Are Cardigan Bay Dolphins the real “Mermaids” of Wales folklore & legends?
Ciebwr bay follows the headland along to Pen Cemas and it is in these waters, where the legend of Peregrine the Fisherman catches a mermaid in his fishing net, which he later releases, after hearing her crying and wailing. The mermaid promises him that one day she will save his life to say 'thank you' for releasing her back to the sea.
Watch the legend of Peregrine the Fisherman & the Mermaid
When Milly & I where filming the story of Peregrine and the Mermaid on the
Pembrokeshire coastal path at Ciebwr Bay* - I had a light bulb moment!
This part of the coastline is also famous for the largest resident dolphin population in Europe. Are Cardigan Bay Dolphins the real “Mermaids” of Wales folklore & legends?
It occurred to me when “folk stories” were being told, superstition, magic & omens were an important part of understanding natural events. Especially destructive powers like big storms and hurricanes that resulted in the loss of life & livelihood of local fishing communities.
It is easy to see how local folk could view dolphins and porpoises (also seen along this coastline), as magical “mermaids” & protectors of their men folk in a place like Pembrokeshire & Cardigan Bay coast, with its history of fishing and winter storms.
After all, there are many other seafaring cultures that see dolphins as magical, of the gods and rescuers of humans, and that humans and dolphins share a special bond.
So, when Peregrine's mermaid promises to save his life by advising him to stay at home with an impending storm coming, like the one that hit the coast in the early hours of October the 1st 1789, which recorded the loss of 27 fishermen and their boats in the St Dogmaels parish.
I can imagine, if I was Peregrine, getting my fishing boat ready and a beautiful Cardigan Bay dolphin leapt out of the water, making clicking noises at me, I might believe they were trying to tell me something important.
Maybe today is not a good fishing day and I should stay at home!
You can find in St Dogmaels a sculpture of Peregrine's mermaid, down by the jetty and near the Ferryman’s pub that marks this local natural disaster and perhaps a reminder that fishermen should release any “mermaids” they catch in their nets!
Book your stay with us this summer and listen to Milly Jackdaw legends and stories around the campfire