Saturday, 2 May 2015

A Little Boy From Merthyr Always, Always

“A little boy from Merthyr always, always” is a phrase well known  to many a person from that town that sits at the top of the Taff valley which people sometimes refer to as the capital of The Valleys. The phrase comes from a famous son of the town Dr Joseph Parry, composer of one of the greatest love songs the world has ever known, Myfanwy.  Parry like myself left the town as a teenager but as his famous phrase so succinctly sums up once you have the town in your heart and in your veins it stays with you always, no matter where you travel far and wide.

To some the town has less than a glamorous reputation, often exacerbated by negative media representations. Because of these negative images some might think that eternally carrying the town around with you in your bones might seem like some sort of proverbial ancient mariner’s albatross permanently weighing you down around your neck. Nothing could be further from the truth. I look at it as a resource that I always have with me that I can always reach for in my pocket if and when I need it, it is like the Swiss army knife of identities. Why?? Because it always offers you a grounding on what is important in life. I remember another local bard Idris Davies in his poem “The Day We Walked to Merthyr Tydfil” describing coming over the mountain from Rhymney on a cold winter’s night and looking down spellbound on the shimmering, twinkling facets of the house lights of that jewel of a town that is Merthyr. I know that view well and it is one that comes to mind when remembering the natural beauty that surrounds this town.

(This is where I was born; Gwaunfarren Hospital)

 Another resource that always stays with you when you are from the town is the wit and wisdom of its people,  which will always bring you back to the importance of family, community and friends. That spirit of the local people is steeped and is moulded by the proud history of this unique town.  From the Martyring of Tydfil through the kindling of the nascent industrial revolution to that hell on earth that were the local iron works that led to the internationally renowned Merthyr Risings, the boxing, boozing and brawling all associated with the town in the 19th and 20th Century reflect the strife and struggle that gives Merthyr people resilience, resolve and mettle that they use to rise to the challenges that life throws at us all.

So there we have it, what Merthyr means to this little boy who will be forever from the town, the people and the panache of the place is in my bones and in my blood and in my heart and soul. Sometimes those who have seen media representations of the town, such as those recently presented  by “Skint”, say to me “Well you’ve done well considering you come from such a deprived background”  I tell them I don’t feel I had a deprived upbringing at all and quite the opposite but the town gave me a particular resilience and bolshiness that I have always found has served me well to make my way in the world and proud of it I am.  
(Images from

1 comment:

  1. ooh enjoyed this. Sadly Welwyn Garden City isn't nearly as historical. Could make up something...I guess....