Saturday, October 19, 2013

Hiraeth


Click for larger image

This is the Dublin Welsh Male Voice Choir in its early days at a gig in RTÉ. I came across the photo recently and wondered how many of those in it were still alive, or how many were still singing with the modern version of the choir.

I figure there are now only four from the photo in the current choir: Keith Young, Mike Hayes, Ralph Pendleton (baritones) and Alun "Ogmore" Tilley (bass). That is not to say that the rest are dead, though some are. Others have moved on or maybe just run out of steam. And there is no guarantee that everyone turned out for the RTÉ gig, though, at most, there would only have been one or two missing.

The man who introduced me to the choir, and who is to blame for my subsequent stint on a farm learning Welsh, is Hywel Morris, from Porthmadog. He's the guy with the beard and glasses in the middle of the back row. He was in the RTÉ design department and left soon after for HTV. I took over his Welsh classes in Mr. Quinn's pub in Aungier St. Apart from some non-Welsh Welsh, I had two Irish eminences of the Republican movement(s) in the class: Roy Johnston and Deasún Breathnach. I was intended to be a stopgap until a real Welsh member took over and I was only one page ahead of the class - not a comfortable station for a teacher. However, nobody volunteered and the classes petered out.

To the best of my recollection there were only two Irish in the choir at that time: me (middle front row) and Séamus Ó Buachalla (back row right - with the shades) RIP.

I am squarely between two very Welsh Welsh: Brian Powell (left), RIP, in whose TCD rooms, beside Kennedy's pub in Westland Row, we used to practice, and Howell Evans (right), RIP, who had been in Ireland since time immemorial. Brian, if I remember correctly, was from Llangefni where his mother had the post office. He was in charge of the Curriculum Development Unit in TCD, hence the rooms. Howell, who died recently, worked for British Rail and had been a member of the Welsh Chapel in Talbot St.

Garvin Evans (third row, left, with glasses) was a top-top tenor and known as the Llanelli Nightingale. He is the father of U2's Edge.

Next to him, in that row, is Monty Dalton, another Welsh Welshman, who was longtime longsuffering secretary to the choir.

Next to him is Og (Alun Tilley from Ogmore) still singing with the choir.

And next to him Mike Hayes who is also Welsh. Ralph Pendleton is directly behind Mike, and both of these are still members. [Update: sadly Ralph had already died in 2013 and I didn't know when I did this post, RIP]

Gavin Bowie (second from left, back row) was a lad from Yorkshire, who was studying industrial archeology. That was the first time I had heard of such a subject but it has since proved a fascinating area.

And no tour would be complete without Keith Young (second row, second from left), the choir's conductor for most of its existence, and recently figuring in the UK honours list. Keith is from Pontarddulais and has all the choral passion of his native town.

I won't name everyone but, if I get the time, I'll put up a mapped version of the photo on my website and link to it here.

And don't forget the uniform. Snazzy enough in its day, but a mile from today's blazered brigade.

Hwyl fawr.


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