Hands Off Wales: Nationhood and Militancy

Wyn Thomas, Author, Historian, Musician, Folk Music, Chalybeate SpringIn February 2013, Hands Off Wales: Nationhood and Militancy was published by Gwasg Gomer.  A comprehensive study and described by Dr John Davies, one of Wales’ most renowned and celebrated historians, as ‘the established history of the Tryweryn and anti-investiture campaigns’.  Hands Off Wales addresses the campaign of militancy which Wales witnessed in the 1960s and which was predominantly undertaken by Mudiad Amddiffyn Cymru.  While the publicity orientated campaign of the Free Wales Army is also afforded significant attention, the more militant and audacious campaign of MAC and its position within the pantheon of global terrorism is primarily addressed – as is the phenomenon and rise of international terrorism.

Whether through accident or design, this enigmatic and turbulent period in the nation’s history has been largely overlooked by historians and cultural commentators.  For the first time, Hands Off Wales addressed the events which for too long have been met with analytical indifference.  The importance of the subject, its illegality, and the myths which encompass much of the detail, demand that the topic is closely examined; while full attention to the motives and thinking of those routinely dismissed by contemporaries and historians as ‘terrorists’ is paid.  This, many believe, is the definitive work; and as such, it gets as close to the ‘truth’ as anything previously compiled.

Throughout Welsh history’s often troubled passage, when the death knell for Welsh nationhood has apparently sounded, patriotism has re-emerged to challenge and protect.  Time and again, that mysterious allure has brought men and women to the fore, all united in the moral cause to safeguard that which defines the Welsh nation.  And so, it was in the 1960s, that same inexplicable force led men to lay explosives in the name of Welsh cultural identity; despite appalling risk, to both themselves and to others.  In writing Hands Off Wales, I believed that it was time that these events were given their rightful place within the rich, lurid pages of Welsh historical writing.

John Jenkins: The Reluctant Revolutionary?

In June 2019, to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the Royal Investiture, my biography of John Jenkins, the former director general of Mudiad Amddiffyn Cymru, was published by y Lolfa.  Entitled, John Jenkins: The Reluctant Revolutionary? the biography is regarded by Jenkins as ‘a warts-and-all account of my life’.  The book is based on 15 years of interviews and took two-and-a-half years to write-up.  But my interviews were not restricted to John Jenkins.  I also interviewed former police, politicians, the military, the judiciary and a world-renowned child psychologist; so too, former members of MAC and their families.  I did so, in order to ascertain a broader understanding of the matters under review.  Nevertheless, as a consequence of this 15 years of extensive contact between me and John, it has been suggested that I know John Jenkins better than anybody – and certainly with regards his orchestration of the militancy as exercised by Mudiad Amddiffyn Cymru.  Throughout the period of my somewhat exhaustive research, and most notably in the 2 years prior to completing the book, I was informed of many fascinating facts: both in relation to those factors which formed John Jenkins’ character, but also the MAC protest – which until the publication of John Jenkins: The Reluctant Revolutionary? was completely outside the public domain.  The result, I have been informed, is a fascinating and highly engaging account of Jenkins’ life, which in its meticulous attention to detail, finally throws light on the enigmatic and complex John Barnard Jenkins and the 1960s militant campaign by MAC that he so effectively led.

Tryweryn: New Dawn?

In winter 2020, to coincide with the 55th anniversary of the opening of Llyn Celyn, it is expected that my third title, Tryweryn: New Dawn? will be published by y Lolfa.  I am currently writing the manuscript; and as a consequence of discussions with historians and cultural commentators, I am let to believe that this will be the definitive account of the ‘Tryweryn’ story.  In unprecedented detail, Tryweryn: New Dawn? addresses the judicial journey of the Tryweryn Reservoir Bill.  But it also highlights the impact that the construction of Llyn Celyn had on those directly affected and the political concessions to Wales, which, some believe, were subsequently afforded the Welsh nation as a result of the valley’s controversial flooding.