Dafydd Iwan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Dafydd Iwan
Dafydd Iwan from Emynau album cover.jpg
Dafydd Iwan Jones

(1943-08-24) 24 August 1943 (age 79)
Years activeLate 1960s–present
Known forPresident of Plaid Cymru
Notable work"Yma o Hyd" (1983)
RelativesHuw Ceredig (brother)
Alun Ffred Jones (brother)
Dafydd Iwan singing Ar Lan y Môr (1993)
Dafydd-Iwan by-Aberdare-Blog.jpg

Dafydd Iwan Jones (born 24 August 1943) is a Welsh singer and nationalist politician who rose to fame writing and performing folk music in the Welsh language.[1] From 2003 to 2010, Iwan was the president of Plaid Cymru, a political party which advocates for Welsh independence from the UK.

Early life[edit]

Dafydd Iwan Jones was born in Brynamman, Carmarthenshire. One of four boys, his siblings include the actor Huw Ceredig and the politician Alun Ffred Jones.[2] His paternal grandfather, Fred Jones, was a member of the Bardic family Teulu'r Cilie, and a founding member of Plaid Cymru.[3] He spent most of his youth in Bala in Gwynedd before attending the University of Wales, Cardiff, where he studied architecture.

Musical career[edit]

Iwan's earliest material was Welsh translations of songs by American folk/protest singers (Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and Bob Dylan) until he began to write his first ballads. The most prominent of these were political, including the satirical song, "Carlo" ("Charles"). This was written for the investiture of the Prince of Wales in 1969.[4] Iwan has also written love ballads and variations on traditional Welsh folk tunes.[citation needed]

By the late 1960s, he was receiving television coverage both for his music and for his political activities as a member of Cymdeithas yr Iaith. He was imprisoned in 1970 for his refusal to pay fines for defacing English-language road signs as part of the fight for Welsh-language rights, serving three weeks of a three-month sentence. This event was commemorated in his song "Pam fod eira'n wyn?" ("Why is snow white?").[5] His song "Peintio'r byd yn wyrdd" ("Painting the World Green") was regarded as a "battle hymn" of the road signs campaign.[3]

During the 1970s, his political interests (and songs) took in such themes as Pinochet's Chile, Welsh devolution, the Vietnam War and the Northern Ireland troubles. Later songs mention events such as the Tiananmen Square massacre (1989), the Gulf War (1990) and opencast mining in the south Wales valleys (1995).

In 1982 and 1983, Iwan embarked on two tours (and accompanying records) with the folk group Ar Log.

Around the turn of the millennium, he signalled an end to regular performances, although he remains an occasional performer.

Yma o Hyd[edit]

"Yma O Hyd" ("Still Here") was released in 1981 to “raise the spirits, to remind people we still speak Welsh against all odds. To show we are still here". Since then, the song has become an unofficial Welsh anthem as well as an unofficial anthem for the Wales national football team.[6]

In January 2020, Iwan's song "Yma o Hyd" ("Still Here") reached number one in the UK iTunes chart, spurred on by purchases by supporters of Welsh independence group YesCymru. The campaign mirrored the success of the Wolfe Tones song "Come Out, Ye Black and Tans" earlier that month.[7]

The song was also sung live by Dafydd Iwan before Wales' last two games of their first successful FIFA World Cup qualification since 1958. Gareth Bale, the Welsh captain also led the Welsh team singing along with Dafydd Iwan after the final match.[8][9]

Public life[edit]

Using his architecture studies, in 1971 Iwan was one of the founders of Cymdeithas Tai Gwynedd (Gwynedd Housing Association) and was involved in other projects to provide homes for the local population in north-west Wales.[10][11]

Dafydd Iwan was one of the founders of Recordiau Sain Cyf (Sain Records Ltd), one of the main Welsh music labels.[12]

Formerly a Plaid Cymru councillor in Gwynedd, he lost his seat in the May 2008 local elections. He blamed his defeat on a dirty tricks campaign by his opponents.[13]

Iwan's long service to the Welsh language led to his being made an honorary member of the Gorsedd of Bards at the National Eisteddfod at Bangor in 1971.[14]

Iwan escaped a driving ban (for speeding offences) in October 2003 on the basis that he needed to drive for his musical and political duties.[15]

Iwan became President of Plaid Cymru in 2003.[16]

As part of his campaign seeking re-election as President of Plaid Cymru, Iwan launched a campaign blog Dafydd 4 President in July 2008.[17]

On 22 October 2011, Dafydd and his wife Bethan came to watch the Welsh derby, Wrexham F.C. vs Newport County A.F.C. Dafydd sang his hit song "Yma O Hyd" in front of a crowd of 4,000 before the teams came out. He was invited to sing by the new Wrexham FC Supporters Group, who chose their name "Yma O Hyd" after his song.


Album cover of Dal I Gredu (1991)
  • Yma Mae 'Nghân (1972) (Here's My Song)
  • Mae'r Darnau yn Disgyn i'w Lle (1976) (The Pieces Fall into Place)
  • Carlo a Chaneuon Eraill (1977) (Carlo and Other Songs)
  • 20 o Ganeuon Gorau (20 best songs)
  • I'r Gad (1977) (To The War)
  • Bod yn Rhydd (1979) (Being Free)
  • Ar Dan (Live) (1981)
  • Rhwng Hwyl a Thaith (with Ar Log) (1982) (Between Fun and Tour)
  • Yma o Hyd (With Ar Log) (1983) (Still Here)
  • Gwinllan a Roddwyd (1986) (Donated Vineyard)
  • Dal I Gredu (1991) (Still Believe)
  • Caneuon Gwerin (1994) (Folk Songs)
  • Cân Celt (1995) (Celt Song)
  • Y Caneuon Cynnar (1998) (Early Songs)
  • Yn Fyw Cyfrol 1 (2001) (Live Volume 1)
  • Yn Fyw Cyfrol 2 (2002) (Live Volume 2)
  • Goreuon Dafydd Iwan (2006) (Best of Dafydd Iwan)
  • Man Gwyn (White Space) (song about the early Welsh emigration to Patagonia and North America) (2007)
  • Dos I ganu (2009) (Go To Sing)
  • Cana Dy Gân (2012) (Sing Your Song) (complete 212 song collection)
  • Emynau (2015) (Hymns)
  • O’r Galon (2018) (From the Heart)


  1. ^ "Welsh Symbols". Welshicons.org.uk. Archived from the original on 17 December 2010.
  2. ^ "News Caernarfon Online". Archived from the original on 25 July 2011. Retrieved 5 July 2010.
  3. ^ a b Dr E. Wyn James (2005). "Painting the World Green: Dafydd Iwan and the Welsh Protest Ballad". Folk Music Journal. 5. 8: 594–618.
  4. ^ Hill, Sarah (2007). "Dafydd Iwan and the New Welsh 'Folk Culture'". Blerwytirhwng? The Place of Welsh Pop Music. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing Ltd.
  5. ^ "Dafydd Iwan biography". Sainwales.com. Retrieved 2 March 2013.
  6. ^ "Yma o Hyd: the defiant Welsh folk song that's been 1,600 years in the making". the Guardian. 2 June 2022. Retrieved 5 June 2022.
  7. ^ Stephens, Lydia (12 January 2020). "A Welsh folk legend is outselling Stormzy in the iTunes charts". Walesonline.co.uk. Retrieved 12 January 2020.
  8. ^ Mitchelmore, Ian (28 March 2022). "The player behind Dafydd Iwan's iconic Yma o Hyd rendition revealed". WalesOnline. Retrieved 5 June 2022.
  9. ^ Williams, Glen (5 June 2022). "Gareth Bale leads brilliant rendition of Yma o Hyd after Wales beat Ukraine". WalesOnline. Retrieved 5 June 2022.
  10. ^ James, E. Wyn (2005). "Painting the World Green: Dafydd Iwan and the Welsh Protest Ballad". Folk Music Journal. 8 (5): 594–618. JSTOR 4522747.
    Republished at James, E. Wyn. "Painting the world green: Dafydd Iwan and the Welsh protest ballad". Cardiff University. Retrieved 24 July 2018.
  11. ^ "Hanes Cymdeithas Tai Gwynedd" [History of Gwynedd Housing Association]. Cymdeithas Tai Gwynedd (in Welsh). Retrieved 24 July 2018.
  12. ^ "Dafydd Iwan". Sainwales.com. Retrieved 2 March 2013.
  13. ^ "Plaid loses majority in Gwynedd". BBC News. 2 May 2008. Retrieved 2 March 2013.
  14. ^ "Dafydd Iwan". Dafyddiwan.com.
  15. ^ "Plad Leader escapes speeding ban". BBC News. 15 October 2003. Retrieved 2 March 2013.
  16. ^ "Plaid Cymru website". Archived from the original on 6 July 2010. Retrieved 18 October 2010.
  17. ^ "A Bridge to the Future". Dafydd4president.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2 March 2013.

Further reading[edit]

  • E. Wyn James, 'Painting the World Green: Dafydd Iwan and the Welsh Protest Ballad', Folk Music Journal, 8:5 (2005), pp. 594-618. Also available electronically: https://www.cardiff.ac.uk/special-collections/subject-guides/welsh-ballads/dafydd-iwan
  • C. Fowler, 'Representations of nationalism in the music of Dafydd Iwan', 'Folklore and Identity' Celtic Folk Studies Conference, Cardiff University School of Welsh, 22 July 2005.
  • Llion Iwan (ed.), 'Dafydd Iwan : bywyd mewn lluniau : a life in pictures'. Llandysul, Ceredigion, Cymru : Gomer Press, 2005. ISBN 1-84323-488-2. (Welsh and English)
  • Cymraeg – a startling revival, Dafydd Iwan and Arfon Gwilym interviewed by Rob Gibson, in Burnett, Ray (ed.), Calgacus 3, Spring 1976, pp. 18 – 21, ISSN 0307-2029

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by Chair of Plaid Cymru
Succeeded by
Syd Morgan
Preceded by Vice President of Plaid Cymru
Succeeded by
Preceded by President of Plaid Cymru
Succeeded by