top of page

The Devil Fish

In the mythology and legends of North East Wales, the Devil appears in many guises and with many names. In many tales, the Devil would seem to operate as a cautionary tale for those who transgressed from strict Christian practice. In truth, the Devil was often almost a malicious personification of a conscience, punishing those who strayed from the righteous path. Not observing the Sabbath was a case in point, and this tale from Cynwyd, as related by Elias Owen is an example.

There once was a farm hand of Cynwyd who was a godless man, for he never observed the Sabbath, and instead of going to church on a Sunday, would often be seen walking up into the hills above the village, rod in hand, in order to fish the pools and the little River Trystion. One Sunday morning he was sat by a rock pool, fishing without a care for his soul, when he saw an enormous fish, fat and glistening just below the surface. Strangely, the fish seemed to be staring at him, in what the man believed was a challenge.

The godless farm hand recast his line and waded into the pool. The fish swam a little further out, but not so far as to discourage the man. The farm hand ventured a little further out, and the fat fish swam a little further out.

‘I will catch this fish,’ hissed the man, ‘Though the Devil take me, I shall have this fish for my supper.’

And with those words, the fish sliced forward through the water, around and around the man, circling him in its wake. The man began to panic, the water sucking at his legs, but there was nothing he could do. At the last, the fish raced towards the man, and with a gasp, the man threw his rod away, held up his hands in fear, sure that the fish would hit him. But, just as the fish launched itself from the water, it vanished.

Yet, a whirlpool had been created by the fast moving fish, and though the man struggled to free himself from the maelstrom, he felt himself being dragged down below the surface, until he finally vanished beneath the cold waters of the pool.

The godless man had met the Devil, in the guise of a fish, and had paid the price of a Sabbath spent in idleness instead of worship.

Further Reading

E. Owen, Welsh Folk-Lore, Wrexham, (1896)

bottom of page