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Garn Goch



This is a slightly different version of the tale below (which is also in the article). It was told by Mr. Howel Walters of Ystradgynlais, who assured the writer it was firmly believed in that parish. It's quite long, but then it has to be to accommodate the traditional 'three repeats'.
There was a conjurer living at Ystradgylais at the beginning of the present century, who had an iron hand; and there is an old tradition that a treasure is hidden at the Garngoch, the highest point of the Drim mountain. The "Iron-hand" conjurer made the acquaintance of one John Gething, a farmer's son, who lived at Werngynlais farm, and gave him some books to study, with a view of teaching him the black art. John is reported to have made great progress in a short time; and, being a very courageous man, his teacher was able to perform in his presence many things which few mortals can withstand.

One day John Gething was working at the hay on his father's farm, when two men appeared before him. John said to them, "Hei!" And one of the men said to him: "Well, is it for thee that thou hast spoken! Thou must come with us to the Garngoch to seek the hidden treasure."

John went, and on the way he found out that he who spoke to him was his old teacher: but the other being disappeared, and John never saw him again. On arriving at Garngoch the conjurer told John that he was not, on the peril of his life, to divulge anything that he would see or hear that night on the top of Garngoch.

When night came on the conjurer opened his books, lit a candle, and began to read, with strict injunctions to John not to be afraid of anything he saw. While the conjuror read spirits appeared and surrounded them with great noise; and then great light shone on Garngoch, and John saw three pots full of gold. Nothing more happened that night; but the conjurer gave John strict instructions to meet him there another night which he named.

When the appointed night came John met him to time. The first thing done by the conjurer this night, after giving John the same instructions as on the previous night, and that he was not to be frightened, was to make two rings joined like the figure 8. John stood in one ring and the conjurer in the other, and neither of them was to step out of the ring, or fear, at the risk of losing their lives or being carried away by the devil! The conjurer lit his candle and began to read his books; and the spirits appeared with great noise. Then came a fiery bull, and ran at John Gething; but John stood in the ring fearlessly, and the bull and all the evil spirits vanished. The conjurer was very pleased with John Gething's courage, and told him one night more would be sufficient for them to fight against the spirits to secure all the hidden treasure and gold he had seen on the first night. The conjurer, before leaving, told John on what night he was to meet him again.

On the third night the conjurer had brought more books, and told John before he opened them that it was a matter of life or death to im how he acted that night, that terrible things would appear, but there would be no harm if he stood fearlessly, and did not move out of the ring; but first he must have a drop of John's blood to give to the devil to satisfy him before the spirits appeared, and John gave a drop of his blood to the conjurer to give to the devil.

The conjurer then made to rings as before, lit his candle, and began to read his books. The spirits came with greater noise than before, and surrounded them, and a large wheel of fire came towards the ring in which John Gethin stood, and John was so frightened that he stepped out of the ring.

The devil immediately took hold of him, and was going to carry him away in such a terrible storm and heavy rains as no one before witnessed in the district, but the conjurer implored him not to kill John, as he had displayed such courage before; and there was a hard fight between the devil and the conjurer for John's life, and the devil at last gave in, and permitted John to live as long as the candle lasted which the conjurer had to read his books, and the devil told them that neither of them should ever have the hidden treasure, but a virgin not yet born would some day own the same.

The conjuror gave John Gething the candle, and told him not to light it, but to keep it in a cool place. John did so, but the cndle wasted, though it was never lighted, and John Gething from that night became ill, and worse and worse, until he died. The candle also was found to have wasted completely at the time of his death.

During John's illness several doctors attended upon him, but no one understood the cause of his sufferings or death, except a few persons to whom he divulged what had transpired on the Garngoch. John was buried at Ystradgynlais church.

The Treasure on the Drim
E. Sidney Hartland
The Folk-Lore Journal, Vol. 6, No. 2. (1888), pp. 125-128.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
5th December 2006ce
Edited 5th December 2006ce

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