The National Nature Reserve of Newborough Warren and Llanddwyn Island are located on the south-western corner of the Isle of Anglesey, North Wales and will always be one of my favourite places on earth. I have written about the island before, but for St Valentine’s Day this is an extract from an existing page about its connection with Wales’ own patron saint of lovers, St. Dwynwen. (St. Dwynwen’s actual feast day is January 25th).
The name Llanddwyn means “The church of St. Dwynwen”. Dwynwen is the Welsh patron saint of lovers, the Welsh equivalent of St. Valentine, and the island is alternatively named ‘Lover’s Island’.
The mythology surrounding St. Dwynwen has several slightly varying versions, but the essence of the stories is similar.
Dwynwen lived during the 5th century AD and was one of 24 daughters of St. Brychan, a Welsh prince of Brycheiniog (Brecon). She fell in love with a young man named Maelon, but rejected his advances. This, depending on which story you read, was either because she wished to remain chaste and become a nun or because her father wished her to marry another. She prayed to be released from the unhappy love and dreamed that she was given a potion to do this. However, the potion turned Maelon to ice. She then prayed that she be granted three wishes: firstly that Maelon be revived, secondly that all true lovers find happiness, and last that she should never again wish to be married. She then retreated to the solitude of Llanddwyn Island to follow the life of a hermit.
The plaque in the island’s museum:
Last year (Jan 2013), a project to restore the chapel was begun and below is a link to a short video giving a progress report and some views of the island:
Update: BBC Wales have just showed a news item on the latest status at St. Dwynwen’s – see our lads at work via this link here
The island is beautiful, wild and feels far more remote than it is nowadays. It can be a bleak, windswept place at any time if the year, but especially so in the winter. Here are a few of my views featuring some of the landmarks of the place