Tuesday, 7 June 2016


Bardsey Island lies just off the westernmost tip of the Lleyn Peninsula in North Wales.  Its English name is derived from a Viking warrior, Bardr, but its Welsh name, Ynys Elli, which translates at the island in the current, is more descriptive.  The sea is squeezed through the narrow sound between the island and the mainland and crossing is impossible if the weather conditions are unfavourable.  There is no ferry service.  The island is off-grid though I've heard it is possible to pick up a mobile phone signal from Ireland.

The main (English) literary associations with the island are the artist and writer Brenda Chamberlain (author of the strange memoir Tide-race), the poet Christine Evans (whose beautiful book Bardsey - with photographs by Wolf Marloh - is outstanding and inspirational) and R S Thomas (allusions in poems, member of the island trust).  Many other writers from Wales and further afield have visited the island, or, in the case of Roy Campbell, claim to have done so (some cast doubt on his story of rowing the doctor over in a storm to attend a woman about to give birth).  Alas, I am ignorant of Welsh writing about the island.  I assume there is quite a bit as Ynys Enlli is in the heart of Welsh-speaking Wales.

I've been twice as a day visitor.  The first visit was when I was eight years old.  I was entranced and trace my fascination (?obsession) with islands to that day.  Afterwards I said to my mother that I would like to stay on the island for a week.  "Don't be ridiculous," she said,  "you'd be bored stiff."

My second visit was with my two sons who were eight years old.  We repeated the same walk I had done at their age - along the island track to the Abbey Ruins (where we ate our sandwiches) and back along the shore to the lighthouse.  When we got back to the mainland I gutted and cooked the mackerel the boatman had caught for us.  The cat enjoyed the remains.

But a week's visit has been on my "bucket list" for years.  On Saturday (weather permitting)  I'm going, leaving the dog and the husband to look after each other at home.  I do not intend to be bored.  But when I get back I will probably be boring everyone else with a detailed account of my stay.

1 comment:

  1. you're very lucky to be doing such a thing!! Well done Mary...