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19th century harpist from Trecynon celebrated in new book

08 Jul 2024 3 minute read
Llewelyn Alaw

A book celebrating the life and work of Llewelyn Alaw (1828 – 1879) has been published to coincide with the 2024 National Eisteddfod to be held in Rhondda Cynon Taf.

As well as being a distinguished harpist, Llewelyn Alaw was also a prodigious collector of traditional music and his manuscripts are now kept at the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth.


These give an insight into what was being played by musicians in the south Wales mining valleys in the mid nineteenth century.

As well as old Welsh airs and folk songs, the manuscripts contain hundreds of dance tunes from all parts of the British Isles and from further afield in Europe and even from America.

A vintage photo of the chapel

Two south Wales folk musicians, Rob Bradshaw and Jeff Jones, have been researching the manuscripts and they have worked together with Christine Moore from Addoldai Cymru in publishing Teyrnged i Llewelyn Alaw/A Tribute to Llewelyn Alaw.

The book is fully bilingual and as well as examples of the music, it contains descriptions and illustrations of the manuscripts to give the reader a full insight into Llewelyn Alaw’s work. Also included is an essay by David Leslie Davies, a historian from the Cynon Valley, which tells the fascinating story of Llewelyn Alaw’s life.


Llewelyn Alaw was brought up in The Mount Pleasant, his parents’ pub in Trecynon, Aberdare, and in later life he became a publican himself. He was also a faithful member at Hen Dŷ Cwrdd, the Unitarian chapel opposite The Mount Pleasant, and he is buried in the graveyard there.

Several notable people connected to the chapel, including Llewelyn Alaw, were instrumental in the organisation and development of the first ‘modern’ National Eisteddfod, held in Aberdare in 1861.

Exhibition and event poster

Hen Dŷ Cwrdd is one of the eleven chapels throughout Wales now in the care of Addoldai Cymru.

In early 2024 the organisation was successful with an application for funding of £249,000 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

This has enabled the repair of the chapel and interpretation of the chapel’s history, including an art project in Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Rhydywaun and an exhibition about Hen Dŷ Cwrdd in the Cynon Valley Museum between 6-20 July.

The funding has also enabled the publication of Teyrnged i Llewelyn Alaw/A Tribute to Llewelyn Alaw which will have the first viewing at a celebration event at the Museum between 11.00-1300-pm on 13 July 2024.

Christine Moore, Trust Manager at Addoldai Cymru said: “It has been a great pleasure working with Jeff and Rob in the development of this project.

“We hope that this tune book will give folk musicians the opportunity to gain further insight into the Llewelyn Alaws’ manuscripts, the tunes being played in the pubs of 19C Wales, as well as the history of Hen Dŷ Cwrdd.”

The book is available from all good book shops and online at Addoldai Cymru.

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6 days ago

Stori wych am ddyn diddorol a phwysig.

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