Fair Winds and Following Seas sculpture, New Quay
The artist David Appleyard drew inspiration from the local tradition of building sailing ships. The kneeling female figure may call to mind a ship’s figurehead, and David suggests that she is “blowing a kiss to the future of our oceans”.
On the plinth are poems by New Quay resident Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch about the local heritage and coast path. Follow the link below for more about the sculpture and poems on David’s website.
Women played important, but often overlooked, roles in Welsh seafaring life. Wives of captains sometimes accompanied their husbands on ships (occasionally with their children or giving birth at sea or in foreign ports). Ordinarily seamen’s wives stayed at home to rear the children, many of whom would become mariners. Some wives built up successful businesses while their husbands were at sea. Female shareholders helped to raise capital for local shipping companies or individual ships.
Shipwreck left many widows in Welsh coastal communities. Before international telegraphy, women might receive no news of husbands or sons for months. Wives often suffered depression, but this was typically ascribed to the strain of single-parenting.
Sarah Jane Rees (1839-1916) of Llangrannog, Ceredigion, sailed on her father’s ship and later taught navigation to young men. She was also well known as the poet Cranogwen. Her portrait by John Thomas is shown here courtesy of the National Library of Wales.
Ellen Edwards taught navigation to more than 1,000 mariners at her school in Caernarfon. When she died in 1889, she was described as North Wales’ most successful seamen’s teacher “for the long period of 60 years”. You can see her portrait on our web page about her.
The first women in Britain to receive a lifeboat bravery award were Martha and Margaret Llewellyn of Fishguard, in 1847. Women took part in many other rescues and are now regular RNLI crew members. Wales’ first rescue by an all-female crew was on the Teifi estuary in 2011.
Sources include ‘Merched y Môr’ by Robin Evans, Carreg Gwalch 2013
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