The Incident of the Whale | Chwedl y Morfil

We can gain a new perspective from stories containing humour, history and anecdote in the folklore gathered by the Irish Schools' Collection of the 1930s, now held in the National Folklore Collection. | Cawn gipolwg newydd ar ardal Môr Iwerddon trwy’r chwedlau digri neu hanesyddol a gofnodwyd yn y 1930au gan Gasgliad Ysgolion Iwerddon (The Irish Schools Collection), sydd bellach yn rhan o’r Casgliad Gwerin Cenedlaethol (National Folklore Collection).

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One day a sailor fell overboard. It happened that there was a whale nearby. The sailor fell into the whale's mouth. When the whale swallowed the sailor he found a case of oranges inside. He took out his knife and he cut a hole in the whale's side. The whale died and it was washed up on the strand at Rosslare. A crowd of people gathered around, and to their great surprise a man walked out of the whale shouting "Large penny oranges".

This amusing anecdote was told by Jack Cullen, age 60, of Carrick, County Wexford and was recorded by the Danescastle school. The tale displays the wit and humour that characterises many of the anecdotes passed down through the generations. It combines fantastical and biblical elements with events that would have taken place along the Wexford coast in the decades preceding the creation of the schools’ collection. As the history of the region in the late nineteenth century demonstrates, interest in whales fed into a larger growth of scholarly and public interest in the natural sciences and natural history, and the acquisition of specimens for the growing curatorial ambitions of museums.

The story of the sailor connects to a broader narrative of whales sighted and washed up along the Wexford coast, one of which brings us an unexpected legacy in the twenty-first century. When a 4.5-tonne female blue whale was found floundering on a sand bank near Wexford in 1891, nobody could have predicted its rise to fame over the course of over 130 years. Wexford Fisherman Edward Wickham was paid £111 for the carcass, a vast sum at the time. The skeleton was acquired for the Mammals Hall of London’s Natural History Museum and is now the feature of Hintze Hall after a major 2015 restoration.

Below, you can view a 3D scan taken of the Wexford Whale created by the Natural History Museum during their restoration efforts and learn more about these gigantic creatures:


Un diwrnod cwympodd morwr oddi ar ei long i’r môr. Yn digwydd bod roedd morfil yn pasio. Cwympodd y morwr i mewn i geg y morfil. Ar ôl cael ei lyncu darganfyddodd y morwr focs o orenau tu fewn. Tynnodd ei gyllell a thorrodd dwll yn ystlys y morfil. Bu farw’r morfil a glaniodd ei gorff ar y traeth yn Rosslare. Ymgasglodd torf o bobl, ac er mawr syndod iddynt dyma ddyn yn cerdded allan o’r morfil gan waeddi ‘Orenau mawr, ceiniog yr un!’

Adroddwyd y stori fach ddigri hon gan Jack Cullen, 60 oed, o Carrick, Sir Wexford ac fe’i recordiwyd gan Ysgol Danescastle. Fel llawer o straeon o’r fath sydd wedi’u trosglwyddo o genhedlaeth i genhedlaeth, mae’r chwedl yn llawn hiwmor a ffraethineb. Mae’n cyfuno elfennau dychmygol a Beiblaidd gyda digwyddiadau go iawn arfordir Sir Wexford o’r degawdau cyn y cyfnod casglu yn yr ysgolion. Gwelir o hanes yr ardal yn y G19eg fod diddordeb mewn morfilod yn rhan o dŵf diddordeb cyffredinol ymhlith ysgolheigion a’r cyhoedd yn y gwyddorau ac yn hanes byd natur, yn ogystal â datblygiadau casglu samplau ac enghreifftiau o wrthrychau ar gyfer amgueddfeydd.

Mae chwedl y morwr yn cysylltu â naratif ehangach am forfilod a welwyd neu a laniodd ar arfordir Wexford: mae un achos yn enwedig wedi gadael ei farc ar y ganrif hon. Pan ddaethpwyd o hyd i forfil glas benywaidd tua 4.5 tunell, yn straffaglu am ei bywyd ar fanc tywod ger Wexford ym 1891, nid oedd modd rhagweld faint o sylw y byddai hi’n ei ddenu ar draws cyfnod o 130 o flynyddoedd. Cafodd y pysgotwr o Wexford, Edward Wickham, £111 am y carcas — swm anferth bryd hynny. Prynwyd y sgerbwd ar gyfer Neuadd y Mamaliaid yn y Natural History Museum yn Llundain, ac ar ôl adferiad sylweddol yn 2015 mae bellach yn atyniad mawr yn Neuadd Hintze.

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