18 Feb

Like Boann, Sinann is associated with the creation of one of the great rivers of Ireland, and dies as a result of her travails. The source of the Shannon is the same as the Boyne – the well of Segais – and here we have a detailed description of the well and the hazel nuts that fall into it. It seems likely that Sinann herself is an Otherworldly being, travelling to another Otherworldly place where the well of Segais is situated, underwater. Although she herself is an Otherworldly being, she is unable to survive in the Otherworldly underwater realm, or perhaps, like in many tales, her journey changes her irrevocably and she is unable to return. She also has a number of Dindshenchas tales associated with her and the one I’ve chosen is perhaps a lesser-known translation by Maud Joynt. The Metrical Dindshenchas translations are available here, for comparison.

1 Shannon, what is the cause thereof? I will relate (it) without deceit; without riddle, in luminous speech, I will declare its name and origin.

2 I will recount to each and all the rise of Shannon pure of stream; I will not hide its fair renown, I will declare the cause of its name.

3 The well of Connla great of cheer was ‘neath the dark blue-rimmed’) sea; seven streams whose fame was not alike (flowed) from it. Shannon among the seven.

4 Round about that well were set nine hazel-trees of Crimall sage; (wrapt) through a spell of sovran power are they in dark druidic mist.

5 At the same time – as is not wont – their leaves and blossoms grow; a marvel – though a virtue rare! – that they should ripen all at once.

6 As soon as the nuts are ripe, they fall from high into the well below, where they are scattered through its midst, so that the salmon eat them.

7 From the juice of the nuts – no portion mean! – are formed the bubbles of wisdom; thence at all seasons (to earth) they come, borne on (the bosom of) bright-green streams.

8 There was a yellow-crested maid yonder among the De Danann tribes, Sinann the feateous, of aspect pure, daughter of Lotan Lucharmar.

9 The maiden bethought her once at night, the sweet-voiced red-lipt womanly maid, how her condition had every (gift of) fame, save the (gift of) wisdom alone.

10 At day when the maiden of comely form came to the river, she beheld – no mean destiny was hers! – the beauteous bubbles of wisdom.

11 The maiden went – aspiring quest – after them into the emerald stream; in pursuit of them yonder she was drowned, so that from her is the Shannon (named).

12 Another shaping, if ye desire, I put on the Shannon of shining stream; though others besides me read it so, ’tis no better than the first account.

13 The name of the pool where she was drowned (I aver) is “the Noble Lady’s Pool”; ’tis but her due, for from her (it comes), as is truth to tell.

14 (Yet) another story I recall which all have heard far and wide; ’twas Nuada’s hound of beauty great that perished in the cruel stream.

15 Or it may be that “Sinann”, rightly read, is “Sin Morainn”, [”Morann’s collar”] by interpretation; the custom of Morann in grandeur of deeds, fairer than any collar that).

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Posted by on February 18, 2012 in Uncategorized


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