‘When Cornishmen cease to recognize the existence of their Celtic heritage then only will their Cornish and therefore Celtic nationality cease’.
Although not requiring ‘official recognition’ to prove the existence of Cornish ethnicity, after centuries of English erosion, the Cornish were finally afforded recognition by the UK government in 2014.
But if this act had the potential for a demand that Cornwall itself should be afforded the same recognition, it didn’t materialise. It seems the Cornish, or at least some of them, remain happy to have their homeland remain under an English administration that allows further assimilation of Cornwall.
Proud to be Cornish
Throughout history, Cornish pride has been reflected in their battles with the English that included taxation, the imposed English language and more recently, Cornish people could be seen protesting against London’s ‘Devonwall’ agenda.
They have also campaigned tirelessly to reclaim their language that won official recognition in 2003 and, as mentioned earlier, campaigned for the recognition of their Cornish ethnicity that was in danger of being completely assimilated into an English identity. These people are ‘proud to be Cornish’ many of whom are invited to become Bards of Gorsedh Kernow, and declare that pride by writing ‘Cornish’ on the UK Census that provides statistical evidence on the proportion of the Cornish population.
The not so proud to be Cornish
However, this pride of being Cornish is not reflected throughout Cornish people. Indeed, Cornish identity may be described as a paradox; a minority within a minority. As already said, there are those who remain passionately Cornish, retaining their Celtic spirit similar to that of their kinfolk in Wales and Scotland, but with others it is more superficial, only appearing at certain times such as Cornwall’s ‘St Piran’s Day’ and rugby matches, then to be to be put away and reverting to an ‘English’ identity.
These so-called ‘English wannabees’ have either knowingly or unknowingly (an English school curriculum fails to include Cornish history) have chosen not to acknowledge their Cornish ethnicity. When speaking of ‘us’ and ‘we’ they are referring not to their fellow Cornish people, but rather to their adopted English neighbours. Having no use for their Cornish identity, no pride in being Cornish, their assimilation into ‘English’ has been complete.
Cornish people who cast aside their identity are effectively making the Cornish minority an even lesser minority, and risk Cornish identity being wiped out altogether.
Our Cornishness must not be treated like a suit or dress to be worn on special occasions. It should a matter of pride and also a personal responsibility that ensures Cornish nationality will survive for future generations.