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Vol. 3, 1950

Phil Tanner, 1862-1950

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only too well known to me—for I had cashed some of Phil's cheques
in the months before. My surprise was no greater than my joy, but
when I went to thank him, he gave an unusually long biblical quotation
as his evasive answer, called me an old satan in tones of cherished
praise, and with chiding mock-severity bade me to go about my
business, in his Gower dialect which had become such music to my
Well might it be said of Phil Tanner, the Singer of Gower:
Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile," and may his
songs-the folk-songs which he saved from oblivion-long remain in
ears and on the tongues of Gowermen.
Cenydd, the sixth century Celtic saint who gave his name to
he village of Llangenydd or Llangennith, made a most lively appeal
to the imaginations of old Gowermen judging by the gusto with
which they commemorated his wake or mabsant well into the nine-
teenth century. It fell on July the fifth and was traditionally the
most hectic day in the calendar of old Gower. The stories woven
round his name, too, are among the most charming of Gower legends.
Fruit of an incestuous union, he was punished for his parents' sin
by being born lame with the calf of one leg attached to the thigh.
He was thrust out of Arthur's court, then being held at Casllwchwr
or Loughor, and cast, Moses-like, in a basket into the river Lliw.
Borne out to sea by the river Llwchwr, he was miraculously preserved
by divinely-directed seagulls and fed from a wonderful breast-shaped
bell. He remained under divine protection and was instructed by an
angel until he grew to manhood, when he became the associate of
Saint David and other notabilities of the Celtic Church
Although we must reject, not without reluctance perhaps, these
flights of hagiographical fancy, we can be quite certain that there
was in Llangenydd in pre-Norman days, an ancient clas, or semi-
monastic church, of some significance, presumably bearing its founder's
name. In company with many others of the more celebrated and
long-standing fanes in Wales, its wealth and its defenceless position
near the sea-coast made it an unusually easy and attractive object of
violation by Scandinavian sea-raiders from Ireland. In 986 these
most-feared marauders of the Dark Ages, appearing unheralded in
their swift and graceful dragon ships, sacked the church of Cenydd and
left it desolate. And desolate it still remained a century later when
Caradog of Llancarfan settled there for a short while.
The church was probably rebuilt and reconsecrated round about
the end of the eleventh century or the beginning of the twelfth
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