Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Welsh Wednesday #79

#79: Ffarwel I Llangyfelach Lon by Cowbois Rhos Botwnnog

This is probably the oldest song I've posted on this blog to date. Ffarwel I Llangyfelach Lon (trans: Farewell to gay Llangyfelach; also known as A Soldier's Farewell) is a very old traditional Welsh folk song. It was one of a small amount of secular songs to survive the Methodist revival and puritanical reforms which nearly obliterated Welsh folk song during the 18th century. Folk music has subsequently flourished and those old songs have been interpreted numerous times in numerous different ways.

Ffarwel I Llangyfelach Lon is a song about a young man leaving his home in Llangyfelach (a village located a few miles north of Swansea) to join the military and, ultimately, to fight. It is that rarest of folk songs in that it has a happy ending, our hero returning home to his girl who has been patiently waiting for him.[1]

One famous version of Ffarwel I Llangyfelach Lon was performed by Edward H Dafis, a 1970s folk-rock band. Edward H Dafis is the band name, but guitarist Hefin Elis wrote a newspaper column under this name before giving it to the band. However, I've chosen a much more recent rendition from another folk-based outfit Cowbois Rhos Botwnnog. Hailing from the tiny village of Rhos Botwnnog on the Llyn Peninsula in North Wales, the band consists of brothers Iwan, Dafydd and Aled Hughes along with a merry band of four fellow troubadors. To date, they have released three albums since their formation in 2005. Their most recent, 2012's 'Draw Dros y Mynydd' was nominated for the Welsh Music Prize, but Ffarwel I Llangyfelach Lon featured on their second record a year earlier. It's a great take on this beautiful song.


Here's a rousing live version of Edward H Dafis' take on the song dating from around 1976.

There now follows a short intermission during the Easter period.
See you back here again next Wednesday.

[1]English translation of the lyrics can be seen here if you're interested.


  1. Cheers Robster - excellent choice. Their new album is out any day now, enthrallingly entitles IV. You might guess from that how many previous albums they have.

  2. Very interesting, Robster. Have a nice break.