AMBASSADOR'S BLOG - MY WELSH GREAT-GRANDFATHER

28.02.11




1 March is St David’s Day, named after the patron saint of Wales who died in 589.  I'm part-Welsh: my great-grandfather John Derfel (photo below) came from the the town of Llanderfel in north Wales and was the son of the Welsh poet and political writer Robert Jones Derfel (for the Welsh-language Wikipedia entry, click here). According to family lore, Robert Jones Derfel took the name “Derfel” because the winner of the Bardic poem at the national Eisteddfod, a Welsh festival of literature, music and performance, was encouraged to take his birthplace as a last name as  a distinction.  The name “Derfel” continues in our family to this day.

Robert Derfel

Wales has played an important part in the development of Ukraine.  John Hughes founded the town of industrial city of Hughesovka in 1896, which has grown into Donetsk, one of Ukraine's largest and most dynamic cities.  Donetsk has a fine statute of John Hughes and there is also an excellent beer named in his honour.  Meanwhile the industrial city of Luhansk, in the east of the country (and which in turn was founded by the Scot Charles Gascoigne or ”Karl Gaskoin", who established an iron foundry there in 1795) is twinned with Cardiff; and Zakarpattia oblast, in the far west of the country, is twinned with Wales.  Wales, like Ukraine, is a country with two languages (in this case Welsh and English), although with a different language policy from Ukraine.  Finally, and somewhat tenuously, I have attended two events in Kyiv recently at which people have been dancing to music by the talented Welsh singer Duffy.

Wikipedia has a good page on Wales, illustrating one of the world’s coolest flags (featuring a red dragon) and national symbols including the daffodil and the leek.  You can find more about St David’s Day at the Wales.com portal. Finally, to anyone who has not visited Wales on holiday, I can strongly recommend it having spent my summer holidays there in 2009.  A couple of photos illustrating the extreme beauty of North Wales are below.

 At the summit of Snowdon         

At the summit of Snowdon

 Walking in Wales      

Walking in Wales   

Leigh Turner
British Ambassador to Ukraine

NOTE:  You can read all of Ambassador Turner's blogs by visiting: http://blogs.fco.gov/roller/turner 



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