Richard G. Jenkin: A Great Son Of Cornwall
Mab Meur A Gernow
(1925 – 2002)
From the 1950’s through the 1990’s, Richard Jenkin was at the very centre of Cornish cultural and political life and an important figure in the revival of Cornish consciousness. Chair of Mebyon Kernow – The Sons Of Cornwall, twice Grand Bard of Gorsedh Kernow, President of the International Celtic Congress, and President of the Federation of Old Cornwall Societies, he was also a writer, editor, poet, preacher and speaker, and tireless champion of the Cornish language.
The following extract is from a chapter of the book, ‘Richard G. Jenkin: A Great Son Of Cornwall’ and will resonate with as many Cornish patriots today as it did in 1964, maybe more so considering the forthcoming May election:
Breathing The Fire Of Cornish Patriotism
One of Richard Jenkin’s most cogent analyses of Cornish Nationalism and its place within a wider framework, ‘Nations and Nationalism Today’, appeard in the first issue of the redesigned New Cornwall in January 1964.
For Harri Webb, editor of Plaid Cymru’s The Welsh Nation, its ‘sentitive analysis’ of the subject could not have been bettered. Over the next decade, Richard would continue to write articles which explored the twin themes of Cornish identity and individual freedom.
During this period the idea of regionalism became popular in the political arena and beyond, and was challenged by him in such editorials and articles as ‘Regionalism and Cornwall’, “Thou Shalt Not Covet’, ‘Unite and Unite’ and ‘Creeping regionalisation’.
The regional idea was only of value, he thought, if true devolution of power was considered, as opposed to what he called ‘administrative devolution’ which was seen by some politicians as a means of escaping responsibility by granting the appearance of local control while withholding the reality of power.
‘Cornwall,’ he concluded, ‘has shared many experiences with England, some pleasant, others unpleasant, but Cornwall originated in a different tradition from that of England and after a thousand years the Cornish community is still determined to remain Cornish. To be amalgamated with English territory makes Cornwall less able to be herself. There must certainly be co-operation, but equal co-operation preserves identity while merging destroys it.
Cornwall must refuse or resist anything which does not leave her identity intact or allow her people to follow their destiny in their own way. Cornwall is the territory of a nation and Cornwall is the only ‘Region’ for the Cornish’
It would go some way in acknowledging the great man if those 73,200 people who stated that they have a Cornish national identity, and all those who share an affinity with Cornwall, would give their support and vote Mebyon Kernow on May 7th.
The book Richard G. Jenkin: A Great Son Of Cornwall, was produced in association with Gorsedh Kernow and with funding from a number of other organisations.