We are now coming to the time of year when a lot of Jersey folk are mumbling to themselves in the course of learning a poem, or dialogue for the Jersey evenings at the Eisteddfod, which were introduced for Jèrriais competitors in 1912.
The first evenings were held in the month of October and were very well supported. The first adjudicator was Arthur Balleine, the benefactor of Le Don Balleine. Undoubtedly his wide-ranging interest in Jèrriais was the reason why he left on his death a large amount of money so as to help preserve the Jersey language for future generations. The legacy was used to create the "Don Balleine Trust" and even to this day the Trust concerns itself with the publication of books and other works en Jèrriais.
Eisteddfod recitations 1939
The Jersey evenings continued to be well supported but were held in abeyance during the First World War and did not start again until 1921. My first recitation was 70 years ago, and I recall the competitions being held in St. Helier Parish Hall, and then later on when I used to take part in the French sessions, they too were held in the same hall. I recall that they used to take place on Saturday mornings, no doubt to prevent the youngsters from missing school!
Eisteddfod recitations 1949
I do not know for how long this continued but during the Second World War, and also because of the Occupation, the Eisteddfod was completely abolished and did not start again before 1946. It was then that the Jèrriais evenings started to be held at Springfield and there was a lot of fun and enthusiasm in the years to come.
Eisteddfod recitations 1956
There were many children both large and small who participated, like my daughter, the three Le Maistre brothers, Françouais, Douard and Jean, the Syvret brothers, Ken, Ted and John and their sister Ruth Ann, Doreen De La Haye, Michael Lucas and many others. It is a great pity that the majority of them have lost interest, because we need them to replace the older generation like me.
Eisteddfod recitations 1960
It is a blessing that the students at the evening classes support us as they do and it gives me great pleasure to have Douard Syvret and Françouais Le Maistre to help as adjudicators from time to time. I understand that there are some youngsters who have entered into the competition this year and one must hope that there will be more of them in time to come, especially as Jèrriais is now taught in the schools.
Without doubt we are again going to miss Joan Tapley this year. She used to work so hard when she took her evening classes. We must hope that it will not be before long before we see her on the stage once more.
This year the competitions will be held at La Salle Publique de St. Martin, which is so well-suited, on Monday and Tuesday 22 and 23 November 1999.
Eisteddfod programme 1997
We hope to see you there and that the evenings will be a sell out.
ALP traduit par JRD
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