Hi, I’m an American in upstate NY, descended from a great-great-grandfather born in Pontardulais. Hoping to visit there soon–and I see the Eisteddfod is only an hour a way this year! I’ve wanted to learn Welsh ever since I was a kid watching the Tom Jones Show on TV, when he would speak a little Welsh at the end–I loved the sound of it. Now I’m on lesson 2. Anyway, hoping to connect with someone from the Pontarddulais area so I’ll have a connection when I go to track down the places my great-grandmother visited in 1892 (I have her travel diary). Thanks! – Violet
@Deborah-SSi - maybe one for the email if no-one sings out in here?
Definitely! How exciting! I hope we can put you in touch with someone Violet, if not actually from Pontarddulais it’s not too far away for a few of us so you’ll be sure of a welcome.
Thanks, Dee. Here is my email address if anyone wants to contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org. (Is that the right thing to do?)
Hi Violet - usually people just contact you through the forum. That saves you giving out your email address on here. If they just click on your name they can send you a private message, and then it’s up to you if you exchange email addresses.
It’s a flipping optimistic 1 hour from the Bont to Monmouth!
Welsh roads probably haven’t improved much since your great-great-grandad’s time!
I’m in Swansea, Pontardulais is just up the valley. Nice area, still a good amount of Welsh about there.
Fair’s fair: at least the signs are now bilingual.
My great-grandma made a couple of trips to Swansea – described it in great detail: the marketplace, the drunks on the tram, kids digging holes on the beach for the tide to fill in. “Swansea is a quaint old town, a seaport place with the sea on one side & green hills on the other. It was a busy scene on which our eyes rested. Every window was decorated & streamers, flags & pendants of all colors were flying everywhere & stretched across the streets.” --and much more. I will let you know when I’m heading across the pond, would love to meet you.
Are you also in Swansea?
Nac ydw. Mae’n ddrwg gen i. Swydd Rhydychen (Oxfordshire) ydi’r lle dwi’n byw.
I just read the reports from other areas from time to time and could not resist replying.
(On i’n ceisio bod Alec smart fel arfer).
Your great-grandma’s travel diary sounds really fascinating! It wouldn’t surprise me if historians or publishers showed an interest in that.
In fact, I’m writing a book about her, which is one reason I want to go to Pontarddulais, to get the view from the ground, so to speak. But also I just want to see it for myself.
There is a nice evocation of Swansea in the old days in this B&W film about Dylan Thomas with Richard Burton narrating:
Thanks for the link!-- Such haunting views of Swansea! And I love the line, “He looked…like an unmade bed…”
Hi Violet, I was born in Grovesend, a stones throw from Bont (Pontarddulais) and went to school there ( a long time ago!)., I now live in Derbyshire, England but still visit. Swansea will not be like the Swansea your Great Grandmother visited it as the centre of Swansea was flattened by bombs in the war (including my Grandmothers house) and was rebuilt in the 1950’s. It’s very different now. Whilst you are there do not miss a tour or visit to the Gower Peninsula, fantastic beaches, especially Three Cliffs Bay and the walk from Southgate to Pobbles Bay is really worth the view! Also Worms Head shouldn’t by missed. Hope you find this helpful and that you enjoy your visit to Wales.
p.s.Between Bont and Grovesend U.S. Soldiers were stationed there, my sister married one and lives in Arizona.
I just came across this YouTube clip of the old steam train from Swansea to Pontarddulais
Thanks for this, travelled so many times on the old Mumbles Railway to visit an aunt in West Cross and then on to Mumbles Head. Huge protests in Swansea when the council decided to close this down but all to no avail. What memories!.
Dee, thanks for the video–got chills seeing the sign for Pontardulais. And Mary, my great-grandma, mentions in her diary stopping at Mumbles, with a vivid description of the castle and its dungeons. Valerie, thanks for the advice on what to visit. Mary, who was 20 at the time, had a boyfriend, Will Bevan, who lived on a farm at Alltygraban, two miles from the village. I am so dying to see the places she writes about, even though they will be very different nowadays.
I volunteer at the castle (Oystermouth) in Mumbles. The indoor market is still pretty good in swansea too and the tram/railway has been preserved in a museum (though the opening times are… erratic…)
I’m sure the Friends group of volunteers who looks after the castle day to day would love to see what your henhentaid had to say!
Definitely let me know when you’re coming!
Leifee, how delightful that you volunteer at Oystermouth! I don’t expect to head over till perhaps the summer, maybe try to catch some of the Eisteddfod. (I ought to be able to speak some Welsh by then!) By the way, do you Skype? Maybe it’s a little early, at Lesson 6, for conversation, but I might want to try it out soon. I will try to paste in the part of the diary about the castle, not sure if it’s too long for the forum format. Remember, it was 1892, and my Mary (what’s that delightful word? henhentaid ! ) was 20 at the time, just a girl from Kansas but pretty smart. I’m going to take out a little boring part…
Going back to town we got some dinner in a restaurant, which was vile, but vile as it was refreshed us somewhat. From there we proceeded to the “Tramway” & soon were speeding to “Mumbles”. Arriving there we slowly wended our way to the Castle “Oystermouth”. …It is a picturesque old place covered with beautiful green ivy which creeps out of every crevice, hiding every defect in the rough old stones. We peeked into every nook & corner; climbed the winding stair in the old tower, which has 68 steps, pausing now & then to peek through the portholes or little windows & imagining how we would feel to see the enemy advancing up the green slope. We paced through all the dark passages with abated breath, wishing yet dreading, that we might stumble upon some old relic, in which we were disappointed. We descended a dark gloomy winding stairway not knowing where it would lead us, & found at the bottom the dungeon, a dark gruesome place, enough to make one shiver & remember with doublefold horror all details of cruelty & persecution with which history abounds. We stood in the Chapel & admired the arched windows & the ivy creeping over with clinging tenderness, which seems to subdue & soften all the rough interior. We gazed with awestruck eyes at the immense fireplace in the large kitchen, it being fully six feet wide & three to four feet deep. We could almost see in imagination the huge spit with perhaps an ox or wild boar thereon, the retinue of servants passing to & fro, chatting & laughing perhaps, the crackling & roar of the flames dancing in the fireplace mingling with the pleasant clatter of the dishes. Ah, it seemed another world, but the time passed quickly & we turned our faces towards the entrance. Passing through the iron gates, overhead we could see the formidable portcullis. Now corroded & rusty it was hard to imagine them as once being sharp-pointed steel spears which were lowered with terrific force on the heads of the enemy forcing an entrance. Now they are useless & harmless, fastened up with wire, only relics of “ye olden tyme”.