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The Dindshenchas of Athleague – Áth Líac Find

Athleague

From The Metrical Dindshenchas Volume 4, pp 36 – 43: Poems 11 & 12

edited by Edward Gwynn

translated by Isolde Carmody

These poems were posted as part of “More Poems about Sinann”, a companion article to Series 1: Mythical Women – Episode 1: The Story of Sinann.

Any names or words with notes appear in bold, and the notes are at the end of both texts.

ÁTH LÍAC FIND I

MAELMURU cecinit

Mael Muru sings:

1.  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 is the forgetting that has blinded us

dia fárgab Find ailig ann?

since Find left his stone there?

2. Dia torchair, ba mór in cath,

When there fell – great was the battle –

coíca la trichait nónbar

Fifty, with thirty “nines”

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:

3. 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:

4. Dasuí Flathgus, gilla Find,

Flathgus, Find’s gillie, 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.

5. 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 battle.

6. 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,

robí Find in maten sin.

whom Find slew that morning

7. Dia n-erbairt Setna iarsin

When Setna uttered after that

a brethir co rath taith

His word, a false gift [??]

co m-briste fir fer co ngail

that the faith of true battle should be waged

for mac Umaill di Laignib.

upon Umall’s son of the Leinstermen:

8. Dia tánic Sinand iarsin,

When Sinann came after that –

ingen Mongáin as-sídib,

Daughter of Mongán from the fairy hills –

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.

9. 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,

10. 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. he die]

11. 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].

14. 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.

15. 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.

16. 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.

ÁTH LÍAC FIND II

1. 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?

2. Imairec catha, céim nglé,

There was a battle -famous march –

do mac Cumaill Almaine

between Cumall of Almu’s son

fri mílid in lethe atúaid,

and a warrior of the northern region,

fri mac Echdach abrat-rúaid.

the son of Eochaid Red-brows.

3. Doluid Sideng sel iarsin,

Then came “Silken” [?] for a while,

ingen Mongáin shaír shídig,

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

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.

4. 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.

5. 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

trén-chonchend na h-irgaile.

that strong hound-head of great fury.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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].

9. 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?

10. 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.

11. 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;

12. 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

NOTES

As with so many Dindshenchas stories and poems, there are two poems on Áth Líac Find.  They agree in most of the details and even the language, but there are some differences in personal names.  Where there is such a difference, this is included in the notes below.

Áth Lïac Find

“The Ford of Find’s Stone”, Athleague or Ballyleague, the Western part of Lanesborough, on the border of Counties Roscommon and Longford. Athleague is the ford over the Shannon on the Roscommon side, where the river entersLoch Ree.

See Hogan’s Onomasticon, Letter A

 

Bé Thuinne

Literally, “Lady of the Wave”.  is an honorific form of ben, “woman”, and is especially used of Otherworld women.  When discussing “The Story of Sinann”, we were struck by the image of a great wave coming from the sea and covering the land, thereby changing its shape.  That story was a kind of “Creation Story”, whereas the story told here is of the end of the world (see láu brátha etc. below).

coraul

“Hero-wounding”. Gwynn translates this word as “meeting”, quite arbitrarily, presumably dismissing the phrase as an unimportant “cheville”.  I have taken the word as a compound of caur, “hero, warrior”, and ail, “misfortune, wounding in battle”. It’s not a perfect analysis, but the best I could do!

Find / mac Umaill / mac Cumaill Almaine etc.

Find Mac Umaill, often Anglicised as “Fionn McCool”, the legendary poet-seer, hunter and warrior-chief of the Fían (“hunter / warrior band”).  His name, Find, is very ancient, meaning “fair” in the senses of “white” and “just” (see the article, “Many Shades of Darkness”).

There will be an entire series of Acallam na nÉces on this fascinating and important character, so watch this space!

Fland mac Finde abrat-ruaíd / Fland mac Echdach abrat-rúaid

The “enemy” of this piece is Fland, son of someone with red eyebrows (abrat-rúad).  I think there is a Eochaid Abrat-Rúaid named elsewhere, although I haven’t found the reference so far.

[NOTE: In one of the poems on Bóand (see “More Poems about Sinann“), Eochu Red-Brows is the Eochu said to give his name to Loch Neagh. – IC 29/05/13]

Guaire Goll

The word gúaire has two seemingly incompatible senses.  The first is in relation to “bristles, animal hair”, while the second is an epithet meaning “noble”, particularly applied to prominent persons known for their generosity.  The second element of the name, goll, means “one-eyed”, particularly of someone who has lost an eye in battle.  In many of the stories of Find, his friendly rival is Goll Mac Morna, and this “Gúaire Goll”, on whose shoulders the peculiar stone is laid, may be a tongue-in-cheek reference to Find’s ubiquitous rival.

láu brátha / lá in mesraigthe

Both these terms have the literal meaning “day of judgement”, with the former term the more usual expression for the Christian “end of days”.

Laigin

Leinster, the Eastern province of Ireland, or the Leinstermen.  Many terms like this can stand for both a geographical region and a population group.

 

Mag Lir

“The Plain of Lir”, a term for the sea. Lir is a mythological character associated with the sea, but appears more as an ancestor than as a character himself.  For example, Sinann is described (see “The Poems of Sinann”) as a daughter of Lodain, who is elsewhere given as a son of Lir.  The word lir has the implication of “numerous, multitudinous”, and is used as a poetic word for the sea in its own right.

 

Senach, Senchán and Bran / Bran and Senach and Sen

These are the three killed, apparently accidentally, when Find throws the stone into the ford.  The name Bran means “Raven”.  The other two, Sen[chán] and Senach, have names that are virtually identical, with meanings like “[Little} Old One” and “Elderly”.  Both are relatively common personal names, and many saints bear these names.  Indeed, there are supposed to be twelve saints, all called Senach, associated with an island in Loch Ree itself… more on that to come!

Sinand ingen Mongáin / Sideng ingen Mongáin

It is clear from the context that this is the same person, and only the Sinann who gives the river its name bears this name.  Her name seems to mean “Flowing One”, with particular relevance to the flowing of milk (see “The Story of Sinann”).  She is here given as daughter of Mongán, “Little Hairy One”. Mong is head-hair, locks or tresses.

The alternative name, Sideng, is more obscure.  The best I can manage as a meaning is “Silken” from síta, “silk”.  The combination of “flowing”, “tresses” and “silk” seem evocative of the great Shannon river flowing over the ford at Athleague.

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