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Last Updated: Friday, 1 October, 2004, 21:00 GMT 22:00 UK
Is Cymru still cool?
Flag dress
Shirley Bassey's flag dress captured the mood of the nation
Five years since the Rugby World Cup put the seal on Wales' new confidence, the BBC news website asks: Is Cymru still cool?

It is hard to believe it is five years to the day since Shirley Bassey's dazzling red dragon dress was unleashed upon an unsuspecting world.

Back on 1 October 1999, the new Millennium Stadium in Cardiff was packed as hosts Wales beat Argentina in the first match of rugby's world cup.

Wales was a nation on the up, with a growing sense of Cool Cymru everywhere you turned.

The Manic Street Preachers, Catatonia and the Stereophonics were in their prime, racing up the charts and booming out of stereos all over the UK.

And in Cardiff Bay, the first Welsh assembly had just opened its doors, giving Wales a political status never before experienced.

Five years on, and the nation's biggest sporting heroes kick a round ball not an egg-shaped one.

And, with Catatonia's Cerys now playing country and western, it is rappers Goldie Lookin' Chain making the music headlines.

We asked: "Do you think Cymru is still cool? Or was it ever?"

And "Do you think the nation has changed in the last five years? If so, has it got better or worse?"

This Have Your Say is now closed, but thank you for your contributions. Below is a representative balance of the views received.


I am always singing the praises of what Wales has to offer, we have beautiful mountains, fabulous beaches, culture & history.
jacqueline hardwicke, san diego us

I have lived and worked in the US for 8 years, but I make it back to Wales as often as possible so I don¿t forget my roots, or lose my accent. Explaining to Americans where Wales is, how beautiful the country is and how rugby differs from American football, is all part of the fun, and definitely adds to the coolness.
Jon Pain, Maryland (formerly of Pencoed)

Ricky was spot on with the comment about the land calling to you. 'If you were born there, but now live outside Wales, you will know what I mean.' - never a truer phrase has been spoken.
Steve Harris, Victoria, B.C., Canada

Cymru am byth! Wales is "cool" because all who have the blessing of having known time in Wales is forever changed. I have been around people from all over the world and there are NONE as dynamic, spirited, attrative, bold as the Welsh. The three years I spent in Wales forever changed my life. Everyday I long for Wales and the people there - and I definitely wouldn't waste my time on something that wasn't "cool" as you put it. Another poster put it perfectly "hiraeth"
Lelia , Ohio, USA

Yes, Cymru is still cool! When I came first as a stranger I knew nothing about Cymru, but I learned alot about your culture and yr hen iaith! And I know what hiraeth is and that brings me back every year. You Cymry are special people. Friendly with a Calon Lân. I love your songs and your old language, which is one of the oldest in Europe! And so you are still cool, because RYDYCH CHI'N YMA O HYD!!
Michael, Germany

I really do not know if I would use the word cool, but myself and 14 other close friends who also live in Canada were back at the stadium that day. And no-one can ever take away the feelings and pride we all felt about being Welsh. I am originally from Porthcawl, and for those who don't know, that is in Wales. There is not a day goes by that I do not miss it and all the wonderful people who create it. Like others who have written in, I have travelled, and if the opportunity arose for me to have the standard of living at home like I do here, I am 100% sure of where my decision would take me.
Steve Power, Toronto Canada

Reading all of the comments in this page so far (and they are many) has been utterly depressing. Welsh people are not "oppressed" in any way. You may think you're the overlooked members of the UK but that's down to your not shouting loud enough (and your election of an ineffectual assembly). People haven't heard of you because you don't get out there and tell them, you stay in Wales with your dreams of having music in your heart and beauty in your soul, or whatever the nauseating statement was. The Little Englander mentality has never been more alive than it is in Wales.
Sophie, London (formerly of Swansea)

Wales is not cool! Why? Because Wales hasn't made a name for itself on the global stage, this is mainly due to the lack of Welsh enthusiasm for success. The Welsh don't like successful people. Look at Terry Matthews, the guy invested over £100 million in the Celtic Manor which has managed to secure a world-class golf tournament. The Welsh decide that they don't like the Celtic Manor hotel because it is too 'big and ugly'! It says it all!
Rhodri Evans, Cardiff

We don't need the likes of pop bands and sport to give us the identity that we have always had. Wales is a small country with a small population and it's the people that make it special. I would say Wales is one of the most patriotic countries on Earth... with good reason!!!!!
Tony Psarelis, Cardiff, Wales

Who cares what the world thinks? Does it really matter? I live in a brilliant part of the world. Why do you think half of England want to come and live here. Low crime low traffic jams community spirit great beaches, superb Welsh school, restraunts and pubs and a great sense of humour(especially when it comes to sport and politics). I've travelled the world but was drawn back to Pembrokeshire where I was born and bred and it's as good a place as any to raise a family. I don't worry what Tony Blair bangs on about. I am more concerned with local issues. Cymru am byth!!
jez tee, haverfordwest wales

I saw a "Valley Girl" T-shirt being worn by a Spanish girl in a suburb of Madrid last week. Now, that was cool!
Gareth, Madrid, Spain

Hiraeth
Drop, Cardiff

Am a student in Manchester but grew up in Cardiff. Wales is well cool and we are always seen as great people from a great place. We are getting better and need to get behind our stars in football and rugby.
jamie, cardiff, Wales

Born in the USA, I celebrated my 16th birthday on the Gower... I still collect pics of Worm's Head over 20 years later! Cool? Magical is more like it!
Jennifer B., W. Mass, USA

The world over, everyone's heard of England, everyone's heard of Scotland, everyone's heard of Ireland, and no-one's heard of Wales. Cool? Far from it. Wales needs to aim high and achieve higher. And fast! Kerry, Abertawe
Kerry Withington, Swansea, Wales

Wales isn't cool, it doesn't have to be - it's much better than the kitch "cool" image implies.
Allyson, UK

I grew up in Wales and don't think Wales' "coolness" should be dependent upon how many current Welsh bands there are or how well our sporting icons are doing in comparison to "non-Welsh" ones. This mentality is typical of an inward-looking insecure nation. I believe the Welsh are an intelligent and energetic nation with a lot to contribute to society and the wider world. They should just relax and get on with doing this instead of focusing on things that are reactionary, nationalistic or passing fads.
Noj, Oxford

Of course it is. Just look at our fantastic Paralympic team. Well done everyone.
Cath, Cardiff

When wasn't it cool?All my international friends love it there when they visit. Many of my North American colleagues are proud of their Welsh ancestry. I always wanted to leave Wales at the first moment because I found it boring. But when you're actually away from it, you realise that you miss it. That's why I come back as often as I can. In all my 25 years I have never been embarrassed to say I'm Welsh
KA, London, formerly Swansea

Of course Cymru is still cool. Here in Toronto, there's a vibrant Welsh community and we're proud to fly our flag outside our house; it's a great way to meet new neighbours! Living abroad really does give you a great appreciation of how wonderful Wales is, and makes you cherish every moment you get back home; you forget each hour of hiraeth when you're back in the land where you belong. A great sense of pride and close community for us Welsh ex-pats makes Cymru cool in my books any day.
Emily Logan-Williams, Toronto, Ontario (Originally Benllech, Ynys Môn)

I was born in Caerleon and will always regard Cymru as cool. Although 1999 has enhanced Wales' image worldwide for me nothing is better than detailing how glorious life can be like in Caerleon to all my Australian friends. For they say that there is nowhere better than Oz but I tell them there is no other place quite like Wales.
Wayne Bolton, Brisbane Australia

Looking back at that time. The word is "Confidence". Which many Welsh people didn't have in their own identity. When you had so many young Welsh people conquering the world of music and being loud and proud of there Welshness then that energy flowed through the majority of the people of Wales to come out of the closet and say I'm Welsh and I'm proud of it!!!
Carwyn Lloyd Edwards, Phoenix Arizona

The coolest of the cool - Wales is so cool is popping (anyone tried buying a house in the Aber Valley lately will tell you how dang cool we are).
Kerrie Mackey, Washington, D.C. USA

I live in Machynlleth, where not a lot happens, but at least I can walk home late at night and be safe. People always ask "Why don't you move away". I don't want to because I love Wales and am proud to be Welsh
Ceri Jones, Machynlleth Wales

Graham said it right, 'a song in your heart and poetry in your soul'. Cymru always has and always will be cool; although travelling all over the world and having to explain that I'm not from England proves frustrating sometimes. Wales is mostly unheard of, even when pointed out most people think it's a region of England - including a lot of English people. Which part of the Union flag is from Wales? None, because it's just Wales and unimportant - that's the truth and certainly not cool. Des, Portugal
Des, Lisbon, Portugal

Wales is as cool as it has ever been and always will be. We have something that the English don't - a true sense of identity and pride.
Andrew OZ, Cardiff, Wales

Of course Cymru is cool! You just have to be Welsh to appreciate it.
Marc, Lancashire

Born in Wales, lived most of my life abroad and will always be 110% Welsh. Even when living in Hong Kong the Welsh still have a great following. Even on a trip to France had French locals buying me drinks due to the welsh shirt... Is Wales cool, always has been, always will be
Ryan, Cardiff, Wales

We have a long way to go and a great deal of propaganda to accomplish
DWR, Chicago, USA

Over the past five years the portrayal of iconic Welsh symbols, be that of stadium, sports events, celebrities and personalities have all lead to a far wider understanding of Welsh Culture across the UK and the rest of the World. No doubt the assembly has made a relatively small but significant impact on the way in which political decisions impact upon everybodies lives in Wales.
What is vitally important is that we continue to raise and challenge our standards of living and show people the truth about living in Wales - Outstanding beauty, friendly people and a nation that stands as one - yes Cymru is very cool, lets keep it that way.
Russell Davies, The Mumbles

'Cool Cymru' was an embarassment, a phrase dreamed up by tired old hacks in the media too old and out of touch to have ever been cool themselves. Hearing ageing Welsh media types banging on about it was akin to seeing your parents embarass themselves at a wedding disco. It was a media invention and nothing really changed before or since. While some aspects of Welsh culture are slowly improving, Wales is still a visibly paranoid country when compared to our neighbours in the rest of the UK - and while that continues, we will never, sadly, be truly 'cool'.
Mark, Aberystwyth, Wales

Having followed my husband and set up home in Scotland I almost feel like this is home from home. This said, I am proud of my Welsh origins (I'm originally a 'Thomas')and never pass up an opportunity to let people know. Of course Wales is still cool but as many others have said, we just need to stop putting ourselves down. There's a unique beauty that exists not only in the lands but in the pride of the Celts. Lets hold on to that eh?
Liane Mawson, Elgin, Scotland (Originally from Llantwit Major, Vale of Glamorgan)

Wales is definitely cool! If you don't think so, you're just not cool yourself! I'm English but I've lived in Cardiff for four years and I'm definitely having a cool time.
CJ,

I came back to Wales for the RWC in 1999. I wasn't aware that it was a cool time or that we were ever a cool nation. Wales has always suffered from a lack of confidence and poor propaganda when compared to Ireland and Scotland. Both of those nations proudly and often spout they're traditions and heritage - I feel the Welsh do a bad job of this.
Living in the USA as a proud Welshman, I am constantly having to explain where Wales is and who we are. mention Scotland or Ireland and they get it straight away. We have a long way to go and a great deal of propaganda to accomplish. Still proud and still Welsh though.
DWR, Chicago, USA

Jim from Newport has obviously not visited the beautiful Pembrokeshire Coast, try telling me that a glorious sunset over Newgale Sands is second best to anything.... the only good thing about London is the M4 heading west to Wales.
Rugby Mum, Haverfordwest, Wales

Is Wales cool? No - it's pretty chilly.
Stuart, Swansea

Was there a time when it wasn't? We're Welsh, and proud of it.
Jan Cordani, Maryland, USA

Wales is cool and cultured. To be born Welsh is to be born priviledged. Not with a silver spoon in your mouth but with a song in your heart and poetry in your soul. Need we say more.
Graham Barnes, Burlington, Ont. Canada

I came to Wales in 1996 to come to University here (yes I escaped England for Wales). In that time I've seen it develop and grow in confidence.
I was attracted to the bright lights of London but within a year was back in Wales, where the people were more friendly and the pace of life more relaxed. There's a definite good feeling about living in Wales, however perhaps to much money is spent on the capital (although I live there). We shouldn't become complacent and should constantly strive to innovate and push the whole of Wales forward.
Matt, Cardiff

As Rhys Ifans pointed out to an English interviewer when this whole "Cool Cymru" thing took off: "Don't expect us to thank you for calling us cool - Wales has ALWAYS been cool". As for Gavin who "can't wait to leave", it's funny it's always the peope who've never lived elswhere who think Wales is a dump. Us lucky ones make it back and realise our good fortune.
Mark, Ammanford

Of course Wales is cool, its the best country in the UK. I have to work in England a lot of the time, but I prefer to travel there each day. All my colleagues know where I come from and why I wouldn't dream of moving.
Liz Brennan, Cardiff

Was there a time when it wasn't? We're Welsh, and proud of it.
Jan Cordani, Maryland, USA

I was born in Bridgend, but have travelled around the world with work. If I could get an equally paid job in Wales, nothing would stop me from taking it. The people are much friendlier and the land calls to you. If you were born there, but now live outside Wales, you will know what I mean.
Ricky Daniel, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire

To all those who say they can't wait to leave - try the M4. Not difficult. Leave. Wales is a terrific country to live in
Tim Lee, Cardiff Bay

Wales is a great place which is no real shock. However, if we want to keep all our success we need to get some good roads, jobs and places to live. I have just had to move away to find work...and quite frankly I get paid a lot more here but it is not WALES !!
Warren, Bedford, England

It bugs me that people moan about Wales but don't leave - there's nobody stopping them. It also bugs me when people come to Wales and want to make it England. if it's england they want, then let them stay there. Wales is still cool and will always be.
Ian, Machynlleth

The one thing that I find most depressing about Wales (and the UK in general) is the pessimism and lack of vision shown by her people. Wales (and Great Britain) is blessed with an enchanting natural beauty, and endowed with a rich heritage, whilst having the opportunity to be an icon of modernity. The nation is not a 'dump', yet it suffers from a lack of vision for what it could so easily be. We should be proud to be Welsh and British, and should not belittle our current achievements, as constant moaning prevents us from being even better.
David Phillips, Ponty/Cambridge, UK

Cardiff is cool, The A470 goes though the most beautiful countryside in the world, and the prices of houses in North Wales are a joke. Wales cool? It is to me, but to the rest of the world? who cares!
Oli Rhys, Warrington, Cheshire

Cool? Ardderchog is the word I'd use. I couldn't think of living anywhere else.
Catrin, Aberystwyth, Cymru

The Welsh and Scots have one thing in common - we keep putting ourselves down. Wales is a dynamic country with a proud history and unique identity - bring back Glendower!
Neil, Carnoustie, Scotland

Wales is not a good place to live in. Wales is second best to EVERYTHING
Jim, Newport

To all those who say they can't wait to leave - try the M4. Not difficult. Leave. Wales is a terrific country to live in, and frankly, it would take a lot to make me leave. Life is what you make it, guys, and if you think it's boring or a dump, this reflects way more on you than on Wales!
Tim Lee, Cardiff Bay

Cymru cool? But of course! I am proud of my country and passionate about supporting everything Welsh. I was especially proud to find out that in the paralympic games more the majority of medals were won by Welsh athletes. congratulations to them all!!
Stephen Ash, Caerphilly

Of course it's cool. For those who want to leave, go ahead. In five years time you can return and only THEN will you see what you're missing. I wasted five years of my life by moving away and am ashamed when I said to people "I'll never move back."
Chris Humphreys, Pencoed

I think Jim and Gavin need to get out more and explore Wales. I now live in Essex and miss Wales with all my heart, I would love to live there again! Cardiff in particular is a fantastic, vibrant and cosmopolitan city. Many of my friends travel to Cardiff for short breaks and come back raving about it.
Wales is a wonderful country with much to offer, it's attitudes like that of Jim and Gavin that kill the ethos of "Cool Cymru".
Alice Evans, Chelmsford, Essex

Wales is not a good place to live in. Wales is second best to EVERYTHING. The Welsh Assembly 'government' seems to do nothing but waste money. I cannot wait to leave. The Welsh may be proud, but what of?
Jim, Newport

I agree with Gavin in Cardiff - Wales is a dump, I'm Welsh and proud of it but the combination of miserable weather, indifferent shop assistants, octogenerian town and city leaders with no vision is certainly NOT cool!!
Robert Smith, Swansea

The Welsh are one of the proudest nations on this earth, with good reason. Cymru Cool? Ask any Welshman
Ryan, Swansea

Wales is well cool and is recognised widely across the UK. I have a lot of friends from all over the UK who come to Wales, and Cardiff in particular for the music, such as the Chillies in June or smaller places like barfly, for the sport in both the Millennium Stadium and Ninian Park and for the nightlife.
I myself do like the fact that there is a great night life in Cardiff, but is the binge-drinking capital of Wales the name we want to portray?
Del Preston, Cardiff, wales

Being Welsh and coming from a land that has so much passion is certainly something I stand proud to show. The development and diversity the assembly has shown is ever more an example of a fine county, and that said; a proud one too.
Barry, Nottingham, England

There is a certain pride that goes with being Welsh. Cardiff will forever be my home, no matter where I find myself living - and I'm always pleased to return home to see how my home town has developed.
The Welsh Assembly Government, at times, can be quite a leader - for example the plan for free prescriptions by 2007; Westminster have no plans to do the same for England and Northern Ireland. We look after our own and we care.
Matt, west London (exiled from Cardiff!)

Just returned from Las Vegas and to quote a cab driver we had "Tom Jones...he's the man!" Says it all really.
Ian , Warwick

It is still cool, but it is becoming laughable due to the failing performance in the welsh squad. But many welsh fans still support wales in the rugby games, even though they know it is very likely that we will not win, such as the Wales v South Africa match coming up.
Anton Keen, Cardiff WALES!!!

If there's one thing guaranteed to make us not cool, it's worrying aloud about whether we are
Rick, Cardiff

Wales is still a cool place to be, but when other nations see Shirley Bassey and Tom Jones they laugh and mock this great country. Can we please have some stars that are under the age of 150, and celebrated their last hit in 1900?
snoop, cardiff

Wales is a great place to live and I think the assembly have come up with some great ideas since forming. The only problem with Wales is the north/south divide thing.
Andrew Lindop, Connahs Quay, North Wales

1999 was a good year. Even some of the English newspapers brought out 'Welsh' editions. However these papers seemed more intent on attacking anything Welsh than promoting diversity. Seems odd that now the national feeling in Wales has decreased that they close down. Job done?
John, Pontypridd

The Welsh are one of the proudest nations on this earth, with good reason. Cymru Cool? Ask any Welshman
Ryan, Swansea

Changed? Nah, Still as cool as ever. Puts the rest of Britain to shame.
Twitchie, Ferryside, Carmarthenshire

The Welsh assembly is far from being a joke. OK, it may have that perception, but it is a major step towards independence. My concern is that it is not evolving quickly enough. Areas where it is clearly ineffectual, need to be addressed quickly through a transfer of power from Westminster. Wales is a still a great country, but we need purpose and identity through independence.
Mark Adams, Pontypool, Wales

If there's one thing guaranteed to make us not cool, it's worrying aloud about whether we are. Oh, and that dress.
Rick, Cardiff

No, its a dump. I can't wait to leave. Lived here all my life unfortunately.
Gavin, Cardiff, Wales

Wales rocks, always has done, always will. Although that Welsh assembly is a joke, Wales wants independence, not guidance from London.
John Mayo, Cardiff, Wales






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