Harpists concert remembers Twynholm tragedy of 1816

The Galloway Association of Glasgow hosted a concert by Welsh harpists Rhiain Bebb and Huw Roberts at Twynholm Parish Church in memory of a tragic event in 1816.

By Brian Yule
Wednesday, 25th May 2022, 4:29 pm
Updated Wednesday, 25th May 2022, 4:29 pm
Rhiain Bebb and Huw Roberts in front of the two memorial stones
Rhiain Bebb and Huw Roberts in front of the two memorial stones

The audience enjoyed their music and particularly a piece composed by the harpists as a tribute to the Pritchard family from Wales who died in Twynholm when they were returning from Ireland to Wales in 1816.

Prior to the music, the Rev Val Ott introduced Mike Duguid who provided a comprehensive account of this sad story.

On the evening of April 20, 1816, a family of seven, including five children, were killed whilst sheltering overnight in a roadside gravel pit near Twynholm having been unable to find lodgings.

The family were buried near the entrance to the church, but without any memorial stone.

In 1871 four Stewartry ministers joined together to place a large headstone over the grave, with an inscription relating the events leading up to the tragedy.

It records that the deceased was a Welsh soldier who was discharged because of blindness, and that his wife was a harpist.

In 1946 the Galloway Association of Glasgow erected a second and smaller stone to acknowledge in both Welsh and English that Hugh Pritchard of the parish of Llandegai, Caernarvonshire, was the inspiration for Sir Walter Scott’s historical novel “Redgauntlet” as the larger stone did not include the soldier’s name nor that he was the source of Scott’s wandering minstrel.

Angus Rex, president of the Galloway Association of Glasgow, was pleased to attend the concert in memory of this tragic event, and to confirm that the association had recently provided an award to restore the larger stone.

Following the concert, a short service was conducted by Rev Ott in the graveyard, during which Rhiain and Huw played t heir harps and placed red roses by the stones.

The opportunity was taken to record the harpists with their harps in front of the stones, with one draped with a Welsh flag, before everyone adjourned to the church hall for enjoyable refreshments and an opportunity to network.

Thanks were expressed to everyone who had contributed to this event, and especially those from Wales.