Recently I told you the story of St Dwynwen, the Welsh patron saint of lovers and Welsh equivalent to St Valentine, and with Valentine’s Day fast approaching I think it’s time for another love story. Unfortunately a tragic one. When I was sitting on the shores of Llanddwyn Island looking over to the Llŷn Peninsula, I remembered a love story I had heard whilst visiting Nant Gwrtheyrn a couple of years ago.
The secluded Nant, which lies in isolation by the sea at the foot of Yr Eifl, is the setting for one of Wales’ most tragic love stories and tells the tale of Rhys and Meinir, who grew up in Nant and after being childhood friends, fell in love and decided to get married. They had a favourite spot under an old oak tree, on the lower slopes of Yr Eifl, the highest mountain on the peninsula.
A date was set for the wedding and preparations began with neighbours being invited down to Nant the day before the wedding to give gifts to the couple. Everyone was looking forward to this joyful occasion. The people of Nant Gwrtheyrn still kept the tradition of the ‘Wedding Guest’.
But what does this mean?
On the morning of her wedding, the bride would run and hide. While everybody gathered in the church, Rhys’ friends played their part in the tradition and went searching for Meinir, who had headed for the hills. But they couldn’t find her. Rhys kept searching for his sweetheart for months, slowly losing his mind, but to no avail.
Then one stormy night, while he was out wondering in the hills, he took shelter underneath their favourite oak tree when a bolt of lightning struck the the trunk, splitting it in half.
Rhys couldn’t believe his eyes when the splintered tree revealed a skeleton wearing a wedding dress. He had finally found his Meinir. Overcome by emotion, he collapsed and died beside his beloved bride.
There is a symbolic tree in the village which commemorates Rhys and Meinir and visitors claim to have seen two ghosts holding hands on the beach.
Now you might be thinking, she didn’t just drive all the way there to tell us this story and you’re right so let’s start at the beginning and Yr Eifl…