Laugharne Castle, Carmarthenshire, once the home of Robert Courtemain and the place where Henry II met the Lord Rhys of Deheubarth in 1189. Much of the castle today was built in the thirteenth century under the de Brians and was later extensively modified in the Tudor period.
Sshh! it is quiet now after the blowing winds as qualmed Myfanwy waits
in the cobbled lane round the back for Mr Jones jolly to return from jaunts with jugging jars of ale alternative.
Silent, too, I have levelled at this old town of Llanffopohuoy on Gringalet by Pendine
where men now ride faster on destrier unimaginable in my mounting days.
It is day but day dawned delightful as a still, clear night;
out on the light, limpid water, seabirds in the sunshine linger.
The odd mew of gull, gullible tourist chit-chat and the chinking of china
in the tea shop by the shore can hardly shatter this silence now
but dark above us, standing stout, to shout stentorian
is the grey-stoned home of the Courtemains growling
through stilled lips at a land long lost when here
Lord Rhys met Henry to settle in much accord and who
in later years took this place from English hand
as through this part of Wales his lordship washed anew
before Llewelyn by destruction laid it low in later years.
Cast as Tudor palace this pile lived again
till fortune fair her back upon it turned and
where once was welcome then came weather
and homely husbandry fell sway to the humbling of the decades:
roofs fell in, ivy crept round and mortar to sand its destiny prescribed
until in recent years its stones afresh were stirred,
its pebbles polished for a poignant day
when poets proud would write their way
to fame and fortune and fate unkind
but whose fame immortal still blessed this inlet isle
held calm in deep Carmarthenshire long after they were gone.
I walk thus warily towards that place and now
where once was guard and garrison is but a shed
with gewgaws game to gently prise the silver
from the tourist’s tipping hand.
There sits Myfanwy, musically holding forth
by mouth with friends and family at the till,
happily diverting mind from home, home from men.
I approach for entrance and proffer pence appropriate;
her eyes swivel towards me as if a sudden
apparition apparent had chanced before her orbs
and then the words which all in Britain know so well
as a token of warm welcome – words thus spoke which
waft them home from worldly winds:
“We’re closed”, she crabs with apology none and in a moment
I was gone.
Mefanwy though your life be broke
don’t let it be to dark the sun:
’tis better you are softly spoke
so men can dream that you’re the one.
Laugharne Castle, Carmarthenshire, once the home of Robert Courtemain and the place where Henry II met the Lord Rhys of Deheubarth and which, upon Henry’s death, was seized by Rhys in 1189. Much of the castle today was built in the thirteenth century under the de Brians and was later extensively modified in the Tudor period.
This view of Laugharne is the one which most who visit take back as their abiding memory of the place. It is certainly dramatic.
The entrance to Laugharne Castle today; until fairly recently, the castle was in a much worse condition and covered in ivy. Thankfully, the ivy has been removed and the ruins consolidated.
Laugharne today is more famous for the man who lived here than the Lord Rhys who seized Laugharne Castle in 1189. Dylan Thomas, creator of Under Milk Wood and other magnificent poetry lived in this beautiful spot at the end of his career.
The banality of life, so much of which was celebrated by Dylan Thomas, is summarised in these garments, hanging in the breeze at the Boat House, Laugharne.
The Lord Rhys ap Gruffydd certainly had a great reason to capture Laugharne other than taking the castle itself; the view is quite wonderful.