Gwynfor Evans was a man for all seasons who lived his
life on a bank of principle, committed to peace in the world, dedicated to
his country, his family and his friends. Serving as a pacifist all through
the war he continued to serve peace in the world.
Always a true friend of Scotland and our fight for
freedom, he paid many visits. I first heard him in the packed McLellan
Galleries in July 1966. On the next night I shared a platform with him in
Aberdeen - my first big rally.
During the 18 months of the Hamilton campaign busloads of
Welsh supporters came to knock on doors. When I addressed the Plaid Cymru
Conference in July 1967 in Dolgellau I presented Gwynfor with a bowl of
white heather telling him, "Before the blooms on this heather fade I will
sit beside you in Westminster to speak for Scotland as you do for Wales."
The Plaid National Secretary said, "If you make it there will be a 100
Welshmen to see you to the door," and they did.
many ways our paths were linked. Gwynfor, a student of language, pointed out
we had the same name! At the exact moment I was selected for Hamilton,
television covered Gwynfor taking his seat in Carmarthen.
His advice was always vital to me. I asked, "What shall
we do if they offer us half a loaf? He replied, "We could never explain to
the people of Scotland and Wales turning down any improvement in their
When I said how much I envied the strength of the Welsh
language, Gwynfor replied that this was not always an advantage. He said
that support for the SNP was not based on language but our shared knowledge
of history. He himself did much by his writing to bring a shared history to
the Welsh people.
Well I remember the day Meinir, his daughter, was jailed
for Welsh language activity. i went with Gwynfor to face a hostile press.
His words echo still. "What father would not be proud of such a daughter?"
He was blessed with a happy family of his wife Rhiannon
and 7 children and many dear friends surrounded him. I visited him when he
was 91 and he said, "I have only 9 years left." Two years later I attended
his funeral in Aberystwyth where thousands turned out and the whole town was
The Welsh people gave the Father of Wales a worthy
Scots Independent June 2005
A further tribute from Carn – the
quarterly magazine of The Celtic League No 130 Summer 2005
Evans, former Plaid Cymru President and MP, died on April 21st
aged 92. A native of Barri, Glamorgan, he learnt Welsh as a university
student and spent most of his life in Llangadog, Carmarthenshire. Gwynfor
was a life-long Christian and pacifist. He was associated with Plaid Cymru
from its earliest days and became Party President in 1945, a post he held
for 36 years. He was a leading campaigner in the unsuccessful attempt to
stop the drowning of the Tryweryn valley in Merionnydd to make a reservoir
for Liverpool in the 1960s, but in the same decade he permanently changed
Welsh politics when he won the Carmarthen by-election in 1966 to become the
first ever Plaid Cymru MP. The seat was lost to Labour in 1970 but regained
from 1974 until 1979, along with two that have remained Plaid ever since.
In 1980, when the government said they were not going to keep their promise
to establish a Welsh language television service, Gwynfor’s willingness to
fast to the end was the most prominent part of the national campaign to
restore the policy of providing the Welsh service and it was probably
decisive in the success of the campaign for S4C. The success in turn marked
the start of the national recovery after the defeats of 1979 – the
devolution referendum and the election by the English of the right-wing
Thatcher government. Over 2000 attended the funeral in Aberystwyth including
past and present leaders of Plaid, Winnie Ewing of the SNP, and
representatives of other parts of the national movement.
Gwynfor was the President of the
Celtic League for the first ten years of its existence and his work helped
to secure the League’s recognition.
A campaign has started, supported by
Plaid MPs, for the new politics building under construction at the
University of Wales, Aberystwyth, to be named the ‘Gwynfor’ Building.