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Why are some tragedies remembered, while others are forgotten? I’ve a mind to suggest that, like myths, there is some merit to the memory - a warning, a moral which has burnished it hard against loss. But perhaps it comes down to the scar the loss creates on the community that remembers them. Many of these memories are not to be found in books or journals, but remain to be discovered in walking the old paths.

 

George Borrow was an English travel writer who, amongst many other journeys, spent much of 1854 wandering through Wales and in 1862 published his fascinating and rather wonderful, Wild Wales. A considerable amount of his writing focuses on the area around Llangollen, where he stayed with his family, and he often spent his days wandering the countryside here. These walks were more often than not in the company of local people, who would provide Borrow with a depth of understanding of the area that was profound. It helped that Borrow was something of a talented linguist, speaking Welsh with some confidence.

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The Lingo Pool -'There is no deeper pool in the Dee, sir, save one, a little below Llangollen, which is called the pool of Catherine Lingo'.

On one of Borrow’s walks, in the company of a local weaver and committed Calvinistic Methodist by the name of John Jones, he crossed the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, leaving both feeling a little pendro[1]. At Jones’ urging, they chose to return by way of the 17th Century Cysylltau Bridge, and returned to Llangollen along the northern bank of the River Dee. It was as they made their way home, that Borrow came across a pool in the river and was ‘struck by its gloomy horror’[2] Jones explained that this pool was named Llyn y Meddwyn, so named after a drunken man who had fallen into the river here and drowned. But there was more.

 

There is no deeper pool in the Dee, sir, save one, a little below Llangollen, which is called the pool of Catherine Lingo. A girl of that name fell into it, whilst gathering sticks on the high bank above it. She was drowned, and the pool was named after her.’[3]

 

While it is not entirely clear where Llyn y Meddwyn actually is, the spot where Catherine Lingo was drowned is remembered. Anglers on the River Dee know it well, a good spot in the summer for greyling and trout. It can be accessed by a path leading down from the A5 towards Froncysyllte at Llangollen Fechan, on the outskirts of the town.

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Virtually nothing is known of Catherine Lingo as anything other than a victim of the Dee, although there exists a burial notice dated 11th July 1772, for a Catherine Lingo of Llangollen Fechan, a widow. It would seem likely that this then is the Catherine of the Lingo Pool.

 

A warning to the curious. Both the A5 and The River Dee are not to be trifled with - both can be very dangerous and care must be taken. Do keep this in mind if visiting.

[1] Dizziness, giddiness, vertigo

[2] Wild Wales, Bridge Books, p.61

[3] Wild Wales, Bridge Books, p.61-62

Further Reading

 

G. Borrow, Wild Wales, (1862), Bridge Books Wrexham, (2009)

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