The Great Llangollen Eisteddfod, 1858

History of the Welsh Eisteddfodau

The great Llangollen Eisteddfod of 1858 is a highly significant event. It was a tempestuous eisteddfod. It was at this eisteddfod that the famous Thomas Stephens of Merthyr entered his wonderful essay exploding the myth of Madog's discovery of America. John Williams and his friends had been expecting an essay which would reinforce the myth. Because it had been discredited, they were not at all willing to award the prize to Thomas Stephens and matters at this Eisteddfod became turbulent in the extreme.

And of course, this Eisteddfod saw the first public appearance of a young poet who would be the idol of the nation until his death in the year 1887: none other than Ceiriog, John Ceiriog Hughes. He travelled all the way from Manchester, where he was living at the time, to collect his prize for a love poem, 'Myfanwy Fychan of Dinas Brân'. 'Myfanwy Fychan' was the most amazing 'hit' from the moment it was first read at the Great Llangollen Eisteddfod. In my opinion there's one overriding reason for this. The women of Wales had been pilloried In the dreadful Blue Books of 1847. Their morals had been called into question; it was said that illegitimate children were two a penny in Wales, and this had cut the Welsh to the quick. What Ceiriog did above all else in 1858 in Llangollen was to create an image of a deserving, beautiful, moral, well-mannered Welshwoman, and the Welsh fell in love with Myfanwy Fychan overnight.

  • National Museum Cardiff

    National Museum Cardiff

    Discover art, natural history and geology. With a busy programme of exhibitions and events, we have something to amaze everyone, whatever your interest – and admission is free!

  • St Fagans National History Museum

    St Fagans

    St Fagans is one of Europe's foremost open-air museums and Wales's most popular heritage attraction.

  • Big Pit National Coal Museum

    Big Pit

    Big Pit is a real coal mine and one of Britain's leading mining museums. With facilities to educate and entertain all ages, Big Pit is an exciting and informative day out.

  • National Wool Museum

    National Wool Museum

    Located in the historic former Cambrian Mills, the Museum is a special place with a spellbinding story to tell.

  • National Roman Legion Museum

    National Roman Legion Museum

    In AD 75, the Romans built a fortress at Caerleon that would guard the region for over 200 years. Today at the National Roman Legion Museum you can learn what made the Romans a formidable force and how life wouldn't be the same without them.

  • National Slate Museum

    National Slate Museum

    The National Slate Museum offers a day full of enjoyment and education in a dramatically beautiful landscape on the shores of Llyn Padarn.

  • National Waterfront Museum

    National Waterfront Museum

    The National Waterfront Museum at Swansea tells the story of industry and innovation in Wales, now and over the last 300 years.

  • Rhagor: Explore our collections

    Rhagor (Welsh for ‘more’) offers unprecedented access to the amazing stories that lie behind our collections.