Hide Articles List

4 articles on this Page


Merionethshire Phenomenon.


Merionethshire Phenomenon. HOW TO EXPLAIN IT ? The appearance of mysterious balls of fire in Merioneth has been for some days exercising the minds of many people. Some connect the phenomenon, not unnaturally, with the Welsh Revival, and regard it as a sign from Heaven. Some people go so far as to believe that it has a direct connection with Mrs. Jones, of Dyffryn, who has been addressing Revival meetings, and who has been dubbed a prophetess and a seer, because she happened to be one of the first to notice it, and because the fire has been seen resting above the places of worship where she happened to be present. All the stories to the effect that this fire has travelled towards certain houses, and that the balls formed themselves into the shape of human hands with the index fingers pointing to houses where a sinner awaited salvation are, of course, the fruits of lively imagination, but the simple story of the exist- ence of this strange fire cannot be denied. It has been seen by many people. How Can it be Explained? M It is a remarkable fact that in this very locality during the winter of 1693 similar balls of fire were seen. Then followed a pestilence. Is it a coincidence that the fire appeared again in the winter of 1903 in the very same place and on the same dates ? These are questions which require considerable thought. Reference is made to the fire of 1693 in a Welsh book called "Y Gestiana," written by Alltud Eifion, the well-known bard and antiquarian, of which a free translation is as follows :—" A strange fire appeared at Morfa Bychan, near Portmadoc, in the year 1693, and it travelled along the coast to Merionethshire. It made its first appearance about Christmas time. On the 24th of Decem- ber it burnt down a rick of hay belonging to Richard Davies, Erw-wen, another belonging to Richard Griffiths, Llechwedd-ddu, and another the property of Humphrey Owen, of Carregwen. Six ricks were burnt down by the flame on the 27th of December (the names are given) and an outhouse. Its effect upon the grass growing on the fields over which it passed were so poisonous that for three years afterwards every bird and beast partaking of it died. It was a fiery vapour, rising from Morfa Bychan Marsh, and travelling along the coast as far as HarJech, ten miles distant. Noise of any kind seemed to affect it, and cause it to rise into the heavens, and, though people created a lot of noises and thus prevented its doing much damage, it continued to make its appearance every Saturday and Sunday night for a considerable time. The people believed it to have been caused by a cotter who had been turned out of his farm that he had Bewitched the place. He was arrested but escaped as he was being taken before a justice of the peace, and he was never more seen." That is the tale told by Alltud Eifion; but others wrote about it, notably Edward Llwyd in the Philosophical Transactions, and the Rev. Morris Jones, rector of Dolgelley in the year 1693. The author of The Lord of Corsygedol," an historical novel written in 1902, refers to something similar. He places in the mouth of a witch the words—" Look, there goes the flame of fate direct towards thy castle," and describes it as a small blue flame dancing merrily in the air, apparently at some distance from the ground and progressing slowly but surely, striking against the thatched roof of a labourer's cottage, set it ablaze, and proceed on its way. "A nauseous smell permeated the air, and they breathed with difficulty as they went on. This was Satan-work indeed." The versatile Thomas Pennant, in his "Tours in Wales," gives the fire considerable prominence. He says:—"In the winter of 1694 this neigh- bourhood was remarkable for an amazing and noxious phenomenon, a mephites or pestilential vapour resembling a weak blue flame." Having described how it travelled on to Harlech, burning ricks of hay and corn, Pennant says-" It infected the grass in such a manner that numbers of cattle, horses, sheep, and goats died, yet men went into the midst of it with impunity. Any great noise, such as the sounding of horns, the discharging of guns, or the like, at once repelled it. It moved only by night. It may have arisen, as the editor of Camden' conjectures, from a local casualty, such as the fall of a flight of locusts in the spot, as really was the case in the sea near Aberdaron, which growing corrupt might, by the blowing of the wind for a certain period from one point, direct the pest to a particular spot." Pennant was not the man to make mistakes, and the only reasonable explanation which can be adduced for the strange phenomenon now to be seen near Barmouth and Harlech is that the balls of fire seen in the air at night are a repeti- tion of the strange fire" described by the authors we have mentioned. To regard it as a supernatural sign is almost ridiculous, and to connect it with the Welsh revival is a reflection upon the sanity of the religious leaders. So far there have been no reports of the grass having been infected, possibly because the cattle are in" during this time of the year. The phenomenon is worthy of the attention of scien- tists. They may succeed in unravelling a mystery which the wisdom of the seventeenth century failed to satifactorily explain.


[No title]