Ben Lake MP's speech at Eisteddfod Ceredigion 2022

Thank you to the Eisteddfod for the honour of being Llywydd Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Ceredigion.  The best Eisteddfod the nation has ever seen... since Eisteddfod Aberystwyth 1992.

It’s an honour to speak on the stage of the Eisteddfod stage here in Tregaron, a historical town, a commercial town, a drovers’ town...and a town close to my heart.

Although a native of Lampeter, I spent the best Saturdays of my youth with my grandmother and grandfather in Llanddewi Brefi. Around the kitchen table, enjoying my grandmothers’ cakes and Bara Brith, my sister, cousin, and myself would enjoy hearing my grandfather’s stories of his time as a policeman in Tregaron, talking about:

  • the town’s characters
  • late nights in the Talbot
  • and of course, the buzz at the farmers’ market.

It would be of no surprise to my grandfather that this year’s Eisteddfod has been great success.  And certainly, he would have expected yesterday’s market to carry on as normal – in spite of the Eisteddfod. But I think he would have found it hard to believe that it was possible to hold the National Eisteddfod of Wales, and Tregaron market, on the same day – without any traffic problems!

This year’s Eisteddfod is visiting a proud rural area, and our history as a community has been steeped in agriculture for centuries. It was nice therefore to see a poster from 1872 advertising the monthly market in Tregaron on the National Library’s stand this week, including details of prizes to be won for stock of a high standard. Farmers from all areas of Wales and beyond have flocked to the town to display and sell their stock, and on the poster, you get a lovely description of the grandeur of the market some hundred years ago by Ioan Mynyw, a Tregaron poet: 

Yn llon i Garon daw Gwyr Llangurig,

Epilwyr, Amaethwyr o’r Amwythig, ...


O Forgannwg fawr ugeiniau - geisiant

Yn gyson ei nwyddau;

Y Brif Ddinas brawf ddoniau,

A mael hon sy’n mawr amlhau.

It would be interesting to hear Ioan Mynyw’s comments on the National Eisteddfod’s visit to his square mile, and his ode to describe this congregation of the best singers, musicians and poets of this land. Because Tregaron was again the talent capital this week, with the best cultural stock being appreciated and recognised.

Now, as we approach the end of the Eisteddfod, I have a confession... I didn’t spend my youth on ‘Steddfod stages, but on the county’s playing fields playing football and rugby...... including fields, that this week, lead you to the car parks. Indeed, it could be said that my competing stock as an Eisteddfotwr is pretty bleak. I have to go the other end of the Teifi Valley to claim any Eisteddfod success... thanks to my mother’s mother, Nannie Castell Newi’, who won the Cerdd Dant solo twice (!) in Eisteddfod Llandybie 1944 and Eisteddfod Penybont 1948. But at least my partner hails from exceptional Eisteddfod stock – thanks again to Castell Newi’ and Capel Iwan lineage.

I am full of admiration to those who have mastered performing.  Huge congratulations to all those who have competed and performed on the various ‘Steddfod platforms and thank you for the treat you have given us this week.

 Thank you to the many people who have worked behind the scenes. It would be impossible to hold such a successful Eisteddfod without the contribution of:

  • The Volunteers and staff
  • The Stewards and the car park staff
  • The instructors... and the judges.

I would like to thank this special band of people, the Eisteddfod community, for ensuring that the Eisteddfod in Ceredigion has been so successful.

It is important to remember the individuals that we lost over the last two years – those who would have loved to be here on the Maes in Eisteddfod Tregaron. They have left a huge void and we remember them all fondly.

Following the dark days of the pandemic, Eisteddfod Ceredigion will remain in the nation's memory for a long time. This was the renaissance of the Eisteddfod community after the previous difficult times, with Ceredigion communities welcoming the nation back to the Eisteddfod. There is hardly a road or lane that hasn’t been decorated with banners or colourful signs in Ceredigion.  The efforts of villages and towns throughout the county to welcome the Eisteddfod has been tremendous. Thank you to the fundraising committees and every individual throughout Ceredigion who has given of their time or money to ensure such a prosperous Eisteddfod.

Yes. The Cardis raised over £450,000.  As one of Ceredigion’s Prifeirdd says:

‘Nid yw dwrn y Cardi’n dynn

Â’i gyfoeth pan fo’r gofyn.’


There is no doubt that people make places, and the Cardis make Ceredigion;  love for their square mile, love for the language, love for the community.  Their witty humour, resilience, and helpful nature, are all integral to the Cardi's character.

Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Ceredigion 2022 will be remembered as a welcoming, rural and intimate eisteddfod, and it’s an honour to be the Llywydd of the special Eisteddfod.

Despite the success of this week, it would be naive to think that rural life is all sweetness and light, or that the Welsh heartlands can be taken for granted. The cost of living crisis, the agriculture industry’s uncertain future, and the housing crisis, is a huge threat to our rural communities and language. We cannot ignore the worrying results of the latest census, showing a significant drop in Ceredigion’s and other counties’ population. Every year rural communities throughout Wales loose tens of people to the larger cities – more often than not – because of the lack of work opportunities. This was one of the main themes of Ceredigion YFC’s powerful show in the Pavilion on Monday evening, and their portrayal of this gradual departure of young people from our areas and rural communities. With such an important message, it is unfortunate that this drama was not broadcast to the whole nation.

Without being over-political this afternoon, I’m convinced that politicians of all parties, in Westminster and in the Senedd, need to listen and better understand our rural communities . The erosion of our rural communities is not inevitable.  There is still strength within our communities, as the Cardis have shown by hosting the Eisteddfod this year and the way that they have welcomed the nation to Tregaron.

The Cardis resilience is proof that it’s not too late to turn the tide, and to act to reinforce the language’s heartlands. But we need investment.  Investment in our transport infrastructure and connectivity.  Investment in affordable housing.  Investment in the local economy.  Investment in the agriculture industry.  Investment in our young people.

By investing in our communities, we can secure a prosperous future for the whole of Wales.  And by investing in our rural communities – our language’s heartland – we can realize the hopeful words on the Tregaron market poster from 1871: 

“Tra mor, tra Brython, oes y byd i’r iaith Gymraeg, ... a marchnad fisol Tregaron.”

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  • Carys Lloyd
    published this page in News 2022-08-12 14:00:51 +0100

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