Columnist melts down over Bannau Brycheiniog change and compares Brychan to Boris Johnson
An Independent newspaper columnist has criticised the decision to rename the Brecon Beacons National Park, saying it has been named after “possibly the most sex-mad Welshman in history”.
The article, which also mocked the Welsh language, was written by the Independent’s associate editor, Sean O’Grady who compared King Brychan to “an ancient version of Boris Johnson”.
The Welsh name translates as “peaks of Brychan’s kingdom” – a reference to the fifth-century king in the region.
In the rant, O’Grady criticised the decision by the park’s management to only use the Welsh name, Bannau Brycheiniog, from now on, complaining it’s “difficult to pronounce” for people outside of Wales.
He wrote: “The good folk who run the Brecon Beacons National Park have decided that that familiar name, one that evokes the fondest of memories in the hearts of those fortunate enough from around the world to have found themselves enchanted by its natural beauty, is to be replaced with something that, outside Wales at least, is difficult to pronounce, let alone fall immediately in love with.
He added: “I mean the ‘Bannau Brycheiniog National Park’ isn’t the easiest to curl one’s tongue around is it, albeit less of a challenge than the famous Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. (Which means “railway station”, I believe).”
In the article, O’Grady claimed that after “extensive online historical research” he found that Brycheiniog only “Welshified” his name after he migrated to Wales from Ireland.
He wrote: “Rather like an ancient version of Boris Johnson, Brycheiniog married three times and had an unknown number of children, estimated from a Rees-Mogg beating 11 (the Moggster having an understated randy Welsh heritage of his own) to 63, which is probably in excess of Johnson’s total.”
O’Grady went on to complain that he personally would have rather seen the park named after “a more contemporary Welsh legend” such as Dylan Thomas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Tom Jones and Huw Edwards.
The name change, which was launched on Tuesday by Welsh actor Michael Sheen, was a decision made by the park’s owners to properly celebrate it for its natural and cultural heritage and highlight its aims to become net zero by 2035.
O’Grady wrote that dropping the old logo of a “fiery greenhouse-gas emitting beacon” was “quixotic but fair enough” and said it wasn’t “all bad” because it had “wound up the climate change deniers”.
Readers in the Independent’s comments section beneath the article pointed out the associate editor had completely disregarded the fact the park was not changing its name, but just reverting back to its original ancient Welsh name.
One commentator said: “Supporting the Welsh culture and language is THE major factor in reverting the it back to its original Welsh name, along with the new direction the park wants to go to be less polluted and a greater haven for nature.
“It just so happens that other minor factors were involved, including the desire to better reflect the diversity of the landscape and, coincidentally, the negative connotations associated with burning fossil fuels.”
Another reader pointed out that Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch doesn’t translate to “railway station as O’Grady wrongly believes.
Brynleydm commented: “No Its not the name of a railway station. It means St Mary’s Church in the Hollow of the White Hazel Near to the Rapid Whirlpool of Llantysilio of the Red Cave.”
Catherine Mealing-Jones, the national park authority’s chief executive, said: “Given that we’re trying to provide leadership on decarbonisation, a giant burning brazier is not a good look.
“Our park is shaped by Welsh people, Welsh culture, and as we looked into it we realised the brand we’ve got and the name we’ve got, it’s a bit of a nonsense, it doesn’t really make any sense – the translation Brecon Beacons doesn’t really mean anything in Welsh.
“We’d always had the name Bannau Brycheiniog as the Welsh translation and we just felt we needed to put that front and centre as an expression about the new way we wanted to be celebrating Welsh people, Welsh culture, Welsh food, Welsh farming – all of the things that need to come with us as we go through this change in the management plan.”
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