Mythical Ireland Monograph No.2: Bóinn, goddess of the Boyne and Milky Way


Bóinn is well-known as the deity who gave her name to the river Boyne, one of Ireland’s most illustrious rivers in mythology and history. Her renown stems mainly from two circumstances – that she had an affair with the Dagda at Newgrange and bore a son, Oengus Óg, and that she drowned after approaching the mysterious well of her husband Nechtain. However, Bóinn’s story, compiled and presented in this work from all the known manuscript sources about her, suggests that she was a primordial deity, and that the story of the eruption of the well and the resulting dismemberment of Bóinn as the river formed from the ensuing waters is, in fact, a very ancient creation myth. Her name is also given to the Milky Way, the heavenly Boyne river, which is known in Ireland as Bealach na Bó Finne, the Way of the White Cow.  There may have been an effort to portray Bóinn as an Irish equivalent of the Biblical Eve, and her supposed shame or sin after her affair with the Dagda may be elements that were accentuated or even wholly contrived by the ecclesiastical scribes of the Middle Ages who wrote her stories down. This monograph is an attempt to disentangle the various narratives about Bóinn and to present a full and untainted account of the mythology about her. 

104 pages, A5, with extensive footnotes and a comprehensive bibliography.

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