An Irish goddess of great beauty, often called ‘the shapely’, much associated with Co. Cork. She is the counterpart of Áine and Aíbell and is sometimes called ‘the Queen of the Munster Fairies’. According to the best-known story, she is one of three daughters of Manannán's chief druid, Gebann, and living contentedly in Tír Tairngire [the Land of Promise] when Ciabhán comes to win her heart. He takes her back to the land of mortals in Ireland, landing at Glandore [Ir. Cúan dor, harbour of gold] harbour in southern Co. Cork. While he goes inland to hunt, a great wave overcomes the sleeping Clídna, drowning her along with her fellow travellers, among them Ildathach, who was in love with her. In another account she drowns when she is lulled to sleep by the musician Iuchna. The wave is one of three mentioned under various names in Irish tradition, and is still remembered in Glandore harbour as Tonn Chlíodhna. In Tadg mac Céin's vision of her, she is the noblest and most desirable woman in the world; she has three brightly coloured birds that eat apples from an otherworldly tree and sing so sweetly as to heal the sick with soothing sleep.
Although the drowning separates Clídna from her Ciabhán, she lives on and has a series of mortal lovers of high and low station. Among them are Earl Gerald FitzGerald (see GERALD), CAOMH (the eponymous progenitor of the O'Keeffe family), and a poor man named Teigue on Red Loch Island. She was also thought to be the seducer of many young boys at fairs. Her allure is associated with two rocks named Carrigcleena, one near Mallow and the other offshore near Ross Carbery. She became the fairy woman of the MacCarthy family, and is credited with telling them the secret of the Blarney Stone. In the Fenian stories her pedigree is changed so that she is one of the three beautiful daughters of Libra.
Among the representations of Clídna in literature is R. D. Joyce's ‘Earl Gerald and His Bride’, in Ballads of Irish Chivalry (Boston, 1872), 28–36. In this she steals the bridegroom from his wedding.