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Finland-Catalonia Friendship Association

Good to see another Association with similar aims & objectives as our Association. The following is from their Website: www.kataloniaseura.fi.

Finland-Catalonia Friendship Association has been established in May 2018 in order to advance Catalan language, culture and knowledge of its history in Finland. Association will organize Catalan language courses as well as different activities and Catalonia-related events in Finland.

More information about language courses and other activities will be posted in detail to the association's website at www.kataloniaseura.fi. Website contains lot of information about Catalonia and its language, culture and history. Website will also work as a databank for schools and other learning institutes and it contains useful links.

Catalonia-related events include for example lectures, talks, social events, book presentations, language clubs, sporting events, "Catalan food"-evenings and academic seminars. Events are organized throughout the year. Different kinds of communal digital environments and tools will be used so people can attend these events without being present at the same place.

Association will also support the tightening of relations between enterprises operating in Finland and Catalonia. Working committee which will decide on the forms of activity for this purpose will be established within the association.

Finland-Catalonia Friendship Association doesn't take a stand on political questions such as the question of Catalan independence. Association will however emphasize the linguistic, cultural and democratic rights of minorities in its activities and through its own actions advance their realization in the European Union. Association's website will be translated to Swedish as well.

Association is a non-profit cultural association and its activities are funded mainly by private donations and membership fees. You can join the association as a support member by filling out the form in the website. Executive Director Janne Riitakorpi is in charge of the association's practical issues and activities.

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The current exhibition at the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery in Swansea brings together the relationships and dialogues between poetry and art. Throughout his life, Dylan Thomas sought opportunities to work with others and thrived in the artistic community of Swansea at the Kardomah Café in the 1930's - with poets, painters, and musicians including Vernon Watkins, Alfred Janes and Dan Jones. The 'Kardomah Gang' The group, known as the 'Kardomah Group' drank coffee and conversed over many subjects, often continuing their discussions in a nearby pub. 

Dylan Thomas (1914 - 1953) - Despite a short life Dylan Thomas, who died in New York 65 years ago this week, left us a wealth of work: short stories, poems, radio broadcasts, screen plays and a novel. Most famous for 'Under Milk Wood' and 'Do not go gentle into that good night'. 

Do not go gentle into that good night by  Dylan Thomas

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Vernon Watkins (1906 - 1967) - Maesteg born, Life long friend of Dylan Thomas who worked as a Bank Clerk in Swansea for over 40 years, whilst at the same time he was a Poet, Artist & Translator. Thomas described him as" the most profound and greatly accomplished Welshman writing poems in English." Most famous poem - 'Three Harps'.

Alfred George Janes (1911 - 1999) - Swansea born artist - best known for his still lives and portraits, who exhibited at the Eisteddfod at the age of 16. Following a period of time in London, where he shared a flat with Dylan Thomas and attended the Royal Academy, Janes returned to Swansea in 1936 to teach at Swansea School of Art. He painted other 'Kardomah Gang' members including Dylan Thomas, Vernon Watkins, Dan Joes and Mervyn Levy.

Daniel 'Dan' Jones (1912 - 1993) - Pembroke born innovative composer and noted linguist who during WW11 was employed as a codebreaker at Bletchley Park. His most eloquent work is a symphony (the fourth of 12) dedicated to the memory of his closest friend Dylan Thomas in 1954. He also wrote a memoir 'My friend Dylan Thomas' in 1977.

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Wales has it's leaks & spring onions whilst Catalonia has calçots. They are chargrilled and often served in curved earthenware roof tiles and are eaten by stripping off the outer skin and dipping them in romesco sauce. Have them with toast smeared with overripe tomato, salt and olive oil - Pa amb tomàquet. The annual Calçots Festival is held in Valls.

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Angharad Price's novel, O! Tyn y Gorchudd (The Life of Rebecca Jones) has been translated into Spanish and Catalan by Rata Books. The novel won the Prose Medal in the Eisteddfod in 2002 and the Wales Book of the Year award in 2003. The novel has already been translated into English, as well as into Romanian and Bengali. The book tells the story of Rebecca Jones, born in 1905, who spent her life in the remote valley of Maesglasau in Montgomeryshire. Here her family dwelt and farmed for a thousand years, welcoming life's joys and negotiating its hardships. Rebecca's parents bore a cross heavier than most: of the seven children born of their union, three suffered blindness, and two, we are told, died young.

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The Welsh Government will announce next month where the new Welsh Contemporary Art Gallery for Wales will have its home. Probably not Cardiff we understand. This will be good news for the 'Contemporary Art Society for Wales' "The Society was conceived in the 1930s following the economic depression and resulted from a belief in the ability of the visual arts to uplift the human spirit in times of material adversity. In 1935 a major touring exhibition of contemporary art was promoted by a prominent group of London-Welsh and was curated by Augustus John. The following year the group arranged a high grade exhibition at the National Eisteddfod in Fishguard, using it to involve notable Welsh-based individuals to explore the formation of a society devoted largely to indigenous contemporary art".

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Good to hear that Focus Wales will again be organising another Music Festival next year, with some 200 Bands, in Wrexham - 16th to 18th May 2019. Catalan groups Maria Arnal & Marcel Bagés, Matthew McDaid and The Zephyr Bones performed at the Focus Wales festival earlier this year a collaboration between the Catalan Institute of Cultural Enterprises (ICEC), Vic's Live Music Market and Focus Wales. "FOCUS Wales is a not-for-profit organisation, established to provide the annual new music showcase event for the Welsh Music Industry. 

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Welsh settlers arrived in Patagonia, Argentina, on a ship called the Mimosa carrying around 150 Welsh emigrants on 28th May 1865

The passengers paid Paying £12 per adult, a huge amount in those days, seeking a new life and the establishment of a Welsh colony in the Chubut area. Some previous Welsh settlers such as Edwyn Cynrig Roberts met the new arrivals and called their landing site Porth Madryn. The first town was named Rawson and other settlements such as Gaiman and Trelew were also created. The government of Argentina gave their consent for the Welsh to own the land in 1875, which led to hundreds of new arrivals form Wales.

The Welsh-Argentine colony, which became known as Y Wladfa, started a number of well known traditions such as the creation fo the "Torta Galesa" (literally Welsh cake) which is enjoyed throughout Argentina. Since 1965, the Eisteddfod del Chubut, a poetry and song competition in Spanish and Welsh has become a key annual event in the provincial calendar. Eisteddfodau are long standing Welsh festivals that have been held since 1172.

Today the province of Chubut, where most Welsh immigrants settled, has a population of 550,000 people. Of these, some 50,000 can claim Welsh ancestry and 5,000 speak the Welsh language.

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Catalonia was formerly a principality of the crown of Aragon, and it has played an important role in the history of the Iberian Peninsula. From the 17th century it was the centre of a separatist movement that sometimes dominated Spanish affairs. Catalonia was one of the first Roman possessions in Spain.

* Welsh history begins with the arrival of human beings in the region thousands of years ago. Neanderthals lived in what is now Wales at least 230,000 years ago, while Homo sapiens arrived by about 31,000 BC. ... A number of kingdoms formed in present-day Wales in the post-Roman period.

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St George (Sant Jordi in Catalan) is the patron saint of Catalonia (as well as England, Aragon, Georgia, Genoa, Germany, Lithuania, Moscow, Palestine, Portugal and Venice). In the Catalan version of the legend the town terrorised by the dragon is Montblanc. Some people believe that 'a long time ago a fierce dragon frightened the people in Montblanc. It ate up the pasture animals to such an extent to threaten the town's population. So as to avoid the attack of the beast it was decided to give it a person every day. There was a draw among the population, the king's family was included in it, and the destiny wanted the king's daughter to be the person chosen. When she was going to be swallowed by the dragon a horseman appeared and saved her of being killed by the dragon. The horseman was Saint George. At the place where the dragon poured out its blood a rosebush with red roses grew'

Every year, coinciding with St. George day (23rd April) Montblanc organises a Medieval Week and Catalans give a rose to their beloved. The town of Montblanc revives its medieval origin and the streets & squares are embellished with the noble flags and standards. Various activities transport the visitors back to the Middle Age: the performance of Saint George's legend, the scenes of medieval life, the medieval supper, a concentration of dragons and fire, the medieval market, the performance of the Catalan Courts and so on... A visit is on my list.

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To understand the background to the events in Barcelona in 1714 you have to go back to 1700 when Charles II died. Philip of Anjou, a member of the French Bourbon dynasty, was proclaimed King of Spain. England, Austria, Holland and most Catalans opposed this and defended the right of the Archduke Charles of Austria to succeed Charles II on the throne. He was proclaimed King of the Catalans in November 1705. The 'War of Succession' followed. To cut a long story short Spain & France prevailed and Philip V was declared Bourbon King - with international recognition. Catalonia however decided to continue to resist the new Spanish King to avoid an 'absolutist and centralist' monarchy that hated Catalans. It was seen as 'a war of national survival'. It ended in the defence of Barcelona on 11th September 1714 when 40,000 fully armed assailants, despite heroic resistance, took the city and age old Catalan institutions were swept away, the language banned and severe repression commenced.

Josep Moragues i Mas (1669 - 1715) - Catalan general during the War of the Spanish Succession. In 1714 he left Barcelona following it's defeat, in order to continue the Catalan resistance to the Spanish King from Majorca. Unfortunately he was captured, imprisoned and tortured. He was finally executed and butchered the following year. His head was put in a cage which could be viewed for the next 12years in Barcelona. It was a warning to others who may wish to rebel against Spain and the King !!!