Saturday, 13 February 2016

A Pembrokeshire Mongrel - Mwngrel Sir Benfro (1)

At the beginning of the year, I had an unexpected but pleasant communication from the Carmarthen Journal, looking for new contributors to help expand their Welsh language content.

I've always had a great enjoyment in writing. Indeed, if I could have my time again I may have done a post-graduate degree in Journalism instead of plumping for the safe choice of history which I eventually choose. But due to my political activity over the past decade, the opportunities for me to write freely have been limited.

One of the few opportunities that I have had in that time was when I wrote an article on the historic coming together of the DUP and Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland in May 2007 having made the trip to be in the grounds of Stormont that very day. Having been a pupil of history with a great love of all things Irish, it was a great moment in my life to see this unlikeliest of partnerships come together in person and to subsequently have an article on that experience printed in the Carmarthen Journal.

A Pembrokeshire Mongrel
So when that very same newspaper approached me looking for a regular column on topics of my own choosing, how could I say no? Doing so in the Welsh language would also give me the chance to brush up on my written Welsh.

So last month, my first monthly column was published in the Journal. I must admit that I was very pleased with the format and presentation of that first column as put together by the Journal staff and I hope that same format will be retained for future columns.

As a Pembrokeshire boy, born and bred in my paternal homeland in the English-language dominated south but with firm roots in my maternal Welsh-language dominated north of the county, I offered the column name 'Mwngrel Sir Benfro' which translates as 'A Pembrokeshire Mongrel'. It may sound odd but I've always taken great pride in my split Pembrokeshire heritage and how better to embrace the history of both than my taking on that very title?!

I have re-published it here but for those who do not have the good fortune of speaking the language of heaven, I have translated it into English below...

A Pembrokeshire Mongrel

It’s a pleasure to have the opportunity to write a regular column for the Journal. I will be doing so with my views and opinions from the vantage point of being a Councillor and former Mayor of Cardigan but also from being a ‘Pembrokeshire Mongrel’ – born and raised in my paternal homeland ‘below the Lansker’ around Martletwy but with my maternal heritage ‘above the Landsker’ at Eglwyswrw in the Bro Preseli. All in the language of the ‘wes wes’ (west Walian Welsh dialect) of course!

An Eisteddfod for Cardigan…in Pembrokeshire?!
Ceredigion will be hosting the 2010 Eisteddfod and expressions of interest from different communities have been requested. The strict criteria for land that is suitable for the size of such an event limits the possibilities but there’s one location that ticks all the boxes. Cardigan looks set to put forward land at Llantood as an option though some eyebrows have already been raised at the fact that the site sits a mile the other side of the Ceredigion border…in Pembrokeshire! But with the re-opening only last year of Cardigan Castle, the birthplace of the Eisteddfod in 1176, there is a strong sense locally that it would only be right to see its return for the first time since 1976. Cardigan Town Council has already written to local community councils throughout south Ceredigion, north Pembrokeshire and north-western Carmarthenshire seeking support for a bid and hopefully by the end of March deadline, Cardigan and district will be green-to-go. As for the site being a mile the other side of the Ceredigion boundary? Well that makes it a mile closer to Eglwyswrw so I support it wholeheartedly!

Eglwyswrw – or E-gwlyb-wrw?!
It’s been a wet winter. No getting around that. But in Eglwyswrw, where I’m the manager of the family’s Dyfed Shire Horse Farm, it has been particularly so. Now, Uncle Howard who has lived there at Carnhuan for all of his 73 years, is a force of nature…when it comes to talking about the weather! But it was still the shock of my life last weekend when Uncle Howard’s face stared back at me from the Western Mail, being interviewed about the village’s 90 year record of over 80 consecutive days of rain since late October! Before we knew it, he was being quoted online with the Daily Mirror and BBC Wales News were on the ‘phone expressing their interest! It’s not exactly the best reason for the village to make the news. Having said that, it was amusing to see many English people try and pronounce the word Eglwyswrw!

West…was nearly Best!
Many racing fans from west Wales would’ve been shouting for Bob Ford from Rebecca Curtis’ stables in Dinas in the recent Welsh Grand National at Chepstow. Not only was I one of them, but I was there cheering him on from the stands…in the rain! Why? Because one of his owners John Rees from Llanboidy happens to be my father-in-law! Now, our Bob’s form is consistent in his inconsistency! If he isn’t winning, he’s likely to be pulled up but he likes heavy ground and boy, it was heavy that Saturday! Against high calibre opponents, he gave it his all and was in the leading pack throughout before slipping back and falling, for the first time in his career, a handful out. He was fine thankfully but despite the fall, he can hold his head up high. As for his form? Well, it’s be a pleasant change, for the only time hopefully, to see a ‘F’ instead of another ‘P’ amongst those ‘1’s’!

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