THE IRISH LADY
NEAR Pedn-men-dw, the "Headland of Black Rock," is a curiously-shaped rock, known as the Irish Lady. In days long ago some adventurous sailors from Ireland were shipwrecked at night on this rock, and every soul perished, save a lady, who was seen in the morning sitting on the top of the rock. The storm was still raging, and it was quite impossible to render this solitary sufferer any assistance. Days and nights passed away the people watched the dying woman from the shore, but they could not reach her. At length they saw that her sufferings were at an end; and at last the dead body was washed into the sea. Often, when the winds and waves are high, the fishermen see a lady tranquilly sitting on this rock, with a rose in her mouth; to show, it may be presumed, her perfect indifference to the ragings of tempests. [a]
Sir Humphrey Davy wrote a poem on this tradition. The following is an extract from it:--
"Where yon dark cliff [b] o'ershadowa the bltte main,
Theora died amidst the stormy waves,
And on its feet the sea-dews wash'd her corpse
And the wild breath of storms shook her black locks.
Young was Theora; bluer was her eye
Than the bright azure of the moonlight night;
Fair was her cheek, as is the ocean cloud
Red with the morning ray.
" Amidst the groves,
And greens, and nodding rocks that overhang
The gray Killarney pans'd her morning days,
Bright with the beams of joy.
To nature, and to God, she gave her youth;
Hence were her passions tuned to harmony.
Her azure eye oft glisten'd with the tear
Of sensibility, and her soft cheek
Glow'd with the blush of rapture. Hence she loved
To wander 'midst the green wood silver'd o'er
By the bright moonbeam. Hence she loved the rocks,
Crowu'd with the nodding ivy, and the lake
Fair with the purple morning, and the sea
Expansive, mingling with the arched sky.
"Dark in the midnight cloud,
When the wild blast upon its pinions bore
The dying shrieks of Erin's injured Sons,
She 'scaped the murderer's arm. [c]
"The British bark
Bore her across the ocean. From the west
The whirlwind rose, the fire-fraught clouds of heaven
Were mingled with the wave. The shatter'd bark
Sunk at thy feet, Boleriutn, and the white surge
Closed on green Erin's daughter."
-- PARIS's Life of Sir Humphrey Davy, p. 38
[a] This kind of tradition is not uncommon. The following is a welsh form of it; --
Among the numerous irregular caves at the western end of Ogofau is one which has derived the name of Ffynnon Gwenno (the well of Gwenno), from the following tradition, kindly given to us by Mr Johnes. The water which still occupies its lower part, was, in days of yore, reputed to possess medicinal qualities, which attracted numerous bathers from the surrounding districts. Among these a fair maid, named Gweullian, or, for brevity, Gweuno, was induced, on an unfortunate day, to explore the recesses of the cavern beyond a frowning rock, which had always been the prescribed limit to the progress of the bathers. She passed beneath it, and was no more seen. She had been seized by some superhuman power, as a warning to others not to invade those mysterious penetralia. And still, on stormy nights, the spirit of Gweulban is seen to hover over a lofty crag which rises near the entrance of the now deserted cave, and bears the name of Cloch ty Gwenno, or Gwenno's Steeple.--Note on the Gogofou, or Ogofau Mine. Memoirs of Geological Survey, vol. i. p. 482.
[b] A rock near the Land's End called the "Irish Lady."
[c] The Irish lady was shipwrecked at the Land's End about the time of the massacre of the Irish Protestants by the Catholics, in the reign of Charles the First. So says Davy--the tradition is very old.