Newsletter > Spring 2007 > Book by Gwilym Herber Williams - Siwrne Lawn

Book by Gwilym Herber Williams - Siwrne Lawn

An eighty seven year old former coal miner, and also a former employee with West Glamorgan County Council, Mr Gwilym Herber Williams of Craig-cefn-parc, has just published an anthology of stories and poems in Welsh.

Mr Williams, who is affectionately known as Gwilym Herber, has made a significant contribution to Welsh literature over the years. As the 2006 National Eisteddfod of Wales was held in Felindre, a neighbouring village to where he lives, many of his friends were of the opinion that his work and stories were of such high quality that they should be collected and published. This work was undertaken by his friend, Mr Euros Evans, a retired schools inspector.

The paperback volume, entitled Siwrne Lawn and published by Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, was launched on Friday evening, 28th July 2006, at the New Inn near Craig-cefn-parc. This celebratory event had been arranged by Cymdeithas Adloniant Mawr to honour his literal contribution to his community in the Clydach Valley.
Siwrne Lawn is the Welsh expression used by the miners to describe the journey of trams full of coal coming out from the coal-face. Hence, the title represents Gwilym’s journey in life.

Mr Williams, a son of a shoemaker, began working when he was fifteen years old and worked in different coalmines until 1968. He was severely injured when he was hit by a derailed wagon at the Felin-fran colliery in Glais in the early 1960s. From 1968 onward until his retirement, he worked with West Glamorgan County Council as an engineer maintaining the drainage system.

Having had no formal education since the age of 14, Gwilym Herber is a fine example of a person who was determined to educate himself. He mastered the intricate and complex rules of strict Welsh poetry and won his first bardic chair at the age of seventeen. Today, he stands shoulder to shoulder with the finest bards in the country with his ability to write englynion, which are short lyrical poems. He has a first class writing style in the Welsh language. For many years he was a member of the Glamorgan bardic team that competed in such radio and television competitions as Ymryson y Beirdd and Talwrn y Beirdd.

He was one of the few poets who can compose englyn in English. In his younger days, Gwilym was a boxer. When Floyd Havard from Craig-cefn-parc won the British Featherweight championship at Aberavon by defeating Pat Cowdel, Gwilym wrote this humorous poem:

Aberavon shone by the shore Wednesday
In an instant uproar;
The offer I make therefore
Avoid Floyd or kiss the floor.

The book Siwrne Lawn also contains many stories ‘humorous and sad’ of the days when he worked in the coalmines. Indeed, they are a chronicle of the fine camaraderie that existed in the community.

Incidentally, his uncle, Crwys, was a former Archdruid of Wales. One chapter illustrates the wittiness surrounding that well known bard who had won the crown at three of the National Eisteddfodau. In one story, he describes how Crwys was carried into a ward at Mount Pleasant Hospital in Swansea when he was old and frail. One of the patients recognised him and turned to another patient and said:

“Do you know him?”
“That is Crwys. He won the National three times.”
“Has he? What was the name of his horse then?”

The evening of the book launch in the New Inn was full to capacity and was kindly sponsored by the National Grid, the Welsh Book Council, Academi and Cygor Cymuned Mawr. As a result it was possible to invite well known celebrities on the Welsh scene: Tecwyn Ifan (folk singer), Euros Rhys (composer), Jac Davies (of the famous duet Jac a Wil), Gary Anderson (tenor), Revd. Sion Alun, and two national bardic chair winners, Emyr Lewis and Alan Llwyd, to contribute to the evening. In addition, selections from the book were read by Angharad Dafis and Euros Jones Evans.

A further tribute was paid to Gwilym Herber in the literary pavilion at the National Eisteddfod.

[Siwrne Lawn: Straeon a Cherddi Gwilym Herber ISBN 1845270754 Gwasg Carreg Gwalch £6.95]

Spring 2007

Chairman's message

Book by Gwilym Herber Williams - Siwrne Lawn

Walking Club

First Aider's thoughts

Strumble Head

What's on - Craig Cefn Parc

Green Robe honour for 3 ladies

Music Medallion

Peter Clarke - children's commissioner

Great Wall of China Trek

Eisteddfod Car Parking

Rallying cry!

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