Tynged yr Iaith, The Welsh Language Society, Broadcasting in Welsh, The Welsh Language Act
Tynged yr Iaith | The Welsh Language Society | Broadcasting
The Welsh Language Act | 'Do Everything in Welsh'

Tynged yr Iaith ('The Fate of the Welsh language')

"Restoring the Welsh language in Wales is nothing less than a revolution. It is only through revolutionary means that we can succeed." This was the defiant message of Saunders Lewis in one of the most important broadcasts in the history of Wales, the BBC Annual Lecture delivered on 13 February 1962.

The Text of the lecture (in Welsh)

Saunders Lewis (19K)
  Tynged yr Iaith - sound file
Saunders Lewis was a former President of Plaid Cymru but he had not been involved in political campaigning for years, concentrating instead on his literary activities. His lecture had a dramatic effect.

Saunders Lewis called on the people of Wales to refuse to complete forms, pay taxes or licenses if it was not possible to do so through the medium of Welsh. In his opinion, campaigners had to be willing to pay fines and to face prison sentences for their beliefs.

Although the number of Welsh speakers was falling, he proclaimed that the Welsh language could be saved.

Campaign to promote theWelsh language in post offices (23K)

The Welsh Language Society

Saunders Lewis's lecture led to the foundation of the Welsh Language Society, (Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg), and to a period of campaigning for the rights of the Welsh language.

Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg leaflet (32K)
Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg's first protest (24K) The Society was founded on 4 August 1962 during a Plaid Cymru summer school in Pontarddulais. The first mass protest was held in February 1963, when students from Aberystwyth and Bangor Universities blocked the traffic on Trefechan bridge, Aberystwyth.
During the 1960s and 1970s similar non-violent protests followed and campaigners were fined or imprisoned. Among them was Dafydd Iwan, the popular Welsh singer. Protest supporting Dafydd Iwan, 1971 (51K)
Protest supporting Dafydd Iwan - 1971 (29K) Some concessions were won from the government, including the 1967 Language Act and some public bodies produced bilingual forms.
During the same period, English only road signs across Wales were painted or damaged by supporters of the Society and the principle of displaying bilingual signs in Wales was established following this campaign.


At the beginning of the 1970s the Society began to campaign for a Welsh language radio and television service.

Burning TV licences in Bangor, 1971 (49K)
Dafydd Iwan in Llanelwy (37K) Some protesters refused to buy television licenses and others climbed up television masts and invaded television studios.
Pressure mounted on the broadcasting authorities to offer a Welsh language service, and in 1977 Radio Cymru was established by the BBC. Welsh TV channel for Wales campaign. (78K)
Poster (28K) There were plans to establish a separate television channel for Welsh language programmes, but the Conservative government announced in 1979 that it would not keep its election promise on this issue.
Gwynfor Evans (formerly President of Plaid Cymru) announced that he would start fasting if the government did not honour its promise of a Welsh television channel. His decision caused an outcry and it was feared that violent protests would follow. Justice! (14K)
Welsh TV channel campaign (36K) In the end, the government had to surrendered to the pressure, and in September 1980 it was announced that Welsh television programmes would be broadcast on the new fourth channel. The fourth channel for Wales, Sianel Pedwar Cymru (S4C), was launched in 1982.

Welsh Language Act

The 1967 Language Act did not satisfy the requirements of the campaigners for the Welsh language and in 1982, following the publication of the Welsh Language Society's Manifesto, the campaign for a new comprehensive Welsh Language Act began.


Ymgyrch Ddeddf Iaith Newydd
Rali Ddeddf Iaith Newydd
After a long period of campaigning, Parliament passed a new Welsh Language Act in October 1993. The Act specified that a statutory board would be established to promote the use of the Welsh language and placed public bodies under an obligation to prepare language plans demonstrating how they would give proper consideration to the Welsh language. But this Act was criticised by the Welsh Language Society who claimed it was 'toothless and useless'.


'Do everything through the Welsh language'.

Before the 1960s the Welsh language tended to be the language of the home and the chapel and was little used in other circles. With the revival of interest in the Welsh language and the campaigning on its behalf, there was an increase in the number of movements, societies and even businesses that used the Welsh language. There was an increase in the publication of Welsh books and dozens of community newspapers (papurau bro) were established across Wales.

The Welsh language was used increasingly in public life and the National Assembly for Wales, which was established in 1999, was organised to function bilingually.

Welsh Language Society, Educational Campaigns, Language Petition
Tynged yr Iaith, The Welsh Language Society, Broadcasting, The Welsh Language Act

Top of this page Ymgyrchu! Home Page
Espanol This page Y dudalen hon yn Gymraeg Up a level Time Line Ymgyrchu! Ymgyrchu! Home Page Search Ymgyrchu! Site Map National Library of Wales