A FAMOUS radio broadcast by poet Dylan Thomas about Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod is being recreated to mark its 70th anniversary.

The reading from actor, writer and director Celyn Jones will form the centrepiece of a mini programme of events to celebrate the literary magician’s 15-minute masterpiece on the BBC’s Home Service when he visited in 1953.

The vivid verbal images conjured an enchanting and unforgettable picture from the unique event and was delivered in his deep, resonant voice.


The Queen making a presentation at the eisteddfod shortly after her coronation.

The Queen making a presentation at the eisteddfod shortly after her coronation.


But it’s been revealed that the historic broadcast very nearly didn’t happen because at one point Thomas lost his notes on the way back to the BBC’s studio in Cardiff.

That same year the late Queen Elizabeth also attended the Eisteddfod shortly after her Coronation.


The Queen at the eisteddfod in Llangollen.

The Queen at the eisteddfod in Llangollen.


The festival had been established six years earlier under the dark shadow cast by the Second World War as a way of promoting peace through musical harmony and dance.

Since then hundreds of thousands of competitors from all over the planet have beaten a path to Llangollen.

The picturesque town in the Dee Valley where “Wales meets the world” is now gearing up for the first full length festival since the Covid-19 pandemic struck.

It all gets underway on Tuesday, July 4, and the competitions and concerts continue until Sunday, July 9, with thousands of singers and dancers from around the world due to take part.


The Queen at the eisteddfod in Llangollen.

The Queen at the eisteddfod in Llangollen.


According to the Eisteddfod’s executive producer, Camilla King, they were particularly keen to celebrate the anniversary of Thomas’s memorable broadcast.

She said: “Although sadly Dylan Thomas died in New York a few months after his visit to Llangollen, his priceless legacy will live on because he is rightly regarded as one of the literary greats.

“We felt it was particularly appropriate to remember not only his brilliant broadcast but also the wider canon of his work which turned him into a superstar poet.”

The activities will include a presentation by Prof Chris Adams, vice chair of the Eisteddfod and a member of its Archive Committee, who revealed the poet was paid the princely sum of 20 guineas for his endeavours.

Prof Adams said that Swansea-born Thomas had “generated verbal images of the early Eisteddfod whose power resonates to this day”.

It was all the more remarkable, he said, because locals recall he had spent a lot of his time in Llangollen in the pub, with the Wynnstay Hotel (now The Three Eagles) being a favourite watering hole.

That was borne out by the late Aneirin Talfan Davies, the BBC producer who was despatched to Llangollen to keep an eye on Thomas, who accompanied by his wife, Aeronwy and their daughter, Caitlin.

Talfan Davies, who was himself a talented poet, later told how Thomas had spent the week “wandering aimlessly through the streets of Llangollen, with the odd half hour spent in the eisteddfod tent and many hours in the bars of the town’s pubs.”


He also described the poet’s way of working which involved “writing notes on cigarette packets, and the panic on the way back to Cardiff when Thomas feared he had lost the material”.

Thankfully, the notes came to light in the nick of time and the finished, finessed piece has been described as a classic example of his genius with words.

Apart from the competitions and remembering Dylan Thomas, other highlights include a concert starring Alfie Boe and musical theatre supergroup Welsh of the West End on the first night of the Eisteddfod on Tuesday, July 4.