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In 1997, the town of Fishguard celebrated the 200th anniversary of the French invasion with a big celebration for all.

Well, in the period leading up to the anniversary, our children were young. Carys was born in 1990 and Iwan in ’93. So when the possibility arose to help out with the creation of the Tapestry, my hands were full and I was, unfortunately, not able to take part. However, it was great to have children of an age to enjoy the dressing up, the dancing and fun activities during the celebrations. They relished all the colour, noise and bustle during the parades.

As a family, we lived in Croesgoch at the time, and the children went to school in the village there. But we were about to move to Pencaer. We had bought old farm buildings at Tresinwen and my husband, who is a builder, intended to renovate them. They needed quite a bit of work, but it was an interesting project in a very special place. The French had been at Tresinwen in February 1797. We fell in love with the character of the place and felt strongly about preserving that character, taking care with the design and details of each building. This patch means a lot to people, and is close to their hearts. We didn’t want to spoil that by changing too much, and erasing the history.

The pictures which were taken on Fishguard Square show Carys and Iwan with Anti Nansi. She’s my dad’s sister. She was born and bred in Lower Fishguard and grew up hearing the Jemima story every year. With her is Mrs Eirwen Howells from the Gwaun Valley. They were both part of ‘Jemima’s Army’ during the celebrations.

In the picture where the children are dancing, two local ladies can be seen. One is Miss Yvonne Fox who made the role of Jemima her own during the celebrations. Mrs Margaret Davies (nee Williams), Pontiago is also seen. She taught at Ysgol Wdig in the 1950s and is the mother of Dr Mererid Hopwood, poet. Mrs Davies’ family have lived at Pontiago, Pencaer, for many generations. The French probably met some of them! The dancing occurred at a ‘twmpath’ that was held in the farm-yard of Bristgarn Farm. This farm is always mentioned during a telling of the Invasion story, as it was here that a Frenchman was startled by the sound of the long case clock, and shot a hole through it. If I remember, it was the ‘Jac y Do’ folk group who were playing for the dance. The children enjoyed the experience. They felt themselves very lucky to be dancing with Jemima! Their cousin, Siôn happens to be dancing with Jemima in this picture. There was a lot of excitement and Iwan became tired very quickly because he was only four years old. The photos are a great memory jogger of a happy time.

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