Cwmlickey – Myndd Maen
An interesting post on the “Official Blaen Bran ” Facebook page recently caught my eye, which I would like to share with you ( with the permission of the original poster)
The member wrote
This is the bird house – in the first photo taken in it’s heyday and the second taken much more recently. Today the birdhouse is just a raised mound of grass with the odd flat stone poking out, constructed to hang grouse or partridge after a days out shooting .
He told me that the original photo ( shown below) was hung on the wall of the Lamb Inn and that he took a snap of it some years ago .
The second photo ( below) showed what is left of the Birdhouse today , now just a raised mound of earth and grass with some stones poking through.
There is another structure ( Click for link to google map view) on the top of Mynydd Maen which I have seen from a distance during my bike rides and dog walks on the mountain, which can be seen on the extreme left of the photo. This was a military structure seen in these photos
My father-in law ( Thomas McCarthy born 1917- died 2005 ) was born at the Upper Race and would often recount tales of the times he went swimming in Cwmlickey pond, and of the hours he spent walking the mountains and of the prize fighting bouts he entered in order to make enough money to feed his sisters as the only bread winner in the family after his father died. One of the tales he used to tell was of the times he would walk up the mountain to talk to the person who was on the gun because he wanted to join the army, but he was not allowed to because he was in a protected occupation as a coal miner. This must have been during the Second World War , when he was probably in his early twenties. Just a shame we didn’t listen a bit more carefully to the stories, but my wife recounts the times he would talk of the planes going overhead and of the time he was told off by an officer for being up there with the gunner. My father-in-law never made any mention of the Birdhouse, so presumably it had disappeared by the 1940’s
The process of allowing game birds to hang was in order to improve the flavour and texture of the meat , and the birdhouse would probably have been designed to keep the birds, once shot, below a temperature of 15 degrees Celsius, any higher the meat would degrade due to bacterial growth.
The next time I am up on the mountain, I will make the effort to trek across to these two features for a closer look at these little known but both important structures . I hope you found this as interesting as I did .