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Festival celebrating RS Thomas and ME Eldridge returning after three year hiatus

05 Jun 2022 3 minute read
Eglwys Hywyn Sant Aberdaron by richardoyork is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

After an absence of three years, the RS Thomas & ME Eldridge Poetry & Arts Festival returns to the seaside town of Aberdaron on 16th – 19th June.

The 8th annual Poetry & Arts Festival celebrates RS Thomas & ME Eldridge in the Welsh coastal village of Aberdaron where he was vicar and she an artist.

The festival location in Aberdaron on the Llŷn Peninsula enables people to experience first-hand the landscapes that inspired the poetry of Thomas and the art of Eldridge, and aims to inspire fresh expressions of the poetry and art for new audiences.

The Festival is now managed by the RS Thomas & ME Eldridge Society and is a key part of its mission to bring together people with an appreciation of the literary and artistic works, musical compositions, people and places associated with RS Thomas and ME Eldridge.

RS Thomas. Photo via YouTube


Some festival attendees have been holding onto their tickets since 2019, when this year’s programme was originally devised, only to be postponed by the pandemic.

Although many of the events are already sold out, there is still some availability for the main events on Saturday and Sunday.

On Saturday from 10am – 4pm, in Crud y Werin School, there will be three key speakers, sharing their insights into Thomas’s poetry:

Rev Dr Mark Oakley, Dean of St John’s Cambridge, who was recently awarded his doctorate from Bangor University for his published writings, once described RS Thomas’s poetry as a life-vest that saved him from losing his belief in God.

Rev Dr Manon Ceridwen James, a native of the Llyn Peninsula and lecturer at St Padarn’s, Church in Wales theological college, has published works on feminism within Wales and the church and will be delivering a presentation intriguingly entitled “Bring on the Dancing Girls”, which is a quote from one of Thomas’s poems.

Between the longer presentations, organisers say Tony Brown, Professor Emeritus of Bangor University will give some ‘short snappy insights’ into Thomas’s technique and meaning.

Emlyn y Gymro

On Saturday evening at 8pm in St Hywyn’s Church, the 3rd ever performance of Emyn I Gymro composed and written in 2001 to mark the death of RS Thomas in 2000.

The music for harp was composed by Pwyll ap Sion of Bangor University and the poetry written and performed by Welsh poet Menna Elfyn.

Elinor Bennett was the original harpist, and Mared Emlyn who composed and performed at the International Harp Festival to celebrate harpist Osian Ellis’ 90th birthday, will play at the festival.

Sioned Eleri Roberts, clarinettist, who won the musicians medal at the 2014 National Eisteddfod will also be performing alongside Mared. Both Mared and Sioned perform with Ensemble Cymru.

There will be a Sunday service at 9.30am when Rev Dr Mark Oakley will be the guest preacher, and at 11.30am, composer Francis Pott will share his approach to the challenges of setting some of RS Thomas’s poetry into a choral composition, entitled The Word.

The Word was nominated for an American Grammy award, and there will be the opportunity to hear a recording which will be played in St Hywyns.

For full details of the programme and the link to Eventbrite for on-line booking can be found in Welsh here  and in English   here

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