Snowdonia National Park

What’s in a Name? The Story Behind Llanfair­pwllgwyngyll­gogery­chwyrn­drobwll­llan­tysilio­gogo­goch

03 Dec 2019
Come on team, say it with us — Llanfair­pwllgwyngyll­gogery­chwyrn­drobwll­llan­tysilio­gogo­goch. Say it again! Llanfair­pwllgwyngyll­gogery­chwyrn­drobwll­llan­tysilio­gogo­goch! Easy peasy. It is a bit of a mouthful, that much is for sure, but there is a lot more to this name than meets the eye. Saying that, 58 characters is quite a lot to ‘meet the eye’ so to speak, but there is a story and a half behind the second longest official one-word place name in the world.

It hasn’t always had such a ludicrous moniker. People have lived in these parts since the Neolithic era, and by the 7th century a Christian settlement called Pwllgwyngyll had developed. Everything stayed somewhat steady for centuries, although we’re hoping you’ll accept ‘steady’ as being ‘conflict-ridden and unstable’. Things started to change in the 19th century, when the Menai Bridge was constructed and Anglesey was finally connected to the rest of Wales. The people of Llanfairpwll didn’t know it, but everything was about to change.

By the second half of the 1800s, train travel was becoming more and more accessible for the ordinary people of Great Britain. Railway tourism was growing, and beautiful stations were popping up all across the country. The people of Llanfairpwll weren’t about to miss out on this railway tourism boom, so they decided to come up with a gimmick that would see people disembark at their train station in vast numbers. The gimmick chosen? Llanfair­pwllgwyngyll­gogery­chwyrn­drobwll­llan­tysilio­gogo­goch.

The year was 1869, and an anonymous tailor came up with the idea of the long name. It wasn’t entirely random, and the translated version of the name offers up plenty of geographical and natural clues. Llanfair­pwllgwyngyll­gogery­chwyrn­drobwll­llan­tysilio­gogo­goch means ‘St Mary’s Church in the Hollow of the White Hazel Near to the Rapid Whirlpool of Llantysilio of the Red Cave’, a collection of geographical and cultural features that are all found in the vicinity of the village. It became the longest train station name on the planet, and the visitors flocked to check it out.

This has long been considered the explanation for the name, but some have claimed that the long name was in use even earlier. We’re happy to go along with the tourism-centric version of course, and hundreds of thousands head to the village on an annual basis to check out the train station, take a photo of the name and express confusion as to how you pronounce it. Llanfair­pwllgwyngyll­gogery­chwyrn­drobwll­llan­tysilio­gogo­goch — that’s how you pronounce it.

The town goes by Llanfairpwll or Llanfair PG to save ink and time, although any and all attempts to pronounce the whole thing are always appreciated and admired. This is a village of 3,000 residents, 71% of whom speak Welsh first language, a number that climbs to 94% if we’re only talking about the 10-14 age range. Llanfair­pwllgwyngyll­gogery­chwyrn­drobwll­llan­tysilio­gogo­goch’s name might be a gimmick, but it is a gimmick that has stood the test of time and will continue to do so for years to come. Now, all together now, Llanfair­pwllgwyngyll­gogery…
 

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