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Towns and Villages of Snowdonia

Manylion a Disgrifiad y Llyfr | Book Details & Description

  • Author: Dewi Roberts
  • Publication June 2006
  • Format: Paperback, 214x139 mm, 100 pages
 
A guide to twenty communities within the geographical orbit of the Snowdonia National Park, focusing on some historical facets. With 67 colour photographs.

Gwales Review

Most visitors will think of the striking beauty of the landscape and its unique geographical terrain when they bring Snowdonia to mind. We are less familiar with the fascinating history and myths associated with its towns and villages. In this informative little book, Dewi Roberts give us an insight into some of that history.

He presents us with tales from twenty of the area’s towns and villages and is indebted to the hard work and published research of many an enthusiastic local historian. The author draws on that research to create short, enticing pieces about unique places in Snowdonia, hoping to encourage the visitor to seek more detailed accounts in time.

In each account, Roberts combines tales from history with legend and anecdotal stories, which makes for lively reading. Bala, for example, has been famous for: ‘the prettiest women I ever beheld’ (Lord Lyttleton when visiting in 1756); the grayling and ‘gwyniad’ fish which are unique to Llyn Tegid; breakfasts at the White Lion Hotel (according to George Burrow on his visit in 1854) which included hare, trout, sardines, steak and muffins washed down with ‘capital tea’; knitted garments during the early 1800s, and the arrival of Mary Jones who walked across the mountains to come here and obtain a bible from Thomas Jones.

Indeed, it was a focal point for Methodism, and its god-fearing people were often at odds with another of its famous characters, R. J. Lloyd Price. Not only was he the first to introduce sheepdog trials into Britain, he also wanted to produce and distribute Welsh whisky that could rival his Irish counterparts. He set up his company in 1889, but due to the devout nature of the Bala residents, he had to deliver to his suppliers under the cover of darkness.

Other places offer us more unexpected stories, including Abraham Lincoln’s connection with Ysbyty Ifan. Lincoln’s great-grandmother, Ellen Morys, was born here at Bryn Gwyn, before she emigrated to America in the early 18th Century. There is also the story of Fron-goch where nearly 2,000 Irish rebels were incarcerated following the Easter Uprising of 1916. With such a volatile political environment in Ireland, it was considered better to keep the rebels across the water. However, as a result of their close contact with each other, Fron-goch became known as the University of Revolution (Ollscoil na Reabhbuide) where republicans from all parts of Ireland built up contacts for the future.

There are gems of information throughout the book on the role these towns and villages have played in Wales’s history, myth and legend. These special places have also been the inspiration for countless writers and artists. The beautiful valley of Maentwrog, to name only one of the author’s many examples, features in the pages of the Mabinogi, as well as giving inspiration to Gerald Manley Hopkins, the novelist Thomas Love Peacock and the notable welsh poet and scholar, Edmwnd Prys.

The concise entries on each place allow even someone with very little time to spend in the area a chance to dip in and discover some of its abundant myth and history. Even those with a better knowledge of the area and its past will discover a fresh pair of eyes on the more familiar and best-loved places.

Jane MacNamee