Poet appointed to protect indigenous Welsh place names in Gwynedd
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”.
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.”