A few days ago, we walked the track above Ty’n-y-Graig, as far as the tiny, old, crumbled, stone-built house which overlooks – overlooked? – the valley. It is an ancient track, enhanced by the Forestry Commission when they planted acres of fir-trees all over Wales.
Haven’t done that walk since Summer and it was interesting to stroll in this more-Autumnal-than-Wintry weather. Mist, thick in some places, hung about. And I was moved by the isolated atmosphere along there.
It must have been a hard life in the days when that little house was occupied. It would be difficult to find out who lived there. Its remoteness back then must have stopped any easy socialising. But, like the many such ruins we see in this area – most of them less isolated these days – we imagine that they were family homes, where people lived, loved and laughed despite the terrible, grinding poverty they suffered.
Imagination pictures those people. Their hopes of a better future, at least for their children, must have been minimal: just an illness-free existence enabling them to work and earn enough to poorly feed themselves.
They were taught by the upper-class-controlled priests that the Lord had decreed life to be this way, that “He made them high and low”.
In Old Cardiganshire, it would have been well into the twentieth-century before the working-class movement made any inroads into the local Cardiganshire social structure. Again, the word “isolation” springs to mind. And I find no records of farm-labourers “rebelling” here in Wild Wales.
There was, of course, a smattering of decent landowners. Johnes of Hafod is one who springs to mind: he tamed part of Cardiganshire and looked after his workers.
And those thoughts, as well as the mists, created the atmosphere up there for me.
We drove back down to the small scattering of houses which form the not-quite-a-hamlet along the “main”, but B-class, road. It was less than a mile to go down into that valley and among those houses. But it was another world.
I hope the people who lived in that old house did love and laugh at times. I hope they saw the beauty around them. I hope they had time to think and hope that better times would come for the labouring-class.
Those times have come. But they are taken for granted, especially by those who do not understand the history of times gone by.