Howell Elfed Lewis
Coffa Elfed / Elfed Museum
RECOLLECTIONS - THE MERRY GREY MARE
Elfed vividly remembered an evening near Christmas when family and friends were gathered around the hearth at Pant-y-waun, but two or three who were expected to be there were missing for some unknown reason. Someone probably excused their absence and the conversation continued. Even so Elfed felt there was something amiss and a general unease grew among the gathered few. Eventually the sound of footsteps was heard at the door and as it opened a strange sound as if a mare was neighing could be heard. The young boy was all eyes as were the others and most of those gathered almost felt petrified.
A horse in the house? Its head was soon seen and Elfed’s mother along with the other women, if not most of the men, were shaken with fright. Elfed himself felt confused when he saw the terror in his mother’s eyes but realised that his father was calmness personified. He sat nearest to the door and he took hold of his hat and made as if to feed the mare with some oats. The creature shook its head vigourously when he realised the hat was empty. It was then that some of the gathering began to laugh and Elfed had witnessed part of an old religious custom once prevalent throughout Wales – the Merry Grey Mare. That was the only occasion Elfed witnessed the custom which was already regarded as a pale reflection of what it had been as part of the miracle plays in days gone by.