Sounds of Wales
Sorry to disappoint you, but in order to keep these sound files small, I have not included the pronunciation of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllandysiliogogogoch, but see below for details of the origin and meaning of the name.
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Origins and meaning of
Church of St Mary in the hollow of the white hazel trees, near
the fierce whirlpool and the Church of St Tysilio, by a red cave
This name was a tongue-in-cheek invention of the mid 19th century designed to attract much-needed traffic to a declining railway station and freight-yard on the island of Anglesey in North Wales. A tailor from Menai Bridge is credited with the invention.Llan - fair - pwll - gwyn - gyll - goger - y - chwyrn - drobwll - llan - dysilio - gogo - goch
The name consists of thirteen separate elements:
The first five elements comprise the name of a nearby village, Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, often referred to as "Llanfair P G". This part of the name combines a church dedication with the name of the hamlet: "St Mary's church in Pwllgwyngyll".
The middle section, "gogerychwyrndrobwll", (near the fierce whirlpool), is not itself an authentic place-name, but alludes to the turbulent and teacherous "Swillies" (Pwll Ceris) in the Menai Strait separating Anglesey from the mainland.
When the anonymous 19th century joker decided to expand the name he ended his monster with the name of the next parish, Llandysilio, but in a modified form (Llandysiliogogo) "stolen" from a different location, 110 miles away in Cardiganshire, where a parish combines the name Llandysilio with its neighbour, Gogo (the cave). Llandysiliogogo therefore exists, but not on Anglesey.
The final element "goch" has no significance**, and seems to have been added just to round off the whole construction - perhaps, desperately, to insist that the name should not be taken seriously. But any record-breaker will take the fancy of the credulous, and it has been said that the hoax has deceived even many Welshmen!!
**An alternative explanation offered is that "gogogoch" is a reference to Ynys Gorad Goch, an island in the Menai Strait, but how it became entwined with a Cardiganshire parish is not known.
- Professor Melville Richards in Discovering Place-Names by John Field, published 1971 by Shire Publications, Tring
ISBN 8526 3112 X
- A Pocket Guide - the Place-Names of Wales by Hywel Wyn Owen, published 1998 by University of Wales Press, Cardiff
Meanings of individual word elements
- Llanfair - Church of St Mary
- llan (church) + fair (from "Mair", Welsh equivalent of the name Mary)
- pwyllgwyngyll - pool (or hollow) of the white hazel trees
- pwll (pool/hollow) + gwyn (white) + gyll (from "cyll", hazel)
- gogerychwyrndrobwll - near the fierce whirlpool
- goger (near) + y (the) + chwyrn (wild) + drobwll (from "trobwll", whirlpool)
- Llandysilio - Church of St Tysilio
- llan (church) + dysilio (from "Tysilio" a Welsh saint)
- gogogoch - red cave
- gogo (cave) + goch (from "coch", red)
You can explore the meanings of many more Welsh place-name elements on my Glossary of Welsh Place-names feature.
Sounds of Wales