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The Dindshenchas of Brug na Bóinde, Boyne Valley, Co. Meath

The Metrical Dindshenchas, Volume 2

Poem 3, pp 19 – 25


The Boyne River Valley

The Boyne River Valley


The first Dindshenchas poem we looked at in this episode was the second of the poems on “Brug na Bóinde”, the Boyne Valley complex of Co. Meath which specifically centres on Newgrange.  We didn’t go through every stanza in the episode, since there were some for which we could find no further information.  If you know something about the characters, places or incidents mentioned, why not let us know by leaving a comment?

The English translation here is by Chris, and is more properly a translation of Gwynn’s English! It has been translated for readability, so occasionally leaves out a “cheville” (a stock phrase used to complete a line of poetry in accordance with the syllable count and rhyming scheme of a particular metre), where nothing much is added to the sense of the poem.  Indeed, these are often the most difficult to translate well, as their function within the poem is mostly about the sound and rhythm of the words themselves.  Where there is such a mis-match between the Irish and the translation, I have bracketted the relevant word or phrase.

You can read Gwynn’s original translation here.


Brug Na Bóinde II

Macnia Mac Oengusa cecinit.


A chóemu Breg, bríg nad bréc,

O nobles of Breg, with your honest strength,

co rinnib reb, [rígda in rót:]

Your deeds worth the telling,

in eol dúib senchas cech thuir

Do you know the tale of every monument

fuil sund i m-Bruig mic ind Óc?

Here in the Brug of the Mac ind Óc?


Fégaid in síd ar bar súil,

Here before your eyes, is the famous fairy mound;

is fodeirc dúib, is treb ríg,

You can clearly see, it is a king’s dwelling,

rogníth lasin Dagda n-dúr,

It was built by the diligent Dagda.

ba dín, ba dún, amra bríg.

It was a shelter and a safe strong keep.


Fégaid Imdai n-Dagdai deirg:

Do you see the Bed of the ruddy faced Dagda?

forsind leirg, cen galmai n-gairg;

A soft slope it is, lacking rough ridges;

rofer surge sóir iar seilg

After the chase, he courteously courted

fri mnái cóim cen meirg cen mairg.

A fair and ever-youthful woman.


Fégaid Dá Cích rígnai ind ríg

Let us view the Two Paps of the king’s consort

sund iar síd fri síd-blai síar:

Here beyond the mound, west of the fairy mansion:

áit rogénair Cermait cóem

The spot where Cermait the fair was born;

fégaid for róen, ní céim cían.

It lies directly on your path, hardly a step away.


Dia luid ben mic Námat náir

Here came the wife of noble Námat’s son

i n-dáil ar chend Dagdai déin,

To an assignation with the Dagda,

ocus in cú in a díad,

Her dog followed after her,

ciarbo thurus cian do chéin.

Even though the journey was long for them.


Dia luid Midir a Brí Léith

Here also came Midir from Brí Leith

fri tócbáil tréith, ba fó fríth:

To carry away a baby prince, it was a happy outcome;

co tuc mac ind Oc ónd áth

For he bore the Mac ind Óc from the ford,

co scíath ‘na scáth, ciarbo scíth.

Shielded, protected, although he was weary.


Iarsain tucad, cialla cor,

It turned out to be a wise decision,

in mac dia nói m-bliadna m-bil.

For the boy, nine full years after,

coa athair, ba cadla gair,

At his demand, was brought to his father,

dia thaig cosin Dagda n-dil.

To the well-loved Dagda, at this house.


Dogníth ergnam leis dond ríg

The king provided entertainment for him

isin tshíd, tre brégrad m-búan,

In the mound that, if you know your story lore, gained its name through most effective trickery:

de atá, ní ceist cen rún,

There is plenty of information available, if you go and look for it;

Duma Treisc ar súil na slúag.

Everybody knows about Duma Treisc.


Iarsin dlomais Dagda dúr

You will remember how the Dagda sternly refused

asa dún, níb adba m-bróin,

The request of the holding’s owner to remain. Still, it didn’t go badly;

co m-bái i n-Ochun, fecht co núaill,

He went off grumbling, to live in Ochan,

iar n-othur slúaig, iar u-úair óil.

After some hostile posturing, and a good deal of drinking.


Ferta Escláim, érimm sruith,

View the Grave of Esclam, a popular pilgrimage,

a telctís cesta fir maith,

Where good men used to cast lots;

fót co m-balc-raind, gním cen chleith,

His was a field of honour, his achievements well known,

do mac Calpraind ba rót raith.

For the son of Calpurn, his path was one of grace.


In eol dúib Derc m-Buailc bil?

Do you recognise the Well of Bualc the good?

comarba fil immon mag,

Esclam’s successor across this plain,

asa n-ésib loimm lúath lib

From this well, he provided fresh water

a dig don tshlúag, fíad-glonn glan.

For the warrior host, a deed for which he is held in honour.


In eol dúib Lecht Cellaig crúaid?

Do you know about the Grave of grim Cellach?

co núaill ellaig, erctha gáeth:

There was wild wailing filling the air,

atbath tre beirt láechda lúaith,

When he died by the hand of a heroic pair of fighters

dia m-bói thúaith for báeth-bla báeth.

While in the north on a fool’s errand.


In eól dúib Lecht Gabra ind ríg?


And do you recognise the Grave of King Cináed’s Horse?

Cinaeda cen galma gráin;


He was a most willing and great-hearted beast;

ruc búaid a siblachaib sréin

Who gained victory from the swiftest of the bridled ones

do réir mic Irgalaig áin.

He raced at the will of noble Irgalach’s son.


A Cír a Currel na mná,

The Comb, the Casket of the Woman,

cia bale itá cechtar de,

Wherever each treasure is hidden.

méraid ó ‘ndiu co tí bráth;

It shall remain until the Day of Doom,

ní ba messu ar chách a n-gné.

Undamaged and undimmed.


Fégaid lib, ba bág cech báird,

Next, here before you – it was the boast of every bard –

ba fert fir áin, [fuaim cen meirg,]

Is the grave of a famous man,

fuirglid, is íath n-gáela gairg,

Whose memory still bears witness to his rugged race,

síd Aeda Lurgnig for leirg.

This is the hill-slope mound of Áed Lurgnech.


And dogníth rúamna dia thríath

This chief brought bloodshed to

for cúan-bla clíach ocus crích;

His territory of green rolling ridges:

ba h-ed slóg-dígal na túath,

Then followed a general vengeance of the tribes

Mórrígan múad áitt i m-bíth.

In the place where the great Morrigan was bested.


In eól dúib tre gnímrad n-gnáth,

Tales of this place should be well known to you all;

fri fáth fír-glan, fichtib tríath,

Scores of chiefs have seen their deeds sung

iath n-acht-glan i m-bátar scéith,

On this plain of bright action, where shields were wielded,

Carcar ind Léith i m-bái in Líath.

Here, too, was the famous Prison of the Grey Steed


In eól dúib tre chátha cend

You will recognise by the debris of skulls

in glend i m-bíd Mátha mall?

The glen where the sluggish Mátha dwelt;

robíth iar n-inriud slóg seng;

It was slain after the skilled hosts battled with it

dogníth mór do imniud and.

Causing much havoc.


Iarsin tictís, gním cen chleith,

Afterwards came – everyone knows this story –

ind ríg dia leith ó thír thoich,

The kings from all the fertile lands around,

do descin in Máthai múaid,

To view the vast Mátha,

co cland cách fair crúaid a chloich.

Each marked the killing-ground with a stone.


Clandais Buide a liic laind

Buide placed his sharp marker

‘sind raind forsmbíd Suide Find:

In the place known as Finn’s Seat.

fácaib fiad churib na n-glend

Yet, he did not survive the encounter;

a chend for Maig Murid mind.

He left his head on the plain of Muired Mend.


Iarsin lotar Ulaid uill

You will have heard of the mighty Ulstermen

Leth cubaid Cuinn ar a chend,

From Conn’s half of the country,

do gleic fri nert Máthai maill,

To strive with the strength of the slow moving Mátha

combrúithe a baill for Leicc Bend.

So his limbs were broken on Lecc Bend.


Doringned leo duma n-dúr

A solid cairn was built by the host

do múr for cnámaib in míl:

as a rampart over the bones of the beast;

ba hé in coscur, fecht co núaill,

That was the memorial to the sad event

rothecht fri búaid ocus bríg.

Met with might and eventual victory.


Caisel n-Oengussa cen chol,

There is the Cashel of Oengus the blameless –

Airther n-Oenlussa rodlen:

Also known under the name of Airther Oenlussa  –

mic Crundmáil forsndessid cin

It was there that the son of Crundmáel suffered the pangs of guilt,

dia n-essib mid corbo mer.

After he had drunk himself to madness on strong mead.


Forsin Róot, rígda in gleó,

Remember the right royal contest at the Road

in mic Óoc, cid dia m-bói?

of the Mac ind Óc – why is it there?

dia robriss súil Midir múaid,

Well, that is when mighty Midir was injured;

in fail úaib nech asidchói?

Do any of you recall the full story?

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