Penzance man helps Australians keep in touch with their Cornish cousins
7:00am Sunday 16th December 2012 in News
A Penzance man has travelled across the world to talk to Australian Cornish descendants on the best way to keep in touch with their Cornish cousins.
Journalist Nigel Pengelly was invited as a guest speaker at the Cornish Cultural Celebration at Shoalhaven, New South Wales, to lecture on Cornish Communications in the 21st Century.
The Cornish Cultural Celebration saw more than 150 participants travel from all over ‘the land of plenty’ representing five Australian Cornish associations. The celebration took the form of lectures and discussions, a Bardic ceremony, a Celtic music and dinner event and a whale-watching trip.
Nigel said: “Shoalhaven is about 80 miles west of Sydney on the coast, near Jervis Bay – which is said to have the whitest sand in the world.
“The attendees shared a passion for Cornwall and saw themselves as much Cornish as they are Australian. They also knew a lot of the local news from Cornwall.”
The cultural celebration was held at the University of Wollongong over a weekend and featured talks and presentations, with a strong slant towards Cornish family history and ancestry.
Nigel added: “One thing I noticed straight away is that the Australian Cornish, even those whose ancestors came over in the 1800s, shared the same dry sense of Cornish humour.”
Terry Johnson, of South Australia, led a ceremony of bards of the Cornish Gorseth, the 26th such assembly in Australia. Local MP and Mayor of Shoalhaven City Council Joanna Gash welcomed the bards and thanked them for choosing Shoalhaven as the venue for the Cornish Cultural Celebration. To harp music, the bards applauded the flower dance performed by local children and the Lady of the Southern Land presented a basket of local fruit and flowers such as Waratah, Bottlebrush and Wattle.
Julie Wheeler, of the Cornish Association of New South Wales, was inducted into the Gorseth after accepting her invitation to be a bard at the celebration.
The celebration concluded with a pasty supper with performances from a Cornish choir, Manx and Welsh dancers, an Irish harpist, Scottish pipes a dance and an aboriginal didgeridoo player.
Nigel spent two days in Sydney staying with Rob and Gemma Flack and Charlie Demko, al formerly of Penzance. Rob works for a solar panel installation firm in Sydney, Gemma is a nurse while Charlie works as a subeditor at the Sydney Morning Herald.