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Mermaids and Shipwrecks

Discover Myths and Legends

When a King of Ireland had seven troublesome daughters, he decided to cast them away in a boat without sails. The currents carried them east and they came ashore upon the beach. They were rescued shortly afterwards by seven local farmers, with whom they fell in love, and married. The place was named Tresaith, the 'Place of Seven', for each of the troublesome daughters who made it their home.

Every two years Ceredigion rowers compete in a tough 24 hour rowing race from Arklow in Ireland to Aberystwyth - the Celtic Challenge will next take place in May 2014. A tradition to celebrate the legend of the seven Irish princesses that arrived in a rowing boat on a Ceredigion shore? 

Ceredigion has charming tales about wildlife, and even mermaids. Take a boat trip and you may even get to spot one! Discover more Ceredigion stories, myths and legends below.

Mermaid Myths
​​There are many myths of mermaids along the coast of Ceredigion. One such tale speaks of a beautiful girl with short dark hair who often could be seen swimming close to the Aberystwyth shore. Another story tells of a mermaid who loved 'Carreg Ina', a famous stone near New Quay. However, one day she was entangled in the nets of some local fishermen out at sea. Fortunately, they were kind hearted men and quickly set her free. In return, she warned them of a great storm heading their way and thus saved their lives.
​The little church of St Ina stands on a promontory overlooking Cardigan Bay between New Quay and Cei Bach (Little Quay). It is dedicated to St Ina, who was King of Wessex in the 7th/8th centuries before abdicating in order to travel to Rome to become a monk. He is credited with establishing Glastonbury Abbey and several other monastic sites. Tradition claims that Ina was shipwrecked near this site while sailing in the Irish Sea. He was rescued and looked after by the local community and as an act of gratitude he built a church to be lost to coastal erosion.  The present church may be at least the third, possibly even the seventh on or near the site. Llanina is also associated with the tale of the ghost of a sailor who wished to be buried on dry land. The churchyard and the sailor’s grave were washed away by the sea, so his ghost now haunts the site.

Another, much darker tale, is told in Borth of a family of wreckers who lured ships onto the rocks with false lights. One stormy night they lured a ship onto the rocks and went down to the beach the following morning to plunder any cargo washed on to the shore. They found a sailor, half dead at the shoreline. Fearing their trickery would be reported, the killed the man, only to discover that he was their only son who had left the area several years earlier.
​Dylan, king of the sea heard about the beauty of three sisters who lived near New Quay. He came into the shallows to watch them walking along the shore, and seeing their yellow hair, sky-blue eyes and sea foam skin, determined to take them from the land and make them live with him under the sea. He conjured up a fierce storm to enable him to snatch the girls away to his underwater palace.

However, the girls were distressed to see their grief stricken father and insisted they should be allowed back to visit him. Ashamed of what he had done, but unable to restore the girls to their grieving father, Dylan used his powers as king of the sea to make the girls belong to both the sea and the land. Every day, as their father walked the shore they would join him, in the form of gulls. But when they were on land, they would long for the sea, and when they were out at sea, they longed for land, and this is why the cry of the gull sounds so sad.