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Boand


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[Ir. boänd, bóinn, she who has white cows (?)].

Pre-Christian goddess of the Boyne River and the river itself, the 70-mile principal waterway of eastern Ireland. Boand was a sister of Bébinn and in most sources a wife of Nechtan (1). She had an affair with the Dagda to produce Angus Óg, and to hide her adultery she asked Elcmar to be the foster-father. In an alternate version Elcmar was married to Boand (or Eithne (2), an alternate name for Boand), who succumbed to the blandishments of Eochaid Ollathair (another name for the Dagda) to produce Angus Óg. Her usual residence was Brug na Bóinne, now called Newgrange.

Two different stories explain the origin of the river. According to one, Boand defied the magical powers of the Well of Segais, as a result of which the well rose up, mutilated and drowned the goddess, and, turning into a river, rushed seawards; see also the story of sinann [Shannon] and the Well of Cóelrind. In another story Boand was forbidden to look into the well at Sídh Nechtán. When she violated this taboo the water rose up, followed her as she fled towards the sea, and drowned her. Boand may be identical with the British river-goddess worshipped in what is now Ilkley, Yorkshire. The River Boyne appears to be identical with the Bouvinda mentioned by Ptolemy (2nd cent. ad). Boand's lapdog is Dabilla.

Subjects: Religion.


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