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New production demonstrates the scale and reach of early Welsh language

05 Jul 2023 3 minute read
Myrddin Wyllt – credit Elly Lucas

A touring music and theatrical performance will demonstrate the ancient and ubiquitous reach of Cymraeg right up into the ‘Old North’ of Cumbria and Scotland, and its connection to Ireland.

Myrddin Wyllt, is a performance depicting the heritage and identity of the devolved nations through the life of the medieval Welsh legend, sixth century chief bard and prophet.

Fellow Welsh singer-poets Twm Morys and Gwyneth Glyn, both former Welsh Children’s Laureates, are joined by musicians from the Celtic diaspora of Scotland, Ireland and the ‘Old North’ in a performance that delves into the truth behind the Merlin myth.

Myrddin was Lailoken in Scotland, had his counterpart in Suibhne/ Sweeney in Ireland, and is now known the world over as Merlin.

The concert is a Knockengorroch commission and premiered as ‘The Real Merlin Project’ at the 25th festival there in SW Scotland last month. The culmination of an online cross border collaboration, it features original music and narrative, Northumbrian pipes, percussion and multi-lingual harmonies in Irish, Gaelic and Welsh.

Featuring a high proportion of Welsh narrative and history, the show now comes to Wales, having already played Scotland, and moving onto Ireland in September.


According to folklore, ‘Myrddin’ was bard and henchman to Gwenddolau ap Ceidio, a British king who ruled Arfderydd, a kingdom including parts of what are now Scotland and England in the area around Carlisle.

In the year 573 the king was killed in battle and Myrddin acquired the gift of prophecy and lived as a wild man in the Southern Scotland Forest.

In the twelfth century his character was recast and commonly known as Merlin, King Arthur’s wizard.

Twm and Gwyneth will be joined by Maeve Mackinnon and Dave Tunstall from Scotland, Andy May from Northumbria and Lorcán Mac Mathúna from Ireland, who is dubbed ‘song archaeologist’ and shaman of old style Irish singing, known as Sean-Nós.

Twm said: “There’s a little bit of Myrddin Wyllt in everyone. We’re here to let it out for a while!”

Myrddin Wyllt is at Galeri Caernarfon on Thursday, July 6; Amgueddfa Ceredigion Museum, Aberystwyth on Friday, July 7 and in Dinefwr, Carmarthenshire at Beyond the Border, Wales’ International Storytelling Festival on Saturday, July 8.

Local schools in Aberystwyth will participate in Pastynu workshops (the art of beating the Welsh pastwn / staff while reciting poetry), demonstrated by Twm, a son of author, historian and journalist Jan Morris.

There will also be a workshop, open to all, at the Beyond the Border festival.

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