Passport to history; ART PROJECT CELEBRATES EISTEDDFOD HOST TOWN'S PAST.
Byline: ERYL CRUMP Daily Post Chief Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
ALL visitors to the National Eisteddfod will be offered a free passport to "Llanrwst Free Borough".
The passports are part of a diverse art project that celebrates the town's history as an important crossing point between the two kingdoms of Gwynedd.
Other elements of the project include banners depicting Llywelyn the Great, the Agora forum on the Maes, and the name 'Llanrwst' in huge letters on the wooded slopes opposite the town.
Iwan Williams, creative producer of the art project, said: "Passport Officers will be in town and on the Eisteddfod Maes throughout the Eisteddfod week - and a passport will be available to anyone who wishes to become a citizen of the Free Borough of Llanrwst."
The passports focus specifically on the saying Cymru, Lloegr a Llanrwst (Wales, England and Llanrwst) which is thought to be derived from a statement by Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, Llywelyn the Last, acknowledging the town as a Free Independent Borough in 1276.
Even after the fall of Llywelyn, Llanrwst refused to surrender under the thumb of Norman castles and bishops.
The official Freehold coat of arms appeared for the first time in 1350 - and Llywelyn's lions and colors formed the basis of the emblem.
Llanrwst remained a rebel town - two of Owain Glyndwr's main generals, Rhys Gethin and Hywel Coetmor, took refuge in the woods and hills around the town.
In 1946, Llanrwst Town Council applied for a seat at the United Nations board in New York as it was an independent town - and Prime Minister Clement Atlee had to write a letter to the Secretary General at the last minute to say that Llanrwst should be under the British umbrella, rather than having Free Town status.
The saying Cymru, Lloegr a Llanrwst was popularised in the late 1980s by a song of that title by Llanrwst band Y Cyrff.
The Town Council has warmly welcomed the attention to the independence of Llanrwst.
Mayor Huw Prys Jones said: "As there is no record of the removal of that status given to the town by Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, we are pleased to reaffirm it. "This rich history is an inspiration to us today, as such independence of opinion is desperately needed in these turbulent and uncertain times."
Huw Prys Jones added the actions of the new government in London cast a shadow over the festival.
"Looking back at the Eisteddfod's last visit to Llanrwst, we remember 1989 as a year of rejoicing worldwide with the end of the Cold War and the breaking down of borders across Europe following the fall of the Berlin wall.
"This year, 30 years on, anger is about seeing a government intent on building borders and creating new divides on our continent.
"In the face of these prejudices events like the Eisteddfod have a vital role to play in promoting these values," he said.
| Elwed Wyn and Aron Wynne with Llanrwst 'passport' officials Dafydd Pattinson and Llio Alun. Below: the Cymru, Lloegr & Llanrwst sign at the Eisteddfod Maes