Sunday, April 03, 2005

Gruff Rhys, "Epynt"

"Epynt is a mountain in Mid Wales. It’s also about the battle between the Euro (the E in Epynt) and the pound (pynt in Welsh). The conclusion is that it’s better to get rid of money altogether." -- Gruff Rhys, Yr Atal Genhedlaeth

Epynt was taken over by the British Army in 1940, despite protests, without adequate compensation. Epynt, for many, is more than a part of Welsh landscape:
Dafydd Iwan's pacifism/anti-militarism is expressed in songs which concern themselves with peace issues at various spatial scales. 'Awel y Wylfa' ('The breeze of the Wylfa'), written in 1991, laments a number of incursions onto rural Wales, in the form of nuclear power stations and military installations. Specifically, the fourth verse deals with the Epynt mountain area of central Wales. This swathe of Wales' territory has effectively been taken over by the MoD for training purposes and is clearly denoted on O.S. maps as a 'Danger Area'. Dafydd Iwan's song asserts that 'The remains of the tanks are akin to a path of blood in their wake'. Interestingly, the song is written to the Irish melody 'Buachaill an Eirne' -- a connection to which we shall return. A more humorous take on the UK military presence in Wales occurs in 'Cân Serch i Awyren Rhyfel' (Love song to a Warplane) which sarcastically 'serenades' an RAF plane as it flies over the hills of central and north Wales. The song also mentions the agricultural impact, as the noise of the warplanes causes livestock to suffer terminated pregnancies. (Carwyn Fowler, "A Typology of Nationalism in Welsh Folk/Rock Music," Paper presented at PSA [Political Studies Association] Annual Conference, University of Leeds, April 2005, p. 17)
Epynt was "one of the few robust Welsh-speaking strongholds left in Breconshire" (Geraint H. Jenkins, "Terminal Decline? The Welsh Language in the Twentieth Century," North American Journal of Welsh Studies1.2 [Summer 2001]). When the War Office confiscated Epynt, it also occupied 54 Welsh homes, evicting 214 Welsh-speaking people.

During the foot and mouth disease crisis in 2001, the UK government used Epynt as one of the sites where thousands of animal carcasses were burnt in giant pyres, polluting the environment with dioxin:
Britain's blazing foot and mouth pyres are spewing out more deadly pollutants than all the country's factories combined, unpublished official figures indicate.

The Government has admitted that no systematic checks are being made on the pollution, no single body is responsible for controlling it, and no assessment of the health effects have been carried out.

The massive airborne emissions are of dioxins; carcinogens 1,000 times more deadly than arsenic. . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The study estimates that by 5pm on 6 April, by when some 500,000 animals had been destroyed, 63 grams of dioxins had been emitted by the pyres. This compares with some 88 grams released from all of the countries' biggest and most hazardous factories in a year. Officials admit that the total emissions will be much higher.

Dioxins are so toxic that the World Health Organisation recommends that the average-sized person should be exposed to no more than around 30 billionths of a gram of them each year. (Geoffrey Lean, "Animal Slaughters Fallout: Foot and Mouth Pyres Spewing Dioxin," The Independent 22 Apr. 2001)
Gruff Rhys
"Singing in Welsh can be seen as a political act . . . because it's a minority language in danger of dying out unless political action is taken to protect it" (Gruff Rhys, qtd. in Ben Sisario, "The Lyrics Are Perfectly Clear, in Welsh," New York Times 31 Mar. 2005, Photo by Chester Higgins Jr.).

1 comment:

Rhys Wynne said...

Helo there, I'm about to blog about Epynt as the annual service by Cymdeithas y Cymod has just taken place there last weekend.

I'll be linking to this post, so expect your stats counter to go crazy (not really)