top of page

Kathy’s Cornish Carols

Do you remember Kathy the Bard? Kathy spoke to Launceston Life about how she and her village are keeping the traditions of Cornwall alive in Rillaton, a small hamlet outside of Launceston.

Kathy and the village of Rillaton are looking forward to (hopefully) a Covid free Christmas this year after a couple of years of uncertainty and cancelled Christmases.

The week before Christmas each year Kathy and a few friends from the village go carol singing. Kathy said: “We walk down the lane and stand in the middle where all the houses are, and we sing the traditional Cornish carols. We don’t collect, we sing because we can and because we enjoy doing it.”

Slowly the remaining residents start to emerge from their houses and join the singers on the lane and fill the village with the spirit of Christmas through song – Cornish song.

Kathy was made a Bard partly due to her determination throughout lockdown to keep these traditions alive.

The year Christmas was cancelled in 2020, Rillaton carolled just in time before impossible restrictions would have prevented it.

Adhering to the restrictions that were already in place, five socially distanced people turned up at Kathy’s door at 6.30pm in the crisp darkness of a mid-December evening.

In the centre of the village they stood, spaced out and there they started to sing…and doors started to open. People came out and stood in their gardens and leaned from their windows to join in.

They sang up and down the lane and on their way back home, a gentleman came out of his cottage with a tray of paper cups of mulled wine which he placed on the wall that ran around his garden and he said, "Somehow Kathy, I knew that if there was a way of doing it, you’d find the way".

Kathy's Arwyn Medal

Ensuring these traditions took place in some way and in a safe way throughout those difficult times resulted in Kathy being awarded the Arwyn Medal from the Gorsedh Kernow for community and keeping the spirit of Cornwall alive.

We asked Kathy for her favourite Cornish Christmas carol, she said, "Difficult. I think it has to be The Holly Tree and the Ivy, a version of the Sans Day ( St Day) Carol". Take a look at this online resource pack to read this carol in Cornish and follow the English translation!

Inspired by Kathy we are ding-ding-delighted to share an extract of a traditional carol in Cornish with you, found in the Cornish language parntership: Maga resource pack!

We hope this will get you in the Christmas spirit! Nadelik Lowen Lanson!

Klegh a sen! Klegh a sen!

Ow seni oll a-dro!

Ass yw brav, ow lewya yn Gwav

Yn draylel deg heb to!

Jingle bells! Jingle bells!

Jingle all the way, Oh what fun it is to ride

In a one-horse open sleigh!

There is still time before Christmas to let us know about any of your Christmas stories and traditions that you wish to share with the community. Email:


bottom of page