Friday, September 16, 2011


Eleven months ago, like people all over the world, I sat in front of my television and held my breath as the Chilean miners were rescued.  Today I held my breath again as events unfolded in a mining community in my own country but sadly the outcome was not the one we all hoped for and four Welsh miners died at the Gleision Mine in the Swansea Valley.  You can read the background to the story on my friend Jan's blog.

When you are an emigrant and tragedy strikes in your homeland, it affects you in a very deep way which I cannot quite explain:  perhaps it is because part of you is, and always will be, still there and also because you are so familiar with the place and its people that you instinctively know how they will react. 

Then there are the memories:  Wales, of course, is no stranger to mining disasters and I had a grandfather who had been a miner and told me many stories of these.  The Aberfan disaster of 1966 - caused by deposits of mining debris and doubly cruel because most of the victims were children - changed my life and caused me to question the existence of a loving God at a time when doubts had already surfaced in my mind because of my reading of the French existentialists.

Whether the loss of life be large or small, a tragedy is still a tragedy for those involved and tonight my heart goes out to the families and friends of those who have died.

I do not think it is a coincidence that I have come to live in another land of tight-knit communities where there is a history of mining, in this case, for sulphur.  Many children were forced to work in appalling conditions in  Sicily's sulphur mines in the nineteenth century and the word caruso, a dialect term for "boy",  came to signify a male under fifteen years of age who did this kind of work.

Memories are long in Sicily and the people of South Wales may be sure that the thoughts of Sicilians, like the thoughts of this "Welsh-Sicilian", are with them tonight.

Ar Hyd y Nos - All Through the Night [Welsh folk song]


Rosaria Williams said...

A very tragic event, sad and heart wrenching.
Being far from your homeland compounds the sadness when you hear these tragedies. My thoughts are with you on this day.

CherryPie said...

A lovely tribute to a sad tragedy.

Jan's post is moving too.

Liz also has a tribute on her blog.

Touching many hearts xx

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

A very moving tribute, Pat. Tragic and very sad for the lives lost and for those left behind. Thinking of you xx

Liz Hinds said...

Ah, we chose the same song!

LindyLouMac said...

I immediately thought of you and your Welsh roots when I heard of this latest terrible tragedy, an apt post, thankyou Pat.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

I know that you understand and thank you, Rosaria. Thanks, Cherie. I will look at Liz's blog now. Thanks, Anne. You are very kind. Hi, Liz. I know that you will have been deeply affected too. Thanks, LindyLouMac. I appreciate your kind thoughts.

Patricia said...

What a tragedy and a tribute to the ties that bind!


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