Carmarthen town is a good place to explore and somewhere Dylan often visited while he was living in Laugharne….
Carmarthen town is a good place to explore and somewhere Dylan often visited while he was living in Laugharne. He and Caitlin would come to town to shop at the bustling weekly Farmers’ Mart (still held every Wednesday) and sometimes they would stay on and visit the local cinema. Dylan’s favourite pub was the ‘Boars Head’ on Lammas Street. He liked to drink there and also used it as a meeting place. Gwen Watkins describes one such occasion there in her book, ‘Portrait of a Friend‘, when she and Vernon met the Thomas family,’
‘…..the time in the Boar’s Head Carmarthen, when we were asked to leave because Llewelyn was running among crowded tables, chanting and knocking glasses and elbows……’
When Dylan was arranging to give a talk at the local college it was this pub that was to serve as the liaison point,
‘I don’t know what time I’ll be getting to Carmarthen so I wonder if anyone could pick me up at the Boar’s Head at about 6.30. That would give us time for a surreptitious drink before going on the College.’
from an unpublished letter dated October 1952.
At the college Dylan had a good, but somewhat unlikely, friend in the Rev. Professor Stephens, who was a theology lecturer. Dylan would often call on him to chat about poetry and philosophy. On the death of Dylan’s father Stephens sent Dylan and his mother a letter of condolence. Dylan replied with a letter which has echoes of his great poem ‘Do not go gentle into that good night‘:
‘My father was in great pain and distress at the end, and nearly blind; but though we wished him peace and rest, his death was a terrible loss to us all.’
When the Rev. Stephens retired in 1954, a colleague, the accomplished artist John Wright, presented him with a fine pen and wash portrait of Dylan, inscribed on the verso, ‘in memory of a great Welsh poet and thinker.’
It was at the Infirmary just outside the town that Dylan’s Aunt, Ann Jones, died in 1933 and where Dylan’s third and last child, Colm Garan, was born in 1949.
It is to Carmarthen that young Thomas and the villagers of Johnstown go in search of his Grandpa in Dylan’s fine autobiographical short story ‘A Visit to Grandpa’s‘ from ‘Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog‘. When they eventually catch up with the eccentric old man he is interrogated sternly,
‘And what do you think you are doing on Carmarthen Bridge in the middle of the afternoon…..with your best waistcoat and old hat?’
And where do you think you are going with your old black bag?’
‘I am going to Llangdock to be buried’
‘But you aren’t dead yet, Dai Thomas’
You are now heading north. Whether or not you tarry in Carmarthen, these directions guide you from the main roundabout approaching Carmarthen, off the A48 from Swansea. At the roundabout take the right turn signed A40 Llandeilo. After about a quarter of a mile go straight on at the next roundabout still signed A40 Llandeilo.
After approx. one and quarter miles turn left at the next roundabout signed A484 Cardigan. After about 300 yards turn left again at the next roundabout still signed A484 Cardigan. After another quarter of a mile turn right at the next roundabout signed A484 Cardigan and Newcastle Emlyn. After approx. twenty miles, at Saron, turn right onto the A486 to Llandysul.