Open main menu

Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 8, 1897.djvu/260

This page needs to be proofread.

236 Ghost Lights of the West Highlands.

The " ingenious " Dr. Smith seems to have been unneces- sarily exact in his statement as to Enoch's vehicle, unless he had other authority than Genesis.

O'Clery (Louvain) in 1643 gives " Drag, i. teine, fire." ^ which word O'Reilly translates in addition "a thunderbolt." It is reasonable to conclude that we have in drag a genuine Irish Gaelic word for fire.

That fiery creatures associated with water are no modern imagining of the Gael is proved by the following, from the Rennes Dindshenchas, that is " description of the names of noteworthy places in Ireland." - The part of the codex containing this was written in the XlVth or XVth century, but the collection may have been made in the Xlth or the first half of the Xllth. " Cliach from Baine's Elfmound was

harper to Smirdub He went to invite Conchenn,

daughter of Fodb, from the elfmound of the Men of Femen. .... Now Cliach was a full year making music on that hillĀ ; but because of the elf's magic might, he got no nearer to the elfmound, and he could do nothing to the girls. But he played his harp till the earth beneath him burst, and thereout the dragon brake forth [and Cliach died of terror] . Hence is Loch Bel Dracon " the lake of the dragon's mouth," to wit, a dragon of lire which Ternoc's foster-mother found there in a salmon's shape, and Fursa drove it into the lake. And that is the dragon which is prophesied to arise on St. John's Day at the end of the world and afflict Ireland in vengeance for John the Baptist." The Gaelic word here used and translated dragon is draig. No doubt the writer of the original has mixed this up with the summer solstice.

This incident is mentioned in the Felire of Ocngus:

' Revue Celtiqite, vol. iv. p. 404.

- Whitley Stokes, Revue Celtique, vol. xv. p. 27:

  • Edit. Whitley Stokes, August agih, p cxxxiv.