EWSNEWS – January 2021

The story so far

Sunday 20 December 2020. Zoom Christmas service at 3.00pm

Margaret Brandie, with splendid technical support from Chris and Olivia, devised our Christmas carol service to which all were welcomed, and thirty came. Margaret used the mute button with discretion, so we could all sing the lovely Welsh carols and hear clearly the five Bible readings, some Welsh, some English, with the words displayed on the screen. There was time afterwards to greet new members and guests and catch up with everyone over a virtual cup of tea and mince pie, before we waved goodbye – till next time.

Society news

I am so sorry to be bringing more sad news to us all. I heard recently from Fiona that her lovely mum, Anne Roberts, widow of Caradog, had died peacefully on 28 December in Morningside Manor.

Anne contributed in many ways to the life of our Society, and will be warmly remembered for her sense of humour, her expertise in judging our various cookery attempts, (dressed in full chef uniform and wielding a large cleaver as she informed us that the judge’s decision would be FINAL!) and by members young and old for her exquisite Christmas biscuits, without which our vestry teas would not have been complete. Our deepest sympathies go to Fiona and Gavin and their family.

In these unbelievably difficult times Fiona and Gavin are unable to travel from Yorkshire for Anne’s funeral on Tuesday 12 January. They have invited Huw and Lilian John and me to represent the Welsh Society, which we are honoured to do. For anyone wishing to be a part of the service there will be a live webcast at 11.30am, which can be viewed live or, after an interval of three days, viewed again for a further 28 days. If you didn’t receive my email, please email gro.yteicoshslewhgrubnidenull@yraterces and ask for the links.

And here is another contribution from Hedd …

What’s in a Name – St Clears

St Clears will be familiar to any Carmarthenshire resident. It lies on the river Taf and alongside the A40.

The name is somewhat of a mystery as the town came to prominence when the Normans invaded the area. In many cases (such as Laugharne – Talacharn), they simply adapted the given name of the surrounding Commotte to re-christen the place in question. Around St Clears were the Commottes of Amgoed, Peuliniog, Ystlwyf and Penrhyn, but, strangely, none of these were chosen.

Of the many theories as to the name’s origin, a great percentage can be partly disproved – sometimes, on the grounds of spelling. However, spelling and pronunciation changed over a short period of time during and after the Norman invasion so that is likely to be a flawed argument. In various historical documents, Clears has been spelt as Clear, Clere, Cleer, Claire, Clara and Cler – none of which gives any clue as to origin!

In the early 1900s, it was recorded that the word ‘clare’ was used as an adjective (meaning ‘pure and undefiled’) rather than as the name of a person (noun). That would give the town’s meaning as ‘church of the Virgin Mary’ – a common practice in the naming of towns. The difficulty with accepting this explanation is that the Church and Holy Well of St Clears are dedicated to Mary Magdalen!

The earliest explanation (and my personal favourite) cites the story of a pious lady who founded the town in the 6th century. Her name was Lady Santa Clara. However, as the town’s name does not appear to be recorded until the 12th century, this may well be simple folk lore!

The castle motte – a huge mound of earth above the town – was allegedly used by travelling bards for poetry and music competitions in earlier days. The Irish word for ‘minstrel’ is ‘clair’ – which gives yet another string to St Clears’s bow.

Over to your readers to solve this mystery!

Thank you, Hedd.

Stay safe and I hope to see you via Zoom soon.


Jennifer Welsher – Ysgrifenyddes CCD / Secretary EWS