Rhoscolyn has a fascinating history, with its patron saint, Gwenfaen, first making her home and church here in 630 AD. Some say that the druids’ last stand against the Romans, who invaded Mona (Anglesey) in 60 or 61 AD, was at Cymyran, the inland sea between Mona and Holy Island and the open sea, south of Four Mile Bridge.
Memories of a Rhoscolyn Childhood – Clive Wright
I lived at Cae Crin in Rhoscolyn with my parents Bob and Olive Wright, a policeman and a primary school teacher, our Springer Spaniel, Ron and our cat. My grandparents, Alfred and Maggie May Craggs, also lived in Rhoscolyn, at Bryn Ffishwrn on Lily Pond Bay.
Cae Crin was quite basic but comfortable. Mum and Dad’s bed was a sheet of wood fitted between two walls and held by batons, the mattress was straw held together with thin rope and then sheets, blankets, eiderdown and a bed spread. There was a fire/hearth to cook on and basic seating. Dad’s radio ran on an accumulator. Mum and Dad grew their own vegetables, we ate fish Dad caught, rabbits he trapped by placing a net on one side of the bush and going around the other side to chase them out and into it. Also some meat came from the butcher in Holyhead. Eggs and milk came from the farms around and there was much bartering. Mum would get around using a bike with a seat on the front for me.
I was about three when Dad was servicing his motorbike and he placed a couple of screws onto the ground which went missing, he asked me if I had seen them but I denied any knowledge of them, so he cycled into Valley to buy some more. On returning he showed me what he had bought and I showed him a hole I had put them in! He was very amused as you can imagine! Another time, again about the same age, as Dad came home from work, I ran to meet him kicking over a cabbage in my excitement, on seeing Dad’s face I turned to run inside only to appear with a nail and a hammer believing this would fix the problem.
Herb and Olive Smallie lived in the little house just as you turned into Cae Crin from the road. I was very fond of them. They had no children of their own and were very kind to me. Herb would take me to the rocks to fish. Like their name they were small in stature.
My early life in Rhoscolyn was simple but a fabulous place to be and we were so very happy.
Far left, Mum, me and Dad by the horse’s head with the neighbours at Cae Crin.
It was World War 2 and I have memories of army vehicles like tanks lined up along the tiny lanes ready to leave for D Day in France.
In about 1946 the thatched roof of Cae Crin caught fire from a spark that flew up from the stubble that was being burned in the field behind us. We were not in the house at the time. Everyone from around came to try and put the fire out with buckets of water but sadly it was impossible and Cae Crin burnt along with our cat and her kittens.
We had to leave Rhoscolyn and moved into Holyhead but later when Dad left the Police after the war ended, he went to take care of Ty Gwyn for the Walsh’s. (My Grandad and Grandma, Alfred and Maggie May Craggs, now lived in Ty Gwyn Bungalow during the winter months as Bryn Ffiswrn was very cold). Dad acted as caretaker doing any job that needed doing and keeping it lived in. Dad taught me to swim in the bay, fish off the rocks, play cricket as a family (I had a little brother Gareth now, five years younger than me), he taught me to sail in his friend Glyn Jones’s boat. He lived at Glan Towyn and together we would pick blackberries from the hedgerows, seen here:
Picking blackberries with Dad
I started working for Jonny Griffiths the farmer at Hirfron during the weekends and holidays. I liked to ride on the back of the shire horse, who pulled the cart. When I picked turnips, I would take Grandad with me to help. He didn’t do a lot but I enjoyed his company. I would top and tail the turnips and pick mangles which were put into a hopper and cut by a hand operated slicing wheel They were for the pigs and cows in the winter months. When Mr Griffiths bought a tractor, I was allowed to drive it which was great fun. Eventually Mr Griffiths became ill and finally died.
Dad also painted the ceiling in St Gwenfaen’s Church during the summer months.
I also enjoyed my time at Bryn Ffiswrn sailing a little boat around Lily pond bay. When Grandad died Mum worried about Grandma being on her own at Bryn Ffiswrn so I would go and spend nights with her, sleeping in her small second bedroom. I would pop to the little shop (the old post office) and buy Grandma loose tea, butter cut from a slab, biscuits which came out of a barrel and a stamp if she had a letter to post – even after the war things were rationed. Sometimes I would get back and she would remember something else she wanted so I would have to return to the shop. Bryn Ffiswrn was incredibly basic with no real facilities, every morning Grandma would go outside wearing only a beret on her head and pour rain water over herself to wash, using a metal bowl from the water butt. She would always tell me to overt my eyes! I would cycle to the County School in Holyhead every day.
My childhood at Rhoscolyn, although basic, was a free and idyllic one of which I have fond memories.
Grandad was buried in the Church yard at St Gwenfaen’s Church in 1953 and Grandma’s ashes joined him in the 1970s. I married my wife Valerie Bradley from Dronwy, Llanfachraeth at St Gwenfaen’s Church on the 8th October 1966 and my two daughters were christened at St Gwenfaen’s Church in 1968 and 1969, all carried out by Rev. Reginald Banks (see photograph to the right).
This is the lovely picture that we spotted at the Rhoscolyn History event (see below) and which led us to finding Clive’s family and his memory:
Just in case you cannot read its caption, it shows Clive and his wife,Valerie, with baby Julie at her christening by The Rev Reginald Banks (Banky) in April 1968.