Planet excerpts

Another Europe: An Atlantic Archipelago
by Meic Llewellyn

More excerpts from Planet 223  

‘On medieval maps of Galicia,’ Manuel told us that afternoon, ‘Ireland was shown just over the horizon, a day’s sail away.’

‘We small cultures were an archipelago then, a hub,’ commented Xabi, ‘not the marginalised appendages of mighty nation states. Basque fishermen, Breton monks, the Welsh in their coracles and the Irish in their curraghs – we were in and out of each other’s ports like neighbours borrowing sugar and sharing gossip. Think of Gráinne Mhaol, trading gold and skins down to A Coruña from Mayo, or the Lords of the Isles, Gaelic speakers, who for centuries controlled the trade of the Atlantic from castles surrounded by sea.’

‘And isn’t a small boat the perfect metaphor for our small languages?’ asked Dwynwen. ‘Navigating through big seas that could swamp it, carrying and protecting its precious cultural cargo, and the way of life it encapsulates?’

Manuel runs Museo de Pobo Gallego – the Museum of the Galician People – in Santiago de Compostella; Xabi is a boatbuilder and seafarer from the maritime centre Albaola...

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