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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 8, Number 2, June 2014


Marion Clarke
Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland

Cantrer Gwaelod: The lowland one hundred

According to legend, between the islands of Bardsey and Ramsey on the west coast of Wales, a sunken kingdom lies twenty miles from the shore. In an early version of the tale that appeared in Llyfer du Caerfyrddin, the "Black Book of Carmarthen," the land was lost to floodwater when Mererid, the maiden of the well, succumbed to lust and neglected her duties.

stream of moonlight
from the lip of the well
water gushes

A later story attributes blame to the keeper of the sluice gates, Seithennin, who was a notorious merrymaker. One night, at spring tide, a storm blew up and huge waves pummeled the sea wall, but Seithennin did not stir from his drunken stupor and the sea swept through the open sluice gates, submerging the land.

heavy rain . . .
beside the rock pool
a limpet ticks

Contemporary explanations cite the memory of gradually rising sea levels after the ice age as the cause for such folklore, although the sunken forest at Borth and Sarn Badrig seem to suggest that some great tragedy did overcome a community there, giving rise to the myth.

frosty night
all the stars in the sky
in the sea

Today, local people say that if you listen closely, you can hear the bells of the lost city ringing out from beneath the water of Cardigan Bay.

Sunday morning
my father's voice
calling us for mass



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