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In a story about The World's Longest Place Names posted several months ago we mentioned a famous Welsh village called Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch (58 letters), which in English means "Saint Mary's Church in the hollow of white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the Church of Saint Tysilio near the red cave". The locals call it Llanfairpwll (pronounced thlan vire puth).

An English website, Go! Britannia, said: "Thousands of visitors are attracted yearly to photograph its famous 15-ft long sign found on the railway station platform."

Andrew Wilbraham, Armor Officer, United States Army, Fort Knox, Kentucky, sent us this email: "Read your interesting article, but it missed one: Gorsafawddachaidraigodanheddogleddollonpenrhynareurdraethceredigion, which means 'The Mawddach Station with its dragon's teeth on the northerly Penrhyn drive on the golden beach of Cardigan Bay' (on the Fairbourne-Barmouth Railway)."

We checked it out. Sadly, its long name has no historic basis, and the Mawddach Station is merely part of a minitrain running on a 250-yard-long, 12.25-inch-gauge track as a tourist attraction. A minitrain website says the owner renamed a "golf halt" in an attempt to get into the Guinness Book of Records by making it the station with the longest name.

Here's another feedback item: In last month's story about Umiña, Goddess of Health, we had trouble reconciling two versions of the legend, and asked "Was Umiña an Aztec goddess or an Inca princess? Did she live in Manta (Ecuador) or Cuzco (Peru), capital city of the old Inca empire? Or were there two women named Umiña?"

Chilean photographer F. Bruno De La Mata has provided this partial answer: "Ecuador was part of Peru during the Spanish Conquest years. Simon Bolivar later made the intendencia de Ecuador into a [separate] country, as with Bolivia."

Copyright © 2003

Eric Shackle

Story first posted January 2003

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