Sissy: Our Monday’s post, One Last Spring, which is set in Wales, got us all excited about our Welsh heritage on our paternal grandmother’s side. In the picture above is our Welsh great-grandmother Esther Jones and the group picture is her mother, our great great-grandmother Margaret Williams Davies with all her children. One of our favorite childhood stories is one our father used to tell: at the dinner table when he took too much food his grandma would say “glick a min a bully,” which was Welsh for “your eyes are bigger than your belly.” I have no idea how it is really spelled, so consider that a phonetic presentation.
Bubby: You’re brave to even try to spell that! I’ve tried a few times to look it up, but to no avail. I wish that grandma (or great grandma, or dad, or anyone) had written it down. This particular Welsh line (We have others! We are so Welsh!) lived for generations due south of Cardiff on the southeastern tip of Wales in various unpronounceable towns in Glamorganshire (Cil-Y-Bebil, Cadoxton Juxta Neath).
Sissy: We wanted, in case you too have some Welsh heritage or are interested in Wales, to share with you 5 interesting things that will expand your ancestral knowledge. Plus you will have new cool conversation starters and can impress the neighbors. We will start with something about the interesting and oh so difficult to pronounce language:
Only 21% of the entire Welsh population of Wales can speak the native language.
Sad, but true. With phrases like Dw i’n dod o Gymru (I come from Wales), it is no wonder the language seems daunting. However, now in Wales children all learn Welsh in school up about age 16 and there are Welsh television stations, magazines, and newspapers. May the language experience a renaissance!
Bubby: I think I need to learn a few swear words in Welsh-
Sissy: Ooh, ooh, like “Cer i grafu” (go and scratch, meaning go away)?
Bubby: I like that one, but I was thinking more along the lines of “Fel rhech mewn pot jam” (like a fart in a jam jar, or useless). For more Welsh swears that are more funny than offensive, go here.
Sissy: Weren’t you supposed to talking about something more mature than farts, like castles?
Bubby: Oh yeah. Sorry. Here it is:
Wales is believed to have more castles per square mile than anywhere else in the world
How cool is that? I got to see a few castles in Spain, and I need to see more! Here are some pictures of my favorite wanna-see castles in Wales (all found at www.castlewales.com).
Sissy: I, with all the deepest yearnings of my heart, want to go see the castles too! Okay, now for your next Welsh factoid:
The Longest Place Name in the World is in Wales — Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyll-llantysiliogogogoch.
Don’t ask me to pronounce it. This the name of a town in North Wales and translates as “The church of St. Mary in the hollow of white hazel trees near the rapid whirlpool by St. Tysilio’s of the red cave.” That’s a mouthful, and reminds me of some Navajo translations. Here’s a postcard of it:
Bubby: Why is having Welsh ancestry really cool?
Wales is the land of mythical King Arthur.
That means that it is entirely possible that I am descended from King Arthur and Guinevere.
Sissy: I can tell from your aristocratic cheek bones.
Bubby: Thank you.
Sissy: And finally, the thing that ties in to our heritage:
Wales has a population of around 3 million, and the population of sheep in Wales is four times greater than the Welsh population of humans.
Our Welsh ancestors were sheep herders, and when they immigrated to the United States they upgraded to being small-scale sheep farmers (and by upgrade I mean they actually owned a few sheep, their sod huts, and the bit of land they were on). I’m glad we no longer live in a sod hut…
Bubby: There are rumors that some members of the family were less sheep herders and more “sheep property redistributors”…
Sissy: You mean thieves?
Bubby: Well, if you have to put it bluntly…one wonders if the thieving may have motivated the emigration to newer pastures.
Sissy: Ahem. Yes. Well, I prefer to focus on the King Arthur angle, if you don’t mind. That’s all we have for now on our dear land of Wales, but for some really interesting resources on Welsh history, ancestry, and the national anthem, go to these websites:
Bubby: We are so very proud of our Welsh heritage. Hopefully someday we’ll actually get to go there. Until then,