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The Pentrevoelas Legend


Source: Welsh Folk-lore

I am indebted to the Rev. Owen Jones, Vicar of Pentrevoelas, a mountain
parish in West Denbighshire, for the following tale, which was written in
Welsh by a native of those parts, and appeared in competition for a prize
on the Folk-Lore of that parish.

The son of Hafodgarreg was shepherding his father's flock on the hills,
and whilst thus engaged, he, one misty morning, came suddenly upon a
lovely girl, seated on the sheltered side of a peat-stack. The maiden
appeared to be in great distress, and she was crying bitterly. The young
man went up to her, and spoke kindly to her, and his attention and
sympathy were not without effect on the comely stranger. So beautiful
was the young woman, that from expressions of sympathy the smitten youth
proceeded to words of love, and his advances were not repelled. But
whilst the lovers were holding sweet conversation, there appeared on the
scene a venerable and aged man, who, addressing the female as her father,
bade her follow him. She immediately obeyed, and both departed leaving
the young man alone. He lingered about the place until the evening,
wishing and hoping that she might return, but she came not. Early the
next day, he was at the spot where he first felt what love was. All day
long he loitered about the place, vainly hoping that the beautiful girl
would pay another visit to the mountain, but he was doomed to
disappointment, and night again drove him homewards. Thus daily went he
to the place where he had met his beloved, but she was not there, and,
love-sick and lonely, he returned to Hafodgarreg. Such devotion deserved
its reward. It would seem that the young lady loved the young man quite
as much as he loved her. And in the land of allurement and illusion (yn
nhir hud a lledrith) she planned a visit to the earth, and met her lover,
but she was soon missed by her father, and he, suspecting her love for
this young man, again came upon them, and found them conversing lovingly
together. Much talk took place between the sire and his daughter, and
the shepherd, waxing bold, begged and begged her father to give him his
daughter in marriage. The sire, perceiving that the man was in earnest,
turned to his daughter, and asked her whether it were her wish to marry a
man of the earth? She said it was. Then the father told the shepherd he
should have his daughter to wife, and that she should stay with him,
until he should strike her with iron, and that, as a marriage portion,
he would give her a bag filled with bright money. The young couple were
duly married, and the promised dowry was received. For many years they
lived lovingly and happily together, and children were born to them. One
day this man and his wife went together to the hill to catch a couple of
ponies, to carry them to the Festival of the Saint of Capel Garmon. The
ponies were very wild, and could not be caught. The man, irritated,
pursued the nimble creatures. His wife was by his side, and now he
thought he had them in his power, but just at the moment he was about to
grasp their manes, off they wildly galloped, and the man, in anger,
finding that they had again eluded him, threw the bridle after them, and,
sad to say, the bit struck the wife, and as this was of iron they both
knew that their marriage contract was broken. Hardly had they had time
to realise the dire accident, ere the aged father of the bride appeared,
accompanied by a host of Fairies, and there and then departed with his
daughter to the land whence she came, and that, too, without even
allowing her to bid farewell to her children. The money, though, and the
children were left behind, and these were the only memorials of the
lovely wife and the kindest of mothers, that remained to remind the
shepherd of the treasure he had lost in the person of his Fairy spouse.

Such is the Pentrevoelas Legend. The writer had evidently not seen the
version of this story in the Cambro-Briton, nor had he read Williams's
tale of a like occurrence, recorded in Observations on the Snowdon
Mountains. The account, therefore, is all the more valuable, as being
an independent production.

A fragmentary variant of the preceding legend was given me by Mr. Lloyd,
late schoolmaster of Llanfihangel-Glyn-Myfyr, a native of South Wales,
who heard the tale in the parish of Llanfihangel. Although but a
fragment, it may not be altogether useless, and I will give it as I
received it:--

Shon Rolant, Hafod y Dre, Pentrevoelas, when going home from Llanrwst
market, fortunately caught a Fairy-maid, whom he took home with him. She
was a most handsome woman, but rather short and slight in person. She
was admired by everybody on account of her great beauty. Shon Rolant
fell desperately in love with her, and would have married her, but this
she would not allow. He, however, continued pressing her to become his
wife, and, by and by, she consented to do so, provided he could find out
her name. As Shon was again going home from the market about a month
later, he heard some one saying, near the place where he had seized the
Fairy-maid, Where is little Penloi gone? Where is little Penloi gone?
Shon at once thought that some one was searching for the Fairy he had
captured, and when he reached home, he addressed the Fairy by the name he
had heard, and Penloi consented to become his wife. She, however,
expressed displeasure at marrying a dead man, as the Fairies call us.
She informed her lover that she was not to be touched with iron, or she
would disappear at once. Shon took great care not to touch her with
iron. However, one day, when he was on horseback talking to his
beloved Penloi, who stood at the horse's head, the horse suddenly threw
up its head, and the curb, which was of iron, came in contact with
Penloi, who immediately vanished out of sight.

The next legend is taken from Williams's Observations on the Snowdon
Mountains. His work was published in 1802. He, himself, was born in
Anglesey, in 1738, and migrated to Carnarvonshire about the year 1760.
It was in this latter county that he became a learned antiquary, and a
careful recorder of events that came under his notice. His
Observations throw considerable light upon the life, the customs, and
the traditions of the inhabitants of the hill parts and secluded glens of
Carnarvonshire. I have thought fit to make these few remarks about the
author I quote from, so as to enable the reader to give to him that
credence which he is entitled to. Williams entitles the following story,
A Fairy Tale, but I will for the sake of reference call it The Ystrad

Next: The Ystrad Legend

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