John Ceiriog Hughes (September 25, 1832 - April 23, 1887), was a Welsh poet and well-known collector of Welsh folk tunes. Sometimes referred to as the 'Robert Burns of Wales'. Ceiriog was born at Penybryn farm overlooking the village of Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog, in the Ceiriog Valley, which was then in Denbighshire in north-east Wales. He worked as a railway clerk in Manchester and London. He was employed as a station master at Caersws railway station station from 1868 until his death in 1877
Through his desire to restore simplicity of diction and emotional sincerity, he did for Welsh poetry what Wordsworth and Coleridge did for English poetry. He became famous winning a serious of prizes for his poems in the 1850's. His first collection of poetry was published in 1860 and is called Oriau'r Hwyr
(“Evening Hours”). As well as writing poetry he wrote many light hearted lyrics which he adapted to old Welsh tunes, or the original music of various composers. Many of his songs were written to folk airs. Ceiriog Hughes' song lyrics include Dafydd y Garreg Wen
("David of the White Rock") and Clychau Aberdyfi
("The Bells of Aberdyfi"). He also wrote the Welsh words to the song, "God Bless the Prince of Wales
". The Welsh language
version of the song The Ash Grove
is putatively attributed to Ceiriog Hughes.
His fascination with Welsh folk music led to an investigation of the history of the music and particularly the harpists who would often accompany then. This led to a grand project to publish four volumes of Welsh airs, of which only the first volume actually made it to press in 1863: Cant O Ganeuon
("A Hundred Songs").
Like many Welsh poets, he took a bardic name
- "Ceiriog" - from the River Ceiriog, which flows through the Ceiriog Valley
, where he was born. In his home village, the public library contains a memorial inscription to him.