Video letter from Montgomery council 'viral' in Hungary

Published
media captionBalint Brunner explains why some Hungarians want to learn Welsh

A video showcasing a small Welsh town has become a "viral hit" in Hungary.

Montgomery, Powys, has literary links with Hungary - from the poet János Arany's 160-year-old ballad, The Bards of Wales, which many Hungarian children learn to sing at school.

More than 30 Hungarians created a video letter to Wales called "Let's build bridges".

Wales' love letter in return has been viewed more than half a million times and featured on Hungarian TV and radio.

The video featured pupils from Montgomery Church in Wales primary school, previous mayors and current mayor Haydn Andrew, councillors and business owners - some with song, while others learned some Hungarian for the occasion.

image copyrightGeograph / Fabian Musto
image captionThe Bards of Wales is a poem set in Montgomery Castle

Jill Kibble, from Montgomery town council, said: "Montgomery has an intriguing connection with Hungary, and it's wonderful to know that many generations of Hungarians have learnt the name of our little town at school.

"When we found out about Magyar Cymru's delightful video message to Wales over the summer, we knew we had to respond. So, despite the challenging times, our video project was conceived, to share our beautiful little town of Montgomery with the people of Hungary."

The Hungarian video, by cultural initiative Magyar Cymru, was made in the village of Kunágota, which was branded the country's "Welshest" village due to the tradition of hosting Welsh-Hungarian concerts.

It featured children from Kunágota, opera and folk singers and educators.

image copyrightMagyar Cymru
image caption"Let's build bridges" is described as a love letter to Wales

Magyar Cymru founder Balint Brunner, who coordinated Hungary's video, said: "Thanks to this famous ballad, Montgomery is perhaps better known in Hungary than Cardiff or any other Welsh city.

"However, we were very surprised and delighted to learn just how much locals value their links to far-away Hungary.

image copyrightMontgomery town council
image captionThere will also be a permanent plaque to honour poet János Arany

"Montgomery's video has become a hit in Budapest and beyond, as mainstream media reported on the beautiful gesture.

"We've also received enquiries from various folklore festivals and enthusiasts of the Welsh culture who wanted to help us build further 'bridges' between the town and Hungary."

What is The Bards of Wales poem about?

A Walesi Bardok, The Bards of Wales, tells of their legendary slaughter at a banquet in Montgomery Castle by King Edward I, after they refused to sing his praises as their conqueror.

János Arany wrote the verses after refusing to write a poem celebrating the Emperor of Austria Franz Joseph following a failed revolution in 1848 against the empire.

Prof Robert Evans, Regius Professor of History at the University of Oxford, previously told BBC Wales that Hungary considered itself similar to Wales, as a nation that had suffered oppression.

"The idea that the bards refused King Edward, that was part of the Romantic culture of Britain in the 19th Century," he said.

"It was well known even in Europe but it was picked up by Arany due to [political] circumstances which made it famous."

image copyrightMontgomery town council
image captionMontgomery celebrates Wales' literary links with Hungary

Following the video, Aberystwyth's Hungarian restaurant Paprika offered to treat Montgomery's residents to a "feast of gratitude", with Hungarian specialities set to be delivered to the Powys town.

Other plans to bring Hungarian culture to Montgomery, once coronavirus restrictions ease, include a "Hungarian Day" with young musicians from the Kodály Violin School in Carmarthenshire.

There will also be a permanent plaque to honour poet Arany who was posthumously recognised as a "Freeman of Montgomery" in 2017.

image copyrightMontgomery town council
image captionHungarian day in Montgomery

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