"A Look back at life in Rhiw"

Daniel Rowlands,


Memories chronicled in 1965,

 when he was 89 years old.

We used to eat a lot of fish when I was young as there was an abundance of fish at that time. I remember going to my grandmothers at Bwlchgarreg and having herrings and buttermilk potatoes, having eaten the potatoes the plate would be turned upside down in order to eat the fish, fish was always eaten this way then. I had to eat my meal standing up in order that the food would go straight to my legs and I would grow quicker, according to my grandmother!!!

Robert Huws used to talk about how hard life was when he was working in Plas Newydd and neighbouring farms and how at certain times of the year the only nutritious food to be had were salt herrings and boiled potatoes, having to live on herrings meant you were really poor. The way they cooked them was to place them on top of the potatoes (which were always unpeeled) and steam the fish, most fish was cooked in this way.

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There was a lot of fishing in Rhiw, most went out of Rhuol in Hellís Mouth, but some used Porth Ysgo or Porth Cadlan. We had most fun when we used to go out fishing for gurnards or herrings, everyone used to go out together. We had to have strong boats to hold the three to four hundred fish that we caught when we went to the fishing grounds in Bardsey sound. We would row out of Rhuol until we reached the tide and then we went with the tide until we got to the fishing ground, of course depending on the tide we sometimes sailed out to Garreg Ddu ( Black Rock )near Bardsey. Weíd leave at six in the morning and stay there all day, often late into the night more often than not having to row back against the tide. The tide was always much stronger than the ebb. I once remember my mother along with other mothers being very worried as it was 2 am and no sign of the fishing boats, but the truth of the matter was the fishing was good that night and how could we poor folk leave the fishing ground when so much fish were waiting to be caught? My father said we should raise the nets and leave for home, but Wmffra Garth said "Not much point coming back at Christmas" We had to seize the day when fishing was plentiful and readily available.




Wmffra Williams was Dora Williams father, he went out to Australia for a while gold prospecting and he came back a wealthy man. I remember a tale about him when he had to give evidence against a debtor that he had actually lent money to help him and during the conversation he said "Silly B------d" and he was rebuked by John Griffirh Pencaerau  for using strong language "Now now thereís no need for strong language Wmffra" "Oh yes strong words for a strong Case"!!!! Wmffra had quite a lot of Colourful phrases.

Back to the fishing we used to catch a lot of gurnards but we had to go out beyond Bardsey to catch them out to the deep sea. Some of the lads could swim quite well and I remember one hot afternoon Jack Ship and Edwards Tynllan swimming back and forth in the tide and having a whale of a time. Remember there were many boats at the scene so rescue was at hand. Most sailors at the time couldnít swim it was thought too risky to teach them lest they be tempted to jump overboard in times of danger and create more problems.

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There were a lot of boats in Rhiw years ago and I remember the names of a few of them. There was the Firefly a 25 footer built in the garden of Congol near the hay ricks, Evan Nant used to call her the "Old Ram", she was a good strong boat and steady in a storm.

My father had a boat with john Williams Ty Mawr a carpenter and tailor side by side. Evan the Smithy and Richard Pritchard Felin Bodwrda the miller shared another.

The fishermen were far better at handling the boats in the sound than the sailors were. Take Evan Ty Croes Mawr he was an excellent boat handler one of the best he was coming home once in quite a storm and he was holding the tiller rigid and looking back at Bardsey for bearings and not saying anything his lips tightly closed and suddenly he let go of the tiller and said " OK lads anyone want to take over now?" Thankfully he got us safely home that stormy night. He would never take risks at sea or show off he had a great respect for the sea and knew of the dangers lurking within, if he thought the weather was not favorable then he would stay close to Rhuol to fish, he really was the best of all the boat-handlers of the time.

William Williams the carpenter was also a good boat handler but he didnít have much patience. I heard say that he was in the pub at Penboncyn and met with Richard Parry Bodwyddog and they got into an argument after drinking heavily and R. Parry Saying "Your only Wil the carpenter and I am a Guardian, Church Warden and Chairman of The School Board so call me Mr Parry Wil" they nearly came to blows but they eventually left the pub the best of Friends!!!

I eventually got my own boat the "salmon trout" it was an old boat from Bodeilas, it was a narrow boat but a handy little one for me, it was later sold to someone from Nefyn and then on to South Wales. Salem was the name of the Pen Nebo boat she was the boat off the Porthmadog sailing ship of the same name, the ship probably got into difficulties some where and lost the boat and thatís how they came by it. Then there was Edward Bodsaraís boat at the time they lived in Tyn Borth the cottage on the beach at Rhuol, his father was Griffith Sion Huws a weaver and maker of lobster pots, they would go out during the herring season. We would all be waiting outside the limekiln at Rhuol when the weather was bad and we would wait for advice from Griffith Sion Huws, someone said " thereís a lull now weíll go out after the next lull" "No you won't there's no point looking forward to the lull itís what comes after that you should look at"

I can also remember them building a ship on the beach at Rhuol she was called "Eban" and was about 40 tonnes, at low tide you can still see the track where she was launched. Ebenezer Richards preached at Rhuol Iím not sure if he blessed there or not.


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