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  • £6.50
  • £0.00
  • Author: Elfed Gruffydd
  • Publication Date April 2003
  • Adapted/Translated by Gwyneth Sol Owen.
  • Format: Paperback, 182x123 mm, 200 pages
A highly interesting introduction to the rich diversity of the Llyn peninsula, comprising information about the area from prehistoric to present times including detailed notes on religion and wildlife, placenames and personalities. 53 ffotograff du-a-gwyn a 7 map.

Gwales Review

This book has been 'adapted from the Welsh language by Gwyneth Owen'. The Llŷn (sometimes written as Lleyn in English) peninsula is the arm of Wales that stretches out at the top end of Cardigan Bay. It has always been a stronghold of the Welsh language. At the time of the 1991 census, 75.4% of the western region of the peninsula, now called Dwyfor in local government parlance, spoke Welsh. But the language is now under immense pressure from incomers, and the book has been translated in order to give these newcomers 'a bridge ... to appreciate its old and still-vibrant culture'.

As part of the 'bridge' approach, each section of the book has extensive footnotes - translating Welsh place-names for example. This is laudable, but one feels occasionally that some of the material in the footnotes would be better incorporated into the text itself. There are sections, some very brief, which cover the area in general - its prehistoric remains, saints and chapels, the sea and wells, fairies and fairs, with more detailed studies of the Pilgrims' Way to Bardsey and of Pwllheli, 'The Centre', Pistyll, Nefyn, Edern, 'The Southern Coast' and Bardsey. There are brief biographies of famous native sons and historical and topographical information. There is a great deal of beautiful poetry in English, chiefly by Yorkshire-born Christine Evans, and also by R. S. Thomas, and translations from the Welsh poetry of Cynan, a native of Llŷn.

Then there is a return to the scrapbook effect of the earlier part of the book, with sections on conservation, wildlife, beaches - and the types of fish you would expect to catch, a bibliography and index. There are forty-nine black-and-white photographs and several sketchmaps.

This is a lucky dip of a book with something for everyone. It can be used as a guidebook but is far more than that, with its emphasis on Welsh culture and the symbolic significance of incidents like the burning down of the bombing school in 1936 as an act of pacific protest. It certainly provides an excellent opportunity for incomers to increase their knowledge of the language painlessly, and hopefully it will encourage understanding and appreciation of a very Welsh region.

Sue Passmore