Notes, types and motifs
Notes for the story 'Crossing the Boundaries on Christmas Day, and the Little Family by Peter Green's Cave'
- Ifan Gruffydd (1896-1971)
- Tape: MWL 1635 Recorded 14.ix.1976
In the printed version of this story Ifan Gruffydd stated that he was around seven to eight years old when he first saw the little family on Christmas Day, and he calls the cave 'Yr Ogof Fawr' ['The Great Cave']. In his reminiscences on tape, however, when questioned further about the cave he made this comment:
'We call it 'Ogof Pitar Graen' ["Peter Green's Cave"]. Some old boy called Peter Green had been living there, you see. Well, the old cave was frequented by many people such as those I've mentioned to you. The occasional tramp, you see, making his home in the cave for a week, say, or a fortnight, or sometimes for the whole winter. Venturing out to gather what food he could in the countryside... and some were craftsmen who could go round the farms asking whether they needed tools sharpening, or dishes mended - wooden dishes I mean now... An old tailor, perhaps, wandering. Well, no one would know how he'd come to be in that state... I saw many a family, too, who'd seen better times.'
And the following is a further comment by Ifan Gruffydd on the significance of 'a year and a day':
'There's something in a year and a day, isn't there. In days gone by, everything of great importance, say someone had made his will, [and] someone had left you something, you wouldn't get it for a year and a day, would you?'
In answer to the question: 'Did you [ever] hear anyone apart from your mother talk about the fairies?', Ifan Gruffydd said:
'O dear me, yes, the old people. Old people telling stories about the Fairies, you see, around the fire. I'd see Mam going - as neighbours in days gone by would go and visit each other in the evenings. Spending two or three hours in a neighbour's house, now. Some half a dozen come together and me, of course, a small child sitting on the iron stool by the fire, like that. [There would be] an iron stool and a fender, of course, in front of the fires in days gone by, wouldn't there. And the fire tongs and the brass poker, almost as yellow as gold. Dear me! It was a lot of work to clean them. Well, the little child's place would always be on the iron stool, and the older family in their chairs and on the settle and so on, conversing. Well, to entertain the child, sometimes they'd tell him a story about the fairies. And I heard many stories about the fairies, that they'd caught someone's child and had taken him, and [his parents] had got him back at the end of a year and a day, [it was] always something like that...
Would your mother tell you any of these stories?
Oh yes, stories like those. Yes, indeed.
Do you remember any of them?
Well no, I can't remember any more than I've told you now. Something similar. Saying where they used to live, you see. Underground and in the caves. And they had beautiful, wonderful places, and things they'd collected, you see... furniture, dishes, toys and pictures. And that they were very skilled at making things themselves too. Only stories like those. So there was a great mystery about the fairies.'
Ifan Gruffydd tells more tales of the fairies on tape MWL 1636.
The item above is an interesting example of a personal narrative - a 'true story' - told following a discussion about the fairies.
|ML 4075||Visit to Fairyland.|
|ML 4077 (W)||Detained in Fairyland.|
|ML 5080||Food from fairies.|
|ML 6072 (W)||Memorates concerning fairies.|
|C211.1||Taboo: eating in Fairyland.|
|F 211.3||Fairies live underground.|
|F 216||Fairies live in the forest.|
|F 217||Congregating places of fairies.|
|F 221.1||Fairy house disappears at dawn.|
|F 222.1||Fairies' underground palace.|
|F 234.2||Fairy in the form of a person.|
|F 234.2.5||Fairy in the form of a beautiful young girl.|
|F 239.4.1||Fairies the same size as adults.|
|F 240||Possessions of fairies.|
|F 241.8||Fairies have poultry.|
|F 243.3||Fairies eat meat.|
|F 310||Fairies and human children.|
|F 320||Fairies carry people away to Fairyland.|
|F 328||Fairies entice people into their domain.|
|F 388||Fairies depart.|
|F 393.5||Fairies are seen at certain times.|
|P 715||Particular nations.|
|P 715.2*||Nations: gypsies.|
|P 715.2.1*||Marriage with a gypsy girl.|
|P 715.2.3*||Gypsy children.|
|T 110||Unusual marriage.|
|Z 72.1||Year and a day.|