RS Thomas, the celebrated Anglo-Welsh poet, was vicar of Saint Michael’s church, Eglwysfach between 1954 and 1967. He, and his wife, the illustrator Elsi Eldridge took inspiration from the landscape of the Dyfi valley, but also left their own distinctive mark on the locality.
(Image of RS Thomas at Eglwysfach courtesy of the Trustees of The Iron Room Eglwysfach Ltd)
Discover RS Thomas in Ceredigion
RS Thomas’ poetry grapples with his understanding of twentieth century Wales, personal and national identity, politics, culture and spirituality. RS Thomas drew inspiration from the Welsh landscape and people, and the often harsh lives of farm labourers, epitomised by his main protagonist, Iago Prydderch.
R S Thomas was vicar of St Michael’s Church, Eglwysfach from 1954 to 1967 during one of his most productive poetic periods. During his time in this parish he published ‘Song at the year’s turning’ (1955) and other volumes of poetry. This began the development of his reputation as one of Wales’s most important English-language poets. He died in 2000.
Often described as being rather an austere and formidable character, RS Thomas was known for his fierce temper and a dislike of modern comfort and convenience; he chose to live in an unheated cottage, allegedly rejected gadgets like the vacuum cleaner because it was ‘too noisy’ and generally disapproved of modern western materialism. With his wife, the artist Elsi Eldridge, RS Thomas radically transformed the interior of St Michael’s church in Eglwysfach, painting the pews and pulpit a severe black.
RS Thomas was also active in wildlife conservation and worked with the RSPB and Welsh volunteer organisations to preserve the red kite. He was also a great friend of Bill Condry, The Guardian's country diarist, and spent many hours bird watching on the Ynyshir estate, now an RSPB reserve. We can only speculate to his views of the successful recent reintroduction of the ospreys to the Dyfi Estuary...