John Ceiriog Hughes

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John Ceiriog Hughes

John Ceiriog Hughes (25 September 1832 – 23 April 1887), was a Welsh poet and well-known collector of Welsh folk tunes.[1] Sometimes referred to as the "Robert Burns of Wales". Ceiriog was born at Penybryn farm overlooking the village of Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog, in the Ceiriog Valley, which was then in Denbighshire but today is part of Wrexham County Borough, in north-east Wales. He worked as a railway clerk in Manchester and London and as stationmaster at Llanidloes . He was employed as a station master and Manager of the Van Railway at Caersws railway station from 1868 [2] until his death in 1887.


Through his desire to restore simplicity of diction and emotional sincerity, he did for Welsh poetry what Wordsworth and Coleridge did for English poetry. He became famous winning a series of prizes for his poems in the 1850s. His first collection of poetry was published in 1860 and is called Oriau'r Hwyr ("Evening Hours"). As well as writing poetry he wrote many light hearted lyrics which he adapted to old Welsh tunes, or the original music of various composers. Many of his songs were written to folk airs. Ceiriog Hughes' song lyrics include Dafydd y Garreg Wen ("David of the White Rock"). He also wrote the Welsh words to the song, "God Bless the Prince of Wales" and to the Charles Dibdin song, "The Bells of Aberdovey", which he translated as "Clychau Aberdyfi". The Welsh language version of the song The Ash Grove is putatively attributed to Ceiriog Hughes. Another source attributes the Welsh words of the song Men of Harlech, first published in 1890, to him and says that English words were first published in 1893.[3]


His fascination with Welsh folk music led to an investigation of the history of the music and particularly the harpists who would often accompany then. This led to a grand project to publish four volumes of Welsh airs, of which only the first volume actually made it to press in 1863: Cant O Ganeuon ("A Hundred Songs").

Bardic Name[edit]

Like many Welsh poets, he took a bardic name – "Ceiriog" – from the River Ceiriog, which flows through the Ceiriog Valley, where he was born. In his home village, the public hall contains a memorial inscription to him.


  1. ^ The National Library of Wales :: Dictionary of Welsh Biography
  2. ^ C P Gasquoine (1973). The Story of the Cambrian. Christopher Davies Ltd. 
  3. ^ Fuld, James J, The book of world-famous music: classical, popular, and folk, Dover, 5th ed 2000, p 394

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