Cornish Folk Tales: The Bold Mermaid

Mermaids in Cornish folk tales can exchange their tails for legs like Darryl Hannah in "Splash".

At Zennor, in West Cornwall, a mysterious woman attended service at the local church. Her looks and beautiful voice attracted all the young guys. One man in particular, named Mathey Trewella, caught her eye and she smiled at him. After the service she headed towards the cliffs with Mathey in pursuit. He was never seen again.

Several years later, a captain dropped anchor in Pendower Cove near Zennor. He heard someone calling him and looking over the side saw a lovely mermaid. She sweetly asked him to weigh his anchor as it was blocking the entrance to her home. She had to get back to her children and her husband, Mathey Trewella. Frightened, the captain set sail immediately. Remember that in Cornish fold tales mermaids are omens of storms and bad luck.

A few days later the captain returned to Pendower Cove and told the people at Zennor about the mermaid and Mathey Trewella. The locals carved the figure of a mermaid on the side of one of the church pews to commemorate Mathey's fate.

This is a common type of mermaid story.

Click this line to read the general form of this Cornish folk tales.