Boand--the Boyne River
Sid Nechtáin is the name that is on the mountain here,
the grave of the full-keen son of Labraid,
from which flows the stainless river
whose name is Boand ever-full.
Fifteen names, certainty of disputes,
given to this stream we enumerate,
from Sid Nechtáin away
till it reaches the paradise of Adam.
Segais was her name in the Sid
to be sung by thee in every land:
River of Segais is her name from that point
to the pool of Mochua the cleric.
From the well of righteous Mochua
to the bounds of Meath's wide plain,
the Arm of Nuadu's Wife and her Leg
are the two noble and exalted names.
From the bounds of goodly Meath
till she reaches the sea's green floor
she is called the Great Silver Yoke
and the White Marrow of Fedlimid.
Stormy Wave from thence onward
unto branchy Cualnge;
River of the White Hazel from stern Cualnge
to the lough of Eochu Red-Brows.
Banna is her name from faultless Lough Neagh:
Roof of the Ocean as far as Scotland:
Lunnand she is in blameless Scotland--
The name denotes her according to its meaning.
Severn is she called through the land of the sound Saxons,
Tiber in the Romans' keep:
River Jordan thereafter in the east
and vast River Euphrates.
River Tigris in enduring paradise,
long is she in the east, a time of wandering
from paradise back again hither
to the streams of this Sid.
Boand is her general pleasant name
from the Sid to the sea-wall;
I remember the cause whence is named
the water of the wife of Labraid's son.
Nechtain son of bold Labraid
whose wife was Boand, I aver;
a secret well there was in his stead,
From which gushed forth every kind of mysterious evil.
There was none that would look to its bottom
but his two bright eyes would burst:
if he should move to left or right,
he would not come from it without blemish.
Therefore none of them dared approach it
save Nechtain and his cup-bearers:-
these are their names, famed for brilliant deed,
Flesc and Lam and Luam.
Hither came on a day white Boand
(her noble pride uplifted her),
to the never-failing well
to make trial of its power.
As thrice she walked round
about the well heedlessly,
three waves burst from it,
whence came the death of Boand.
They came each wave of them against a limb,
they disfigured the soft-blooming woman;
a wave against her foot, a wave against her perfect eye,
the third wave shatters one hand.
She rushed to the sea (it was better for her)
to escape her blemish,
so that none might see her mutilation;
on herself fell her reproach.
Every way the woman went
the cold white water followed
from the Sid to the sea (not weak it was),
so that thence it is called Boand.
Boand from the bosom of our mighty river-bank,
was mother of great and goodly Oengus,
the son she bore to the Dagda – bright honour!
in spite of the man of this Sid.
Or, Boand is Bo and Find
from the meeting of the two royal streams,
the water from bright Sliab Guaire
and the river of the Sids here.
Dabilla, the name of the faithful dog
who belonged to the wife of Nechtain, great and noble,
the lap-dog of Boand the famous,
which went after her when she perished.
The sea-current swept it away,
as far as the stony crags;
and they made two portions of it,
so that they were named therefrom.
They stand to the east of broad Breg,
the two stones in the blue waters of the lough:
Cnoc Dabilla [is so called] from that day to this
from the little dog of the Sid.
O Maelsechlainn son of Domnall
of the family of Comgall's daughter!
I will tell thee, O Prince of Meath!
the tale of white bright Boand.
Boand – a blessing on the stream
did Christ fair of form ordain;
so she from glen to glen
is the river Jordan of Erin.
Find Life, Find of the fierce Gaileon,
from the union of two names,
from their meeting is Mag Find named:-
swift Find Life and Mifind.
One of the two Finds, that wins victory,
flows past Tara from the north-east:
there at the Confluence it meets
with white-bellied Boand.
Bo Guairi which flows eastward
past Tailtiu through lough Munremair,
Bo Guairi is the name of the river
which is called great Banna.
And there is ordan and an
from which the river Jordan is called,
so Boand is Bo and find
from the meeting of the two royal waters.
Thither from the south came Boand
wife of Nechtain to the love-tryst
to the house of Elcmaire, lord of horses,
a man that gave many a good judgment.
Thither came by chance the Dagda
into the house of famous Elcmaire:
he fell to importuning the woman:
he brought her to the birth in a single day.
It was then they made the sun stand still
to the end of nine months – strange the tale –
warming the noble ether
in the roof of the perfect firmament.
Then said the woman here:
"Union with thee, that were my one desire!"
"And Oengus shall be the boy's name,"
said the Dagda, in noble wise.
Boand went from the house in haste
to see if she could reach the well:
she was sure of hiding her guilt
if she could attain to bathe in it.
The druid's three cup-bearers
Flesc, and Lesc, and Luam,
Nechtain mac Namat set
to watch his fair well.
To them came gentle Boand
toward the well in sooth:
the strong fountain rose over her,
and drowned her finally.
It was contrived against (the river) on either shore
by Maelmorda, vast of wealth,
by the comely son of Murchad,
that it should not reach the inlet of ships.
God's mercy was shown
on Leth Chuind by that counsel,
so that it escaped the swift night of gloom
unto thee, O generous Maelsechlainn!
Metrical Dindshenchas. ed and trans. Edward Gwynn. 1925. Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies: 1991.
Back to Irish Texts
Back to CLC