Simon Potaswr and the Phantom Funeral

Taken from Notes By Canon Patrick Thomas

Llanfihangel parish has a very rich folklore, containing a great many stories (some of them quite recent) about ghosts, corpse-candles and phantom funerals. A poem by Dafydd Lewis, Llanllawddog,who was probably Curate of Rhos-y-corn c. 171O, describing one of the ghosts of the parish, was published in 1759. Naturally thevarious stories effected the nerves and Imaginations of many of the parishioners, as the following, story (which I translate from the unpublished manuscript history of the parish in Welsh by the Reverend Collwyn Morgan) shows:

Simon Potaswr lived in Pantymeinog. He was coming home from "Ffair Santesan" (St Anne's Fair) in Llanybydder, and as he approached Llanfihangel Church it began to rain heavily, so Simon ran into the Church porch for shelter. Because of>weariness from his journey and the influence of a drop or two of beer, Simon fell asleep on the bench in the porch. While Simon was asleep two young men, also on their way from the Fair, happened to come into the porch to avoid another shower of rain. Having gone in they sat down side-by-side on what they supposed to be the bench. When they sat down they felt something moving under them, and immediately thought that they had sat on a ghost, and away they ran. Simon by this time had half woken up, because he feltvsome strange weighton his body, and he thought that the 'Toilu' (attendants at a phantom funeral) were there and had sat on him. And so away with Simon through the gate making for home. The two young men were making their way home past Pantymeinog (Simon's Home)when they heard Simon running after them from the churchyard past Pantybettws, and thought that the ghost was coming and ran in terror. Since they couldn't run any more through fear>and exhaustion, they turned in at Pantymeinog. Shortly afterwards Simon himself came in, covered with mud and sweat, and sitting down told his tale, and everyone laughed on hearing the story.

(To be fair to Simon, the judge in the Eisteddfod at which Collwyn Morgan's history was presented commented:'We have heard this story with other names attached to it.'We consider it a great dis-service to Simon's respectable character thathis name is connected with it.)