Welsh Tales of Tragedy – Part 1

Welsh Tales of Tragedy – Part 1

The Great Famine Memorial

Standing solemnly in Cathays Cemetery in Cardiff, is a Celtic Cross made from Irish limestone. This unsuspecting statue may look completely normal amongst the other headstones and marble markers of the deceased but this one has a much larger bank of people it is remembering – the Irish immigrants of the 1800’s. during the Potato famine that caused millions to starve, those keen to survive by any means jumped aboard ships in an attempt to flee their inevitable doom. As the frequency of hopefuls and stowaways disembarking in Newport increased, bringing Irish to the banks by ship was made illegal. This however didn’t stop the shipmen taking pity on the poor souls without any options, thus their own choices were limited. Incapable of returning these families to the shores of their own country where they would likely perish, the skippers instead decided to steer the ship to the mouth of the river Usk where the refugees would have to jump overboard. Starving, exhausted and having to wade through great stretches of mud meant that these bedraggled peoples would eventually wander into town in a horrendous state, giving them the unaffectionately known nickname – the mudcrawlers. For months on end people sodden with brown from the river would stumble into town and beg for money in an attempt to escape their fate. This memorial aims to immortalize the brave people who took the plunge and the crawl and all those who were born from them. The plaque at the bottom of the cross reads: In memory of the victims of the Great Famine in Ireland, 1845 – 1849, and of all Irish people and their descendants who have died in Wales.

May they rest in peace.

Abergavenny Castle

Built to Overlook the very same river by Norman settlers, the remains of Abergavenny still stand today. This once proud castle also hides the scene of one of the most treacherous massacres in Welsh history. Around Christmas in 1175 William de Braose, 4th Lord of Bramber held a dinner inviting three Welsh princes to the castle for an evening that promised reconciliation and festivities. However, the host had a deep seated hatred for some of his guests, especially Seisyll ap Dyfnwal who he secretly blamed for the death of his beloved uncle. Under the guise of peace, the three leaders accompanied by friends and family attended this meal. As the celebrations commenced as expected, no one was any the wiser when suddenly the doors were locked and William set his men upon his guests, slaughtering them in their seats. On that night the heirs and the associates were butchered unawares in a brutally deceptive move that granted William the nickname The Ogre Of Abergavenny. This villainous act is so infamous it is likely to have inspired author George RR Martin as an incredibly similar situation takes place in his now profoundly famous Game Of Thrones series. The Red Wedding as it is known shocked audiences worldwide as the drama on screen went from lighthearted to blood soaked in seconds, erasing main characters much like the lineage of Williams foes.