Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Llaneilian Church

I recently bought a new camera which I wanted to try out with local scenery. Yesterday it was beautiful weather with blue sky all around. Jumping into the car with my camera bag I set off with a will. Leaving Pensarn I climbed up through the next village of Nebo and turned off to negotiate Mynydd Eilian (in English "Eilian Mountain"). Like all the hills in Anglesey it is referred to as a mountain. I arrived at a lay by on the narrow road and parked the car. Next I took the camera from its bag and went over to the wall from where a wonderful view spread before me. I switched on the camera only to see the words "Battery depleted". I returned feeling cheated somehow.

Today started out busy as Pauline and I had arranged to test drive two cars. She will be changing her Motability car in December and you have to make arrangements for a new car 3 months in advance of the changeover. We found a little time to dash over to another car dealer to test drive one of his cars too. As he was located in Llangefni we grabbed a couple of sandwiches from the local baker and went home. As soon as she had finished her sandwich Pauline grabbed her art materials and shot off to her art group. As the weather had suddenly impoved I hoped it would be possible to do the run again with recharged batteries in my camera. However, my first duty was to stay at home as we were expecting the chimney sweep, David Williams. Luckily, David came early and I was able to go back and capture the incredible views above Llaneilian.

After taking a few shots of the various views over the land and sea I decided to visit Llaneilian Church which is a 12th century building. I parked in front of the gate and went through the cemetery to the south door and entered the church. Other than an elderly woman standing by a grave by the path I was alone. This meant I would be able to shoot away in the church and no one would obstruct my view. The choir and nave are separated by an ancient rood screen which is a classic one of its type. Above the screen runs a loft which creates panelling where it meets the screen. At one time each panel had a painting on it but now only the centre panel has a distinguishable figure showing. It is a depiction of the Grim Reaper and is a skeleton, with hooves for feet, carrying a scythe on which the Welsh inscription says, "Sin is the sting of death".

The ends of the choir stalls appear ancient and in one corner by the screen is a protected section of wall which was found to painted red. On the right of the simple altar at a 45 degrees angle is a low doorway leading to a few steps down through a short passage to the Chapel of Eilian. The shrine is clearly very old and there a a number of items which also appear to be very ancient. After taking the photographs I left the church and went down the path where the elderly woman had been joined by an elderly man. A conversation struck up in which I discovered that they attended the same church in Amlwch as I did but at the Welsh language service.

They were very friendly and told me a number of stories about the church and the local people. We parted company and I returned home feeling I had had a lovely afternoon. Despite the separating language the Anglesey people are very welcoming and keen to share their local knowledge with you. This coming weekend marks the third anniversary of our move to the island. We have not regretted a single second!


Blogger Lynne said...

Thank you for the great photos of Llaneilian Church. This is the church where my great, great, great grandmother, Anne Hughes (later James) was christened around 1796. Do you know how the Welsh-speaking residents pronounce "Llaneilian" & "Eilian"? Is there a saint associated with this church? What denomination was/is this church? One more question: Is Hughes a Welsh name? Thanks for your comments. Lynne McDermott from Parsippany, NJ USA (Lynne.McDermott@gmail.com)

8:50 pm  
Blogger Keith Alexander said...

Describing Welsh pronunciation is difficult without sound! Llan sounds like a soft version of the Scottish word, Clan. Eilian is easy - it is pronounced just like alien. The saint associated with the church is Saint Eilian or, in Welsh, Eilian Sant. The word Llan means church and so Llaneilian translates "The Church of Eilian". Hughes is a common Welsh name.

11:09 am  
Blogger Cymro2010 said...

Hi Lynne
I was born & bred on Ynys Mon (called by English speakers 'Anglesey') & am blessed to have Cymraeg (Welsh) as my mother tongue.

I agree with Keith Alexander that without a sound recording of the sounds its difficult to explain but Eilian is not correctly pronounced 'alien' - the Welsh language generally is very phonetic (so that for example the letter 'a' is pronounced 'ah' & never 'ay' as in English)

A more correct pronunciation would be to say it 'Ey - li -an'

St Eilian's was built as a Catholic church but is now used by the Church in Wales (a branch of the Protestant Church of England)& has been since the break from Rome under Henry VIII in the 1530's (although in the 1580's, under the reign of Queen Mary Tudor the building would briefly have returned to use as a Roman Catholic church)

Hughes or 'Huws' is indeed a Welsh name. As with Evans, Williams, Thomas etc it is derived from the traditional Celtic Welsh patronymic system of 'surname' before the English version of surnames was imposed upon Wales.

Thus Hughes was originally 'Ap Huw' meaning 'of' or 'son of' Hugh/Huw & Evans was originaly 'Ap Ifan/Evan' etc. A number of Welsh people have reverted to this old system & use their Christian name followed by their father's Christian name instead of a 'surname'.

The system was the same as the Scots MacDonald, MacTaggart etc

11:29 am  

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