Thursday, 17 August 2017

RS Thomas Society Literary Festival - a great success!

From the left, Prof. Tony Brown, Dr. Rowan Williams, Prof. M Wyn Thomas, Dr. John McElhenney
The newly formed RS Thomas & ME Eldridge Appreciation Society held a very successful literary festival over Friday the 9th to Sunday the 11th of June this year. Building on the success of previous years, when the festival was held under the aegis of St Hywyn's church, the festival really blossomed this year with 3 days of varied events and a star-studded cast of speakers who appear in the photograph above.

The main events on Saturday took place in Aberdaron school and were attended by some hundred people who came from far and wide to hear the speakers. Prof. M Wyn Thomas of Swansea University talked of RST's reputation as a turbulent priest who had a difficult relationship with the Church in Wales. Dr Rowan Williams provided a fascinating analysis of RS Thomas' religious poetry and there was an extended question and answer session chaired by Tony Brown and which also included Helen Wilcox and Mark Oakley.

The Festival was honoured by the attendance of Dr. Rowan Williams who retired as Archbishop of Canterbury in 2012, sits in the House of Lords as Baron Oystermouth and is Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge.
Away from the school there was a walk organised by the Society Secretary, Susan Fogarty, which explored the secret paths that RS used to follow in and around Aberdaron. On the Friday afternoon there was a talk by Helen Wilcox, Professor of English at Bangor University, at the Sailing Club on the influence on RS of the 17th century poet George Herbert.

Events in the church included Stations to the Untenanted Cross, where candles accompanied the reading of poetry with time for personal reflection. On Saturday evening there was a performance of The Minister, originally written by RS Thomas as a verse drama for radio. There was also a musical introduction with cello and piano.

Sunday Morning saw a Communion Service in St Hywyn's where Rowan Williams preached and the Bishop of Bangor, Andy John, celebrated the Eucharist.On Sunday afternoon we were treated to personal reflections on the power of poetry by the Rev. Mark Oakley who is the Chancellor of St Paul's Cathedral, London. This took place at the church of St Maelrhys, Porth Ysgo.

The Festival was rounded off by Fish, Chips and Poetry at the Sblash Fish Bar in Aberdaron, where it was open mic poetry for all. Peter is the treasurer of the RS Thomas Society and he received a goodly number of compliments about the Festival. An even larger event is planned next year on the 28th of June to the 1st of July 2018. Book your accommodation now and register an interest in the Festival at

The Sblash Fish Bar.

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