Gwyl Mabsant/Mapsant Day – a sense of place

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Gwyl Mabsant (referred to colloquially as Mapsant Day from the Welsh words “sant” – holy,  and “mab” – son) is the feast day of Saint Cenydd, celebrated at Llangennith, Gower  on 5th July. Recent years have seen a revival of the traditional way the festival was marked up until the early twentieth century, by displaying an effigy of a bird from a pole on the church tower. The said bird, as legend goes, symbolises the legendary seagulls, who saved the  cripple Cenydd after he had been cast out to sea as a consequence of being born of an incestuous relationship at the court of King Arthur at Llougor. Apparently, the seagulls (along with a couple of angels and a miraculous breast-shaped bell known locally as the “titty-bell”) also cared for Cenydd during his youth spent on Worm’s Head, and ensured that he survived and was educated as a Christian.

He was a sanctified Christian hermit, called by God to set up a church on Burry Holms (the tidal island at the northern end of Rhossili Bay) and also founded the church of Llangennith, where last night, after a concert by the children of Llanrhidian School, a modern day effigy of a seagull – very resemblant of a hang-glider – was hoisted up the church tower in front of a crowd of about one hundred who had turned out for the spectacle, the free drinks and bbq cooked on the village green by the men of the Llangennith choir. It couldn’t have been a more beautiful evening, and seated with some real Welsh-brewed ale outside the King’s Head, overlooking the church decked in flags, the ocean in the distance and chatting among friends and neighbours, summed up the sense of place that is Llangennith, why I’ve loved living here for over forty years, and why the place figures so heavily in much of my short story and poetry writing.

 

Pain’s Cross

Pain’s Cross