Meet the side
We're a fun, sociable and friendly bunch, come along and meet us!
You'll find a photo and a quick introduction to each of us below.
I joined Sweyn’s Ey in January 2017, following a chance encounter with the side at the Gower Heritage Centre’s annual Wassail. After a week of committed online stalking by Siân, I turned up for my first practice and, by the end of the first dance, I knew that Morris was absolutely my favourite thing in the world.
By the end of that year, thanks to some mentoring from Keith, I’d also become an enthusiastic jig dancer, with a well-deserved reputation for springiness. My energetic, exuberant style soon won me the title of “danciest dancer” wherever the side went, and I delight in taking to the floor when “Ben’s Jig” is announced – usually when the rest of the side feel like a bit of a breather.
I was elected Squire in 2021, just in time for the beginning of the summer dancing season. Alongside the more serious duties of the role, it’s given me the chance to unleash my inner showman and indulge my love of nonsense, introducing the dances to the audience with a dash of whimsy (and a very loud voice).
I also dance with Cardiff Morris, Full Moon Morris, and am an occasional (long-distance) member of Black Joak Morris in Sydney, Australia. On the rare occasions when I’m found without bells on, I play Highland bagpipes with the City of Swansea Pipe Band, and sometimes join Di for the folk session at The Park Inn, Mumbles, playing Scottish smallpipes and Irish bodhrán.
I started Morris dancing in 1996 as a new year’s resolution and have never looked back, except when galleying! Before joining Sweyn's Ey in 2021 I also danced with Anker Morris Men for 11 years (Squire 2004-2006) and Towersey Morris Men for 4 years. The world of Morris has taken me to festivals all over Europe and the experience of a vast array of traditions and folk crafts. Highlights include candle-making in Lithuania, pulling the Saddleworth rush-cart and of course dancing in the Gower amongst some of the most limber dancers, stunning castles and landscapes.
Alex D (Bagman)
I was ambushed by a madwoman one dark night between Christmas and New Year when walking my dog, she jumped out from behind a parked car and told me she’d heard I was coming Morris dancing when the local side went back to practice after Christmas. I humoured her and made positive noises (as she might have been dangerous) but it turned out she played fiddle for the dancers. I told my wife about this when I got back to the house, and she ‘suddenly remembered’ she had volunteered me. I duly went along to practice in early January, convinced there was absolutely no way I was ever going more than once. Then I tried it. It was a bit baffling at first, but I was hooked by the end of the first session. Been doing it seven years now, can’t ever see myself giving up.
[Alex also hankers after a beard as good as the one in this photo. Every year at Christmas, his fantasies are (almost) fulfilled when he dons this beautiful specimen for our annual Mummers Play performance. Doesn't he look hot?!]
Paul (Archivist & Webmaster)
I joined Sweyn’s Ey in 1976 and have been dancing continuously with the side (had a short break in the 90s when I danced with the legendary Gloucester Old Spot, Lassington Oak and Stroud Morris) and occasionally also play melodeon for them.
Christmas time gives me the opportunity to feed my thespian tendencies and I am generally one of the rowdy hero combatants performing in our mummers plays! I favour Fieldtown & Badby and Welsh Morris. Ales I enjoy are Felinfoel Double Dragon, Timothy Taylor Landlord and anything from Belgium!
Siân (Lead Musician and Fiddle Player Extraordinaire)
Siân joined Sweyn’s Ey in 2012 at the behest of Nigel and has since spread the word and recruited Alex D (ambushing on a dark night) and Ben (stalking on Twitter). When not playing Morris, she plays with Rough Edge Ceilidh Band, Llanelli Chamber Orchestra, Swansea Philharmonia and Swansea Bay Symphony Orchestra. Often to be overheard muttering ‘and how does that one go again?’ and laughing at Nigel’s galleys, whilst carrying a fiddle case that weighs a tonne of Black Book 'just in case'.
Kev (Melodeon Player Extraordinaire)
Having spent my working days as a GP with an envious eye on (just up the road from) Shropshire Bedlams and Marth Rowden's, I then moved down to the Aberafon area and found out where Sweyn's Ey Morris was meeting. I already knew most of the tunes and notes, (but not necessarily in the right order). Sian helped me with that, and I like to try and accompany her rather than blast out the melodies. I also play guitar, bass, saxophone and whatever else I can lay my hands on, as well as sing with Baggyrinkle - Swansea's very own sea shanty group. Just what I wanted for my retirement.
Diana (Di) (part-time fiddle player, part-time dancer, website creator & Twitter-bod)
Di joined the side in 2017 (ish?) initially as a musician and then officially as a dancer when the side went mixed in 2020. Di has been interested in folk music from the day she listened to Fairport's Leige and Lief on her Dad's LP player back in the '80s, and as well as dancing/playing with Sweyn's Ey she also runs a monthly folk tune session in The Park Inn (Mumbles), helps organise the Gower Folk Festival and plays fiddle in Rattling Bog Ceilidh Band. Often to be spotted stumbling along to Adderbury dances (the only ones she can do properly - kinda), dropping her hankies in the middle of Bampton dances and generally causing chaos by incompetence. She also enjoys sporting a pair of Very Shiny Black Patent Leather Shoes - always desired but always deprived of as a child. It only took four decades and some Morris dancing to fulfill her dreams!
Keith (The Font of (probably) All Morris Knowledge, EVER)
Keith started folk dancing in 1962 and joined The Men of Sweyn's Ey as dancer and musician in 1971. He would prefer not to say any more than that!
However, we can't let him get away with not saying also that he was Foreman for many years and still regularly imparts his encyclopedic knowledge to the side, which we are always, forever and eternally grateful for.
And we can't possibly not mention that in 2021 he celebrated 50 years of dancing with Sweyn's Ey - an amazing achievement!
I became a Morris dancer in 1978/9 when I joined Cardiff Ladies Morris, many of whom were linked to Cardiff Morris Men. It was huge social fun dancing, singing and drinking. I met Nigel through our joint interest in Morris and in 1980 we got married. We moved to Manchester where I joined a Northwest Clog side called Fiddles Fancy, then three years later we moved back to Swansea. Nigel linked up with Sweyn's Ey but with the event of children we both gave up Morris for many years. I became a member of Rough Edge Ceilidh Band playing bohdran, spoons and bones, and Nigel recently persuaded me to put on my dancing shoes again so I’m now officially a member of Sweyn's Ey Morris - it’s keeping me fit. Ha ha.
I had never seen any live Morris dancing but had the album Morris On when I started university in Manchester in 1974. Medlock Morris (the University of Manchester Morris side) danced at the hall of residence folk club and I met one of them in the lift afterwards.. I was easily persuaded to give it a go and after only six months or so I was able to hop on alternate feet. I managed to make my own kit and have been making bell-pads ever since. I danced Cotswold Morris in the late 1970s with Kit’s Coty in Kent and Cardiff Morris. I met Alison when she was dancing with Cardiff Ladies Morris in 1978, we married in 1980 and had more Morris dancers at our wedding than you can shake a stick at.
We moved to Manchester where I danced with Adlington and was a founder member of Old Moat Rapper. We then moved to Swansea in 1982 where I joined Sweyn’s Ey and the Pontardawe folk-dance side Cam Carlam. I have been the dance caller for Rough Edge Ceilidh Band since 1984. I had a couple of decades away from the Morris due to work and family commitments before starting again in 2012, but I wish I’d picked it up again sooner when I still had energy and fully functioning knees.
I initially joined the side when I went to Swansea University in 1978 - I was a keen ceilidh dancer already, and a couple of the first friends I made were in the Morris and suggested I give it a go. I only danced with the side for a few years then, before dropping out when I had kids and moved out of the area after Uni. But I was then invited to attend the side's 50th birthday celebrations In 2016, and realised then that I really missed it, and I was close enough to where the side practiced now that I could rejoin, so I did. I'm still The Furthest East of any member, by some way.
I happily dance all the traditions we do, and usually call several of them (Fieldtown, Badby, Lichfield, Nantgarw) The hat in the photo, which was my original from 1978, was finally retired this year - it was looking rather tatty!
Geoff joined Sweyn's Ey in the late 70’s having been persuaded by the then Squire John Jeater to give it a go at a Ponty Folk Club (yes he did go to Folk Clubs) Ceilidh. Having attended a few (quite a few) practice sessions and proved his drinking prowess for real ale at the old Bathurst Street community hall, he was given his first taste of live performance outside Tesco’s in Morriston without bells circa 1978... He was soon given his own set of bells and continued dancing with Sweyn's Ey, attending numerous Ales & Ring meetings and also a memorable trip to a folk festival in Brittany... Marriage and children curtailed his involvement for a number of years but Geoff returned to dancing in the last ten years and hopes to continue to be an active member of the side - knees permitting - for many years to come.
After a big disappointment at an early age when I wasn’t allowed to join the grade 1 ballet class, my dancing career was on hold until I joined Cam Carland in the 1980’s. After 12 months or so without any public performances I saw Men of Sweyn’s Ey dancing at the Pontardawe festival to great public acclaim and decided that was my route to stardom. Since then I have danced Morris, Rapper and performed in the annual mumming tours with Sweyn’s Ey for almost 40 years.
I joined Sweyn’s Ey after going to their Open Evening in 2022 with my husband Roger (see below). I had no previous experience of dancing Morris but had seen it at the various festivals when Roger played for Hedge Betty. Not seeing why Roger should have all the fun on a Thursday evening I decided to try it out. After six months of learning which sticking action or which hanky flourish goes to which tune I was allowed to perform live in the streets of Cowbridge. All went well and I have danced out at many venues (some more salubrious than others) this season. The dancing keeps me fit and my brain active and I enjoy the company of those who make up the side.
I started playing music for a Morris dance side, based in the midlands, in the late 1990’s. This was a ladies North West Clog side, called Hedge Betty. After initially taking a concertina I quickly realised I needed an instrument with more dB’s. My wife’s grandfather had left her a very pretty piano accordion, which he had purchased in the 1940’s, so I started to learn how to play it. I stayed with Hedge Betty until we moved down to Swansea in 2005, due my job change. I went back for a couple of ‘guest’ appearances, the last one being in 2009. By that time Hedge Betty had morphed into Crooked Steeple, and then they unfortunately folded completely. On retirement last year I decided I needed something to help keep me occupied and joined Sweyn’s Ey late 2022. Since then it has been interesting getting the music sorted out, relearning how to play (not easy!) and fun participating in the dance outs.
I used to watch the Morris sides performing outside the Old Thatched Inn at Ilfracombe in north Devon where I'm from, then came to Wales as a university student and decided to stay. Why wouldn't I? It's a magical place. I went to the wassail at the Gower Heritage centre in January 2023, mostly because I like cider, woodlands and dancing! Sweyn's Ey were there Morris dancing and I felt so much joy watching them that I decided to give it a go! My suspicions were true, the Morris dancers are having even more fun than the spectators :-) The live music, figures and rhythms, synchronising with people, heritage and culture, plus being in the great outdoors! It's been a nourishing experience so far, and long may it continue.
Dancing has been a huge part of my life for 35 years, mostly Welsh traditional dance, being a founder member and co-leader of Dawnswyr Tipyn o Bopeth.
Friends who danced with TOB drew me, first, to Scottish Country Dance then to Morris Dancing when I was invited and encouraged to join the Men of Sweyn's Ey during a dance out at Mumbles on Thursday, 1 May, 2014.
A few rapped knuckles later (other members', not mine - my sincere apologies to all who suffered my efforts at sticking), I believe that I may be improving ! ??