Boand--the Boyne River 
Version One

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. 

Version Two

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.

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