Barry Island - From 'A Topographical Dictionary of Wales' (1849)
BARRY ISLAND, in the parish of Barry, union of Cardiff, hundred of Dinas-Powys, county of Glamorgan, South Wales, 9 miles (S. W. by S.) from Cardiff: the population is returned with the parish. This small islet, situated in a sandy bay of the Bristol Channel, is separated from the main land only by a narrow isthmus, which is dry at low water. It is about one mile and a half in circumference, and comprises about 300 acres of land, let as one farm, but chiefly in a wild state of heath and warren, abounding with rabbits, and producing only a scanty herbage for a few sheep and cattle. Lead-ore and calamine are stated to have been formerly obtained among the limestone of which the island consists. Barry is supposed to have derived its name from St. Baruch, a disciple of Gisalch, who was interred here in the year 700. In later times, it was in the possession of the family of Barri, one of the most distinguished members of which was Giraldus de Barri, otherwise Cambrensis, who was born at Manorbeer, in the county of Pembroke, where the remains of their castle may still be seen: some of the descendants of this family afterwards settled in Ireland, and became ennobled. Leland describes it as bearing "very good corne, grasse, and sum wood;" and says, "Ther ys no dwelling in the isle, but ther is in the midle of it a fair litle chapel of S. Barrok, wher much pilgrimage was usid." Since his time a house has been erected, for the farmer, which is fitted up in summer for the reception of persons desirous of enjoying in retirement the benefit of sea-bathing.
On the western side of the island, opposite to the ruins of Barry Castle, are faint vestiges of a similar structure, and of two ancient chapels, in one of which the hermit St. Baruch was interred. Towards the southern side, at a place called Nell's Point, is a well, much resorted to on Holy-Thursday by females, who, having washed their eyes with the water, each drop a pin into it, the memorial of some ancient custom, or offering to the presiding saint. Giraldus Cambrensis, in his description of the island, gives an account of a small cavity in a rock near the entrance to it, from which, on applying the ear, proceeded a noise resembling that of blacksmiths at work, the blowing of bellows, strokes of hammers, grinding of tools, and roaring of furnaces. He is at a loss to conjecture its cause, as the same sounds were heard at low water as at the ebb and flow of the tide, which might produce this effect by the influx of the waters under the rocky cavities. Modern writers, however, have not been able to discover any cavity whence these subterraneous noises issue; and the phenomenon, if it ever existed except in a fanciful imagination, exists no longer.