settlers chose the area near the Chubut River for its isolation in the hope of creating an entirely Welsh-speaking community where they could preserve their language and culture. However, life was far from idyllic as it was found to be an area of semi-desert with a lack of food and drinking water. The settlers were comprised of tailors, cobblers, carpenters, brick makers, and miners; the majority from the South Wales Coalfield meaning that they had little or no agricultural skills. After a year of hardship, the settlers reached out to the local Tehuelche people who helped them overcome the early food shortages.

The settlers soon gathered new skills that enabled them to establish an outstanding wheat crop, a railway that connected the Lower Chubut valley to Puerto Madryn and Argentina’s first irrigation system. Chapels were the built and became the heart of the community with an emphasis on supporting the community. This Welsh community known as Y Wladfa (The Colony) became so well established, it is believed that during the 19th century, over 4,000 people of Welsh decent were living in Chubut.

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The Welsh community still thrives in Patagonia today with Welsh language schools, chapels and a passionate connection to its past Welsh Heritage. The 150th anniversary is being celebrated both in Patagonia and in Wales with public events such as a collaboration between the National Theatre of Wales and Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru. It is the first time that the two production companies have worked together to produce a bilingual production entitled {150} which toured especially to mark the anniversary. S4C are also running ‘Wythnos Patagonia’ (Patagonia Week) with a series of documentaries and films marking the anniversary and will be available to watch with English subtitles. More information about the history of the Welsh settlement and the events marking it’s 150th anniversary can be found at: http://www.patagonia150.org/en

The success of Y Wladfa abbieblog2is built upon communities supporting each other and a vital sense of identity. Strong links can be made between this and other communities such as Treharris, a town in the Taff Valley built around the coal mining industry which has since lost its identity. The Thomas Frederick Willetts Foundation are currently working on The Light Project to help bring back the identity of this town through reconnecting community ties through the arts which will reignite the musical tradition and passion within the town.
To support the Thomas Fredrick Willetts Foundation and The Light Project, please contact info@tfwillettsfoundation.org or log onto our website www.tfwillettsfoundation.org

Written by Abbie Bolitho

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