Magical (Welsh) Creatures And Where To Find Them.

The news of a film coming out soon starring Eddie Redmayne and based on a passing reference in on of J K Rowling’s books put me in mind of a volume of a similar volume that really exists. It is a slim volume and was published in both English and Welsh simultaneously, and if you can get hold of a copy I can heartily recommend it. It is called Merlin’s Magical Creatures in English and is by the Welsh illustrator Graham Howells.

It seems at first that this volume is very lightweight, none of the subjects are gone into in any great detail with scarcely a paragraph or two to most of them with the odd footnote. Indeed, this would seem to be not much more than a vehicle for the authors illustrations as it is very much a picture lead book, and so it is but in this instance I do not have a problem with that.

The illustrations of each of the magically Welsh creatures (in many cases more than one) are incredibly detailed and clearly well researched. As such this should not be seen so much as a definitive guide to Wales’s rich canon of mythical beasts but rather as a means of engendering curiosity and jumping off point to find out more for ourselves, as I did in the case of the Water Leaper.

I admit I thought this one completely made up to flesh out the book, but no, there it is in an early twentieth century collection of Welsh and Manx folklore compiled by Sir John Rhys. (CELTIC FOLKLORE WELSH AND MANX (Legends and Sagas of Wales) – Illustrations pictures and annotated the Myth of Celtic Deities (Gods and Goddesses)) A beast from Caernarfonshire, like myself, it was said to haunt Llyn Gwynant and Llyn Glas and would seem to be a ind of ambush predator would leap from the dark waters and carry off sheep that got too close to the shoreline and would even attempt to take the odd fisherman if it could, however all it seemed to get in those encounters was the odd rod.

This does highlight the one drawback to this book, if you want to know more about some of these highly haunting illustrations you have to look elsewhere, but where? There are no references or bibliography given so you need to put in some serious man-hours of undergraduate level research. But it is exceptionally beautiful and that will allow it to get away with a lot, the fact is I would never have found out about the Llamhigyn, Gwrach y Rhibyn and the Cyhyrraeth. What do you mean you’ve never heard of them? Go and look them up!

logwrachyrhibynlo

 

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