A statue to honour ‘the most outstanding Welsh woman of the 19th century’ was unveiled at the weekend in Llangrannog.

Sarah Jane Rees, a pioneering poet, campaigner, journalist and mariner - better known by her bardic name of Cranogwen - was immortalised in the coastal village in Ceredigion on Saturday (10 June). 

It follows a campaign by Cerflun Cymunedol Cranogwen Community Monument, a subgroup of the Llangrannog Welfare Committee.

They say it is only the third ever statue of a ‘non-fictionalised’ woman in Wales and was commissioned by Monumental Welsh Women. 

Cranogwen was a pioneer in many fields considered unsuitable for women at that time. She was a skilled mariner and worked for two years as a sailor on cargo ships between Wales and France. Aged 21, she became a headteacher, overcoming opposition to the appointment of a woman.  

A gifted writer, Cranogwen was the first woman to win a poetry prize at the National Eisteddfod, beating the major male Welsh poets of the day, Islwyn and Ceiriog. She went on to be one of the most popular poets in Wales and was the first woman to edit a Welsh-language women’s magazine – ‘Y Frythones.’ Packed with stories, poems and features, it campaigned for girls’ education.

Cranogwen excelled with the spoken as well as the written word. At a time when public speaking by women was frowned upon, she embarked on a career as a lecturer, Temperance campaigner and preacher – travelling across America twice. 

Anne-Marie Bollen from Cerflun Cymunedol Cranogwen Community Monument said: “Cranogwen would be proud of the community in Llangrannog who’ve come together actively and inclusively during this campaign, a small community with a big heart.  

“Local children will unveil Seb Boyesen and Keziah Ferguson’s amazing, life size, bronze statue set within an accessible, beautiful, village garden. Our genuine thanks to each and every supporter. As with previous generations, those to follow will also be inspired by Cranogwen.” 

Elin Jones MS, a member of the Sculpture Steering Committee said: “The expectation is high for this statue of Cranogwen, one who achieved so much locally, nationally and internationally and did that at a time when it was not acceptable for women to do such things.  

“We hope that unveiling the statue with a creative celebration will be a way of paying a well-deserved tribute to an outstanding woman.” 

Helen Molyneux, founder of Monumental Welsh Women group, said: "Our Mission is to celebrate female ambition and success by commemorating the achievements of great Welsh Women - and to inspire the next generation of great Welsh women.

"This permanent memorial of Cranogwen will stand in the heart of her beloved community of Llangrannog, and will serve as both commemoration of a remarkable, brave and pioneering woman and her many groundbreaking achievements and as inspiration to all of us who come after her."

The public procession from the Urdd Centre to Llangrannog village began at 1pm with the statue unveiling, followed by poetry performances at the beach.

And Llangrannog Welfare Committee has launched a further appeal to raise an extra £2,000 to finish the community garden.