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First Minister visits Eisteddfod birthplace

First Minister Carwyn Jones: Enjoying the day’s performances
First Minister Carwyn Jones: Enjoying the day’s performances

CARDIGAN CASTLE, birthplace of the Eisteddfod – Wales’ iconic cultural festival – once again saw its mighty walls filled with the sounds of traditional music and literature, as the Castle played host to a celebratory concert l on Thursday (Jun 25) .

The first concert to be staged on the lawns of the recently opened Castle, Beirdd a Chantorion brought together west Wales’ finest poets and musicians, marking the completion of the 900 year-old site’s new dedicated Eisteddfod exhibition.

Earlier in the day, the Castle’s funders were joined by the First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, for their first tour of the site since the £12m restoration project ended in April.

The Castle’s restoration was made possible thanks to a £6.2m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and £4.3m from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through Welsh Government.

Further funding was received through a Communities Asset Transfer grant of nearly £800,000, with support from Cadw – the Welsh Government’s historic environment service, Big Lottery Fund, The UK Association of Preservation Trusts, The Architectural Heritage Fund, Ceredigion County Council, Cardigan Town Council and The Prince’s Regeneration Trust.

Cris Tomos, Castle Director, said: “2015 is truly a year of celebration for Cardigan Castle, and Beirdd a Chantorion was the perfect way to mark the completion of the world’s first dedicated Eisteddfod exhibition and commemorate the rebirth of this amazing sit e.”

First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones said: “Cardigan Castle is one of Wales’s most iconic castles due to its history, setting and importance to the local community and more widely to Wales. I am delighted that the Welsh Government, through Cadw, has provided support and funding to the Cadwgan Trust on its rewarding journey in restoring and conserving the castle. It is also pleasing that EU funds of over £4 million have helped towards the development of a sustainable heritage attraction and multi-functional cultural, community and learning resource which will attract visitors, create jobs and bring wider economic benefit to the town and surrounding area. I wish Cardigan Castle and all those associated with it every success for the future.”

Ted Sangster, Interim Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund Committee for Wales, said: “We’re thrilled to finally see this historic Welsh building opening its doors to the public once again, marking a new chapter in its colourful history.

“Thanks to National Lottery players, we have supported this project as part of our ongoing investment in heritage based tourism for the benefit of local people and Wales’ economy. This project really demonstrates the value of investing in heritage and provides an opportunity for us all to find out more about our Welsh heritage, creates new opportunities for people to volunteer and learn new skills and at the same time, brings investment into the local economy. We are thrilled to see years of hard work come to fruition.”

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of The Prince’s Regeneration Trust (PRT), added: “We are delighted that Cardigan Castle is finally opening its doors to the public following a successful restoration that has been more than 15 years in the mak ing.

“This has been one of Wales’ most important heritage regeneration projects and we feel very privileged that we played a part in helping it to bring it to fruition.

“PRT has worked with Ceredigion County Council and the Cadwgan Building Preservation Trust on the project since 2004. We contributed very significant support which has helped deliver their vision of the Castle becoming a major visitor destination that could transform the town’s economy.

“The Castle opened in April, and we are thrilled that this ambition is well on its way to becoming a reality.”

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Dayne Stone

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