Laura Keeney

A selfie by Laura

I’m from New York, USA, and I have a couple of reasons for learning Welsh.
When we met in 2013, my now-husband and I learned that we share a love of weird sci-fi TV and movies, and one of the first we devoured together was a 1960s-era show called The Prisoner. If you’re not familiar, The Prisoner revolves around a British secret agent, played by Patrick McGoohan, who is kidnapped and held captive in a bizarre village by a shady group of folks trying to discover his secrets. The show mixes intrigue, style and sci-fi elements into a weird amalgam of storytelling, and the physical setting plays as much a character as the human actors do — seriously, the mash-up of Italianate buildings look like they were constructed by a child and painted with Technicolor. It adds so much depth to the dream-like qualities of the show. Imagine my surprise when I learned The Village was not a set, and instead was a real place: Portmeirion, Wales! I added it to my bucket list of places I wanted to visit someday.
Fast forward to 2022. Our planned wedding was cancelled twice due to the pandemic, and we were quite honestly, over the idea of trying to plan it a third time. I also had a big monumental birthday during lockdown, with no fanfare, which was weird. When we learned one of our shared favourite bands, Mclusky (from Cardiff!) was reuniting for a UK tour, we decided to use some of our wedding money to book tickets to Manchester for a show. (Our families thought we were nuts, but it wasn’t the first time, and won’t be the last.) Anyhow, we planned to continue into northern Wales to visit Eryri National Park, and Ynys Môn/Anglesey. My then-fiance proposed we elope in Portmeirion. So we did, on April 6th (Prisoner fans should realise why we chose the 6th! )
All of this long-windedness to say that I wanted to learn Welsh before we went on our trip, so I enrolled!
The second reason is that I grew up hearing from both my geneology-loving gran and my great-aunt that my family has a considerable amount of Welsh heritage. I’ve since confirmed several ancestors from northern and eastern Wales using genealogy and DNA tools, which has been super fun!
So, here I am. I want to try to help keep the language of my ancestors alive, and discover more about myself in the process.