The 19th Australian Celtic Festival may have honoured the Irish as its 2011 theme but the Cornish in Australia were to the fore in Glen Innes again last weekend (28 April-1 May, 2011).
Situated 915m (3,000 ft) above sea level in the Northern Tablelands of NSW the lovely town of Glen Innes has hosted this pan-celtic festival since the Celtic Council of Australia chose the town as the location of The Australian Standing Stones. This ring array of granite standing stones, carted from the nearby Red Range, stands 3 metres tall looking over the town from a hill nearby.
Friday saw representatives of the CANSW attending the ‘Celtic Nations’ reception hosted by St Joseph’s Catholic School, with some fine entertainment by the school’s choir and musicians, then on the Guardian of the Stones official luncheon (the Cornish having 3 guardians among the dozen) and then the Festival official opening by the Irish Ambassador outside the Town Hall.
After the dawn had been piped in and a short christian service at the Stones, a true Cornish-Australian, the late John Tregurtha, whose contribution to Glen Innes, the Standing Stones, and community service was recognised with the unveiling of a plaque on the large hunk of granite marking the Tregurtha Way pathway up to the Stones.
Saturday morning’s big street parade had a good contingent wearing Cornish tartans and colours, with banners and flags held high, representing CANSW, the Southern Sons of Cornwall (SSOC), South Australia and Queensland. As well, locals with Cornish ancestry or birth joined in, and also our Breton cousins.
Joining the crowds flocking to the Standing Stones where the Festival was in full swing, the Cornish (old and young) were able to meet up with old friends, and mix with our fellow Celts from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Brittany, Isle of Man, and Galicia.
Over the Saturday and Sunday, in beautiful sunny autumn weather they also enjoyed terrific Celtic music and dance. An information tent staffed by the SSOC had many people drop by, interested in their Cornish heritage.
Cornish-Australian, and Glen Innes local Jean Tregurtha was also honoured at a formal dinner with the Triquetra Achievers Award, for her many contributions.
Finally the Cornish gathered for the evocative ‘Cornish Stone’ ceremony, honouring Cornwall as a nation, the Cornish as an ethnic group in Australia, and commemorating the 154th anniversary of the Uprising of 1497. Rousing singing of Hail to the Homeland and Trelawney ended another fine festival.
Cornish Vice Convenor, Celtic Council of Australia
5 May, 2011