Hughes ~ 1905-1999
of the Lads of Dyffryn Nantlle
was born an only child in Bryn Llidiart, a house
at the foot of Cwm Silyn, which had been home to
three generations and produced two National Eisteddfod
winners. It was a smallholding of three acres and
a cow when Mathonwy was a child. No one else occupied
Bryn Llidiart after they left. Time was the only
tenant thereafter and the mountain reclaimed its
property across the years.
Image: Mathonwy Hughes.
early education began at Nebo School when he was
seven years old, but he was not a healthy child and
suffered serious illness. Because of his condition
he missed the opportunity to attend the County School
in Penygroes, but instead went to the school in Clynnog.
would walk through three miles of moorland in all
weathers to reach the school, carrying his dinner-time
sandwiches with him. Then, Nebo was a complete school,
up to standard seven.
had a happy time under the supervision of the headmaster
T.H. Griffith who also kept a shop. Although the
headmaster was a fluent Welsh-speaker, English was
the language of school. Mathonwy could not understand
how it could be that Mr Griffith spoke Welsh to his
mother when they went to the shop together, and yet
everything the headmaster said to the children in
school was in English.
was a staunch member of Tanyrallt Chapel, where a
notable literary meeting would be held, with competitors
travelling from afar to take part, and this on Christmas
Day. Two dates were important to a child of that
period: Llanllyfni Fair on 6th July (St Rhedyw's
Day) and the Tanyrallt Chapel Literary Meeting on
came and Mathonwy was determined not to join the
army, for he could not imagine himself killing anyone,
and, in his own words, he was too much of a coward
to be a conscientious objector; therefore he joined
the Civil Service, and after the war he was invited
by Gwasg Gee to become sub-editor of the newspaper
'Y Faner', an offer he gladly accepted.
uncle, Silyn Roberts was a pioneer, and as one of
the founders of the Workers Educational Association,
he offered teaching work to Mathonwy. He was a W.E.A.
teacher in Denbigh area for a period of more that
was twenty years old when he struck out on his own
competing in major Eisteddfodau, and won his first
chair at Talysarn Eisteddfod with the poem 'Gwastadedd
Meira' from the Old Testament. He won three chairs
in that year and another when he was twenty two,
before going on to win his first chair in the National
Eisteddfod (the most prestigious prize in Welsh poetry).
married in 1954 and won the chair at the Aberdare
Eisteddfod in the year 1956. He started at seven
in the morning in a van to bring the chair home
published a number of important volumes and has certainly
earned his place among the foremost writers of our
land. It is a privilege to remember one of the lads
of Dyffryn Nantlle.
by O.P Hughes