Bannau Brycheiniog – What’s all the fuss about?!

Beautiful sunrise over the Llangattock Escarpment in the Bannau Brycheiniog national park in Wales

“What’s in a name? “ asked Shakespeare, concluding that the name does not matter, but the substance does. I wonder, though, if he would have taken kindly to being called Billy Rattlerod over and over whether he liked it or not?

After the furore surrounding Eryri and Yr Wyddfa, the recent decision to stop referring to Bannau Brycheiniog as the Brecon Beacons has brought the same predictable response, with the most obnoxious being the loudest.  This time, though, the PM himself, Richie Swithin, is having a little sideswipe. 

Social media is full of curious, angry people stating “WELL I AM STILL GONNA CALL IT BRECON BEACONS”, not surprisingly, but sadly, a few home grown voices in there.  I do notice that of the English voices joining in, I can’t say I’ve really seen any that actually live in Wales yet, who by and large seem supportive.

Almost all of the mainstream media are opposed or attempting to ridicule the move, playing up selected parts of interviews to suit their ploy. 

As a bilingual, Welsh voiceover artist, I find myself more than a little bemused by all the fuss.

I’m not touchy about humour surrounding the Welsh language – it’s about where it comes from, and its intention.  The intention, in most of these cases, is that the Welsh, as a people, do not or should not have the right to assert their cultural identity in any way at all that is uncomfortable for English speakers.  That is surely unacceptable.

In the case of the media and the UK Government, the motive is and the fear is clear;  a strengthening Welsh identity is leading us slowly but inevitably towards an independent Cymru.

But even as someone who was raised without the language – but a beautiful Welsh accent! –  I cannot for the life of me understand the objection of some Welsh people to this.  Are they so convinced that whitewashing every last ounce of Welsh out of our culture will FINALLY see us accepted as equals across the border?  I’m afraid you are seriously kidding yourselves.

The ‘difficult to pronounce’ argument is facile – all over the world people have no trouble whatsoever pronouncing the name ‘Loch Ness’.  There’s that perceived troublesome consonant right there in the middle, job done.  This argument has been used for centuries as an excuse for the lazy of thought and intention to attempt to wipe out the language, rather than have to think a little about pronouncing it.  I wonder if you descended on Scotland insisting on calling them Lake Ness and Lake Lomond what reaction you’d get!

Myself, and others I have talked to of a similar age, have grown up with an image of ourselves as a people that are of lower worth than our eastern neighbours.  For us, it’s a joy to see our nation begin to finally shake off our historical baggage and assert our own unique identity in the world. 

In future generations, nobody will bat an eyelid to visit places called Eryri, Yr Wyddfa or Bannau Brycheiniog – just as they don’t bat an eyelid when they visit Bordeaux, Andalucia or Phuket.

Confidence, we’re often told, is key to achieving any success in life.  Small wonder, then, that those who would bind us are tensing at the rising of our national confidence.






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