story Archaeology

Exploring stories in the landscape

Revisiting Sinann’s Other Poems

From the Metrical Dindshenchas, Volume 4, edited by Edward Gwynn

translated by Isolde ÓBrolcháin Carmody

pp 36 – 43: Poems 11 & 12

Note: It may seem hard to believe, but in our podcast episode, Revisiting Sinann, we didn’t jump up and down shouting about the link between Sinann and Mongán! We compared her poetic quest to Mongán’s, but didn’t pick up on her name as given in the Áth Líac Find poems – Sinann (or Sideng) ingen Mongáin – daughter of Mongán. This gives even more strength to the idea of the main Sinann story as an “origin story” for Imbas.

IÓBC, 2015


MAELMURU cecinit

Mael Muru sings:

 Áth Lïac Find, cid diatá,

The Ford of Find’s Stone, from what is it [named]

cid nách sluinni nach sencha?

Why does no historian name it?

císsi díchumne roddall,

What forgetting has blinded us

dia fárgab Find ailig ann?

since Find left his stone there?


 Dia torchair, ba mór in cath,

When there fell – great was the battle –

coíca la trichait nónbar

Fifty, with thirty “nines” [battle-groups?]

im thrí maccu Cirb co m-búaid

Including the three victorious sons of Cirb

lotar la sruth anairthúaid.

who came along the stream from the north-west.


Dia torchratar issind áth

When there fell, in the ford,

cethri Conaill, dá Cholmán,

four Conalls, two Colmans,

cethri Suibni, dá mac Bricc,

four Suibnes, two sons of Brecc,

cethri Dubthaig, dá Diarmait.

four Dubthachs, two Diarmaits.


Dasuí Flathgus, gilla Find,

Flathgus, Find’s servant, turned

a gnúis ri gáir n-écomlaind,

his face toward the cry of the over-matched:

docersat laiss, airm ir-ran,

He felled, where he stood at bay,

cethri cethrair, dá nónbar.

four fours and two nines.


Da torpart dond áth atuaíth

When he assailed the ford from the north –

Fland mac Finde abrat-ruaíd:

Fland son of Find Red-brows;

marbais coíca, comul ngle,

he slew fifty – famous meeting –

tri conchend na h-ergaile.

that hound-head of the battalion.


Dia n-éccid, foichne a scél,

When he was slain – the cause of the story –

foceirt in sluag i trom-nél

It put the troop into a heavy cloud [of despair]

díth maic Connath di Maig Lir

the loss of the son of Conna from Mag Lir

[lit. the Plain of the Sea – sometimes meaning from overseas]

robí Find in maten sin.

whom Find slew that morning


Dia n-erbairt Setna iarsin

When Setna spoke, after that,

a brethir co rath taith

His word, a unifying gift,

co m-briste fir, fer co ngail,

that true victory, valiant man,

for mac Umaill di Laignib.

would be with Umall’s son [i.e. Find] of the Leinstermen.


Dia tánic Sinand iarsin,

When Sinann came after that –

ingen Mongáin as-sídib,

Daughter of Mongán from the síd-mounds –

dobert líc co slabraid óir

She gave a stone with a golden chain

do Fhind mac Umaill alt-móir.

to Find, son of great-jointed Umall.


Rigis Find a láim iarsin

Then Find stretched out his hand

don liicc thrén tréochair

for the strong three-sided stone

co tuc a cend buí for muin

and gave [a pledge] by the head that was on the shoulders

Guairi guill fothroelagair,

of Guaire Goll who carried it,


Ná melta riss, ruathor gargg,

That he would not use – fierce his onset –

acht gaí nó chlaidib nó chalg:

Anything but spear or sword or rapier:

ba óen a gessa iar tain

it was one of his gessa after that,

comrac a thoíb ri talmain.

 [If he break it?] may his side touch the ground. [i.e. may he die]


Danarlaic iarsin sin n-áth,

Then he hurled it [the stone] into the ford

tan donnánic a lond-bág,

when his battle-frenzy came upon him:

Senach, Senchán acus Bran,

Senach, Senchán and Bran

conid de darochratar.

Were killed by that [cast].


Iarsin iarum rogab foss

So it came to rest then

issind lind lán lethan-glass,

in the full, broad-green pool,

conatorchratar for tráig

until it be cast upon the shore

dia domnaig im thignáir.

on a Sunday at the hour of matins.


Fagaib ingen maten de,

A girl will find it that morning,

dianid comainm Bé Thuinne;

whose name is Lady of the Wave:

foceird a cois-sliasait cóir,

she will put her perfect foot

arind erdrolam dergg-óir.

upon the hoop of red gold.


Ré secht m-blíadna iarsuidiu

A space of seven years after that

co bruinniu lathi brátha:

Until the edge of Judgement Day:

ní fríth buith immerthas:

never have I been found amiss:

issed senchas ind átha.

that is the history of the ford.


Ath Líac Find, cía lía diatá,

Ath Liac Find – from what stone comes it[s name]?

finnat dúinn na senchada:

let the historians enquire for us:

cía díchuimne rodondall,

what forgetfulness has blinded us

tan forfácaib a líc and?

[since] the time when he [i.e. Find] left his stone there?


Imairec catha, céim nglé,

There was a battle – famous march –

do mac Cumaill Almaine

by Cumall of Almu’s son

fri mílid in lethe atúaid,

against a warrior of the northern region,

fri mac Echdach abrat-rúaid.

against the son of Eochaid Red-brows.

[In Bóand I, below, mention is made of Eochu Abrat-rúaid, after whom Loch Neagh is named]


Doluid Sideng sel iarsin,

Then came Sideng [“Silken”?] for a while,

ingen Mongáin shaír shídig,

the daughter of noble [.it. “free”] Mongan of the Síd,

co tuc líc co slabraid óir

and gave a stone with a golden chain

d’ Fhind mac Cumaill maic Thrénmóir.

to Find son of Cumall son of Trénmór.


And dorat Find a líc luind

Then Find laid the keen stone,

‘sin chath for muin Guairi guill,

in the battle, on the shoulders of Guaire Goll,

co tairnic airmed a shlóig,

until the ennumeration of his company was completed

ó thráth éirge co h-iarnóin.

[it took] from day-break to afternoon.


Gáiris asin leith atúaid

He shouted from the northern side –

Fland mac Echdach abrat-rúaid:

Fland son of Eochaid red-brows –

roríast a chruth, coraul nglé,

he twisted [?] his shape, famous hero-wounding [? Gwynn: “meeting”]

trén-chonchend na h-irgaile.

that strong hound-head of great fury.


Sínid Find a láim iarsin

Then Find stretched [out] his hand

dia líc tréuill tréochair,

For his triple-great three-edged stone,

co tuc in oind baí for muin

and took the stone that was on the shoulders

Guairi guill forróeblangair.

Of Guaire Goll who bore it.


Adrochratar isin áth

There fell in the ford

cethri Conaill, dá Cholmán,

four Conalls, two Colmans,

cethri Suibni, dá mac Bricc,

four Suibnes, two sons of Brecc,

cethri Dubthaig, dá Diarmait.

four Dubthachs, two Diarmaits.


Tarlaic Find a lía ‘sa n-áth

Find hurled his stone into the ford

ón uair tánic a lond-láth:

When his battle-frenzy came upon him:

Bran ocus Senach is Sen,

Bran and Senach and Sen

is deshin dorochratar.

Were killed by that [cast].


Dorochair in lia ‘sin lind,

The stone fell in the pool

dia n-dernad enech fíal-Fhind:

where generous Find’s honour was made

iarum nochonfhagaib nech,

After which no one may find it –

conach é in sét somaínech?

is that not the precious treasure?


Fongeib ingen, comul nglé,

A girl will find it – famous union –

dianid comainm Bé Thuinde:

Whose name will be Lady of the Wave:

foceird a coisslíasait cóir

She will put her perfect leg

trena aurdrolam n-derg-óir.

through its hoop of red gold.


Co motarraing súas iarsin

When she draws it up after that –

in lía sin cona drolaib,

that stone with its loops [i.e. chain] –

conidfargaib forsin tráig

when she leaves it on the shore

dia domnaig isin tiugnáir.

on a Sunday at the hour of matins.


Secht m-blíadna iarsin, sásad nglé,

Seven years after that – famous fulfillment –

co tí lathe in mesraigthe,

until the day of judgement

conid h-é sin gním diatá

So that is the action from which comes

dindshenchas in deg-átha. Áth.

the history of the name of the good ford – Áth Liac Find


From The Metrical Dindshenchas, Volume 3, edited by Edward Gwynn

translated by Isolde ÓBrolcháin Carmody

pp 26 – 39: Poems 2 & 3

Boand I

[There is an attested Celtic name, “Bovinda” = “White Cow”, which would come down to Old Irish as “Bóand”.  It even shares a linguistic root with Sanskrit “govinda”.  The river itself gives Meath its fertility and access to the East Coast of Ireland at Drogheda.]


Síd Nechtain sund forsin t-shléib,

Sid Nechtain is [the name of] this mountain,

[Nechtain = “clean, pure, white”]

lecht mic Labrada lán-géir,

the grave of the full-keen son of Labraid

assa silenn in sruth slán

from which flows the untainted river

dianid ainm Bóand bith-lán.

whose name is Boand ever-full.


Cóic anmand déc, demne drend,

Fifteen names – assurance of conflict –

forsin t-shruth-sin adrímem,

are on this stream we enumerate,

otá Síd Nechtain asmaig

from where Sid Nechtain is, out there

co roshaig pardus Adaim.

till it reaches the paradise of Adam.


Segais a hainm issin t-shíd

Segais was her [i.e. the river’s] name in the Sid

ria cantain duit in cach thír:

to be sung by you in every land:

Sruth Segsa a hainm otá-sin

Stream of Segais is her name from there

co Lind Mochúi in chlérig.

to the pool of Mochua the cleric.


Otá Topur Mochúi chóir

From where is the well of proper Mochua

co cocrích Midi mag-móir

to the boundaires of Meath’s wide plain,

Rig mná Nuadat ‘s a Colptha

the Arm of Nuada’s Wife and her Leg are

a dá ainm ána imarda.

the two splendid and exalted names.


Otá cocrích Midi maiss

From the boundaries of goodly Meath

corrici in fairgi fondglaiss

till she reaches the green bed of the sea

Mór-Chuing Argait gairther di,

she is called the Great Silver Yoke

ocus Smir Find Fedlimthi.

and the White Marrow of Fedlimid.


Trethnach-Tond ósin immach

[Sea-]Stormy Wave from there onwards

connici Cúalnge cráibach.

Until she reaches branchy Cualnge.

Sruth Findchuill ó Chúalnge chrúaid

The Stream of the White Hazel from hard Cualnge

co Loch n-Echach Abrat-rúaid.

to the lake of Eochu Red-Brows [i.e. Lough Neagh].

[Note: in Áth Líac Find II, above, the battle is between Find and Eochaid Abrat-Rúaid]


Banna ó Loch Echach cen ail,

Bann [is her name] from faultless Lough Neagh:

Drumchla Dílenn co h-Albain;

Roof[-tree] of the Ocean [over] to Scotland:

Lunnand hí i n-Albain cen ail

Lunnand [= “Pooled”?] she is in faultless Scotland –

nó is Turrann iarna tucsain.

or Torrand [“Thunderous”?], according to its meaning.


Sabrann dar tír Saxan slán,

Severn [she is called] across the land of the untroubled Saxons,

Tibir i ráith na Román,

Tiber within the Romans’ ramparts:

Sruth n-Iordanen iarsain sair,

Then River Jordan in the east

ocus Sruth n-Eufrait adbail.

and vast River Euphrates.


Sruth Tigir i pardus búan,

River Tigris in enduring paradise,

fota sair, síst fri himlúad:

[she is] long in the east, a time for movement

ó phardus darís ille

from paradise back again here

co srothaib na síde-se.

to the streams of this Síd.


Bóand a h-ainm coitchend cain

Boand is her accepted pleasant name

otá in síd co fairge fraig:

from the Síd to the sea-wall;

mebur lim aní diatá

I have in mind the cause of it[s name].

usce mná mic Labrada.

the water of the wife of Labraid’s son.


Nechtain mac Labrada laind,

Nechtain son of bold Labraid

diarbo ben Bóand, bágaimm,

whose wife was Boand, I proclaim;

topur diamair bói ‘na dún,

there was a secluded well in his fort,

assa maided cech mí-rún.

from which burst forth every bad mystery.


Ní fhail nodécced dia lár

No one could look on its surface

nach maided a dá rosc rán:

without bursting his two splendid eyes:

dia ngluased do chlí nó deis,

if he should move to left or right,

ní thargad úad cen athis.

he would not come from it without disfigurement.


Aire níslaimed nech de

Therefore no one dared [approach] it

acht Nechtain ‘s a deogbaire:

except for Nechtain and his cup-bearers:

it é a n-anmand, fri gním nglan,

These are their names, [famed] for pure deed,

Flesc is Lam ocus Luäm.

Rod” and “Hand” and “Pilot”.


Fecht and dolluid Bóand bán –

One day, white Boand came here,

dosfuargaib a dímus n-án –

– her splendid misjudgement  prompted her –

cosin topur cen tarta

to the well, without being thirsty,

d’airigud a chumachta.

to observe its power.


Immar rothimchill fo thrí

As she walked round [it] three times,

in topur co n-étuachli,

[around] the well unwarily,

maidit teora tonna de

three waves burst from it,

dia tánic aided Bóinne.

From which came the violent death of Boand.


Rosiacht cach tond díb ria chuit,

Each wave of them sought [to strike] against its part,

romillset in mnái mbláth-buic:

they crushed the soft-blooming woman;

tond ria cois, tond ria súil sláin,

a wave against her foot, a wave against her perfect eye,

tres tond brisid a leth-láim.

the third wave shatters one hand.


Rethis co fairgi, ferr de,

She rushed to the sea – it was better for her –

d’ imgabáil a hathise,

to flee from her disfigurement,

ar nách acced nech a cned:

so that none might see her wound[s];

furri féin a himathber.

on herself [fell] her reproach.


Cach conair dolluid in ben

Every way the woman went

moslúi in t-usce úar imgel:

the cold bright water followed

ón t-shíd co fairgi nách fand,

from the Síd to the sea – it was not weak –

conid di gairthir Bóand.

so that from this [the river] is called Boand.


Bóand do bruinni ar mbrúich braiss

Boand from the bosom of our mighty river-bank,

máthair Oengussa oll-maiss,

the mother of greatly beautiful Óengus,

mac ruc don Dagda, miad nglé,

the son she bore to the Dagda – clear dignity –

dar cend fir na síde-se. S.

over the head [i.e. behind the back] of the man of this SÍd.


Nó Bóand ocus find

Or, Boand is “cow” and “fair

do chomrac in dá ríg-lind,

from the meeting of the two royal waters,

in t-usce a sléib Guaire glé

the water from bright Sliab Guaire

ocus sruth na síde-se. S.

and the stream of the síds here.


Dabilla ainm in chon chóir

Dabilla, the name of the proper dog

robói oc mnái Nechtain nár-móir,

who belonged to the wife of Nechtain, great and noble,

messán Bóinne co mblaid

the lap-dog of famous Boand,

luid ina diaid dia torchair.

which went after her when she was killed.


Rosróen sruth in mara immach

The sea-current swept it away,

corrici na cairge clach,

until it reached the stony rocks;

co ndernsat dá gabait de,

and they made two portions of it, [i.e. cut it in half]

conid úad rohainmnigthe.

so that they were named from that.


Atát i n-airthiur Breg mbrass

They stand to the east of mighty Breg,

in dí chloich ‘sin loch lind-glass;

the two stones in the green-pooled lake:

Cnoc Dabilla ósin ille

The Hill of Dabilla [is so called] from that day to this

di choin bic na síde-se. S.

from the little dog of the Síd.


 Boand II

A Máilshechlainn mic Domnaill

O Maelsechlainn son of Domnall

do chlainn ingine Comgaill,

of the family of Comgall’s daughter:

adcós duit, a máil Mide,

I will tell you, O exalted of Meath,

senchas Bóinde báin-gile.

the history of white bright Boand.


Bóand, bendacht forsin sruth

Boand – a blessing on the stream

roordaig Críst co cóem-chruth,

that fair-formed Christ ordained;

conid hí ó glenn do glenn

so that she, from glen to glen,

sruth Eorthanan na Hérenn.

[is] the river Jordan of Ireland.


Find Life, Find Gaileóin gairb,

Find of the Liffey, [and] fierce Find of the Gaileon,

do chomóentaid dá chomainm,

from the union of two like names,

dia comrac atá Mag Find,

from their meeting is the Fair Plain [named]:

Find lúath Life ocus Mífind.

swift Find Liphe and Mifind.


Oén Find díb-sin, beres búaid,

One of these two Finds – it grasps victory –

sech tóeb Temrach anairthúaid:

[flows] past the side of Tara from the north-east:

ann comrecat ‘con chommar

there at the confluence it meets

ocus Bóand bán-bronnat.

with white-breasted Boand.


Bó Gúairi sech Tailtin tair

Bo Guaire which, eastward past Tailtiu

siles tre Loch Munremair:

flows through Loch Munremair,

Bó Gúairi ainm na haba

Bo Guaire is the name of the river

ria ráiter in mór-Banna.

which after [that point?] is called great Bann..


Mar atá Ordan is An,

As there is “Dignity” and “Water

ó’ ráiter sruth Eorthanan,

from which the river Jordan is called,

in Bóand ocus Find,

[so] Boand is “Cow” and “Fair

do chomrac in dá ríg-lind.

from the meeting of the two royal waters.


Tánic Bóand ann andes

Boand came there from the south,

ben Nechtain cosin cairdes

the wife of Nechtain, to the love-making

co tech Elcmairi na n-ech,

to the house of Elcmar of the horses,

fer dobered mór ndeg-breth.

a man that gave many good judgements.


Is ann dorala in Dagda

It is there that the Dagda came

i tig Elcmairi amra:

into the wondrous house of Elcmar:

rogab for guide na mná:

he began pleading with the woman:

rodusasáit re hóen-lá.

he brought her to the birth in a single day.


Is ann fastaitís in ngréin

It was then they stopped the sun

co cend nói mís, mór in scél,

til the end of nine months – a great story

ic gorad in rafheóir ráin

warming the splendid great grass

i cléithi in aeóir imláin.

in the roof-tree of the perfect sky.


And asbert in ben abus

Then the woman said here:

“Comrac rit, bad é m’óen-gus“:

“Meeting with you, that was my one passion

“Is bad Oengus ainm in meicc”

“And Óengus shall be the boy’s name,”

asbert Dagda tre daigbeirt.

said the Dagda, through good judgement.


Luid Bóand ó thig co tric

Boand went from the house suddenly

dús dá tairsed in tiprait:

to see if she could reach the well:

derb lé docheiled a col

she would be sure of hiding her adultery

da soised ló a fothrucod.

if she could succeed in washing [in it].


A thrí deogbaire in drúad,

The druid’s three cup-bearers

Flesc ocus Lesc ocus Lúam,

Rod”, and “Sloth” [perh. In error for Lam, “Hand”, above?], and “Pilot”,

Nechtain mac Námat dorat

That Nechtain son of “Enemy” set

do chomét a chóem-thiprat.

to guard his fair well.


Doruacht chucu Bóand mín

To them came gentle Boand

dochum na tiprat iar fír:

toward the well, truly,

ércid tairsi in tobar tenn,

the powerful well rose over her,

corosbáid hí cen forcenn.

so that it drowned her in the end.


Dogabad uirre in cach trácht

She [the river] was dammed on both shores

nách soised inber na mbárc

so that it would not reach the shipping estuary.

ic Máelmórda, mét ratha,

by Maelmorda – great his wealth –

ic mac maisech Murchada.

by the goodly son of Murchad.


Dorónad trócaire Dé

God’s charity was practised

for leith Chuind don chomairle,

on Conn’s Half [i.e. the Northern half of Ireland]  on that advice,

coréló in aidchi déin daill

so that it escaped the swift blind night

chucut, a Máil féil Sechlaind.

For you, O generous Maelsechlainn.

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