Chairing of the Bard

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Robin Llwyd ab Owain chaired in 1991

The Chairing of the Bard (Welsh: Cadeirio'r Bardd) is one of the most important events in the Welsh eisteddfod tradition. The most famous chairing ceremony takes place at the National Eisteddfod of Wales, and is always on the Friday afternoon of Eisteddfod week.[1] Winners are referred to as Y Prifardd (literally "The Chief Bard"). The custom of chairing the bard is, however, much older than the modern eisteddfod ceremony, and is known to have taken place as early as 1176.[2]

The chairing ceremony of the 1958 National Eisteddfod; the victorious poet was T. Llew Jones[3]
The chair posthumously awarded to Taliesin o Eifion at the Wrexham Eisteddfod in 1876[4]

A new bardic chair is specially designed and made for each eisteddfod and is awarded to the winning entrant in the competition for the "awdl", poetry written in a strict metre form known as cynghanedd. It is possible for the chair to be withheld, if the standard of entries is not considered high enough by the judges. This was the case in 1889, when a chair made for a minor eisteddfod at Bagillt, in Flintshire, was not awarded. The chair in question made news in 2006, when it was returned to Wales after being acquired by a local Welsh society in Canada.[5] The withholding of the chair happened most recently in 2013 at the Eisteddfod in Denbighshire, Gwynedd.[6]

The National Eisteddfod ceremony is presided over by the Archdruid, who reads the judges' comments before announcing the identity of the bard, using only the nom de plume that the winner has used to submit the work. Up to this point, no one knows the true identity of the bard, who is asked to stand and is then escorted to the stage. Local children perform a dance to honour the new bard.

In 1917, Hedd Wyn (Ellis Humphrey Evans) was awarded the Chair for his ode "Yr Arwr" ("The Hero"). On 6 September 1917, when the ceremony of Chairing of the Bard took place at the National Eisteddfod, held at Birkenhead Park, England, the adjudicators announced that the winning entry had been submitted under the pseudonym Fleur de Lys. After the trumpets had summoned the winner three times to stand forth from the audience, Archdruid Dyfed announced that he had been killed in action six weeks earlier. The winner's chair was then draped in a black sheet, and was thus delivered to the parents of Hedd Wyn. That year's eisteddfod is now referred to in the Welsh language as "Eisteddfod y Gadair Ddu" ("The Eisteddfod of the Black Chair").

The chair from that ceremony, which was made by a Belgian carpenter, Eugeen Vanfleteren (1880–1950), who had fled to Britain when Belgium was invaded and had settled in Birkenhead,[7] is on display at Yr Ysgwrn, the poet's former home.[8]

Winning the "double" of bardic chair and crown at the same eisteddfod is a feat that has only been performed a handful of times in the history of the eisteddfod. Alan Llwyd and Donald Evans have each performed the double twice.[9]

The first woman to win the Chair at the National Eisteddfod was Mererid Hopwood in 2001; she went on to win the crown at a later eisteddfod.[10]

Winners of the chair at the National Eisteddfodd[edit]

Year Location Poem Poet[11] Bardic name
1876 Wrexham Thomas Jones[4] Taliesin o Eifion
1880 Caernarfon Athrylith W B Joseph Y Myfyr
1881 Merthyr Tydfil Cariad Evan Rees Dyfed
1882 Denbigh Dyn No winner
1883 Cardiff Y Llong No winner
1884 Liverpool Gwilym Hiraethog Evan Rees Dyfed
1885 Aberdare Y Gwir yn Erbyn y Byd Watkin Hesekiah Williams Watcyn Wyn
1886 Caernarfon Gobaith Richard Davies Tafolog
1887 London Y Frenhines Victoria Robert Arthur Williams
1888 Wrexham Peroriaeth Thomas Jones Tudno
1889 Brecon Y Beibl Cymraeg Evan Rees Dyfed
1890 Bangor Y Llafurwr Thomas Jones Tudno
1891 Swansea Yr Haul John Owen Williams Pedrog
1892 Rhyl Y Cenhadwr Evan Jones Gurnos
1893 Pontypridd Pulpud Cymru J Ceulanydd Williams
1894 Caernarfon Hunanaberth H. Elvet Lewis Elfed
1895 Llanelli Dedwyddwch John Owen Williams Pedrog
1896 Llandudno Tuhwnt i'r Llen Ben Davies
1897 Newport Brawdgarwch J. T. Job Job
1898 Blaenau Ffestiniog Awen R. O. Hughes Elfyn
1899 Cardiff Gladstone No winner
1900 Liverpool Y Bugail John Owen Williams Pedrog
1901 Merthyr Tydfil Y Diwygiwr Evan Rees Dyfed
1902 Bangor Ymadawiad Arthur T. Gwynn Jones
1903 Llanelli Y Celt John Thomas Job Job
1904 Rhyl Geraint ac Enid Machreth Rees
1905 Mountain Ash Gorau arf, Dysg No winner
1906 Caernarfon Y Lloer J. J. Williams
1907 Swansea John Bunyan T Davies
1908 Llangollen Ceiriog J J Williams
1909 London Gwlad y Bryniau T. Gwynn Jones
1910 Colwyn Bay Yr Haf R. Williams Parry
1911 Carmarthen Iorwerth VII Gwilym Ceiriog
1912 Wrexham Y Mynydd T. H. Parry-Williams
1913 Abergavenny Aelwyd y Cymro T J Thomas Sarnicol
1914 First World War No Eisteddfod
1915 Bangor Eryri T H Parry-Williams
1916 Aberystwyth Ystrad Fflur J Ellis Williams
1917 Penbedw Yr Arwr Ellis Evans Hedd Wyn
1918 Neath Eu Nêr a Folant J T Job Job
1919 Corwen Y Proffwyd Cledlyn Davies
1920 Barry Yr Oes Aur No winner
1921 Caernarfon Min y Môr Meuryn R J Rowlands
1922 Ammanford Y Gaeaf John Lloyd-Jones
1923 Mold Dychweliad Arthur Cledlyn Davies
1924 Pontypool I'r Duw nid Adwaenir Albert Evans-Jones Cynan
1925 Pwllheli Cantre'r Gwaelod Dewi Morgan
1926 Swansea Y Mynach D. Gwenallt Jones Gwenallt
1927 Holyhead Y Derwydd No winner
1928 Treorchy Y Sant No winner
1929 Liverpool Dafydd ap Gwilym Dewi Emrys
1930 Llanelli Y Galilead Dewi Emrys
1931 Bangor Breuddwyd y Bardd D. Gwenallt Jones
1932 Aberafan Mam D J Davies
1933 Wrexham Harlech Edgar Phillips Trefin
1934 Neath Ogof Arthur W Morris
1935 Caernarfon Magdalen Gwyndaf Evans
1936 Fishguard Ty Ddewi Simon B Jones
1937 Machynlleth Y Ffin T. Rowland Hughes
1938 Cardiff Rwy'n Edrych Dros y Bryniau Pell Gwilym R Jones
1939 Denbigh A hi yn dyddhau No winner
1940 Mountain Ash (radio) Pererinion Thomas Rowland Hughes
1941 Old Colwyn Hydref Rowland Jones
1942 Cardigan Rhyfel neu "Creiddylad" No winner
1943 Bangor Cymylau Amser Dewi Emrys
1944 Llandybie Ofn D Lloyd Jenkins
1945 Rhos Yr Oes Aur T Parry Jones
1946 Mountain Ash Awdl Foliant i'r Amaethwr Geraint Bowen
1947 Colwyn Bay Maelgwn Gwynedd John Eilian
1948 Bridgend Yr Alltud Dewi Emrys
1949 Dolgellau Y Graig Rowland Jones
1950 Caerphilly Awdl Foliant i'r Glowr Gwilym Tilsley
1951 Llanrwst Y Dyffryn Brinley Richards
1952 Aberystwyth Dwylo John Evans
1953 Rhyl Y Ffordd E Lloyd Williams
1954 Ystradgynlais Yr Argae John Evans
1955 Pwllheli Gwrtheyrn G Ceri Jones
1956 Aberdare Gwraig Mathonwy Hughes
1957 Llangefni Cwm Carnedd Gwilym Tilsley
1958 Ebbw Vale Caerllion ar Wysg T. Llew Jones
1959 Caernarfon Y Dringwr T Llew Jones
1960 Cardiff Dydd Barn or "Morgannwg" No winner
1961 Rhosllanerchrugog Awdl Foliant i Gymru Emrys Edwards
1962 Llanelli Llef un yn Llefain Caradog Pritchard
1963 Llandudno Genesis No winner
1964 Swansea Patagonia R Bryn Williams
1965 Newtown Yr Ymchwil W D Williams
1966 Aberafan Cynhaeaf Dic Jones
1967 Bala Y Gwyddonydd Emrys Roberts
1968 Barry Awdl Foliant i'r Morwr R Bryn Williams
1969 Flint Yr Alwad James Nicholas
1970 Ammanford Y Twrch Trwyth Tomi Evans
1971 Bangor Y Chwarelwr Emrys Roberts
1972 Haverfordwest Preselau Dafydd Owen
1973 Ruthin Llef Dros y Lleiafrifoedd Alan Llwyd
1974 Carmarthen Y Dewin Moses Glyn Jones
1975 Criccieth Afon Gerallt Lloyd Owen
1976 Cardigan Gwanwyn Alan Llwyd
1977 Wrexham Llygredd Donald Evans
1978 Cardiff Y Ddinas No winner
1979 Caernarfon Gwynedd No winner
1980 Lliw Valley Y Ffwrnais Donald Evans
1981 Machynlleth Y Frwydr John Gwilym Jones
1982 Swansea Cilmeri Gerallt Lloyd Owen
1983 Anglesey Ynys Einion Evans
1984 Lampeter Y Pethau Bychain Aled Rhys Wiliam
1985 Rhyl Cynefin Robat Powell
1986 Fishguard Y Cwmwl Gwynn ap Gwilym
1987 Porthmadog Llanw a Thrai Ieuan Wyn
1988 Newport Storm Elwyn Edwards
1989 Llanrwst Y Daith Idris Reynolds
1990 Rhymney Valley Gwythiennau Myrddin ap Dafydd
1991 Mold Awdl Foliant Merch ein Hamserau Robin Llwyd ab Owain
1992 Aberystwyth A Fo Ben ... Idris Reynolds
1993 Llanelwedd Gwawr Meirion MacIntyre Huws
1994 Neath Chwyldro Emyr Lewis
1995 Abergele Y Môr Tudur Dylan Jones
1996 Llandeilo Grisiau R O Williams
1997 Bala Gwaddol Ceri Wyn Jones
1998 Bridgend Fflamau No winner
1999 Anglesey Pontydd Gwenallt Llwyd Ifan
2000 Llanelli Agored Llion Jones
2001 Denbigh Dadeni Mererid Hopwood
2002 St David's Llwybrau Myrddin ap Dafydd
2003 Meifod Drysau Twm Morys
2004 Newport Tir Neb Huw Meirion Edwards
2005 Snowdonia Gorwelion Tudur Dylan Jones
2006 Swansea Tonnau Gwynfor ab Ifor
2007 Flintshire Ffin T. James Jones
2008 Cardiff Tir Newydd Hilma Ll. Edwards
2009 Meirion Cyffro No winner
2010 Blaenau Gwent and heads of the valleys Ennill Tir Tudur Hallam
2011 Wrexham Clawdd Terfyn Rhys Iorwerth
2012 Vale of Glamorgan Llanw Dylan Iorwerth
2013 Denbighshire Lleisiau No winner
2014 Carmarthenshire Lloches Ceri Wyn Jones
2015 Montgomery and borderlands Gwe Hywel Griffiths
2016 Monmouthshire Ffiniau Aneirin Karadog
2017 Anglesey Arwr Osian Rhys Jones
2018 Cardiff Porth Gruffudd Eifion Owen
2019 Llanrwst Gorwelion T. James Jones[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Eisteddfod History". BBC. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  2. ^ "The Chairing Ceremony". National Museum of Wales. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  3. ^ "National Eisteddfod celebrates the 100th anniversary of the birth of celebrated writer T. Llew Jones". Wales Online. Retrieved 6 April 2016.
  4. ^ a b Evans, William. "Jones, Thomas (Taliesin o Eifion; 1820 - 1876), poet". Dictionary of Welsh Biography. National Library of Wales. Retrieved 12 August 2019.
  5. ^ "Bardic chair returns to village". BBC News. Retrieved 6 April 2016.
  6. ^ https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-23638996
  7. ^ Dehandschutter, Lieven (2001). Hedd Wyn. A Welsh tragedy in Flanders. Vormingscentrum Lodewijk Dosfel (Gent, Flanders, Belgium. p. 47.
  8. ^ "BBC News – Wales honours: Libyan Mahdi Jibani MBE for medical and interfaith work". Bbc.co.uk. 2012-12-29. Retrieved 2014-05-19.
  9. ^ "The Chairing of the Bard". National Library of Wales. Retrieved 6 April 2016.
  10. ^ "Some facts and figures regarding Gorsedd ceremonies". National Museum Wales. Retrieved 6 April 2016.
  11. ^ "Winners of the Chair". National Eisteddfod. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  12. ^ Eryl Crump (9 August 2019). "Former Archdruid T James Jones wins the 2019 National Eisteddfod chair". Daily Post.