Posted on Jun 28 2011 at 04:59:54 PM in Personal
Apparently Frank Henessey wasn't aware that Welsh was still a spoken language until Ronnie Williams of Ryan & Ronnie fame took him on a tour of Wales and did the necessary introductions, I admit to being in the same situation until a Welsh teacher in the new secondary school on my entering her class for the first time asked the pupils who had already come across it it at home to put up their hands, I was amazed when 5 or 6 raised them. I was born and bred in Merthyr and at no time have I ever considered myself less than 100% Welsh, I had learned basic phrases in the infant school and the days of the week and the months of the year in the early years of the junior school, even suffered a seemingly old lady coming in and forcing Welsh down our throats for no obvious reason in the later years, it was a pointless academic exercise and there it was, such is life. I had never heard a word of it on the street or at home and never heard the topic being discussed, it was part of my heritage but had died out centuries previously. One day while I was doing homework in the garden my next door neighbour noticed that I was speaking Welsh to myself from a text book, we got chatting which led to my making the extraordinary discovery that all my direct neighbours for 3 doors up and down were first language Welsh speakers and that it was their medium of conversation and chapel, gobsmacked, it led me, we may say ironically, to drop Welsh for French for the O level course, although I had high marks in Welsh I had higher marks in French, these were my formative years, I was putting my first steps onto the ladder of academia, unfortunately all the rungs broke and I went on a long slide through an educational smog. Years later through two of my drinking buddies I even learned that Welsh was the language of various areas of Merthyr that lay on the fringes of the town. Now both Frank and myself are fully aware of the spread of the language, but how many more were in our situation. I say 'were' because this is a totally redundant exercise now that education comes under the W.A.G. but I hope that it has an historical context merit.