John Rhys.

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yn gynnar gyda gwr Hafod Ruffyd. Petty aed fua'r
Hafod i edrych a oed yno ; ond dywedod gwr yr Hafod
eu bod wedi ymwahanu ar Bont Glan y Gors, pawb
tua'i fan ei him. Yna chwiliwyd yn fanwl bob ochr ir
fford octiyno ir Ffrid heb weled dim odiwrtho. Buwyd
yn chwilio yr hott ardal drwy y dyd drannoeth ond yn
ofer. Fod bynnag odeutu yr tin aniser nos drannoeth
daeth y Tylwyth ac ai rhydhasant, ac yn fuan efe
a deffrod ivedi cysgu o hono drwy y nos ar dyd
blaenorol. Ar ol ido deffro ni wydai amcan daear
yn mha le yr oed, a chrwydro y bu hyd ochrau y Gader
ar Gors Favor hyd nes y canod y ceiliog, pryd yr
adnabu yn mha le yr ocd, sef o fewn itai na chwartcr
mitttir i'w gartref.

' I have heard my mother relating a tale about the
son of the farmer of the Ffrid, who, while on his way
home from Bedgelert Fair, saw, somewhere near Pen
Cae'r Gors, an endless number of the diminutive family
leaping and capering on the heather tops. He sat him
down to look at them, and sleep came over him ; he let
himself down on the ground, and slept heavily. When
he was so, the whole host attacked him, and they bound
him so tightly that he could not have stirred ; then they
covered him with the gossamer sheet, so that nobody
could see him in case he called for help. His people
expected him home early that evening, and, as they
found him delaying till late, they got uneasy about him.
They went to meet him, but no trace of him was seen,


and they went as far as the village, where they were
informed that he had started home in good time with
the farmer of Hafod Ruffyd. So they went to the
Hafod to see if he was there ; but the farmer told them
that they had parted on Glan y Gors Bridge to go to their
respective homes. A minute search was then made on
both sides of the road from there to the Ffrid, but with-
out finding any trace of him. They kept searching the
whole neighbourhood during the whole of the next day,
but in vain. However, about the same time the follow-
ing night the Tylwyth came and liberated him, and he
shortly woke up, after sleeping through the previous
night and day. When he woke he had no idea where
on earth he was ; so he wandered about on the slopes
of the Gader and near the Gors Fawr until the cock
crew, when he found where he was, namely, less than
a quarter of a mile from his home.'

The late Mr. Owen, of Cefn Meusyct, has already been
alluded to. I have not been able to get at much of the
folklore with which he was familiar, but, in reply to
some questions of mine, Mr. Robert Isaac Jones of Tre-
madoc, his biographer, and the publisher of the Brython,
so long as it existed, has kindly ransacked his memory.
He writes to me in Welsh to the following effect :

' I will tell you what I heard from Mr. Owen and my
mother when I was a lad, about fifty-seven years ago.
The former used to say that the people of Pennant in
Eifionyd had a nickname, to wit, that of Belsiaid y Pen-
nant, "the Bellisians of the Pennant"; that, when he
was a boy, if anybody called out Belsiaid y Pennant at
the Penmorfa Fair, every man jack of them would come
out, and fighting always ensued. The antiquary used to
explain it thus. Some two or three hundred years ago,
Sir Robert of the Nant, one of Sir Richard Bulkeley's
ancestors, had a son and heir who was extravagant


and wild. He married a gipsy, and they had children born
to them ; but, as the family regarded this marriage as
a disgrace to their ancient stem, it is said that the father,
the next time the vagabonds came round, gave a large
sum of money to the father of the girl for taking her
away with him. This having been done, the rumour
was spread abroad that it was one of the fairies the
youth had married, and that she had gone with him to
catch a pony, when he threw the bridle at the beast
to prevent it passing, and the iron of the bridle touched
the wife ; then that she at once disappeared, as the
fairies always do so when touched with iron. However,
the two children were put out to nurse, and the one of
them, who was a girl, was brought up at Plas y Pennant,
and her name was PelisJia 1 ; her descendants remain to
this day in the Nant,and are called Bellis, who are believed
there, to this day, to be derived from the Tylwyth Teg.
Nothing offends them more than to be reminded of this/

Mr. R. I. Jones goes on to relate another tale as
follows :

Dywedir fod tte a elwir yr Hafod Rugog niewn cwm
anial yn y mynyd tte y bydai y Tylwyth Teg yn arferol
a mynychu ; ac y bydent yn trwblio'r hen wraig am
fenthyg rhywbeth neu gilyd. Dywcdod hithau, ' Ccwch
os caniateivch dan beth cyntaf i'r petit cyntaf y cyffyrdaf
ag ef wrth y drws dorri, a'r peth cyntaf y rhof fy Uaw
arno yn y ty estyn hanner ttatJi.' Yr oed carreg afael,
fel ei gelwir, yn y mur wrth y dnvs ar ei fford, ac yr
oed gandi defnyd syrcyn gwlanen yn rhy fyr o hanner
ttath. Ond yn anffodus wrth dod rfi cliaweitad maivn ir
ty bu agos idi a syrthio : rhoes ei ttaw ar ben ei chlun
i ynnarbed a thorod honno, a chan faint y boen cyffyrdod
yny ty a'i thrwyn yr hwn a estynnod hanner ttath.

1 I cannot account for this spelling, but the //in Bellis is English //, not the
Welsh It, which represents a sound very different from that of /.


' It is said that there was a place called Hafod Rugog
in a wild hollow among the mountains, where the fair
family were in the habit of resorting, and that they
used to trouble the old woman of Hafod for the loan of
one thing and another. So she said, one day, " You
shall have the loan if you will grant me two first things
that the first thing I touch at the door break, and that
the first thing I put my hand on in the house be
lengthened half a yard." There was a grip stone (carreg
afaef), as it is called, in the wall near the door, which
was in her way, and she had in the house a piece of
flannel for a jerkin which was half a yard too short.
But, unfortunately, as she came, with her kreel full of
turf on her back, to the house, she nearly fell down :
she put her hand, in order to save herself, to her knee-
joint, which then broke ; and, owing to the pain, when
she had got into the house, she touched her nose with
her hand, when her nose grew half a yard longer.'

Mr. Jones went on to notice how the old folks used
to believe that the fairies were wont to appear in the
marshes near Cweliyn Lake, not far from Rhyd-Bu, to
sing and dance, and that it was considered dangerous
to approach them on those occasions lest one should be
fascinated. As to the above-mentioned flannel and stone
a folklorist asks me, why the old woman did not defi-
nitely mention them and say exactly what she wanted.
The question is worth asking : I cannot answer it, but
I mention it in the hope that somebody else will.


Early in the year 1899 l I had a small group of stories
communicated to me by the Rev. W. Evans Jones,
rector of Dolbenmaen, who tells me that the neighbour-

1 Where not stated otherwise, as in this instance, the reader is to regard
this chapter as written in the latter part of the year 1881.


hood 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


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.


The next four stories are to be found in Cymru Fit at
pp. 175-9, whence I have taken the liberty of trans-
lating them into English. They were contributed by
Glasynys, whose name has already occurred so often
in connexion with these Welsh legends, that the reader
ought to know more about him ; but I have been dis-
appointed in my attempt to get a short account of his
life to insert here. All I can say is, that I made his
acquaintance in 1865 in Anglesey : at that time he had
a curacy near Holyhead, and he was in the prime of
life. He impressed me as an enthusiast for Welsh anti-
quities : he was born and bred, I believe, in the neigh-
bourhood of Snowdon, and his death took place about
ten years ago. It would be a convenience to the student
of Welsh folklore to have a brief biography of Glasynys,
but as yet nothing of the kind seems to have been


(i) ' When the people of the Gors Goch one evening
had just gone to bed, they heard a great row and dis-
turbance around the house. One could not comprehend
at all what it was that made a noise at that time of night.
Both the husband and the wife had waked up, quite
unable to make out what it might be. The children also
woke, but no one could utter a word : their tongues had
all stuck to the roof of their mouths. The husband,
however, at last managed to move, and to ask, " Who
is there ? What do you want ? ' : Then he was answered
from without by a small silvery voice, " It is room we
want to dress our children." The door was opened :
a dozen small beings came in, and began to search for
an earthen pitcher with water ; there they remained for
some hours, washing and titivating themselves. As the
day was breaking, they went away, leaving behind them
a fine present for the kindness they had received.
Often afterwards did the Gors Goch folks have the
company of this family. But once there happened to
be there a fine plump and pretty baby in his cradle.
The fair family came, and, as the baby had not been
baptized, they took the liberty of changing him for one
of their own. They left behind in his stead an abomin-
able creature that would do nothing but cry and scream
every day of the week. The mother was nearly break-
ing her heart on account of the misfortune, and greatly
afraid of telling anybody about it. But everybody got
to see that there was something wrong at the Gors
Goch, which was proved before long by the mother
dying of longing for her child. The other children
died broken-hearted after their mother, and the husband
was left alone with the little elf without any one to
comfort them. But shortly after, one began to resort
again to the hearth of the Gors Goch to dress children,
and the gift, which had formerly been silver money,


became henceforth pure gold. In the course of a few
years the elf became the heir of a large farm in North
Wales, and that is why the old people used to say,
"Shoe the elf with gold and he will grow" (Fe daw
gwidon ynfawr ond ei bedoli ag aur). That is the legend
of the Gors Goch.'

(2) ' Once when William Ellis, of the Gilwern, was
fishing on the bank of Cwm Silin Lake on a dark misty
day, he had seen no living Christian from the time when
he left Nanttte. But as he was in a happy mood, throw-
ing his line, he beheld over against him in a clump of
rushes a large crowd of people, or things in the shape
of people about a foot in stature : they were engaged in
leaping and dancing. He looked on for hours, and he
never heard, as he said, such music in his life before.
But William went too near them, when they threw a
kind of dust into his eyes, and, while he was wiping it
away, the little family took the opportunity of betaking
themselves somewhere out of his sight, so that he
neither saw nor heard anything more of them.'

(3) ' There is a similar story respecting a place called
ILyn y Ffynhonnau. There was no end of jollity there,
of dancing, harping, and fiddling, with the servant man
of Getli Ffrydau and his two dogs in the midst of the
crowd, leaping and capering as nimbly as anybody else.
At it they were for three days and three nights, without
stopping ; and had it not been for a skilled man, who
lived not far off, and came to know how things were
going on, the poor fellow would, without doubt, have
danced himself to death. But he was rescued that

(4) The fourth story is one, of which he says, that he
heard it from his mother ; but he has elaborated it in his
usual fashion, and the proper names are undoubtedly
his own : ' Once on a time, a shepherd boy had gone


up the mountain. That day, like many a day before and
after, was exceedingly misty. Now, though he was well
acquainted with the place, he lost his way, and walked
backwards and forwards for many a long hour. At last
he got into a low rushy spot, where he saw before him
many circular rings. He at once recalled the place,
and began to fear the worst. He had heard, many
hundreds of times, of the bitter experiences, in those
rings, of many a shepherd who had happened to chance
on the dancing place or the circles of the fair family.
He hastened away as fast as ever he could, lest he
should be ruined like the rest ; but, though he exerted
himself to the point of perspiring and losing his breath,
there he was, and there he continued to be, a long time.
At last he was met by an old fat little man, with merry
blue eyes, who asked him what he was doing. He
answered that he was trying to find his way home.
"Oh," said he, " come after me, and do not utter a word
until I bid thee." This he did, following him on and on
until they came to an oval stone; and the old fat little
man lifted it, after tapping the middle of it three times
with his walking-stick. There was there a narrow path
with stairs visible here and there ; and a sort of whitish
light, inclining to grey and blue, was to be seen radiating
from the stones. " Follow me fearlessly," said the fat
man ; " no harm will be done thee." So on the poor
youth went, as reluctantly as a dog to be hanged. But
presently a fine, wooded, fertile country spread itself
out before them, with well arranged mansions dotting it
all over, while every kind of apparent magnificence met
the eye and seemed to smile in the landscape ; the bright
waters of the rivers meandered in twisted streams, and
the hills were covered with the luxuriant verdure of
their grassy growth, and the mountains with a glossy
fleece of smooth pasture. By the time they had


reached the stout gentleman's mansion, the young man's
senses had been bewildered by the sweet cadence of the
music which the birds poured forth from the groves :
then there was gold dazzling his eyes, and silver flash-
ing on his sight. He saw there all kinds of musical
instruments and all sorts of things for playing ; but he
could discern no inhabitant in the whole placa ; and,
when he sat down to eat, the dishes on the table came
to their places of themselves, and disappeared when one
had done with them. This puzzled him beyond measure ;
moreover, he heard people talking together around him,
but for the life of him he could see no one but his old
friend. At length the fat man said to him : " Thou
canst now talk as much as it may please thee ; " but,
when he attempted to move his tongue, it would no more
stir than if it had been a lump of ice, which greatly
frightened him. At this point, a fine old lady, with
health and benevolence beaming in her face, came to
them and slightly smiled at the shepherd : the mother
was followed by her three daughters, who were remark-
ably beautiful. They gazed with somewhat playful
looks at him, and at length began to talk to him ; but
his tongue would not wag. Then one of the girls came
to him, and, playing with his yellow and curly locks,
gave him a smart kiss on his ruddy lips. This loosened
the string that bound his tongue, and he began to talk
freely and eloquently. There he was, under the charm
of that kiss, in the bliss of happiness ; and there he
remained a year and a day without knowing that he had
passed more than a day among them ; for he had got
into a country where there was no reckoning of time.
But by-and-by he began to feel somewhat of a longing
to visit his old home, and asked the stout man if he
might go. " Stay a little yet," said he, " and thou shalt
go for awhile." That passed : he stayed on, but Olwen,



for that was the name of the damsel that had kissed him,
was very unwilling that he should depart. She looked
sad every time he talked of going away ; nor was he
himself without feeling a sort of a cold thrill passing
through him at the thought of leaving her. On condi-
tion, however, of returning, he obtained leave to go, pro-
vided with plenty of gold and silver, of trinkets and
gems. When he reached home, nobody knew who he
was : it had been the belief that he had been killed by
another shepherd, who found it necessary to betake
himself hastily far away to America, lest he should be
hanged without delay. But here is Einion Las at
home, and everybody wonders especially to see that
the shepherd had got to look like a wealthy man : his
manners, his dress, his language, and the treasure he
had with him, all conspired to give him the air of a
gentleman. He went back one Thursday night, the first
of the moon of that month, as suddenly as he had left
the first time, and nobody knew whither. There was
great joy in the country below when Einion returned
thither, and nobody was more rejoiced at it than Olwen
his beloved. The two were right impatient to get
married ; but it was necessary to do that quietly, for the
family below hated nothing more than fuss and noise ;
so, in a sort of a half-secret fashion, they were wedded.
Einion was very desirous to go once more among his
own people, accompanied, to be sure, by his wife. After
he had been long entreating the old man for leave, they
set out on two white ponies, that were, in fact, more like
snow than anything else in point of colour. So he
arrived with his consort in his old home, and it was the
opinion of all that Einion's wife was the handsomest
person they had anywhere seen. Whilst at home, a son
was born to them, to whom they gave the name of
Taliessin. Einion was now in the enjoyment of high


repute, and his wife received due respect. Their wealth
was immense, and soon they acquired a large estate ;
but it was not long till people began to inquire after the
pedigree of Einion's wife : the country was of opinion
that it was not the right thing to be without a pedigree.
Einion was questioned about it, but without giving any
satisfactory answer, and one came to the conclusion
that she was one of the fair family (Tylwyth Teg).
" Certainly," replied Einion, " there can be no doubt that
she comes from a very fair family ; for she has two
sisters who are as fair as she, and, if you saw them
together, you would admit that name to be a most fitting
one." This, then, is the reason why the remarkable
family in the Land of Enchantment and Glamour (Hud
a ILedrith] is called the fair family.'

The two next tales of Glasynys' appear in Cymru Fu,
at pp. 478-9 ; the first of them is to be compared with
one already related (pp. 99, 100), while the other is
unlike anything that I can now recall :-

(5) ' Cwmftan w r as the principal resort of the fair
family, and the shepherds of Hafod ILan used to see
them daily in the ages of faith gone by. Once, on a
misty afternoon, one of them had been searching for
sheep towards Nant y Bettws. When he had crossed
Bwlch Cwmftan, and was hastening laboriously down,
he saw an endless number of little folks singing and
dancing in a lively and light-footed fashion, while the
handsomest girls he had ever seen anywhere were at it
preparing a banquet. He went to them and had a share
of their dainties, and it seemed to him that he had never
in his life tasted anything approaching their dishes.
When the twilight came, they spread their tents, and the
man never before saw such beauty and ingenuity. They
gave him a soft bed of yielding down, with sheets of the
finest linen, and he went to rest as proud as if he had

I 2


been a prince. But, alas ! next morning, after all the
jollity and sham splendour, the poor man, when he
opened his eyes, found that his bed was but a bush of
bulrushes, and his pillow a clump of moss. Neverthe-
less, he found silver money in his shoes, and afterwards
he continued for a long time to find, every week, a piece
of coined money between two stones near the spot
where he had slept. One day, however, he told a friend
of his the secret respecting the money, and he never
found any more.'

(6) ' Another of these shepherds was one day urging
his dog at the sheep in Cwmttan, when he heard a kind
of low noise in the cleft of a rock. He turned to look,
when he found there some kind of a creature weeping
plenteously. He approached, and drew out a wee lass ;
very shortly afterwards two middle-aged men came to
him to thank him for his kindness, and, when about to
part, one of them gave him a walking-stick, as a souvenir
of his good deed. The year after this, every sheep in
his possession had two ewe-lambs ; and so his sheep con-
tinued to breed for some years. But he had stayed one
evening in the village until it was rather late, and there
hardly ever was a more tempestuous night than that :
the wind howled, and the clouds shed their contents in
sheets of rain, while the darkness was such that next to
nothing could be seen. As he was crossing the river
that comes down from Cwmttan, where its flood was
sweeping all before it in a terrible current, he somehow
let go the walking-stick from his hand ; and when one
went next morning up the Cwm, it was found that nearly
all the sheep had been swept away by the flood, and
that the farmer's wealth had gone almost as it came
with the walking-stick.'

The shorter versions given by Glasynys are probably
more nearly given as he heard them, than the longer


ones, which may be suspected of having been a good
deal spun out by him ; but there is probably very little
in any of them of his own invention, though the question
whence he got his materials in each instance may be
difficult to answer. In one this is quite clear, though
he does not state it, namely the story of the sojourn of
Elfod the Shepherd in Fairyland, as given in Cymru FM,
p. 477 : it is no other than a second or third-hand
reproduction of that recorded by Giraldus concerning a
certain Eliodorus, a twelfth-century cleric in the diocese
of St. David's l . But the longest tale published by

Online LibraryJohn RhysCeltic folklore, Welsh and Manx (Volume 1) → online text (page 12 of 35)