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Welsh independence group target English names on signs

23 Mar 2024 5 minute read
The name ‘Cardigan’ targeted by protesters. Credit: Mudiad Eryr Wen

Stephen Price

A grassroots Welsh independence youth group has taken responsibility for spray painting English versions of Welsh place names on signs across Ceredigion.

A number of English place names across the county have been targeted, with the inclusion of the emblem of the Free Wales Army – a Welsh nationalist paramilitary organisation formed in Lampeter in Ceredigion (formerly Cardiganshire) by Julian Cayo-Evans in 1963.

Mudiad Eryr Wen, who shared photos of their protest on Instagram, describe themselves as a brand new and energetic approach to defending our nation and campaigning for our eventual independence. They say they are “a movement and community created by the youth, for the youth”.

Mission

According to the group: “Our nation stands upon a precipice. Westminster is growing increasingly heavy-handed towards devolution and nationalism in both Cymru and in Scotland, second home ownership and a failing education system is endangering our language, the reckless pursuit of growth and unfettered capitalism is destroying our environment…”

Their mission is to “rally the youth of Cymru as one united front, stood firmly in opposition to the destruction of our self-determination, language, identity and environment.”

Two other signs targeted – the Anglicised names ‘Cardigan’ and ‘Furnace’ now defaced. Credit: Mudiad Eryr Wen

They say: “In the face of impending Anglicisation and climate collapse, other organisations have failed to grasp the severity of the situation we face”.

Autonomy

The movement has ten key principles:

1.  Wales is a nation defined by its geographical boundaries, people (Cymry), culture and language.

2. Wales is an ancient Celtic nation with a right to self-determination and independence from the United Kingdom.

3. Cymraeg is the native language of the Welsh and must be protected and promoted with the aim of restoring it as the majority language.

4. Power should be devolved to local communities and systems of direct and participatory democracy should be established.

5. Holiday lets and second homes, belonging to either Welsh or outsider, should be rendered economically untenable.

6. Wales is not subject to House of Windsor or the illegitimate ‘Prince of Wales’ and should strive to abolish the institution of monarchy.

7. Wales’ resources belong to the Welsh people and England should be required to pay for the resources that it extracts.

8. The Welsh economy should not be predicated on limitless growth, but rather, should aim to improve living standards and economic equality.

9. Wales should foster close ties with fellow Celtic nations and aid them in their struggle for autonomy, in addition to other small nations.

10. Wales should make every effort to end its reliance on fossil fuels and create a green economy in harmony with nature.

“Justified”

A representative from Eryr Wen who was a part of the most recent protest told Nation.Cymru: “We believe that it is justified to target Anglicised place-names on roadsigns within Wales.

“These names often have no real history or meaning in their respective regions and are the result of an intentional attempt to forcefully assimilate Wales into a larger ‘British’ nation.

“There is a proud and defiant current building within Wales to undo centuries of cultural destruction perpetuated by a distant and domineering ruling class in England, as the past year has made clear.

“Our actions serve to further highlight the predicament of our linguistic heritage and to spur on debate, whilst simultaneously applying pressure at a local level.”

Borth signage complete with the Eryr Wen emblem and Nid yw Cymru ar Werth (Wales in not for Sale) stickers.

Debates around English place names have raged for decades now but tensions seem to have reached a critical point recently, with a Senedd petition, titled ‘Use only Welsh names for places in Wales’ having closed in October 2023 which is currently being considered.

And it’s not only place names that are proving contentious. Another popular petition with over 11,000 signatories calls to ‘Abolish the name ‘Wales’ and make ‘CYMRU’ the only name for our country’.

This petition is still running until June 2024.

Local backing

Mr Rees, a teacher from Llandysul, backed the work of the youth movement, but stressed the need for nuance in the approach.

He told us: “The etymology of Welsh place names isn’t a black-and-white affair. There are examples of English place names in Wales that predate the Welsh names such as Rhyl (originally ‘The Hill’) and ‘Prestatyn’ (originally ‘Priest’s Town).

“Having Swansea and Abertawe, for example, gives us two histories. One of the Island of an unknown Viking called Svein, and another denoting the mouth of the river Tawe.

“But when it comes to insulting, garbled, derisional spellings of Welsh places such as Cardigan and the notorious Llantwit Major, we need to make a stand now and revert them all to Welsh. We don’t need a Kidwelly and a Cydweli, or a Caerphilly or Caerffili. And Peterston-super-Ely makes my blood boil!

“Everyday in Llandysul I walk past a sign in the middle of the town pointing directions to ‘New Quay’, ‘Newcastle Emlyn’, ‘Cardigan’, and ‘Carmarthen’. These simply aren’t needed and I’ve been tempted to paint over them myself.

“I totally support the reintroduction of Welsh-only place names except for those where the English has developed in tandem and has a unique meaning.

“The Welsh Language Commissioner has been too toothless in this regard and things need to change.”

Find out more about Mudiad Eryr Wen here.


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Richard 1
Richard 1
17 days ago

Good position, sound logic.

Richard 1
Richard 1
17 days ago

the only improvement I would propose is to adopt Land Value Taxation to rationalise land use and distribute the benefits of holding land to the whole population. Whole population of Cymru, that is, irrespective of who thinks they own the land. The point is that, whoever thinks they own land and however good their legal title, it was originally stolen.

Rhian Davies
Rhian Davies
17 days ago

Dwi’n cytuno yn hollol da hyn. Pryd dych chi’n darllen y enwau ar mynd a ddidordeb yn ynghanu yr enwau o yr arwainydd yng Nghymru – dych chi’n hanner ffordd i siarad yr iaith a i ddeall y diwylliant hefyd, a dych chi’n hyd yn oed mwy agos i bydd Bardd hefyd! Y enwau o y llefydd yn helpu bobl i ddeall y Cymry, os dych chi’n penderfynu i ddeall y cymry. I absolutely agree. When you read and take an interest in pronouncing the names of the places in Cymru – you’re half-way to speaking the language and to… Read more »

CapM
CapM
17 days ago

That Eryr Wen logo on the sign next to Aberteifi should be consigned to history and a new one designed. One that can’t be used so easily to imply someone who is associated with Eryr Wen is a closet fascist or racist. Look up images for Dennis Coslett FWA and you get the idea and so will every Unionist media source and social media user who’s anti Cymru and anti Cymraeg. That logo put off and was used to put off many who were sympathetic to the idea of an independent Cymru back in the 1960s. It’s a gift that… Read more »

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
17 days ago
Reply to  CapM

I seriously suggest you read up on Harri Webb who designed the symbol. He was no fascist. Granted, the FWA were quite dodgy in terms of the politics of many individual members, but really, the FWA were not to be taken seriously, they were only ever any good at attracting attention to themselves, and they did nothing really radical beyond the odd publicity stunt. I don’t think anyone in Wales really took them seriously, but obviously the British state rather foolishly did giving the FWA a notoriety completely undeserved.

CapM
CapM
17 days ago
Reply to  Padi Phillips

Harri Webb’s forte was poetry rather than graphic design. His stylised white eagle would in all likely hood have remained unknown to all but a few if the FWA hadn’t adopted it as their emblem. Those in the FWA that thought that a design of angular white lines on a black background (edit I got colours wrong way around)was suitable as an emblem for their group twenty years after WWII ended were either twp beyond belief or wanted those that did not agree with their aims to see the emblem and be intimidated. If the logo becomes more noticed then… Read more »

Last edited 17 days ago by CapM
Another Richard
Another Richard
17 days ago

This is very odd. I submitted a comment four hours ago and it was approved, but it has now disappeared.

Erisian
Erisian
17 days ago

If they could Pantone match to the dark green background, the correction to Welsh Only names would go unoticed for ages.

Richard 1
Richard 1
17 days ago
Reply to  Erisian

Ha ha! I like it … but then the protest would be an invisible one. The fact that they sign their work (even if they use a graphic with dubious connotations) suggests they want to be more inyerface

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
17 days ago
Reply to  Erisian

I rather suspect it being noticed is intentional and deliberate. In the 1960s and 1970s there were a lot of signs painted out, and I remember the sign on the A487 for Derwen Gam having the English bit of the sign completely removed on a regular basis for some years, leaving a hole!

Rhian Hewitt-Davies
Rhian Hewitt-Davies
17 days ago

Hi, why would we want to swop our gorgeous, Cymreig place-names – which help me relax just saying them! with their wonderful rhythym and honest pronunciation – for the uptight, phoney, glottal and nasal-stopped, silent lettered language of our neighbours in Angerland (my word for England) next-door. For English place-names people must go to England please. This is Cymru and we have a culture which is as legendary as the cultures of Ireland, Scotland and Brittany. We must stop being so modest and under-stated. Otherwise I’m going to have to request we charge an Arrogance-tax on folk who take no… Read more »

Riki
Riki
17 days ago

Agree with 9 out of the 10. Only one I don’t agree with is the last one, it’s a con to stop developing countries from taken their place at the high table over those that have already used their resources up. As for “Prince of Wales”, yes illegitimate since Glyndwr disappeared.

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
16 days ago

I’m happy to see that Cymru is alive with resistance to how we’ve been treated and wanting change. It’s desperately needed. However, what’s not needed is a multitude of small independence organisations all with slightly different views on our future and sometimes actually competing against each other. We’ll never gain independence if we are divided. These organisations have one thing in common – an independent Cymru. It’s time to get our heads and our act together – work together and achieve our common aim.

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
15 days ago

They may have a point, but vandalising road signs in this era is not needed. This is not the 1960s, we now have a Senedd and a democratic political process. If this group wish to get their aspirations realised, they should use the political process. Vandalising signs just irritates the public, including those sympathetic to Welsh aspirations.

Last edited 15 days ago by Mr Williams
Jen Harper
Jen Harper
14 days ago

Newport boys are forming a posse we we speak

Jon_S
Jon_S
14 days ago

Oh dear. Perhaps someone should point out to them now that Ceredigion doesn’t represent Wales as a whole, and that the needs and wishes of Welsh people elsewhere in the country are quite different. But I see that somebody has already come up with a Newport quip further up in the thread. But, I forgot, we’re not “real” Welsh in this part of the world and need to be educated / subjugated / ignored. 5 – “Holiday lets and second homes, belonging to either Welsh or outsider, should be rendered economically untenable” sounds a lot like fascism to me. Holiday… Read more »

Johnny Gamble
Johnny Gamble
13 days ago
Reply to  Jon_S

What do you mean by not real Welsh.It doesn’t matter if you are from Penrhyn Lleyn,Wye Valley or a person of Colour from Bute Town we are all fellow Cymro.
With reference to your own geographically area it’s not a question of Cymru doesn’t want you more than likely it could be that a certain section of the population want nothing to do with Cymru.

Howard Edwards
Howard Edwards
14 days ago

Cytunaf â’r egwyddor o fod ag enwau Cymraeg yn unig ar arwyddion ffyrdd yng Nghymru. Wedi’r cyfan, hyd y gwn i, does’na ddim fersiynau Cymraeg o enwau lleoedd ar arwyddion yn Lloegr e.e. dim arwyddion ‘Caerwysg’ yn Nyfnaint, neu ‘Caerliwelydd’ yn yr Hen Ogledd’.

Owain Glyndwr
Owain Glyndwr
14 days ago

Mr. Rees is a lukewarm

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