The lost kingdom of Lough Foyle: The conversation of Bran’s druid and Febul’s prophetess above Loch Febuil.

The following poem is taken from the article “The Lough Foyle Colloquy Texts” by John Carey in Ériu, Vol. 52, pp. 53 – 87, 2002.
Copies of the poem survived in two manuscripts from the 16th or 17th century. Research undertaken by John Carey found “that the poem is unlikely to have been composed later than the eighth century” according to the age of some words and metre used.
Translation by John Carey.

The conversation of Bran’s druid and Febul’s prophetess above Loch Febuil

Was it myself, was it I,
that would not know its warrior race?
I was not a man of little knowledge
until I was defeated in battle.

When we used to be in Bran’s stronghold,
drinking in the cold winter,
when my knowledge went to the high clouds,
it bound strong men in the presence of witnesses.

‘My knowledge reaches a pure well
in which is the snare of a troop of hundreds of women.
The treasures of the woman-troop, which was shaped:
it would be a great find for the man who would find it.

‘For wonderful are the pure treasures
which are beside Srúb Brain:
it would ennoble a tuath, or more than two (tuatha),
the equivalent of the host of the great world, of scions of kingship.

‘Respondit the prophetess:

Febul, dark and rich in horses,
used to proclaim [it] at the merrymaking:
I was not bereft of worth
in the eyes of the king of Mag Fuindsidi.

Beautiful the plains we used to ride over,
beautiful the lands to which we used to go,
beautiful the land where we used to encamp,
beautiful the music which we used to hear.

If it be to companions that you lament it,
that our people fled,
since Mag Febuil of the white flowers
is a stony grey sea:

Beautiful were the companies of women
of the assembly (in) which we used to be with Bran.
Sweetly the king used to say,
‘Though he goes, let him come back again.’

The words aildéi, aildi, alaind aildiu and alte ( original, text) have been used and translated as beautiful.

Aildi maige no reidmis,
aildi tire no teigmis,
alaind a tir ad-scuirmis,
alaind a ceol no cluinmis.
(Corrected version, Carey)

One of the oldest name for Aileach is Ailig (Ailiuch) Neid and has been often rendered the beauties of Ned. In this context it is also interesting to find “a troop of hundreds of women” and “companies of women of the assembly”. Although the lost kingdom had a king at its helm, the society itself seems to have been orientated towards matriarchy or at least a system of equality.
The kingdom now lies under the stony grey sea (inid glassfairrce clochach – glas is usually a shade of green) and the line may not necessary contain that much information, but I would read into it that the green ocean is closing the kingdom like a stone covers a well or grave, final and with no escape.

Full article available at


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s