BOANN (Boínd, Boínn) is the Goddess of water, fertility, inspiration and knowledge. Her name is interpreted as ‘white cow’ (bó fhionn) in the Dindsenchas. According to the Lebor Gabála Érenn she was the daughter of Delbáeth, of the Tuatha Dé Danann. Her husband is variously Nechtan, Elcmar or Nuada Airgetlám. Her lover is the Dagda, by whom she had her son, Aengus. In order to hide their affair, the Dagda made the sun stand still for nine months; therefore, Aengus was conceived, gestated and born in one day.
As told in the Dindsenchas, Boann created the Boyne. Though forbidden to by her husband, Nechtan, Boann approached the magical Well of Segais (also known as the Connla’s Well), which was surrounded by hazels. Hazelnuts were known to fall into the Well, where they were eaten by the speckled salmon (who, along with hazelnuts, also embody and represent wisdom in Irish mythology). Boann challenged the power of the well by walking around it widdershins; this caused the waters to surge up violently and rush down to the sea, creating the Boyne. In this catastrophe, she was swept along in the rushing waters, and lost an arm, leg and eye, and ultimately her life, in the flood.
Artwork by Jim Fitzpatrick Gallery