Y Tylwyth Teg (The Fair Folk)
By STEVE PARSONS, Ghost Hunter
Throughout many western regions of the United Kingdom fairies play a dominant role in folklore. And nowhere is this more so than in Pembrokeshire where tales and legends of fairies, or the fair folk, are commonplace.
In the Welsh language they are known as Plant Rhys Ddwfn, or the Children of Rhys the Cunning. But forget those cute images of Disney’s Tinker Bell – these Welsh fairies appear almost indistinguishable from humans; sometimes they are said to marry humans and occasionally even have children with humans. The fairies were once well known at the markets of Haverfordwest, Milford Haven and Fishguard and were welcomed there by the local farmers as they always paid the best prices for the goods they bought.
One of the earliest accounts of fairies in Pembrokeshire occurs in the 10th century. Gerald of Wales tells of Elidyr, a poor priest at St Davids Cathedral who was taken to visit the King of the Fairies in the beautiful wooded Gwaun Valley and was taught the language of the Tylwyth Teg, or Fair Folk. The fairy children played with balls of solid pure gold and, being poor, eventually Elidyr succumbed to temptation and stole one of the gold balls. Caught as he made his escape, he was chastised for his treachery and was never again permitted to visit the magical fairy valley.
There are several tales and legends that describe fertile, green islands lying off the Pembrokeshire coast said to be home to the fairies. The islands are for much of the time invisible to humans, but in the 17th century it is recorded that after a long and fruitless search Gruffydd ap Einon was standing in the churchyard at St Davids when he spied the islands. He hastened to his boat but the islands had vanished. Returning to the churchyard, he once again caught sight of the islands and again raced to his boat and set sail. After a frantic journey, the islands had again vanished.
But at the third attempt, he was successful and landed upon the islands where he was welcomed by the fairies. He learnt that they used magical herbs which they grew on the islands to render them invisible, and that those same herbs grew in one small part of the churchyard.
Only by standing in that exact spot among the magical herbs had Gruffydd been able to see and ultimately visit the fairy islands. He continued to visit the islands for the remainder of his life, becoming a great friend to the fair folk and becoming wealthy from the gifts they bestowed upon him.
Steve Parsons is an outstanding investigator of ghosts, hauntings and related phenomena whose background, peer recognition, experience and knowledge separate him from a domain full of pseudoscientific amateur ghost hunters. He has hunted for ghosts since childhood and has been a full-time investigator for more than 25 years. Peers and leading academic parapsychologists currently acknowledge him to be one of the best paranormal investigators in the UK.
In 2012, the Wall Street Journal called him “the gold standard of ghost hunting”.
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