Prestatyn grave Gwilym Richard Tilsley

Gwilym Richard Tilsley (d.1997)

Photo of grave of Gwilym R TilsleyGwilym R Tilsley was one of the leading Welsh-language poets of his generation. He was born near Llanidloes, Powys. After going to university in Aberystwyth and Cambridge, he became a Wesleyan minister. He moved many times for his work, living in most regions of Wales at one time or another. He married Anne Eluned Jones in 1945 and they had one child, Gareth Maldwyn.

Gwilym took a particular interest in the lives of manual workers, including the coal miners of the South Wales Valleys when he was a minister in Aberdare, Cynon Valley, from 1945 to 1950. His poem Moliant i’r Glöwr (‘Praise for the Collier’) won him the chair at the 1950 National Eisteddfod, held in Caerphilly (the first time the Eisteddfod applied the rule that all activities must be in Welsh).

Photo of Gwilyn R Tilsley being chaired in 1957‘Tilsli’ (the bardic name by which he became well known) won the chair again at Llangefni in 1957. This time it was his reward for a poem about slate quarrymen. By then he had been living in North Wales for seven years. The photo, courtesy of the National Library of Wales, shows him during the chairing ceremony at Llangefni.

From 1969 to 1972 he was Archdruid of Wales. The archdruid presides over the Gorsedd of Bards at the Eisteddfod. Since the 1930s, only chaired or crowned bards are eligible.

Gwilym also wrote words for hymns. He retired to Prestatyn in 1975 and died in 1997. Anne died in 2003.

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