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The Llŷn Peninsula ( ) extends into the Irish Seamarker from north west Walesmarker, southwest of the island of Angleseymarker. It is part of the modern county and historic region of Gwyneddmarker. The name is thought to be of Irish origin, and to have the same root — Laigin (Laighin) in Irish — as the word Leinster. The name Llŷn is also sometimes spelled Lleyn, an antiquated spelling which is less common today than in the past and is generally considered to be an anglicisation which ignores the phonetic values of Welsh.

Llŷn is notable for its large number of protected sites — including a National Nature Reserve at Cors Geirchmarker, a National Heritage Coastline and a European Marine Special Area of Conservation as well as twenty Sites of Special Scientific Interest. The Llŷn Coastal Pathmarker long distance footpath enables walkers to fully explore both coasts of the peninsula. The Welsh Language and Heritage Centre of Nant Gwrtheyrn is situated on the north coast. Much of the coastline and the ex-volcanic hills are part of the Llŷn Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), confirming the peninsula as one of the most scientifically important in both Wales and Britain. In 1984 there was an earthquakemarker beneath the peninsula, which measured 5.4 on the Richter Scale and was felt in many parts of Irelandmarker and western Britainmarker.

Historically, the peninsula was used by pilgrims en route to Bardsey Islandmarker (Welsh Ynys Enllimarker), and its relative isolation has helped to conserve the Welsh language and culture, for which the locality is now famous. This perceived remoteness from urban life has lent the area an unspoilt image which has made Llŷn a popular destination for both tourists and holiday home owners, although holiday homes remain a bone of contention among locals, many of whom are forced out of the housing market by incomers. In the 1970s, 80s and 90s, a shadowy group known as Meibion Glyndŵr claimed responsibility for several hundred arson attacks on holiday homes using incendiary devices. Some of these attacks took place in Llŷn .

Welsh Language

Prior to 2001, there had been a decline in Welsh speakers in the Gwyneddmarker region which includes the Llŷn Peninsula. According to the 2001 census the number of Welsh speakers in Wales increased for the first time in over 100 years, with 20.5% in a population of over 2.9 million claiming fluency in Welsh, or one in five. Additionally, 28% of the population of Wales claimed to understand Welsh. However, the number of Welsh speakers declined in Gwyneddmarker from 72.1% in 1991 to 68.7% in 2001. By 2003 however, a survey of schools showed that just over 94% of children between 3 and 15 were able to speak Welsh, making Llŷn one of the foremost heartlands for the language, though — as with the rest of northwest Wales — many people are concerned that the influx of English speakers is damaging the standing of Welsh and threatening its future as a living community language in the area.

Tân yn Llŷn 1936

Concern for the Welsh language was ignited in 1936 when the UK government settled on establishing a bombing school at Penyberthmarker on the Peninsula. The events surrounding the protest became known as Tân yn Llŷn (Fire in Llŷn). The UK government settled on Llŷn as the site for its new bombing school after similar locations Northumberlandmarker and Dorsetmarker were met with protests. However, British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin refused to hear the case against the bombing school in Wales, despite a deputation representing half a million Welsh protesters. Protest against the bombing school was summed up by Saunders Lewis when he wrote that the British government was intent upon turning one of the 'essential homes of Welsh culture, idiom, and literature' into a place for promoting a barbaric method of warfare. On 8 September 1936 the bombing school building was set on fire by Saunders Lewis, Lewis Valentine, and D.J. Williams, who immediately gave themselves up to the police and claimed responsibility. The trial at Caernarfon failed to agree on a verdict and the case was sent to the Old Baileymarker in London. The "Three" were sentenced to nine months' imprisonment in Wormwood Scrubsmarker, and on their release they were greeted as heroes by fifteen thousand Welsh at a pavilion in Caernarfonmarker.

Relationship between the property market and use of the Welsh language

The local decline in use of Welsh in Llŷn has been attributed to non Welsh speakers buying properties for use as holiday homes, or for retirement, and driving up property prices above what local Welsh speakers can afford. The rise in house prices has outpaced average earnings in Wales, meaning that many local people could not afford to purchase their first home. The issue of locals being priced out of the local housing market is common to many rural communities throughout Britain, but in Wales the added dimension of language further complicates the issue, as many new residents did not learn the Welsh language.


Settlements on the Llŷn peninsula include:


Hills in Llŷn include:


  1. Census shows Welsh language rise Friday, 14 February, 2003 extracted 12-04-07
  2. Cymuned: 'What’s happening in Cymraeg-speaking communities'. Evidence by Welsh-speakers, including many from Llŷn, compiled by Cymuned in spring 2006 as evidence for presentation to the National Assembly for Wales Culture Committee.
  3. John Davies, A History of Wales, Penguin, 1994, ISBN 0-14-014581-8, page 593
  4. Davies, op cit, page 592
  5. Property prices in England and Wales Wednesday, 8 August, 2001, extracted 24 Jan 2008
  6. House prices outpacing incomes Monday, 3 December, 2001, extracted 24 Jan 2008
  7. Apology over 'insults' to English, BBC Wales, 3 September, 2001
  8. Double tax for holiday home owners Thursday, 16 December, 1999, extracted 24 Jan 2008
  9. Controls on second homes reviewed Wednesday, 5 September, 2001 extracted 24 Jan 2008
  10. Gwynedd considers holiday home curb Tuesday, 9 April, 2002, extracted 24 Jan 2008

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