The Legend of brave Gelert
One of the best known, and loved, folk-tales in Wales is the story of a faithful hound.
The story goes that in the thirteenth-century, Prince Llywelyn the Great had a palace at Beddgelert in Caernarvonshire, and as the Prince was a keen hunter, he spent much of his time in the surrounding countryside.
He had many hunting dogs, but one day when he summoned them as usual with his horn, his favourite dog Gelert didn’t appear, so regretfully Llywelyn had to go hunting without him.
When Llywelyn returned from the hunt, he was greeted by Gelert who came bounding towards him …his jaws dripping with blood.
The Prince was appalled, and a horrible thought came into his mind …was the blood on the dog’s muzzle that of his one-year old son?
His worst fears were realised when he saw in the child’s nursery, an upturned cradle, and walls spattered with blood! He searched for the child but there was no sign of him. Llywelyn was convinced that his favourite hound had killed his son.
Mad with grief he took his sword and plunged it into Gelert’s heart.
As the dog howled in his death agony, Llywelyn heard a child’s cry coming from underneath the upturned cradle. It was his son, unharmed!
Beside the child was an enormous wolf, dead, killed by the brave Gelert.
Courtesy of Elle Wilson
Llywelyn was struck with remorse and carried the body of his faithful dog outside the castle walls, and buried him where everyone could see the grave of this brave animal, and hear the story of his valiant fight with the wolf.
To this day, a cairn of stones marks the place, and the name Beddgelert means in Welsh ‘The grave of Gelert’. Every year thousands of people visit the grave of this brave dog.
Whether the story is based on legend, myth or history it is still an entertaining one. Similar legends can also be found throughout Europe.
Gioraíonn Beirt Bóthar (Two Shorten the Road)
The Goban Saor was blessed with a son but as the way is with the world the blessing was marred by the fact that his son’s brightness often shone behind clouds and was difficult to see at the best of times. At other times so absent was that brightness that he seemed just plain dim.
Setting out one day to walk a day’s journey to his next job, he said to his son, “shorten the road!”. The son was perplexed and didn’t know how to reply. “How can I shorten the road?”, he muttered sullenly. “Sure isn’t it as long as it is? How can any man shorten a road?”.
The Goban was not to be deterred. “Well so”, he said, “if you can’t shorten the road there’ll be no traveling today. And with that he turned and went back to his house.
The son was baffled and not a little annoyed. “What kind of a question is that?” he wondered and spent the rest of his day slowly simmering his resentment for his inscrutable father.
Next morning the scene was repeated, faithful in every detail. “Shorten the road!”, instructed the Goban to his lumpen boy. “Shorten the road yourself, ye…..” but his words were lost on the wind as he turned and stalked back to the house and the comfort of the kitchen where his mother was baking griddle bread.
“What ails you, son?” asked his mother as he slouched into the kitchen. “My father, the Goban Saor. It’s free of his wits he is, the fool,” he answered. “There’s no sense in that man at all.”
“Why is that?”, his mother asked, sensing once again a familiar experience. It is hard for a woman to get the better of a man like the Goban but she had had married him after all and had made it her life’s work to match him even if she couldn’t outwit him.
“He told me to shorten the road, twice, this morning and yesterday morning too.” Does he think I’m a fool?” “We’ll not answer that for the moment,” his mother observed quietly. “Do you mean you don’t know how to shorten the road?” she asked him. Do you not know that good stories shorten long roads just as good talk brings people closer together?” “Tomorrow, if the Goban asks you again, tell him to walk on and you’ll tell him a tale to toll the passing miles.”
It would be no surprise to tell you that the very next morning the Goban instructed his son to shorten the road, and he did. The day was not long in passing, the miles covered seemed no longer than a couple of inches and they both arrived in high good spirits for the work which awaited them.
Recently I was discussing the aspects and necessity of Teamwork with some people when the following anecdote sprang to mind. It was relayed to me some years ago and it is a true story. We have seen, time and time again, that individuals do not win sporting games. Teams do.
Back in 1968 at NASA prior to the launch of Apollo 11 on the Lunar Voyage, it was decided that the top brass from the Pentagon would travel down to NASA to see how things were going in readiness for the launch the following year. Upon arrival, they had a meeting with the local Management Team and then after it concluded they decided they would go on a walk about to meet some of the people involved.
As this might of American military proceeded down the corridor, their first sighting was an elderly gentleman mopping up the floor. They decided to stop. ‘Who are you and what do you do here?’ Inquired the 5 Star General, expecting an answer like ‘I clean the floors’
The elderly cleaner looked him squarely in the eye, and with a proud voice said, ‘I’m helping to put a man on the moon’
Yes, in relation to the Engineer who was designing the electronic circuits, he was only a humble cleaner, but he also knew that his good efforts and working as part of a Team would help everybody achieve the goal. And it did on that very historic day in July 1969.
I was watching a documentary on Ireland’s landscape recently and was once again in awe of the beautiful countryside we have in this land of ours. Sometimes we do not realise what we have and can sometimes take it for granted. It brought to mind something that was said to me some years ago:
While we were on holiday in the Maharees, in Kerry one summer, I got chatting to a man in a local bar during lunchtime as we went for a bite to eat. He had been a policeman in the fast paced and hostile environment of New York for many decades and had travelled to Ireland to spend his retirement years. He lived about 5 minutes away from the pub but it took him over an hour every afternoon to get home. I asked him why it took him so long to get home seeing that he was only living a few minutes away. This was his reply:
‘As I start to walk home I have to stop every few minutes to stare at and absorb the incredible beauty of the Kerry countryside. I thank God every day that I am no longer in New York and that I am now part of this beautiful landscape day in and day out’.
If you happen to head into the countryside later on this year, take the opportunity to relax, slow down a little from your normal pace to savour the natural beauty and ruggedness of God’s green land.
Some time ago we were discussing how management has changed over the decades from being autocratic to more facilitation. The following true story was relayed to me by Tony Twomey who ran a licensed premises in the Cork suburb of Blackpool for many years and has now gone to his eternal reward.
The owner of a factory premises in East Cork came to work one morning, nearly fifty years ago, and said to the gardener who was planting some shrubs nearby:
‘Peter, do you get a smell of gas?’
‘Peter looked up and said: ‘I think I do’
After that the excavation crew was called in and after an amount of disruption and expense that lasted for over two weeks, no gas leak was found.
Sometime after this one of his colleagues asked Peter in the canteen:
‘Peter Boy, did you really get the smell of gas that morning?’
‘It’s like this’ said Peter, ‘When the boss smells gas, we all smell gas’
Finding Your Talents
During the late 1970’s and early 1980’s Apple Computer were going through an enormous amount of growing pains. The founder, Steve Jobs, decided to look around for an experienced CEO who would bring Apple on this great journey. His choice was John Sculley who at the time was in charge of Pepsi. He tried everything to lure John to Apple but was not having much success. One day, John Sculley changed his mind and joined Apple when he got the following 2 line memo from Steve Jobs…
‘Hi John, do you want to make sugared water for the rest of your life, or do you want to change the world?’
John Sculley joined Steve Jobs at Apple and began a golden age for the company with the birth of the Macintosh.
From time to time we need to ask ourselves the same question. Are we planted firmly in our comfort zone making ‘sugared water’? Do we have talents and abilities that we are not using because we are afraid of making that great leap of faith in ourselves? Stop the roller coaster now and then, get off, and take a deep look inside at what you are doing at the moment. If you do not like what you see, plan the changes that will give you a more contented and fulfilling working and family life. We, ourselves, are the greatest barriers to embrace change. Now and then it is good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.