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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 March, 2004, 18:00 GMT
Welsh village claims St Patrick
Saint Patrick plaque
It is hoped the plaque will attract tourists from across the world
A south Wales mining village is laying claim to be St Patrick's birthplace.

As Irishmen and women celebrate their patron saint's day a plaque has been unveiled at Banwen in the Dulais Valley where local people say he was born.

Many historians generally accept that as a teenager he was kidnapped and taken to Ireland as a slave.

But there is some debate about Banwen's claims although villagers say they are in no doubt and hope to attract tourists from far and wide.

The story of Patrick and Banwen has been around as long as people can remember
George Brinley Evans

Author George Brinley Evans has had a long-standing interest in the legend because he was told as a child that St Patrick was born on his grandfather's farm.

"When you are eight years of age and someone tells you that St Patrick was born on your grandfather's farm you think 'That's one up for me'," he said.

Confessions

"The story of Patrick and Banwen has been around as long as people can remember.

"Now we've got a lovely shiny plaque at the side of the Roman road to prove it.

"Banwen was a very important Roman fort and in his confessions this is what he brings up time and time again - that he was a Roman Britain who could speak Latin and British or Welsh.

"He does say that he was kidnapped at sixteen years of age and they know from his confessions that he came from a prosperous place.

"It's nice to see the plaque there because I have been writing a little bit about Patrick and the more you read about Patrick the more you realise what a really good man he was."

The plaque has been paid for by the Dulais Valley Partnership community regeneration group.

But according to Irish historian Barry Tobin, Banwen's claims will not go down well in Ireland.

"Irish people don't like being told St Patrick was a Welshman - they don't like it all," he explained.

"They really would like to think that St Patrick was the world's greatest Irishman."


SEE ALSO:
Lively St Patrick's Day kicks off
17 Mar 04  |  Northern Ireland
St Patrick's festival kicks off
06 Mar 04  |  England
In pictures: St Patrick's Day
17 Mar 04  |  In Pictures


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