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Wireless at the National Eisteddfod

The last segment of our 2002 Trip to Wales took place at a very special time and event in Wales. And our Wireless contributed to it.

It was the 2002 National Eisteddfod - a festival with competitive presentations and awards fro excellence in literature, music, and arts. It exists to safeguard and promote the Welsh language and traditions.

The first Eisteddfod was held in the year 1176, and put on by Lord Rhys at his new Castle at Cardigan. By 1860 it spawned the National Eisteddfod which was to be held for a full week with expected daily attendence of at least 20,000.

It is put on in a different place - alternating between North Wales and South. 2002 the site chosen was Saint David's the westernmost community which was the site of the earliest Christianity in Wales. The monk St David lived in the 600's

St Davids Church -

 

See a brief Video of the outside of this Historic Cathedral, just click here

 

Visit to StDavids

 

 

Inside the Castle Like Church

 

Much of the festival celebrates the druidish culture which was so seminal in Wales that both Julius Ceasar and Tactitus - the third Century knew that the Druids were the guardians of the Celtic Welsh culture even before the Romans invaded Britain.

The Festival was the perfect place for the Welsh Digitol College to demonstrate wireless which could blanket the entire large and sprawling grounds with their tents and outdoor activites so that attendees who had personal computers with wireless radios could communicate from anywhere in the venue.

The Big Tent

The first thing that was done when we, and Elen Rhys Digital College Crew arrived, was to erect on the very top mast of the Biggest Tent, within which most of the large audience events take place, a 3 5 foot antenna, whose copper clad wire then went down into where the Wireless Access Point, with power, was. That of course was then over cable connected into an outside wired Internet line that was installed by British Telecom.

The radio's antenna was high enough to be seen - line of sight - by anyone walking around out side on the festival grounds. And since most of the structures were tents of various sizes - the wi-fi signal easily penetrated all of them. So as long as a person carrying a laptop computer, had a blade-like Cisco-type (Aeronet) radio with stubby rounded antenna in the PC Card slot in it - which at that time cost about $75 - they could connect to the Internet, and thus their email, or web sites, or whatever else was out there.

 

Me, Elen, and part of the crew looking at my laptop screen, connected wirelessly through the antenna on the top of the big tent to the net. Ironically the tethered baloon in the sky above us belonged to British Telecom. Everyone said they were probably spying on us. Ha

 

And inside the tents Euryn Ogwen tried out his laptop, which worked just fine.

Euryn demonstrating inside An Indoor Display, Wirelessly connected

 

The Festival Itself

 

The Gorsed in Druid Costume The Harp is the Welsh favorite instrument

 

This is the Archbishop of Canterbury - Episcopal Church of England! Dressed as a Druid Priest at Eisteddfod! The first Welsh-Born Archbishop of the Church of England in 700 years

Here again is the Archbishop with other Eistedsfod Druids. Rebecca was thrilled when he passed close by her during the festivities.

His participation caused a flap in England. Ha Ha Ha.

 

We who were demonstrating the wireless in many places and made a number of presentations, such as to the Press - which began to get it, stayed in places just off the Eisteddfod grounds. But even through the masonry walls of old buildings the wireless signal could be used. As Elen saw, as the below picture shows.

 

 

And Off for Home

So my third trip to Wales came to an end. But not before I was able to have one last meeting in Cardiff with Mary Roberts, like Anne Benwell - a distant cousin to we America Hughes. She took the train all the way from Cambridge, England, just to meet us the last evening in Cardiff. Here is her picture and a picture of a ring that came down from my great grandmother, with the Welsh word "NAIN" which means 'Grandmother'. It is going to Mary's own daughter. But we saw it.

 

   

 

So we returned home, having done all we could to teach the Welsh people how they could use the most advanced technologies to improve their lot in life, and learn Welsh.

While I can't say we started everyone in Wales using wireless, we DID, according to Euryn Ogwen years later, so rattle and convince mighty British Telecom - BT - to do what they said they could not go for a very long time, start building out broadband Internet services for the entire country including rural Wales. 

And via my three trips to Wales, I found the land and Welsh ancestry lineage of the Hughes Family, which all my decendents now know and can appreciate

 

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