Patagonian choir explore their Flintshire roots

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Staff reporter

A Patagonian ladies’ choir will be walking in the footsteps of their ancestors on a visit to the region this week.

The choir from Argentina’s remote southern province will celebrate the cultural links between Patagonia and Cilcain, the home of one of the main founders of the 19th century Patagonian Welsh Colony Venture.

Cor Cilcain’s former chairman and co-ordinator of the Patagonian visit to North Wales, retired Wrexham headteacher Edward Williams, says choir members are looking forward to joining their Patagonian friends for a joint concert at the village chapel.

He said: “The Patagonian ladies, from the Gaiman Music School, have arrived in Wales and are touring for three weeks.

“The choir members will be staying with friends and family members of Cor Cilcain and we are delighted to be holding a joint concert at Cilcain Chapel at 8pm on
Friday, July 23, the evening after the choir arrives.”

The concert is being supported with £800 of funding given by the rural regeneration agency Cadwyn Clwyd through their Flintshire Cultural Celebrations Project, financed as part of the Rural Development Plan for Wales 2007-2013 through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Assembly Government.

Project officer Andrew Redfern said: “While the concert at Cilcain Chapel is just part of the visit it is very important because it reinforces the link between the Welsh colony in Patagonia and this part of Flintshire.

“It also emphasises the mutual bond of Welsh choir music and is an opportunity to celebrate the cultural ties that remain between Wales and this area of Argentina.”

The Patagonian ladies will also have the opportunity to learn something of the history of one of the first Welsh Patagonian pioneers.

Mr Williams said: “Edwin Cynrig Roberts was born at Y Bryn, Cilcain, in 1838. He left the village as a young man intent on setting up a Welsh community outside Wales.

“Initially he went to Wisconsin in the US before finally making his way to Patagonia and it was there that the Welsh Colony Venture took root.

“Mind, they couldn’t have chosen a more difficult and inhospitable place. Patagonia, without today’s technology and machinery, was a very harsh place to set up home.”

He added: “The first group of 150 pioneers to leave Wales for Patagonia, following in the footsteps of Edwin Cynrig Roberts and his compatriots, left Liverpool on May 28, 1865, on board a ship called the Mimosa.

“We will be taking the ladies to visit Y Bryn, Cilcain and also Liverpool where we can show them a model of the Mimosa and take the ferry across the River Mersey to show them the port from where the Welsh pioneers set sail for Argentina.

“But I suspect many of the ladies are just as excited about visiting Liverpool because of their love of the Beatles as they are about learning where and how their forefathers came to leave Wales for Patagonia.”

Tickets for the concert are available from any Cor Cilcain committee member or from the village chapel.

Anyone interested in Cadwyn Clwyd’s Flintshire Cultural Celebrations Project can contact Andrew Redfern on 01824 705802 or email andrew.redfern@cadwynclwyd.co.uk

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