Pierowall is the name of the only village on the Orkney island of Westray. The problem I had was how to pronounce it. The Westray accent is beautiful and soft and difficult to understand without extreme concentration. Pierowall must be pronounced ‘Pierrot-wall’ I thought at first. But then I heard a few people speak its name and ‘Pirro-wa’ seemed a better approximation. Then an incomer insisted on referring to is as ‘Pier-o-wall’ and that sounded sensible. I was getting nowhere and was nervous of even mentioning the name of the village to locals in case I got it so horribly wrong.
I decided to ask my friend Chris who lives on the Island. “Chris”, I said, “How do you pronounce the name of the village?” He looked at me carefully and said very, very slowly “T-h-e V-i-l-l-a-g-e.”
That’s clear then.