2019 Programme

Thursday 20 June 2019

Stations to the Untenanted Cross

2019 rs thomas festival - uninhabited crossTime: 19:30 – 20:30
Cost: £5
Location: St Hywyn’s Church
A contemplative walk around the church with poetry. Limit: 20 people

A poetry meditation by candlelight, whose roots are in the Easter tradition. Moving over the sacred ground, connecting the words of Thomas’s poems to the iconical features inside the ancient pilgrim place, where he was inspired to write “Here on my knees in the stone church, that is full only of the silent congregations of shadows and the sea’s sound…” www.st-hywyn.org

Friday 21 June 2019

Creative Writing Workshop: Spirit of The Land led by Menna Elfyn

2019 rs thomas festival - felin uchaf observatoryTimes: 11:00 – 13:00 & 14:00 – 16:00
Cost: £55
Location: The Observatory, Felin Uchaf
Menna Elfyn is a lecturer in creative writing & bestselling international poet. Limit: 15 people

‘To know even one field or one land is a lifetime’s experience’. And yet, where we live and to what we are rooted doesn’t always define who we are. In these workshops, we will try and explore what we mean by the rhythm and spirit of the land around us and what inspires our imaginations through writing. As RS Thomas was himself writing about such places like Abercuawg. A chance to write the world anew – whether you are already a writer, poet or one who aspires to write poetry or prose. Aspiration indeed can create marvels! Included in your ticket price is an opportunity for workshop participants, to perform their poetry or read something of their work at “Bards Around the Fire” in the Celtic Roundhouse, Felin Uchaf. www.mennaelfyn.co.uk www.felinwales.org

Art Exhibition in St Hywyn’s “ … his are the echoes we follow”

Time: 11:00 – 12:00
Cost: Free
Location: St Hywyn’s Church
Meet the Artist Ted Harrison to talk about his work

The title of the exhibition is taken from a short RS Thomas poem ’Via Negativa’. The poem talks of God as the empty silence, ‘the place where we go seeking’. The images are about those places in the poet’s life where he himself went ‘seeking’: the coastline of Holy Island as a boy; Bangor where he was a student; the parishes where he served as a priest; Aberdaron and the Llŷn Peninsula. The medium is charcoal – appropriately, the product of natural wood and fire. www.tedharrison.co.uk

Minibus Tour: Spirit of Llŷn

Time: 12:30 -15:00
Cost: £15
Location: Leaves from the National Trust carpark
Exploring the landscape which inspired the poetry with Peter Hewlett. Limit: 15 people

Starting out from the National Trust car park in Aberdaron village, going directly up to the Mynydd Mawr headland with breath taking views across to Bardsey Island. On the way back down, passing the derelict Vicarage where Thomas lived when he was the vicar in Aberdaron. Rising up to the eastern hills to Sarn y Plas, overlooking the spectacular Hell’s Mouth bay, where he and Elsi lived in retirement. Down to the church at Llanfaelrhys where Elsi and Gwydion are buried, before returning to Aberdaron and St Hywyn’s church. Thomas’s poetry will be read in the landscape, redolent with images that appear in the work. Only limited walking ability is required. www.edgeofwaleswalk.co.uk

Walking in his Footsteps

Time: 13:30 – 16:00
Cost: £10
Location: Leaves from St Hywyn’s Church. Walk is 4 miles.
Led by Susan Fogarty. Walk from church to vicarage by the river with poetry along the way. Limit: 15 people

Starting at St Hywyn’s Church, this easy walk, over uneven paths along the river, leads to the old vicarage by the ‘secret’ path that RS would have taken, stopping along the way for the reading of his poems. The quiet road back to Aberdaron affords extensive views. Sturdy footwear essential.

Bards Around The Fire

Time: 19:30 – 21:00
Cost: £7
Location: Celtic Roundhouse, Felin Uchaf
Menna Elfyn with the writers from the creative writing workshop and a local harpist in the Celtic Roundhouse at Felin Uchaf. Limit: 40 people

Saturday 22 June 2019

From Our Patron

Time: 10:30 – 12:30
Cost: Included in £25 day ticket
Location: Crud y Werin School Hall

Presentation by Rowan Williams. The festival is delighted to welcome back Dr Williams as our patron and speaker in 2017. ‘Spirit of Place’ the theme for this year’s festival, suggested by Menna Elfyn, will no doubt provide a suitable springboard from which Dr Williams will launch his thoughts.

Browse the Bookshop

Location: St Hywyn’s Church
One of the best selections of RS Thomas related literature in Wales

Revisiting Thomas: Poetry, Prose & Conversation

Time: 14:00 – 15:30
Cost: Included in £25 day ticket
Location: Crud y Werin School Hall

Sandra Anstey met RS Thomas as a student and is editor of two definitive collections of his prose writing. Sandra first contacted RS Thomas when she was an undergraduate student. She visited him in Aberdaron and in Y Rhiw, interviewed him during her doctoral studies and corresponded with him for many years. Her talk will include reference to unpublished material.

Meet the Board of the RS Thomas & ME Eldridge Society

Time: 15:45 – 17:00
Cost: Included in £25 day ticket
Location: Crud y Werin School Hall
Open to non-members too. A conversation about the festival and your ideas for the future

Members’ Dinner Buffet & Wine, RS Thomas & ME Eldridge Society

Time: 18:30 – 19:30
Cost: £10
Location: Porth y Swnt
Location: Join the speakers, board and other members of the Society in a relaxed and interesting setting. Limit: 30 people

St Hywyn’s Concert, Spirit of Aberdaron

Time: 20:00 – 21:30
Cost: £8
Location: St Hywyn’s Church
A truly Welsh cultural evening with Carnguwch Welsh Male Voice Choir and Menna Elfyn

Sunday 23 June 2019

Eucharist Service [bilingual]

Time: 10:00 – 11:00
Cost: Free
Location: St Hywyn’s Church
Sermon by the former Archbishop of Wales, Barry Morgan, in English

Meet the Artist

Time: 11:30 – 12:30
Cost: Free
Location: St Hywyn’s Church
A time for conversation with Ted Harrison about his exhibition inspired by RS Thomas


Time: 13:30 – 15:00
Cost: £5
Location: St Maelrhys Church
A choral work of 5 Thomas poems and John’s Gospel. Composer Francis Pott, commissioned by Revd Nick Fisher, who will introduce and play the recording. Limit: 50 people

WORD seeks to re-interpret for our postmodern times St. John’s extraordinary ‘Prologue’ (John 1.1-14). Into a precis are woven lines by R.S. Thomas, whose adamantine poetry perfectly complements the evangelist’s stringent prose, both of which have been brilliantly fused together by the sensitivity, intelligence, and integrity of Francis Pott’s music. A recording of WORD sung by Commotio of Cambridge will be played. www.francispott.com