Bardsey Island

"The press gang"

The bleak location of the Island moulded its inhabitants into a strong and sturdy people and they were accustomed to discomfort and danger. Since they practised the dual occupation of farmer and fisherman, it is little wonder that so many of their descendants became sea captains.

Towards the end of the last century (18th) there were visible signs of a change in their character. Whereas they had been vicious and mean even towards each other during the piracy period, and very conservative and unsociable towards others, they now became more friendly towards the mainland population. They may have been inquisitive as some observed, but is this any wonder when they were stranded for months on the island within a very small community? They were glad to see new faces when they arrived on the mainland and they would spend hours in conversation gathering news of various happenings on the mainland to take back with them to the island.

Being a small and close knit community, there was a close bond of unity between them and they were very loyal to each other. However there were exceptions such as the time during the Napoleonic War when there was a character called Sin Robert Griffith living on the island. One day a warship anchored off-shore and as the men folk had never seen a warship so close to their island before, they went out in their boats to investigate, and Sin Griffith was included in the party.

When their boats pulled along side the Man of War, they were invited aboard to inspect the ship, and unsuspectingly the accepted the invitation. As it happened Sin Griffith was the only one among them who could converse in English. Seeking his own selfish end, he turned traitor and sold the islanders on the spot to the Press gang. Without any qualms he returned alone boldly to the island, but it did not take long for the women folk to realise what he had done with their partners. They immediately took action and without any vote being taken, they began searching the island for Sin with only one purpose in mind a public lynching !!! Sin sensing the seriousness of the situation fled and hid in one of the caves until the coast was clear, and when the opportune moment arrived he somehow escaped to the mainland. Legend has it that he fled to America and nothing more was ever heard of him.  

                  

"People of Bardsey"

The story of the kidnapping reached the mainland, and through the efforts of someone, whose name has become lost to history, he made forcible applications to the War Department of the day, for their release. Finally he succeeded in his demand, and the islanders were safely returned, much to the delight of the women.

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Thanks to Mr P Hall for this story.

 

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