Culture

Poet appointed to protect indigenous Welsh place names in Gwynedd

30 Sep 2021 3 minutes Read
Meirion MacIntyre Huws

An award-winning poet has been appointed as the person responsible for protecting indigenous place names in Gwynedd.

The council has set up an ‘Indigenous Name Protection Project’ which Meirion MacIntyre Huws will head.

The issue of indigenous Welsh place names was added to the Council’s priorities in 2021 as the “Covid-19 crisis has increasingly highlighted the problems”.

Gwynedd Council expressed “concern that indigenous Welsh place names are disappearing from Gwynedd’s landscape.”

The work taken on by Meirion MacIntyre Huws – or Mei Mac as he is known – includes “establishing procedures to prevent people from changing household names” in the county.

“This is an area that has fascinated me for many years and is close to my heart. So I’m really looking forward to being a part of preserving a very important element of our history and language,” the Eisteddfod Chair winner told S4C.

“I see the history of Gwynedd as a large, colorful old tapestry, dotted with pictures and events that tell the stories of the county.

“One part of that precious tapestry is the history of place names. The loss of a Welsh name for a house for example creates a hole in the tapestry and more holes appear every day.”

He said that this was due to the “lack of use of Welsh names and the increase in renaming places in English”.

‘Poetry’

Mei Mac said that the history of place names was also a history of how the language has developed over the centuries.

“They give us an insight into how the old Welsh intertwined local history with features of the landscape around them, creating some really lovely names,” he said.

“Some names like Pen Llithrig y Wrach (Slippery Head of the Witch) are poetry in its own right!

“We all live and live in the midst of this wealth. Every time we go from one place to another within the county we pass pearls and treasures that fill the big old tapestries that I mentioned.

“Without those names the tapestry will become so full of holes it will fall off the wall forever. I’m looking forward to the challenge of stopping that from happening.”

He added: ‘I anticipate that there will be two elements to the job, firstly the working out what policies and legislation already exists to tackle the problem.

“Then there will be the work to promote the Place Name Protection Project and create community-based activities, on the ground, to attract interest in the field.

“It is hoped, in turn, to attract more respect for all the history and culture associated with house and place names.”

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Sion Cwilt
Sion Cwilt
23 days ago

Sadly the job will be an uphill struggle as those sensitive and respectful to a sense of place wouldn’t dream of changing a place or house name.

Only arrogant and ignorant interlopers would be so crass as to replace a name imbued with meaning for something utterly alien and denigrating.

Gill
Gill
23 days ago

Nothing in this article explains how they will go about it and the practical, legal steos required. Be food to know how.

Richard
Richard
23 days ago

History is a living landscape reflecting its changes like a mirror. Landscapes and environ change over the centuries with rural to quarry settings and back to rural …local names change and the footprints of those who passed through can be found whether absent quarry & landowners or farmers or those brought into work.from lands afar. This Cyngor Gwynedd initiative seems well meant and positive in intent but shouldn’t shy away from reflecting past , current and future changes. The habit of the some in climbing community in the 1970s and 80s to give our Eryri landscape their ‘ interpretations’ is… Read more »

Robin
Robin
22 days ago
Reply to  Richard

So intelligently put. I am a dual citizen of the US and UK and I live in Wales. I own two homes, one has a welsh name and one has an english name. They were both built and named in 1900. Should I change the English one to Welsh? Would that negate it’s history? Most houses in America do not have names… just addresses.. I love that the houses have names where I live now. These stone houses have a soul. They are unique and will live on to house lucky people for a long time to come, no matter… Read more »

Arwyn
Arwyn
22 days ago
Reply to  Richard

The huge difference between Cymraeg names in Liverpool and Saesneg names in Cymru is that the Saesneg in Lloegr is not under any kind of threat, nor is the Sbaeneg under any kind of danger in Patagonia. Things are very very different here in Cymru. And for this debate to move forward in any meaningful sense, those Cymraeg sideshows in other countries must be brushed aside and seen for what they are – microscopic dots on the language tapestry in those countries. Back in Cymru, meanwhile, while the Saesneg bull is rampaging through the china shop, those aforementioned microscopic dots… Read more »

arthur owen
22 days ago
Reply to  Arwyn

I do not think Richard was thinking of any threat to Spanish in Patagonia but rather to the threat of various European languages to the indigenous ones.Welsh is an European language is it not?

Richard
Richard
22 days ago
Reply to  arthur owen

I was indeed 👍🏼

Richard
Richard
22 days ago
Reply to  Arwyn

A well presented opinion which I can fully understand but Arwyn may find keeping a general view for respect to all languages may well encourage and sustain a better appreciation of unintended adverse effects on our own.

Stephen Owen
Stephen Owen
22 days ago
Reply to  Arwyn

Very well put.

Last edited 22 days ago by Stephen Owen
Crwtyn Cemais
Crwtyn Cemais
22 days ago
Reply to  Arwyn

Pob lwc yn eich gwaith chi Mei – mae angen gwneud yr un waith o warchodaeth ein henwau peth ar draws Cymru gyfan !

Argol Fawr
Argol Fawr
22 days ago

Good luck with that task. Most change from Welsh names to bump up AirBnB search hits on 2nd homes to let, Glamping sites and Caravan parks.

It’ll take Welsh Gov legislation to sort it out. Cosy job though. What will it cost again?

Stephen Owen
Stephen Owen
22 days ago

Should be done in the whole of Wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

rod Lyon
rod Lyon
22 days ago

You are not alone – it’s just the same here in Cornwall!

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