top of page
© Copyright ~ 2020

The Fairy Fair

Ruthin Markets were known for their popularity with the Tylwyth Teg, and it was considered good fortune if they were in attendance on any given day, since business would be brisk and profitable.  It was believed that should a buzz be heard in the market, this was a sign that the Tylwyth Teg were present, and goods would be sold with alacrity.

The Rev. Elias Owen tells of a conversation he had with a Mr Richard Jones who once lived in Llanbedr Dyffryn Clwyd, in which his mother on returning from the market in Ruthin, would declare, ‘They were not there’, which amounted to poor business and no sweets for the children.  On those days that the Tylwyth Teg were in Ruthin, his mother would instead declare, ‘They filled the whole place’ and the children would see the benefit of it.

A darker tale of the Tylwyth Teg tells of a well-known midwife, who was much admired and sought after for her skill with mother and child.  One evening she was awoken by a loud banging on her door.  Being used to such interruptions she immediately rose and answered the door and saw to her surprise, a beautifully ornate and gilded carriage which a tall well-dressed gentleman was urging her to enter.  Her urgent help was required, he said, and the birth was upon them.

She did as she was bidden, and immediately they were off and sped through the lanes of the Denbighshire countryside.  After a journey of some length, they arrived at a large mansion that the midwife had neither seen or heard of before.  As she climbed the stairs of the house, she could hear the painful moans of the soon to be mother and hurried to her aid.  She performed her tasks admirably, and received many thanks for her help.  She was taken home in the same carriage in which she arrived, but was now weighted down with many rich gifts in payment for her services.

It became known to the midwife that she had attended a fairy birth, and was rather taken with the fact.  Sometime later, the midwife was attending one of the Ruthin markets in St Peter's Square, often frequented by the Fairy Folk, and saw the young lady she had helped give birth.  The young mother was flitting from stall to stall, apparently oblivious of the people about her, as they were of her.  The midwife watched this for a while, before mustering the courage to approach the fairy mother, and introducing herself asked as to her health and that of her child.

The fairy seemed both surprised and annoyed by the interruption to her day.  ‘And do you see me?’ she replied, ignoring the midwife’s questions.

‘Yes, I do’  replied the midwife.

‘With which eye?’ was the fairy’s reply.

‘With this one,’ said the midwife, placing a hand over her left eye.

And with that, the fairy reached out, touched the hand covering the eye and immediately the midwife could no longer see the fairy, having lost the power of supernatural sight gained through her intimate contact with the fairy folk.  In some darker versions of this tale, the midwife’s eye is plucked out, and thus permanently lost the sight in the eye.

Further Reading

E. Owen, Welsh Folk-Lore: A Collection of the Folk-Tales and Legends of North Wales, Woodhall, Minshull & Co. Oswestry & Wrexham (1896)

bottom of page