Bardsey Island Pilgrimage

Bardsey (Ynys Enlli in Welsh: 'the island of the tides'), is a place of pilgrimage that has been of great importance in Welsh religious history. It has been noted as a place of pilgrimage since the early years of Christianity, but there are signs of settlements on the island that date from earlier periods. It became a focal point for the Celtic Christian Church and it is believed that St Cadfan began building a monastery on the island in the sixth century. You can see the fragmentary remains of the thirteenth century abbey of the Augustinian Canons (St. Mary's) who took over from the ancient Celtic foundation of the sixth century. Nearby a Celtic cross stands commemorating the very numerous saints reputed to have been buried in or near the site. It was said that three pilgrimages to Bardsey were equal to one to Rome. In 1875 a chapel was built and remains open for the purposes of worship and meditation.

Organised retreats are available on the island during the summer months. 

The 30m lighthouse - the tallest square-towered lighthouse in the UK - was completed in 1821. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the population of the island was around 100, but in 1925 the ‘King’ of Enlli, Love Pritchard (the title was bestowed on successive community leaders by Lord Newborough), led most of the remaining inhabitants to the mainland to seek a less laborious way of life. Others began to settle there shortly afterwards, making a living mainly by farming and fishing.

The Bird Observatory was opened in 1953, and the island was bought by the Bardsey Island Trust in 1979.

Most of the houses that stand today were built by the landowner, Lord Newborough in the 1870s. The exception is Carreg Bach, which is probably typical of the houses before the nineteenth century building programme. At the same time, a new non-conformist chapel was built.

Getting There

Day trips usually start from Porth Meudwy, but sometimes from Pwllheli. As a general rule, you will have 3½  hours to explore the island.

You can book a day trip by phoning Bardsey Island Ferry: 08458 113655 or 07836 293146 or Mordaith Llyn, Rhedynog Goch, Bardsey Island 07971769895.

Several houses are available for holiday lets - prices vary according to the size of the house.

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