Celtic Folklore: Welsh and Manx


Early in the year 18998 I had a small group of stories communicated to me by the Rev. W. Evans Jones, rector of Dolbenmaen, who tells me that the neighbourhood [108]of the Garn abounds in fairy tales. The scene of one of these is located near the source of Afon fach Blaen y Cae, a tributary of the Dwyfach. ‘There a shepherd while looking after his flock came across a ring of rushes which he accidentally kicked, as the little people were coming out to dance. They detained him, and he married one of their number. He was told that he would live happily with them as long as he would not touch any instrument of iron. For years nothing happened to mar the peace and happiness of the family. One day, however, he unknowingly touched iron, with the consequence that both the wife and the children disappeared.’ This differs remarkably from stories such as have been already mentioned at pp. 32, 35; but until it is countenanced by stories from other sources, I can only treat it as a blurred version of a story of the more usual type, such as the next one which Mr. Evans Jones has sent me as follows:—
‘A son of the farmer of Blaen Pennant married a fairy and they lived together happily for years, until one day he took a bridle to catch a horse, which proved to be rather an obstreperous animal, and in trying to prevent the horse passing, he threw the bridle at him, which, however, missed the animal and hit the wife so that the bit touched her, and she at once disappeared. The tradition goes, that their descendants are to this day living in the Pennant Valley; and if there is any unpleasantness between them and their neighbours they are taunted with being of the Tylwyth Teg family.’ These are, I presume, the people nicknamed Belsiaid, to which reference has already been made.
The next story is about an old woman from Garn Dolbenmaen who was crossing y Graig Goch, ‘the Red Rock,’ ‘when suddenly she came across a fairy sitting down with a very large number of gold coins by [109]her. The old woman ventured to remark how wealthy she was: the fairy replied, Wele dacw, “Lo there!” and immediately disappeared.’ This looks as if it ought to be a part of a longer story which Mr. Evans Jones has not heard.
The last bit of folklore which he has communicated is equally short, but of a rarer description: ‘A fairy was in the habit of attending a certain family in the Pennant Valley every evening to put the children to bed; and as the fairy was poorly clad, the mistress of the house gave her a gown, which was found in the morning torn into shreds.’ The displeasure of the fairy at being offered the gown is paralleled by that of the fenodyree or the Manx brownie, described in chapter iv. As for the kind of service here ascribed to the Pennant fairy, I know nothing exactly parallel.

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