Happy St. David’s Day – Damian Lewis and His Welsh Roots


Happy St. David’s Day, everyone!

Today is the Feast Day of St. David, the patron saint of Wales. Thus, in honor of the day, why not talk about Damian and his Welsh roots?

Here is Damian talking about himself as a “Londoner” and “British” at Times Talks London.

So far so good… Damian is proud of his Welsh roots, and we’re talking about Wales today! But… what do I talk about when I talk about Wales? What do I really know about Wales except the fact that Damian is half-Welsh? Well… I can drop a few Welsh celebrity names like a pro…Sir Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Burton, Gareth Bale… and, of course, the wonderful Denise Salway aka the “Knitting Witch” that creates the wonderful “Wolf Hall in Wool” collection and who made, for Damian, a special personalized gift!

At the end of the day, I don’t really know much about Wales, do I? 🙂

Here comes the research!

I first discover this lovely Wales tourism video! On the day that the international NATO summit of world leaders started in Wales in September 2014, and also because it was the first time ever that a sitting US president visited the country, the Welsh Government released a video in which celebrities extend a warm welcome to President Obama.

One of my favorite moments in the video is Matthew Rhys (aka Philip Jennings whom I love on The Americans) saying “Croeso i Gymru; no, I didn’t just cough. It means welcome to Wales. We mean that sincerely.”

And, we have our guy sitting in a local pub: “You might be wondering what a man with my accent is doing welcoming you to Wales… … I am half Welsh half English… my family always had a farm house in West Wales… and it is, I have to say, my favorite place on earth.”

Ah, and a moment with the great Bryn Terfel!!! I didn’t know he was Welsh, but I certainly adore the guy! Terfel sings “Irene’s Song” — remember the Forsyte Saga theme music? — so beautifully that gives me the goose bumps every single time I hear it! “Life is a dance we must learn…” Can you guess what my ringtone is? Yes, YOU CAN!

Now… Wales seems to be a REAL hidden gem.

Lush, green, dramatic landscape?


Crystal clear waters? Sandy, long beaches?



Beautiful, mysterious, magical, old castles?



Good-looking London Welshman welcoming me to Wales?


Check 🙂

Reading a bit more, I discover quite a few fun facts about Damian and his connections to Wales. Here they are — all collected from several interviews with Damian Lewis here, here, here and here.

Damian officially opened the Aberglasney Mansion at Llangathen, near Llandeilo, after its £600K renovation in 2013.

Damian’s father is 100 percent Welsh: “On both side of his family, like so many of the Welsh did, they went across to Liverpool and Birmingham looking for work and all fell into Welsh communities and all married each other. My grandmother was a Welsh speaker. It’s in the blood…

I’m quite romantic about my Celtic roots. And although I went to school in England, grew up in London, we’ve always been made aware of Welsh roots by dad, who’s been very keen to stay in touch with his Welshness, even though he can’t speak more than five words of Welsh… It’s London-Welsh, I guess!”

Damian is a London Welshman exactly like, well, Henry VIII. “Myself I am London Welshman like the most notorious London Welshmen of them all (Henry VIII) I too have red hair – I am trying to keep my belly smaller than his and hopefully I will not need another five wives.” LOL This one is particularly priceless since Damian makes this comment back in 2013 not knowing he would bring us a fantastic portrayal of Henry VIII in Wolf Hall.

source: BBC
source: BBC

Damian married  a half-Welsh girl. Helen McCrory was half-Welsh, she has a Welsh speaking mother that living in Cardiff. And, her grandfather was  Welsh boxing champion, no less, Bobby Morgan.

source: express.co.uk
source: express.co.uk

Damian supports the Welsh rugby team. …which he describes as part of his brainwashing as child 🙂 “Otherwise my father would have taken the belt to me,” he says, and adds: “It was easy to support the Welsh rugby team in the 70s and it’s easy to support them now. There was a little moment in the middle when it wasn’t quite so.”

Damian supporting Welsh Rugby Team in Six Nations Championships earlier this year

Damian and his brother Gareth made the utterly hilarious comedy The Baker in Wales. Gareth Lewis tells: “Our dad’s Welsh and we’ve been coming on holiday to Wales forever. Obviously I don’t know any hitmen, but we “come to Wales a lot as we have a house in Llandeilo.  and it’s a case of write of what you know…I developed a naive urban view of a countryside being torn apart through the reality of what I saw in the villages and towns I knew. And I realised that a drama in a village is interesting because it’s so condensed. You can’t escape; I find that very interesting, that everyone has to put on a front.”


Damian plays real-life accountant Howard Davies in Welsh horserace drama Dream Horse and introduces the Welsh concept of ‘hywl’ into our lives 🙂 As we re-adjust to “normal” life these days, we need hope, strength, and inspiration. Dream Horse definitely offers all three and more. Damian shares the following with Welsh Online: “[It was] a really charming script with the added bonus of it being based on a true story. You can screw these films up and they can not quite work, but Euros Lyn has done a beautiful, beautiful job with it. And it was so much fun to be in quite apart from anything else. It’s a feel-good charmer and it feels like a good time for it.”

“The hwyl is a very Welsh word meaning an effervescence and joy and longing and spirit and the character says, I think it’s mine, about halfway through ‘do it for the hwyl,’ do it for the fun of it. It’s been a funny old year, we’ve been looking for things that are meaningful and fun in of themselves and not worry about where it’s going to take you because none of us are going anywhere. The film is definitely in that spirit.”

Damian loves coming to Wales. “I rush here to be honest. And I try to get my kids here as much as I can. They grow up in London. They are at London schools. I love getting them down here into Welsh countryside… We’re just on the Black Mountain… Our house… It’s… The air, here, tastes and smells like no other area in the world, and it, after three and a half hour journey from London, it’s, you just sort of drink it in… like a… like a… you know, a long needed pint.”

Lechyd Da, Damian 🙂


Author: Damianista

Academic, Traveler, Blogger, Runner, Theatre Lover, Wine Snob, Part-time New Yorker, and Walking Damian Lewis Encyclopedia :D Procrastinated about a fan's diary on Damian Lewis for a while and the rest is history!

One thought on “Happy St. David’s Day – Damian Lewis and His Welsh Roots”

  1. I don’t know much about Wales either. But I do know when my great-great grandfather on my father’s side came from Wales and landed in northeastern Pennsylvania’s anthracite coal fields, he started a line of four generations of tough coal miners. I am proud of that heritage, in an industry that contributed so much to my country’s prosperity. Unfortunately, I’ll never get to see that lovely country, but still happily claim my 25% Welsh ancestry!

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