A WOMAN born in a workhouse because her mother was unmarried is among those who shared their story in the Waliau’n Siarad series on S4C on Sunday.

May Meredith was born in the Y Dolydd building in Llanfyllin in May 1929 and still lives in the area. She talked to Sara Huws, who co-presents the show with Aled Hughes. They heard about the hardships for those forced to live in the poorhouse.

“Talking to different people and hearing about the living conditions is a real eye-opener,” said Aled. “Families – mothers and fathers, children – all kept apart in the building, and the work day began at 6am until 7.45pm. Breaking rocks was one of the main duties – so it really was hard labour.”

In a field next to the workhouse, around 800 of the former residents have been buried but until recently there was no monument on the site. Sara attended a special ceremony to unveil a plaque to remember those who had died.

“We think of mass graves as something that happens somewhere else but here, we have evidence of this happening on our doorstep,” said Sara. “Less than a century ago, more than 800 people were buried here because people just didn’t care about them and didn’t feel they deserved a decent burial or to be remembered – until now.”

But there are happier stories about Y Dolydd, especially from the period when it was an old people’s home – and to one of Wales’ greatest stars.

In the 1940s, when he was 10-years-old, the late Ryan Davies moved there when his mother was appointed to run the care home.

He often amused the elderly folk with his humour and his beautiful voice, and he met his wife Margaret in the local school.

Ryan’s son, actor Arwyn Davies said: “Mamgu ran the place and everybody loved her. She worked really hard growing vegetables and strawberries in the garden throughout the year, giving Christmas puds to people and getting presents for them. It sounds lovely there.”

A number of the care home staff share happy memories of the time before Y Dolydd shut in 1982. The Y Dolydd Trust has owned it since 2004 and is renovating it for community use.