(Photo circa 1920)
Ty Isaf, Rhiw.
I was born in Ty Isaf, Rhiw, Caernarvonshire, in 1874 where my mother and father lived with my grandfather and grandmother since my mother was an only child.
Rhiw is about 12 miles South west of Pwllheli and about 3 miles from the
known old village of Aberdaron. The
mountain is about 1000ft from the level of the sea and there
one of the best and most romantic views to be had from its summit. Nowhere can
one get such a good view in all directions and many a time have I climbed to the
top in the summer to glimpse the surroundings. There are unforgettable views,
looking south one sees St George's Channel extending to its extremities, looking
North west, one sees the Irish
and the traffic of trading ships on their way to Liverpool and
back and forth with valuable cargoes of goods and foodstuffs,
North one sees Ynys Mon and her rich plains, and also Ireland.
the North East, the mountain and hills of Arfon with Y Wyddfa (Snowden) a
crowning them all. The mountains seem to open their mouths with joy to welcome
the morning sun. To
the East one also sees the hills and mountains of Meirionydd with
Idris extending to the clouds as if it were their King. One also sees Aberdyfi,
Y Bermo, Dolgellau, Aberystwyth and down towards
Wales as far as the naked eye can see.
grandmother, Ann Ty lsaf, was considered a kind and likeable person
all in the district. She was a small lady, always in complete control
her temper and very ready to help those around her. She had brothers
were Weavers by profession and they used to work in Ty lsaf workshop
the loom or large spinning wheel (Troell Fawr) and spinning wheel
Bach), weaving cloth material and making wool for socks etc.
My Grandmother (Nain)
I remember well how Nain made wool for socks with the “Troell”. I used to turn the big wheel for her with a piece of wood. It was great fun and I never used to tire of turning the Troell. I don't know if there is a Troell Fawr or Troell Bach left somewhere today, probably very few. I gave the Troell (singular) to the late Mr. John Griffith, Headmaster of the County School, Dolgellau who was Mr. Llewelyn Wyn Griffith's father and I'm sure they're (plural) with the family still because he was very careful of old things and paid great attention to them. Nain was very good at cooking and making bread. She could make a tasty meal with very few ingredients - potato soup with a little fat and onions, with chives from the garden and that's all. It would be a meal well worth getting up from bed for! At other times she would boil a rabbit, and with It would be Mwtrin Moron (boiled potato and carrot - mashed), and tea and pancakes. She was one of, if not the best at making bread. I remember as a boy going to the Common with Taid (grandfathar) to cut turf for baking bread and ensuring that always there was a stack of turf for the winter, for the baking.
would start off for the Common, each with the Caib (pick) and start cutting as
soon as we arrived and work till night. We'd have some
in a cloth to feed us and Nain mould have said to Taid “remember to feed this
boy Rowland, you chew tobacco and don't need as much
does you know".
My Grandfather (Taid).
grandfather's name was Rowland Williams. He was a tall strong and
man. A man who would not be defeated by anybody or anything, Woe to anyone who
rose against him, he would have “settled” them in a
was a seaman by profession and had a Captain's licence. He spent
all his life at sea and died at 92. The sea was his place,
talked about it and thought about it, in a way it was the great hobby
his life. When too old to go to sea he had a small boat of his own with
he would fish in Porth Neigwl, catching crabs, lobsters, mackerel,
gurnard etc. He would send the crabs and lobsters to Pwllheli
thence to markets in England.
The boat was called "Y Lion bach", and even though it was only about 12 feet long he would set to sea even in rough weather and if the other boats made for the shore Lion Bach would reach port as certainly as the bigger boats. He would let me go fishing with him and I would insist on going every day if it was possible. I remember me and my brother William going out with him once on a fine day in the summer. There was no breath of wind and the sea was like glass. There were other boats out too and they had gone far out to sea. We two children nagged him to go after the other boats to the open sea. "What for" said Taid "It would be difficult for me to come back (ie. if anything went wrong) remember that you are only children". But there was no quieting us and so we started off after the other boats but still quite far from them, and Taid was very wary, but we went quite far out. In the distance we saw a small ship (ie. fishing boat*) coming towards us. William and myself were rowing while Taid was fishing. Soon the *ship' came .close enough for us to speak to the hands and one of them shouted "where are you going Rowland? You'd better head back, your crew are far too young you don't know what may happen and the kids would be of little use if anything went wrong. You'd better come on deck with us so that you and the kids can have a bite to eat. The potatoes are on the fire and almost ready". The captain was from Aberdaron and knew Taid well. "Well I'd better not James, I'd better head for shore as soon as I can with the crew I've got today" said Taid. "Yes" said James "in case anything goes wrong". “Turn the boat to shore lads" said Taid "pull together, you pull more Wil, and you less Rowland. Stop plucking at the oars and pull more evenly for God's sake* I don't know what made me bring you two so far out". As he was speaking a big shoal of fish broke surface all around us. We two still rowed the Lion Bach while Taid set about pulling in the fish. It's a difficult job catching the gurnard. Their fins are very sharp and can cut the hands till they bleed. Taid though could catch them unharmed by putting the fish under his armpit to pull the hook out from its mouth. That day we had far more fish than any of the other boats. Taid was the Pilot of the harbour in Rhiw and he would bring in the ships carrying coal to the Quay, and the ships carrying Manganese from Rhiw to England. I would be on the look-out for ships coming to Rhiw so that I could go with Taid to fetch them ashore and get a hard biscuit from the Captain. I would often sleep with Taid especially if we were going fishing the following morning. Taid's habits were interesting. He would get up early and the first thing he'd do was to go to the bedchamber window to look at the sea and what sort of weather was in store.
of course would be awake as soon as he. After getting up from bed the first
thing he’d do was to put his hat on. I noticed that he’d do this every time
and one day I asked him “Taid, why do you put your hat on first, instead of
Thomas Williams was the name of my father. He was born and brought up in Felin y Rhiw. He was a tailor by profession and worked in Bryngolau, Rhiw after marrying. He was very fond of going fishing and had a boat called "Cymro". She sailed well and often won prizes in Regattas. He was often reckless and often took risks with a boat, but he was a fine fisherman and was always lucky in fishing. He was also fond of catching rabbits and always kept a dog and a ferret. Penny the bitch was a good catcher and was fast enough to catch a hare. He was a member of the Methodist Chapel of Tan y Foel, Rhiw and he would open and lock up the door to the Chapel, light and extinguish the lamps. I feel at a disadvantage talking about him since I lost him when I was 6 years of age and am therefore unable to form an impression other than a child's impression about him. He met his end at 33 years of age, a young man, when he fell over the cliffs in Porth Ysgo and was fatally injured. My mother was widowed and left with 3 of us in her charge. The providence of heaven is strange. We were looked after and wanted for nothing. Samuel Williams of Pwllmelyn sang (made poetry) about him.
"Ty Isaf today"
My Mother (Mam).
was born in Ty Isaf, Rhiw and lived there till she married.
She was the only child and not very strong in health in her early years, but
very strong in her later years and lived to be 73.
was a dressmaker by profession and was taught her skills in Sgubor Lon,
After completing her schooling she came home and was a
dressmaker in Rhiw and surroundings until she got married.
She was married
only a short time as I have shown already, my father dying when a young
leaving her a widow. This
was a dark and depressing time for her, with three of us to rear.
I was six when
I lost my father, William was 4 and Robert was 18 months. The responsibility
keeping the home and rearing us rested entirely on her.
worked hard, night and day to earn a bit of money to feed us, and clothes
keep us warm. She saw many a dark
hour and much to cloud her life, but she always managed to pull through.
lost much sleep rearing us and had no luxury for herself, always thinking
us. I remember well the time for
going to bed. We had to go early to
her time to work. Often, being the
eldest, I would stay up with her to keep her company, but on a special condition. She
would give me the Bible, telling me that I must learn a Chapter or a Psalm
from it while she sewed and that she would test my knowledge sometime before
the morning. I learnt
great deal from the Bible in this way, and it was not a burden but a pleasure
order to keep her company. What I
learnt then is still my personal property, a treasure that cannot be stolen.
A man's character is his own property in
age and country.
had no luxury, but we had enough and a bit extra always.
Mam could make clothes for us from old materials and we would be as
proud of our home-made suits as others were of their shop-bought clothes.
This was so till we were
able to fend for ourselves. We were taught to be obedient and polite.
I remember how we ran to get
for people and earn a penny or two and sometimes 6d.
Oh how we ran home with the money to Mam. This
would help pay the Rent. We would
never buy sweets or anything, Mam's influence was too
strong and there was always the fear of not being able to pay the rent.
were taught politeness, something which should exemplify every district
class and all that we do. The rich
should learn this also and that to live in a palace is not enough.
They should contribute generously to
which promote humanity. It is immoral to spend money on wanton
while only contributing an occasional penny in the hands of the poor.
There may be external differences between people, which are subject to being blessed or cursed by the government of the mind. External matters may affect a man but it is the mind which ultimately decides. The Apostle said that bad discourse corrupts good morals. A moral man is he who acts in accordance with his situation and is conscious of the feelings of others.
An immoral man is one who is ungentlemanly and
unfeeling, regardless of
of his own life. His character may
be clean, yet without morality. Some people are like a field, which bears only thorns,
and it is best to avoid them. Yet others will allow education and culture to take firm
much is dependent on upbringing, on some hearths children are reared
it would be unfit to rear an animal, what chance have they.
immoral man thinks not of thanking anyone for anything.
Yet one does not need a vast knowledge and education to give a civil
reply. If you are
then you should show it.
is the crown of morality. What is
morality without purity? Flowers, without colour or scent. We should always be conscious of how we
to others and the purity of our characters be our own internal standard.
(To be continued !!!!)
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