The names of Eogan

28 Jan

This excerpt from the Cóir Anmann (‘The Fitness of Names’) relates the meaning of the epithet’s of Eogan, the progenitor of the Eoganacht of Munster. The name Mog Nuadat (or Mug Nuadat) is especially interesting. ‘Mog’ or ‘mug’ can also mean ‘servant’, possibly indicating that Eogan was a devotee of the god Nuadu. It’s often difficult to be certain about these things, however, since there are many reasons for spurious stories to come about.

Other figures of possible relevance here are Néit and Dáire (possibly another name for the Dagda).

Eogan, son of Mog Néit, had four names, to wit, Eogan Mór (‘Great’), and Eogan Fidfeccach (‘wood- bending’), and Eogan Táidlech (‘splendid’), and Mog Nuadat (‘Nuada’s slave’). Whereof the poet said in the Elucidation:

Four names witbout grief
Were on Eogan Mór:
Eogan Fidfeccach the generous-hospitable,
Eogan Táidlech, (and) Mog Nuadat.

37. Eogan was his name from parental origin…’Tis from this that Eoganacht is said of them (scil. his descendants), in virtue of the blessings which the men of Erin bestowed upon him for his hospitality and generosity towards them, and for rescuing them from the famine in which they were. From this (comes) Eoganacht i.e. bona actio, i.e. a good act (it was) for him (Eogan) to save the men of Erin from starvation.

[Or] Eoganacht i.e. Eogan -icht, i.e. Eogan’s protection to the men of Erin. Or Eogan-necht, that is Eogan’s necht: necht ‘children’, that is the seven Eoganachts are Eogan’s children.

Thence then had he the name Eogan Mór (‘Great’), because he was great above every one, and (so were his children and his kindred after him.

38. Eogan Táidlech ‘splendid’, was (also) said of him. Once upon a time Eogan Mór went into Spain on a visit. He who was then king of Spain was Éber the Great, son of Midna. Now Eogan on that journey met with great affection in Spain. The king had then a stately unmarried daughter, named Bera daughter of Eber, and because of the great reports of Eogan she had given him ‘love in absence’ before he went into Spain. So then Eogan wedded the maiden, and she bore him noble offspring, even a wondrous son, Ailill Ólomm, and a brace of daughters named Scothniam and Caimell.

At that time there used to come in every year a lovely varicoloured salmon from the River of the Elements in Paradise to the river Tiber, and from Tiber to the river Ebro in Spain. Thus was that salmon, with a covering of most beautiful wool, and a kind of every colour through it. Now while Eogan was in Spain that salmon was caught by Éber and that woollen covering was stript from from it and that wool was given to Éber’s daughter. Now of the covering which had been on the salmon the damsel made for Eogan a splendid shining mantle;
and ’tis that mantle which Eogan wore when he came (back) to Ireland. Conn of the Hundred Battles was then in the kingship of Erin. Splendid and shining was the brightness abiding on Eogan from that mantle. Wherefore the name Eogan Táidlech ‘Splendid’ clave to him.

39. Eogan Fidfeccach he was (also) called, why was this? Easy to say. Eogan had three fortresses, and the name of each was Fidfecc. Now Eogan was setting and bending and weaving the wood at each: wherefore he is called Eogan Fidfeccach, from bending (feccad) the wood (fid) in setting it: or Figfecc, from weaving (fige) the same wood.

40. Mog Nuadat, whence is it? Easy to say. Dáire Barrach son of Catháir Mór, ’tis he that reared Mog Nuadat, that is, Eogan son of Mog Néit. Once upon a time the fortification of Dún Aillinne was undertaken by Dáire Barrach. Now there was then in Erin a famous rath-builder, Nuada Long-heel, son of Oengus, son of Fer dá chrích in the district of Cualnge. In him was the strength of a hundred, and he would eat the fill of fifty. This slave was brought to Dáire to fortify Dún Aillinn. When they were in the trench, a-digging it, they came upon a huge stone in the trench, and the slave was unable to raise it The youths of the fortress, and among them Eogan, were on the dyke of the earthwork, watching the slave flinching from the eflfort. The slave asked the youths to put the stone out of the trench. This the youths, save only Eogan, refused. Then Eogan entered the trench, and clasped his two arms round the stone, and he alone lifted it up, and hurled it into the southern angle of the fort. And there it remains thenceforward.

Then said the druid to the slave: “Noble is thy slave to-day, O Nuada!” quoth the druid. Wherefore Mog Nuadat, ‘Nuada’s Slave’, clave to Eogan, and from Nuada he was named, according to this version (of the story).

From Whitley Stokes, ‘Cóir Anmann: The Fitness of Names‘ in Irische Texte mit Wörterbuch Vol 3(2), 1897,


1 See for example Byrne, Irish Kings and High-Kings, 2001, p291, and Koch, Encyclopedia of Celtic Culture, 2006, p705.

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Posted by on January 28, 2012 in Uncategorized


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