Pererin Wyf / Is oilithreach mé /
I am a pilgrim
Pererin Wyf was a participatory arts project led by the arts organisation SPAN arts, Welsh artist Rowan O’Neill and co-facilitated by Irish artists Rachel Uí Fhaoláin from Ceol Mo Chroí and John Ó Faoláin from Traditional Archive Channel. The project aimed to discover people’s connection to home through story and song, connecting to ‘Celtic Diaspora’ from Pembrokeshire and Wexford across the UK and beyond.
The project took its title and inspiration from an 18th century hymn by the prolific Welsh writer William Williams Pantycelyn; though quickly went beyond this to encompass any song which calls you home.
Cocreation is at the heart of how SPAN arts work, the engagement of the participants helped to shape the project and its outcomes, from their contributions to the digital map which took the project in new directions and created new avenues for collaboration to the stories they shared which shaped the exchanges and films.
Click here to view the story map.
The project commenced with a series of online participatory talks or enquiries into themes of home, hiraeth, cynefin and the experience of the Celtic diaspora. These were followed by online and in-person song-sharing workshops and by two exchange trips which led to Rachel Uí Fhaoláin writing a new song for the project.
‘Pererin Wyf / Is Oilithreach Mé / I am a Pilgrim’ is a 20 minute documentary showing how the project unfolded:
The new song was sung by Span Arts community choir Côr Pawb as part of the ‘Y Canu Mawr’ event at St David’s Cathedral on May 29th 2023.
Here is the live stream recording of that event:
The project engaged over 200 participants from Wales, England, Ireland and North America, with overwhelmingly positive feedback. Particpants talked about gaining a deeper understanding of Welsh and Irish cultures as well as an opportunity to connect with themselves and others:
“It gave me a space to reflect on songs from my own Irish heritage as well as songs that might mean something to my Welsh sons now.”
“The deep connections between Ireland and Wales and the spread of people from both to places around the globe.”
“It has been a pilgrimage in itself over the many events.”
The new song ‘An Dara Craiceann’ has been beautifully recorded and is available to watch in this film by filmmaker John Ó Faoláin from the Traditional Archive Channel: