Dan Conway’s Corner

It’s a good many years since the day my wife and I stood in the Uplands area of Wales’s second city, Swansea, looking, just staring, at a semi-detached, bay-windowed house, No. 5 Cwymdonkin Drive. It was the house where Wales’s most famous poet, Dylan Thomas, was born in the front bedroom in 1914.

About the city of his birth he would say, “This sea town was my world.” He also described it as an “ugly lovely town… crawling, sprawling…”

On our way back from a short holiday in Somerset we decided to make a detour to see where the tragic poet had lived with his schoolmaster father, his mother, and his sister Nancy.

The plan was then to go to Laugharne to visit “The Boat House” where Dylan had lived with his tempestuous Irish wife Caitlin Macnamara, and where he had drunk and roared and caroused, and loved and fought with Caitlin, and had written a major portion of “Under Milk Wood”.

Laugharne, he once said, was the model for his mythical village of Llareggub. It was the place he was brought back to after dying in a New York hospital in 1953. They buried him in the graveyard of St Martin’s Church.

WE HAD seen a stage production of his great “play for voices”, and been mesmerized by it. Set in a mythical small fishing village called Llareggub (read it backwards!) the play opens in silence, and starts with the narrator saying:
To begin at the beginning.

It is spring, moonless night in the small town, starless and bible-black, the cobble streets silent, and the hunched, courters’ and rabbits’ wood limping invisible down to the sloeblack, slow, black, crowblack fishingboat-bobbing sea…
He invites the audience to listen to the dreams and innermost thoughts of the inhabitants of the village. And what a colourful crew they were. To give you some idea, there was for example, Mr Waldo — rabbit catcher, barber, herbalist, cat doctor, quack, who dreams of his mother and his many unhappy failed marriages. He is involved in an affair with Polly Garter.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own