Forwarded from Anthony (on Celtic invasion)

Nestor Miguel Gorojovsky gorojovsky at SPAMinea.com.ar
Sat Jun 24 09:04:43 MDT 2000


En relación a RE: Forwarded from Anthony (on Celtic invasion),
el 23 Jun 00, a las 21:08, Julio Fernández Baraibar dijo:

>
> Unfortunately things are not so easy in my country. The land received
> a very important quantity of inmigrants from Wales, who stayed in the
> north region of Patagonia, in Chubut province.

This group came to Argentina (or, better, to Patagonia) in the 1860s.
In those times, Patagonia was no (white-Christian) man's land (res
nullius), and Argentinian sovereignty there was nominal. The migrants
had the idea that Argentina was a loose array of peoples and that
they would easily become an independent New Wales which would more
easily obtain British protection. Things turned out differently.
Their first settlement took place in some seashore caves near what
today is the town of Madryn, quite known now as a touristic center
because of whale sightseeing excursions.  The first years were a
complete disaster, since the settlers had no idea of how to cope with
an environment outrageously different to what they had known in
Wales. They began to starve until one of them, by chance, discovered
that the way to have wheat and food was not to attempt to turn the
desert into a glen, but to develop an irrigation schema some 50 miles
to the South, on the banks of the Lower Chubut river. Gaiman and
Dolavon are the Westernmost towns of this settlement on the Atlantic
coast of Chubut.

The colony then began to thrive, and to expand towards the Andes.
There is even a chain of peaks across the Chilean-Argentinian border,
to the West of the Welsh founded towns of Esquel and Trevelín
(Trewellin), known as Welshmen Ridge (Cordón de los Galeses). They
almost reached the Pacific. In the meantime, General Roca had given
true sense to the formal Argentinian presence in Patagonia, and the
Welsh had to agree to get into the Argentinian community, which, on
the other side, they did with quite gladly; this should be compared
to the situation in Tierra del Fuego, where Rev. Bridges, who used to
put a British Flag in his Anglican Mission, turned the invitation he
received from Governor Lasserre to the foundation ceremony of Ushuaia
into scrap paper (he wrote some lines of his Yaghan-English
dictionary on the back of the invitation; but Tierra del Fuego, then,
was more strategic, indeed, for Britain, than the Chubut River
Valley).

There, for instance, in
> the little town of Gaiman there is a lot of teahouses with extremely
> long names, that sound as "Qwertpoiuyasdfglkjhzxcvmnb" and that it is
> supposed means something in gaelic. There you can eat the famous
> "black cake" and other tasteful cakes with, possibly, the most
> extraordinary tea in the whole Argentina, served by old ladies that,
> by some strange reason, like shakespearian witches.

I don't know if they LIKE the witches, but some of them certainly
look like witches. Which does not deter intelligent passers by from
tasting their delicious and Gargantuan "Welsh teas". These "teas" are
so Mammooth sized, the amount of food that comes with the tea so
Brobdingangian, that I have always wondered if these were not Welsh
Jewish Mothers.

>From the speakers
> you can hear wonderful and delightful choruses, one of the
> specialities of this people. The influence of this is so big in the
> region that the gaelic choruses that use to participate in
> international meetings, are formed not only by descendants of gaelic
> but of very argentinian, spanish, italic people, that sing in a
> language that they don't understand, if somebody can do it.

In fact, the only Eistedfodd outside Wales is celebrated in Trelew,
the main city of the Chubut Valley. It has recently been transformed
into an International Chorus Encounter.

The Chubut Welsh became a middle class of farm owners, who were
rapidly replaced as a ruling class by the large landowners who grew
sheep for export to Britain around 1900/1910.

They have kept Celtic music alive, then, but never gained any
national trascendency. On the other hand, they have remained mostly
in Chubut, rarely migrating to the large towns in the North.

The
> strange in Buenos Aires case is that it is not this kind of people who
> follow the new celtic fashion, but very middle class people from
> diverse origins that nothing have to do with celtic inheritance. One
> of the worst products of this is the attempt of the shopping centers
> to celebrate Halloween. Unfortunately this is more a consequence of
> the "americanization" of the middle class, than of the influence of
> the old and interesting celtic culture. But, I must say, the attempt
> has not been successful. After some years it seems that they have
> finished with the experience.

Moreover, descendants of Irish and of Scots in Buenos Aires are not
members of the lower ranks of society, rather the opposite.




Néstor Miguel Gorojovsky
gorojovsky at inea.com.ar





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