Washi Bach : My Nain And Taid Pentraeth

by Einir Roscoe
(Perth in Western Australia )

Hi there Wil

I am 50 years old and now live in Perth Western Australia but I was born in Pentraeth, Anglesey, which is where I remember the name Washi Bach.

My Nain and Taid Pentraeth used to talk about him. Sadly, my memories of the conversations are very vague, but my Taid used to talk about him with a lot of respect and that he would walk through Talwrn to Pentraeth. However, I do remember snatches of a story about Washi Bach:

A man named LLEW MAWR? used to give him some tobacco and all Washi would do was tip his hat and nod. I don’t know who LLEW MAWR was, nor do I know his surname name except that he was a big tall man and I saw a a black and white photograph of him once one. That’s all I remember to be honest and I wish it was more.

My Taid Pentraeth used to tell me all sorts of stories when I was little. Another character apparently was a man called JOHNNY ONIONS who rode a bicycle with a string of onions around his neck, which he used to go selling from house-to-house in Pentraeth.


Sut mae, Einir.

Popeth yn iawn gyda chi draw yn Awstralia bell?

Check out some of the more recent messages about Washi Bach and you'll read the memories of a gentleman called Gwilym Hughes from Pentraeth as well. Not much older than both of us. Gwilym may well know who Llew Mawr (Big Llew) was.

I remember Johnny Nionod or Johnny Winwns, who used to cycle to the top of our road in Llangefni and shout out something before coming around to sell onions. I was not allowed at the door because he was a foreigner. It was the early 1960s.

Imagine our shock when a man wearing a turban came around selling shirts from a big suitcase. I'm afraid he was robbed blind when he went to Bodffordd Farm where the local board was located.

I cannot give Johnny Nionod a face.

I'm glad that our messages here took you back and I thank you for giving me a present and reminding me of something hidden in the dense foliage of my childhood memories.

Diolch o galon. Mae'n bwrw glaw yn Sir Fon heno, by the way.


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Jan 28, 2015
Washi Bach ar y Mor
by: Wil o Anglesey Hidden Gem

Annwyl Emyr

Fe glywais i'r un stori am Washi Bach ar y mor. I chi chwilio ymysg y straeon braf mae cyfeillion o bobman wedi eu hysgrifennu fe ddowch ar draws stori gan wr o Porth Amlwch sydd yn honi bod gan Washi Bach paybook White Star Line.

Dyna darn bach o dystiolaeth llafar I gryfhau eich damcaniaeth y credaf.

Nos da o galon Ynys Mon ble mae'r gwynt yn siglo'r ty.


Jan 28, 2015
Washi Bach
by: Anonymous

Wedi deallt amser yn ol y bod Washi Bach yn galw gyda Tan Rallt Pentraeth ag yn cael ei faco gan y ffermwr, y ddau wedi bod ar y mor yn ol y deallais, (os yn gywir) Emyr,

Feb 01, 2014
Johnny Nionod
by: Hugh Edwards

Hello folks

As a child living in Llanddeusant I remember those Frenchmen coming round the villages at a particular time of year selling onions (Garlands of them strung over their bikes.

Also the fresh fish van (Hogans of Bangor) I seem to remember- may be wrong though, its been a long time.

Later on I can also remember a tall gent with a turban and huge bushy beard, he used to sell 'knick - knacks' from a suitcase ('Kleeneasy'???).

Have been trawling the site (waiting for the rugby match to start) and I am both surprised and glad to see the contributions from people from all over the world are making.

Brilliant site - good job, Will. Keep it up.


Annwyl Hugh

You can take the boy and girl from Anglesey but it never leaves their soul.

I also remember Johnny Nionod. I used to live in Bron y Felin, Llangefni and he would appear at the top of the road. He was exotically strange. I never spoke to him though. I'd only have been six or seven at the time.

The Hogans are still a prominent sight on Anglesey. They are a big road surfacing company now and a large employer. My late friend Ceri Williams remembered the father and mother arriving in Rhostrehwfa many, many years ago.

Mr Hogan had a lorry from which he would travel around the Island selling gates. The family then moved into selling vegetables from a large stand in Llangefni Market (and others probably). Their success is well-deserved as a consequence of persistence and hard work.

The bearded gentleman with the turban, beard and suitcase also used to call in at the water depot at Bodffordd Farm, where the poor soul was robbed blind by the workers. Shame on them.

It really is a surprise that so many people pop in to leave their stories and memories.

I thank you very much for your very kind words about Anglesey Hidden Gem.

Shaky start in the rugby for Wales today. First night nerves, I hope.

Write again soon.

Hwyl a Nos da,


Jul 04, 2012
"Johnny Onions".
by: Andrew Weare 63 oed.

"Johnny Onions" was the slang that leaked over from the English border and referred to the Breton Frenchmen that rode bicycles well-laden with strings of onions en masse! And how!

The interesting pointer is that Bretons are highly connected to the Celtic Welsh & Celtic culture. They have a particular dress tradition, kilts, bagpipes, pubs come-ale-houses.

Their music is traditional they identify themeselves very much with Wales and even the Breton language is highly familiar, close to Welsh.

Just check out the interweb for Breton Celtic images and culture and language. Bretons too have had a bit of a struggle - like Wales - in keeping and preserving their culture and language from the waves of modernity over time.

So to see and hear of "The Onion Man" or the "French Onion Man' really brings home - Nay, underlines in red twice - the very ancient relationship between Wales and her Breton Celtic kin.

Please note.

(Who is reminding us that it's his birthday)

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