Patrick Thomas Crwydro


Patrick Thomas

Y Parchedig Patrick Thomas sy'n crwydro yn ardal Brechfa, Sir Gaerfyrddin yng nghwmni Iolo Williams. The Rev. Patrick Thomas walks in the Brechfa area of Carmarthenshire with Io...


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-A CHURCH BELL RINGS

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-Patrick Thomas was the rector of

-this church in Brechfa for 15 years.

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-He never overslept, though

-he didn't have an alarm clock...

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-..because the church bell

-was rung at 7.30am every morning.

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-Patrick and his family

-lived in the manse.

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-That's just one anecdote...

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-..from the happy time when Patrick

-lived and worked in this area.

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-I'm on my way to the most remote

-church in his care...

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-..at Llanfihangel Rhos-y-corn.

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-There's the church,

-in a very remote spot in the hills.

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-Yes. I believe it's one of the most

-remote churches in Wales.

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-It's up in the hills,

-and this weather is typical.

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-Yes, this fine rain.

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-It must be nice to come back here.

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-Yes, it is.

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-I still miss these old parishes.

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-Llanfihangel Rhos-y-Corn.

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-You go first.

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-Before we go into the church...

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-..we start here,

-but where are you taking me?

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-From this old church...

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-..we go to the capital of the parish

-of Llanfihangel Rhos-y-Corn...

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-..a small village called Gwernogle.

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-Then on to Brechfa,

-where I lived for 17 years.

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-We also visit

-the third parish, Abergorlech.

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-So many rural churches

-are locked these days.

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-It's good to see

-this door's always open.

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-It's important to us

-to leave doors unlocked...

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-..so that visitors are welcomed.

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-We must make sure

-that we keep churches open.

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-The authorities had plans

-to close the church.

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-My predecessor was Eric Grey...

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-..a great character

-within the Church in Wales.

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-He was the one

-who rang the bell in Brechfa.

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-That's right.

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-Eric was with me for eight years.

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-He taught me

-how to be a rural priest.

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-Eric received a letter

-from the archdeacon...

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-..telling him

-to close down the church.

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-Eric wasn't happy,

-because it's an old church.

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-So he ignored the letter.

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-This church has been

-officially closed for 40 years...

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-..though it's kept going

-despite that!

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-This isn't the kind of place

-a bishop would like to visit.

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-It's a punishment parish.

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-Every diocese

-has its punishment parish...

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-..where they send

-troublesome priests!

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-Priests whom the bishop

-wanted to forget were sent here!

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-So why were you sent here?!

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-Yes, that's the question!

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-I'm not quite sure,

-though a few have asked me!

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-One old priest

-asked me that at a funeral.

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-I didn't know what to say!

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-But students at Lampeter College

-used to pray...

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-.."From Llanfihangel Rhos-y-Corn,

-save us, O Lord!"

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-They didn't want to come here

-because it's so remote...

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-..and because you tended

-to be forgotten by the bishop.

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-There's a lovely

-multi-coloured cloth on the altar.

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-What's its significance?

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-It was made by a woman from America,

-Eleanor Van de Water...

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-..who's an artist.

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-Her grandfather came from this area.

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-The colours all signify something.

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-Blue represents the sea.

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-People from here

-crossed the sea to America.

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-Green represents the forests of

-Washington state, where she lives...

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-..and the forests

-here in this parish.

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-White and the Celtic crosses

-signify the Holy Spirit...

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-..and the faith

-that kept people going.

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-Purple represents the heather

-on the mountain.

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-The weather's lifting, Patrick.

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-We may even get some sunshine.

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-We may even get some sunshine.

-

-Yes. It's worth having a priest

-with you, sometimes!

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-You have some influence up there!

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-Well, it's possible!

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-You have a very close association

-with this area...

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-..but you're originally

-from mid Wales.

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-I was born in Welshpool...

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-..and I lived in a village

-called Buttington, on the border...

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-..until I was seven years old.

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-Then we moved to Chesterfield

-in Derbyshire.

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-What did your father do?

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-What did your father do?

-

-He was a lawyer in Welshpool

-before he got a job in England.

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-He regretted moving, I believe.

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-To return to your childhood,

-you didn't speak Welsh, did you?

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-No.

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-My mother came from Ireland

-and my father didn't speak Welsh.

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-His grandfather could speak Welsh

-but he was the last in the family.

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-I went to St Catherine's College

-in Cambridge...

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-..to study English.

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-My father asked me

-why was I studying English...

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-..when I couldn't speak

-my own language.

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-That made me feel rather ashamed.

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-You could only study Middle Welsh

-at Cambridge...

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-..with Dr Rachel Bromwich.

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-So I started right at the beginning.

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-I learned some Middle Welsh

-at Cambridge.

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-Did something important

-happen to you...

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-..that made you

-want to become a priest?

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-Something happened

-when I was a student at Cambridge.

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-I went on holiday

-to Pembrokeshire...

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-..and I had a spiritual experience

-there which began the process.

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-Then when I went back

-to Cambridge...

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-..a bishop of the Orthodox Church,

-Anthony Bloom...

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-..made an impression on me.

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-I told my friends

-I intended to become a priest.

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-They started pulling my leg.

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-They were all firm pagans.

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-They'd take me to parties...

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-..and introduce me

-to the prettiest girl there...

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-..saying, "This is Patrick,

-he's going to be a vicar!"

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-Everyone would laugh, because vicars

-are always figures of fun.

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-But I became discouraged...

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-..and I ran away to Wales

-to avoid becoming a priest.

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-You escaped to Aberystwyth to do

-a post-graduate degree in English.

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-Yes, that's what I did.

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-But the call caught up with me.

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-I felt I had to give in, in the end.

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-I had a choice.

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-I could either join the Anglican

-Church or the Church in Wales.

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-There weren't many Welsh priests

-in the Diocese of St David's.

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-So I promised to learn Welsh.

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-My father came to see me...

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-..and he was extremely angry

-that I was going to become a priest.

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-He hated priests.

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-But he said he was happy that I was

-joining the Church in Wales...

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-..rather than the Church of England.

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-He bought me the biggest Welsh Bible

-he could find in Aberystwyth!

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-Where did you start as a curate?

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-I went back to Aberystwyth

-as a curate, with George Noakes...

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-..who later became Archbishop.

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-On my first day, George told me I

-was in charge of the Welsh church.

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-He took me

-to St Mary's Welsh Church...

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-..and told people,

-"Here's the new curate...

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-..don't speak a word of English

-to him!"

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-The first six months

-were quite tough.

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-I'd been on an Wlpan course

-a year before.

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-But I found things quite difficult.

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-I thought I was going deaf

-at one time...

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-..because I couldn't understand

-what people were saying.

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-George checked my sermons.

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-He arranged for my first sermon...

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-..to coincide with the lifeboat

-service at the English church...

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-..so there was no-one

-in the Welsh church, which helped!

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-That salt box is new.

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-They may have put it there

-for the new priest!

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-Maybe young priests aren't as tough

-as those of my generation!

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-We're approaching

-Pant-y-coubal farmyard now.

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-Idris, who lives in Pant-y-coubal,

-was a great help to me.

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-He made sure I arrived safely

-at Llanfihangel Rhos-y-Corn...

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-..which was kind of him,

-because he's the chapel secretary.

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-An example

-of ecumenical co-operation!

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-And here's one of the most important

-characters in the area...

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-..Jac, the Pant-y-coubal dog!

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-I remember Jac

-winning the school raffle.

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-He won a bottle of sherry.

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-I don't know who drank it!

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-Hello, Jac bach!

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-You can still smell the sherry!

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-Sweet thing!

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-THE DOG BARKS

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-Here we are in Gwernogle.

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-Here we are in Gwernogle.

-

-That's right.

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-The old people called it "Gwarnoge".

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-Gwarnoge?

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-The Post Office.

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-It's hard to believe it now....

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-..but at one time, after the Second

-World War and on into the '50s...

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-..this was the area's

-cultural centre.

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-Before the advent of electricity...

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-..every Friday night,

-all the old boys would meet here...

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-..to compose poetry

-and tell stories.

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-There were lots of superb

-storytellers in this area.

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-If someone failed to turn up...

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-..they'd write amusing limericks

-and stick them under their door!

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-This was quite a community.

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-It's gone now, has it?

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-It's gone now, has it?

-

-Yes, it's gone.

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-There used to be an eisteddfod

-in the chapel at Christmas...

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-..but it's no longer held.

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-..but it's no longer held.

-

-1749 - this is a very old chapel.

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-Yes, the old

-Congregational chapel.

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-Gwernogle Congregationalists

-were known for their independence.

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-I must say, this church in Brechfa

-has a very homely atmosphere.

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-Yes, it does.

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-I feel I've come home.

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-It's a special place.

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-I spent hours in here.

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-I'd come here every morning

-and every night, of course.

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-Sometimes I'd be shouting at God...

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-..and at other times

-I'd be at peace with God.

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-The most intense experiences

-of my life happened here.

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-So I feel I've come home

-when I come to this church.

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-It's very beautiful.

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-What's the significance

-of this window above the altar?

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-The window depicts Jesus -

-a very gentle portrayal of Jesus.

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-There's St Teilo,

-the patron saint of this church.

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-The old name for Brechfa

-was Llandeilo Brechfa Gothi.

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-Of course, no-one knows

-what St Teilo looked like...

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-..so the face of William Williams,

-Pantycelyn, was the model.

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-..so the face of William Williams,

-Pantycelyn, was the model.

-

-Is that his face?

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-Yes, Pantycelyn's face.

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-These hassocks

-are very colourful indeed.

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-What's their history?

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-A group of women, the Teilo

-tapestry-makers, made them.

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-They're very interesting.

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-They've used three languages.

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-Some of the women were Welsh, some

-were English and some were Polish.

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-It says "God is love" in Polish on

-the hassock in front of the altar.

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-I won't try to say it in Polish!

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-They were amazing people.

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-They came and settled

-in this part of Wales...

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-..because it was very similar

-to Poland.

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-This was after the Second World War,

-of course.

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-We had a warden, Will Jones,

-a very special man.

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-He worked in forestry.

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-Will became a great friend

-of theirs and he helped them.

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-When he died,

-after he developed cancer...

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-..they wanted to give the church

-something in his memory.

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-So they donated the crucifix

-that stands above the pulpit.

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-Strangely enough, the face

-of the figure on this cross...

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-..which had been carved by an artist

-in some Polish village...

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-..was incredibly similar

-to Will's face.

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-That was extremely strange...

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-..because the carver

-had never seen Will.

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-It's a worthy memorial

-to a very special man.

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-It's good to know that Brechfa

-remains a very Welsh area.

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-It's an agricultural area,

-and it has unique characters.

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-Yes, that's true.

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-People like Albert the Blacksmith.

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-Albert lives in Carmarthen but he

-still keeps Brechfa smithy going.

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-It's good for retired farmers, who

-can spend their time with Albert.

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-Patrick, this pub is very close

-to the church, just across the road.

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-Yes.

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-Lots of churches have pubs nearby.

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-The old church here

-was even closer to the pub.

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-The church and the pub

-were the focus of the community.

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-They go together.

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-I bet there've been

-some lively evenings here!

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-Certainly.

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-Tippit evenings are popular

-for fund-raising in this area.

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-I remember one tippit evening

-in particular.

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-We were nearing the end.

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-That's the only time

-I ever won at tippit.

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-We were playing against the senior

-deacon of the chapel and his team!

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-My team were all church-goers!

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-The rectory is also

-near the church and the pub.

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-Yes, they form a triangle.

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-A few visitors

-called with us at the rectory.

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-Our most famous guest

-was Germaine Greer.

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-I was publishing a book with her.

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-As it happened, my wife, Helen,

-was away at the time.

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-She was away

-at her grandmother's wedding...

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-..and she'd taken the children.

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-Her grandmother was 90, and she

-married an 80-year-old toy boy!

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-Very few children attend

-their great-grandmother's wedding!

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-So off they went,

-then Germaine Greer phoned.

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-The Hay Festival was on at the time.

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-She wanted to come over

-for Sunday lunch.

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-Of course,

-Sunday is a busy day for me.

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-All I had in the fridge

-was a Marks & Spencer quiche.

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-She looked at it

-and didn't fancy it at all!

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-So we came over here for a

-publisher's lunch, as she called it.

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-She ordered salmon and champagne!

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-We sat in the window

-of the Forest Arms.

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-So there I was on the Sabbath,

-with a strange woman...

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-..drinking champagne

-and eating salmon...

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-..and some chapel elders

-walked past!

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-I had a lot of explaining to do!

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-We're nearing the end

-of our journey.

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-We're now in the third parish.

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-We're approaching Abergorlech.

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-This is the river Gorlech.

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-Its name derives from the unusual

-spider-web patterned stones...

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-..that are found in the river.

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-Are there fish in the river?

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-Are there fish in the river?

-

-Not many these days.

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-There are fish in the Cothi,

-which the Gorlech joins.

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-The vicar of Abergorlech...

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-..has the right to fish

-on part of the river Cothi.

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-..has the right to fish

-on part of the river Cothi.

-

-Did you go fishing much?

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-I was never much good at fishing!

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-Eric Grey, my predecessor,

-enjoyed fishing.

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-I allowed the village children

-to fish in my part of the river.

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-I allowed the village children

-to fish in my part of the river.

-

-Well done!

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-You've now left this area

-and moved to Carmarthen.

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-It isn't far, but it must be

-a different world.

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-Yes, it is.

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-It's a different society.

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-I was here for so many years,

-I knew everyone.

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-I'm starting to settle in Carmarthen

-but it's quite different.

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-You new job carries a lot

-of responsibility.

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-You help out at the cathedral

-in St David's.

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-That must be quite an honour.

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-That must be quite an honour.

-

-Yes, it's an honour

-to be at St David's Cathedral.

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-St David's is strange.

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-The Queen is also a canon there.

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-Her seat is near my seat.

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-But she's only ever

-sat near me once...

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-..and all she said then

-was "Good morning!"

0:20:440:20:45

-..and all she said then

-was "Good morning!"

-

-Really? In Welsh or in English?

0:20:450:20:48

-In English, I'm afraid!

0:20:480:20:49

-In English, I'm afraid!

-

-You should teach her

-a few words of Welsh!

0:20:490:20:53

-You go first.

0:20:540:20:55

-So only a small part of your work

-is in Pembrokeshire.

0:20:550:21:00

-Yes, but I get a chance to write

-when I'm there.

0:21:000:21:05

-What do you write?

0:21:050:21:07

-At the moment I'm starting to write

-my autobiography.

0:21:070:21:11

-I hope to call it "Ffeirad y

-Fforest" after my years in Brechfa.

0:21:130:21:19

-Abergorlech, the end of our journey,

-by the river Cothi.

0:21:220:21:26

-Once again, the pub

-is close to the church.

0:21:260:21:29

-Once again, the pub

-is close to the church.

-

-Yes.

0:21:290:21:30

-At one time, we were worried the

-church would fall on top of the pub!

0:21:300:21:37

-It's safe, so far!

0:21:370:21:38

-It's safe, so far!

-

-This is a very tidy village.

0:21:380:21:40

-Yes.

0:21:410:21:43

-It's a very pretty village.

0:21:430:21:45

-There's a reason for that.

0:21:450:21:47

-There were plans to drown

-this village in the early '60s.

0:21:480:21:53

-The people of Abergorlech protested

-but no-one listened.

0:21:530:21:57

-So they decided to enter

-a best kept village competition.

0:21:590:22:03

-And they won, year after year.

0:22:050:22:08

-Consequently, they couldn't drown

-the best kept village in Wales!

0:22:090:22:13

-Very crafty!

0:22:130:22:15

-Patrick, I've really enjoyed

-the journey.

0:22:150:22:18

-We've visited the three parishes.

0:22:180:22:20

-All three are very different

-in their own way.

0:22:200:22:23

-All three are very different

-in their own way.

-

-Yes, they're very different.

0:22:230:22:24

-Each parish

-has its own unique character...

0:22:250:22:28

-..and a lot of unique characters

-live here.

0:22:290:22:32

-People say parochialism

-is a bad thing.

0:22:320:22:35

-But personally,

-I enjoy being a parish priest.

0:22:360:22:39

-I enjoy being parochial sometimes!

0:22:410:22:43

-S4C subtitles by

-TROSOL Cyf.

0:23:170:23:20
0:23:200:23:22

Y Parchedig Patrick Thomas sy'n crwydro yn ardal Brechfa, Sir Gaerfyrddin yng nghwmni Iolo Williams. The Rev. Patrick Thomas walks in the Brechfa area of Carmarthenshire with Iolo Williams.


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