Warrior Wind-Singer of Llyn

 

holiday 027

 

It is said that the Iron Man of Mynydd Tir y Cwmwd sings in the wind. I can believe it too: bold laments of long ago battles, a proud Celtic warrior fending off invading Roman governors and power-hungry English kings. Sadly, the cause was lost on both fronts, although at least these days Cymru,* Wales, has its own Welsh Parliament, and Cymraeg, the Welsh language, is nurtured, learned in schools and spoken widely with great pride. And so it should be. It is one of the world’s wonderful languages, the words formed from the rush of sea on rocks, the wind whistling down from the heights of Yr Wyddfa** (Snowdon, Wales’ highest mountain). Under past times of English domination much was done to stamp out the Welsh culture altogether. It is what invaders do – belittle, ban, override  heartfelt expressions of a conquered people’s culture.

{*roughly pronounced Kumree and Ur Oithva}

100_4536

Llyn Coast Path, Mynydd Tir y Cwmwd

*

Recently I have been writing much about preserving and respecting heritage (Valuing the Past…and also Is the Past past saving in The Heritage Journal) but I recognise, too, that nothing stays the same – at least not in the physical world. The Iron Man is a case in point.

 

The first man standing was a carved ship’s figurehead placed there in 1911 by Cardiff entrepreneur, Solomon Andrews.  Andrews had bought the nearby grand house of Plas Glyn-y-Weddw some twenty years earlier and turned it into a public art gallery, the first of its kind in Wales. Today the house is the home of the wonderful Oriel Gallery, run by a trust, and the place where Welsh creativity is celebrated.

holiday 026

Oriel Plas Glyn-y-Weddw from Llyn Coastal Path

*

The ship’s figurehead did not fare so well. In 1980, after it had been set on fire by vandals, local artist, Simon Van de Put replaced it with a figure of an ancient warrior made from recycled sheet steel. As had been envisaged, the warrior , exposed to the sea winds, weathered away until only his boots remained. But in 2002 reinforcements arrived, delivered to the headland by a helicopter and winch.

Today this new Iron Man surveys Cardigan Bay with the kind of stance that says  he means to stay. In fact I’m not altogether certain that he might not also be a woman. This warrior, then, is the work of local craftsmen Berwyn Jones and Huw Jones.

To me the rope-like ironwork  suggests sinew and muscle. It is thus simultaneously  symbolic of both decay and regeneration; a rare act to pull off.  The tilt of the head is dignified, but wistful too. I would like to feel I have the courage to stand up behind this guardian.

I am not Welsh of course. As far as I can tell my ancestors were Anglo Saxons and Normans. But if we do not celebrate the best of our culture, our own and other peoples’, then think how much is lost – all those things that make us  truly well nourished humans – the poem, the saga, the dance, the metaphor, the hymn, the riddle, the rune, the touching words, the art – all that makes us recollect and care, confers insight and wisdom, gives us heart and good heartedness. For now though I take joy in the knowledge that when the wind blows across Mynydd Tir y Cwmwd (The Headland), even though I am not there to hear it, the iron warrior sings.

100_4534

The cliff top path to the Iron Warrior

 

© 2013 Tish Farrell

Related:

For more on Oriel Plas Gwyn-y-Weddw

http://www.oriel.org.uk/

http://www.oriel.org.uk/en/home/lost-woodland/69-winllan-history

 

Frizztext’s WWW Challenge

And also: Ailsa’s Travel Theme: Sky

17 thoughts on “Warrior Wind-Singer of Llyn

  1. What a wonderful post. The photography is beautiful and your words are poetic and sincere. I hurt and become very angry whenever I become aware of attempts to eradicate a culture. You are a powerful writer and I enjoy reading your work.

  2. “the words formed from the rush of sea on rocks, the wind whistling down from the heights of Yr Wyddfa* ” Such beautiful words Tish. Beautiful and evocative post. Thank you.

  3. Great post Tish. I loved what I saw of Wales on my trip to St. David’s on the west coast. It left me longing to see Snowdon and the north. And I love the present Iron Warrior – “simultaneously symbolic of both decay and regeneration” – and I’ll bet the wind does sing as it passes through and around.

    1. Thanks Lynne, and yes, North Wales is very beautiful, but then St David’s is a lovely spot too. It has a great little art gallery there with items from the national art collection, if I remember rightly.

  4. Love the sculpture, and enjoyed learning a bit about the efforts made to preserve the Welsh culture. It’s so important to give space to our grandparents and forefathers, and not to throw out all that’s old in order to make way for the new.

    1. Absolutely, Shimon. With our sights ever on changing technology, it’s easy to start thinking that the sum of our knowledge is all there is. I think, too, that living with our minds mostly in the material world, can dull the subtlety of thinking and metaphor that was/is a distinctive characteristic of non-literate societies. Literacy is a great blessing, but sometimes we lose something too – the bard, the griot, the history singer, the teller of epic tales, the metaphors that deepen understanding.

Comments are closed.