If all the legends about him are true St Patrick was a very ubiquitous saint. References to him seem to pop up all over the place, but there is a saying that there is always a grain of truth in folklore and indeed in legend, so with that in mind we made our way to Llanbadrig, the church of St Patrick on the Northern tip of the coast near Cemaes.
Here the wind really blows through your hair as you look across to Middle Mouse also known as Yns Badrig (St Patrick’s Isle) where St Patrick is reputed to have been shipwrecked.
Having made it to the shore the saint took shelter in a cave in the cliffs (today known as Porth Padrig). In the cave he found a good supply of fresh water and thus recovered from his ordeal. To give thanks for his survival, he founded a church. The original wooden church at Llanbadrig was built in 440 A.D but was replaced in the 14th century by the current stone building, making it one of the oldest churches on Anglesey. Today the church is simple but unusual. This is largely due to the fact that in 1884 a major restoration took place funded by Henry Stanley 3rd Baron of Alderley and owner of the Penrhos Estate. Henry Stanley converted to Islam in mid-life, in fact he was highly respected and was the first Muslim Member of Parliament, his plans for the churches restoration included Islamic influenced designs. Instead of depicting Biblical scenes the stained glass windows are simple geometric designs. The tiles on the wall behind the altar also show geometric or floral designs. There are suggestions that Stanley created these designs himself. The colour is predominantly blue and it gives a sense of tranquility to the church. Llanbadrig was apparently one of several churches that Stanley restored. How wonderful we felt, to read of such an act of kindness reaching out across the ‘faith divide’ all those years ago. You can read more about his life at this link
Sadly in more recent history restoration was again required after Llanbadrig church was vandalized by arsonists. Two years and £15,000 later the church reopened on 24 May 1987. The church is now regularly manned by volunteers who are only too happy to show visitors around the most interesting features. A well-known visitor, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, pronounced this site “the most peaceful spot on earth” and just along the coast from the church is a place entitled the Dalai Lama’s seat.
On our journey along the coast we stopped for coffee in Cemaes Bay and struck up a conversation with a couple who had visited Anglesey with their young family many years ago. Now the family has flown the nest, we had to come back, they said, in order to get to know the place properly.
On our travels that day we also stopped at the beautiful little church of St Mary Llanfairynghornwy where, being an animal lover, the following prayer caught my eye.
At Carmel head we looked across at the perilous rocks known as the Skerries where in 1675 the first royal yacht, The Mary, a gift from William of Orange to his brother in law Charles II went down.
And finally to Dulas Bay, here the north-western beach is a mix of sand/shingle and mud. The estuary running through Traeth Dulas is that of the Afon Goch (Red River). One of the oldest known traditions regarding the bay dates from 1134. It is said that Owain Gwynedd, who became king of Gwynedd in 1137, had defeated a combined force of the Erse, Manx, and Norsemen near Llangwyllog in the centre of the island. The Welsh fleet turned on their enemy’s ships and are said to have captured every last one of them in and around Dulas Bay.
About a mile and a half off shore lies a small island, Ynys Dulas which is roughly 620m long and has a maximum width of 205m. It is known for the seals which live on the island (hence it is also known locally as Seal Island), but it is too small for human habitation. However, upon this island is a round structure with a cone-shaped top that was built in 1821 by James Hughes to store food and provide shelter for shipwrecked seamen. Oil tankers can often be seen in the Irish Sea as they wait for the tide to enter the River Mersey and the Tranmere Oil Terminal. When the tide is out Dulas Bay is a fascinating but eerie spot, a reminder, like several places on our travels of the wilder side of Anglesey.