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White Book (in the Peniarth collection), col. 187, the proper name is written
Freni: for this information I have to thank Mr. Gwenogvryn Evans.


water-world were not disinclined to seize every oppor-
tunity of extending their domain on the earth's surface ;
and I am persuaded that this was once a universal creed
of some race or other in possession of these islands.
Besides the Irish legends already mentioned (pp. 382,
384) of the formation of Lough Neagh, Lough Ree, and
others, witness the legendary annals of early Ireland,
which, by the side of battles, the clearing of forests, and
the construction of causeways, mention the bursting
forth of lakes and rivers ; that is to say, the formation
or the coming into existence, or else the serious expan-
sion, of certain of the actual waters of the country. For
the present purpose the details given by The Four
Masters are sufficient, and I have hurriedly counted
their instances as follows :

ANNO MUNDI 2532, number of the lakes formed, 2.

>, 2533, lakes r.

2 535> lakes 2.

2 545, lakes i.

2 54 6 , ,, ,, lakes i.

28 59, lakes 2.

2860, lakes 2.

353, ,, rivers 21.

35o6, lakes 9.

35io, rivers 5.

3520, rivers 9.

358i, lakes 9.

' 3656, rivers 3.

375 1 , lakes i.

,j rivers 3.

319, lakes 4.

4169, rivers 5.

4 6 94> ,, ,, lakes i.

This makes an aggregate of thirty-five lakes and
forty-six rivers, that is to say a total of eighty-one erup-
tions. But I ought, perhaps, to explain that under the
head of lakes I have included not only separate pieces
of water, but also six inlets of the sea, such as Strang-
ford Lough and the like. Still more to the point is it


to mention that of the lakes two are said to have burst
forth at the digging of graves. Thus, A.M. 2535, The Four
Masters have the following : ' Laighlinne, son of Par-
thalon, died in this year. When his grave was dug, Loch
Laighlinne sprang forth in Ui Mac Uais, and from him
it is named V O'Donovan, the editor and translator of
The Four Masters, supposes it to be somewhere to the
south-west of Tara, in Meath. Similarly, A.M. 4694, they
say of a certain Melghe Molbthach, ' When his grave
was digging, Loch Melghe burst forth over the land in
Cairbre, so that it was named from him.' This is said
to be now called Lough Melvin, on the confines of the
counties of Donegal, Leitrim, and Fermanagh. These
two instances are mentioned by The Four Masters ; and
here is one given by Stokes in the Rennes Dindsenchas:
see the Revue Celtique, xv. 428-9. It has to do with
Loch Carman, as Wexford Harbour was called in Irish,
and it runs thus : ' Loch Carman, whence is it ? Easy
to say. Garman Glas, son of Dega, was buried there,
and when his grave was dug then the lake burst
throughout the land. Whence Loch Carman' It
matters not here that there are alternative accounts of
the name.

The meaning of all this seems to be that cutting
the green sward or disturbing the earth beneath was
believed in certain cases to give offence to some under-
ground divinity or other connected with the world of
waters. That divinity avenged the annoyance or
offence given him by causing water to burst forth
and form a lake forthwith. The nearness of such
divinities to the surface seems not a little remarkable,

1 It is right to say that another account is given in the Rennes Dindsenchas,
published by Stokes in the Revue Celtique, xvi. 164, namely, that Laiglinne
with fifty warriors ' came to the well of Dera son of Scera. A wave burst
over them and drowned Laiglinne with his fifty warriors, and thereof a lake
was made. Hence we say Loch Laiglinni, Laiglinne's Lake.'


and it is shown not only in the folklore which has been
preserved for us by The Four Masters, but also by the
usual kind of story about a neglected well door. These
remarks suggest the question whether it was not one of
the notions which determined surface burials, that is,
burials in which no cutting of the ground took place,
the cists or chambers and the bodies placed in them
being covered over by the heaping on of earth
or stones brought from a more or less convenient
distance. It might perhaps be said that all this
only implied individuals of a character to desecrate the
ground and call forth the displeasure of the divinities
concerned ; and for that suggestion folklore parallels,
it is true, could be adduced. But it is hardly adequate :
the facts seem to indicate a more general objection on
the part of the powers in point ; and they remind one
rather of the clause said to be inserted in mining leases
in China with the object, if one may trust the news-
papers, of preventing shafts from being sunk below a
certain depth, for fear of offending the susceptibilities
of the demons or dragons ruling underground.

It is interesting to note the fact, that Celtic folklore
connects the underground divinities intimately with
water; for one may briefly say that they have access
wherever water can take them. With this qualifica-
tion the belief may be said to have lingered lately in
Wales, for instance, in connexion with ILyn Barfog,
near Aberdovey. ' It is believed to be very perilous,'
Mr. Pughe says, p. 142 above, ' to let the waters out of
the lake ' ; and not long before he wrote, in 1853, an aged
inhabitant of the district informed him ' that she recol-
lected this being done during a period of long drought,
in order to procure motive power for ILyn Pair Mill,
and that long-continued heavy rains followed.' Then
we have the story related to Mr. Reynolds as to ILyn y


Fan Fach, how there emerged from the water a huge
hairy fellow of hideous aspect, who stormed at the dis-
turbers of his peace, and uttered the threat that unless
they left him alone in his own place he would drown
a whole town. Thus the power of the water spirit is
represented as equal to producing excessive wet weather
and destructive floods. He is in all probability not to
be dissociated from the afanc in the Conwy story which
has already been given (pp. 130-3). Now the local
belief is that the reason why the afanc had to be dragged
out of the river was that he caused floods in the river
and made it impossible for people to cross on their way
to market at ILanrwst. Some such a local legend has
been generalized into a sort of universal flood story in
the late Triad, iii. 97, as follows : ' Three masterpieces
of the Isle of Prydain : the Ship of NefycT Naf Neifion,
that carried in her male and female of every kind when
the Lake of IL'ion burst ; and Hu the Mighty's Ychen
Bannog dragging the afanc of the lake to land, so that
the lake burst no more; and the Stones of Gwycton
Ganhebon, on which one read all the arts and sciences
of the world.' A story similar to the Conwy one, but no
longer to be got so complete, as far as I know, seems to
have been current in various parts of the Principality,
especially around ILyn Syfacton and on the banks of
the Anglesey pool called ILyn yr Wyth Eidion, ' the
Pool of the Eight Oxen/ for so many is Hu represented
here as requiring in dealing with the Anglesey afanc.
According to Mr. Pughe of Aberdovey, the same feat
was performed at ILyn Barfog, not, however, by Hu
and his oxen, but by Arthur and his horse. To be
more exact the task may be here considered as done
by Arthur superseding Hu : see p. 142 above. That,
however, is of no consequence here, and I return to
the afanc : the Fan Fach legend told to Mr. Reynolds


makes the lake ruler huge and hairy, hideous and
rough-spoken, but he expresses himself in human
speech, in fact in two lines of doggerel: see p. 19
above. On the other hand, the ILyn Cwm ILwch story,
which puts the same doggerel, p. 21, into the mouth of
the threatening figure in red who sits in a chair on the
face of that lake, suggests nothing abnormal about his
personal appearance. Then as to the Conwy afanc, he
is very heavy, it is true, but he also speaks the language
of the country. He is lured, be it noticed, out of his
home in the lake by the attractions of a young woman,
who lets him rest his head in her lap and fall asleep.
When he wakes to find himself in chains he takes a
cruel revenge on her. But with infinite toil and labour
he is dragged beyond the Conwy watershed into one of
the highest tarns on Snowdon ; for there is here no
question of killing him, but only of removing him where
he cannot harm the people of the Conwy Valley. It is
true that the story of Peredur represents that knight
cutting an afanc's head off, but so much the worse
for the compiler of that romance, as we have doubtless
in the afanc some kind of a deathless being. However,
the description which the Peredur story gives l of him
is interesting : he lives in a cave at the door of which is
a stone pillar: he sees everybody that comes without
anybody seeing him ; and from behind the pillar he
kills all comers with a poisoned spear.

Hitherto we have the afanc described mostly from
a hostile point of view: let us change our position,
which some of the stories already given enable us to
do. Take for instance the first of the whole series,
where it describes, p. 7, the Fan Fach youth's despair
when the lake damsel, whose love he had gained,
suddenly dived to fetch her father and her sister.

1 The Oxford Mabinogion, p. 224, and Guest's, i. 343.


There emerged, it says, out of the lake two most
beautiful ladies, accompanied by a hoary-headed man
of noble mien and extraordinary stature, but having
otherwise all the force and strength of youth. This
hoary-headed man of noble mien owned herds of cattle
and flocks of sheep, a number of which were allowed
to come out of the lake to form his daughter's dowry,
as the narrative goes on to show. In the story of ILyn
Du'r Ardu, p. 32, he has a consort who appears with
him to join in giving the parental sanction to the marriage
which their daughter was about to make with the
Snowdon shepherd. In neither of these stories has
this extraordinary figure any name given him, and it
appears prima facie probable that the term afanc is
rather one of abuse in harmony with the unlovely
description of him supplied by the other stories. But
neither in them does the term yr afanc suit the monster
meant, for there can be no doubt that in the word afanc
we have the etymological equivalent of the Irish word
abacc, 'a dwarf; and till further light is shed on these
words one may assume that at one time afanc also
meant a dwarf or pigmy in Welsh. In modern Welsh
it has been regarded as meaning a beaver, but as that
was too small an animal to suit the popular stories,
the word has been also gravely treated as meaning a
crocodile ] : this is in the teeth of the unanimous
treatment of him as anthropomorphic in the legends
in point. If one is to abide by the meaning dwarf
or pigmy, one is bound to regard afanc as one of
the terms originally applied to the fairies in their
more unlovely aspects : compare the use of crimbil,
p. 263. Here may also be mentioned pegor, ' a dwarf

1 See Afanc in the Geiriadur of Silvan Evans, who cites instances in

43 2


or pigmy/ which occurs in the Book of Taliessin, poem
vii. (p. 135) :

Gog6n py pegor I know what (sort of) pigmy

yssyd ydan vor. There is beneath the sea.

Gogwn eu heissor I know their kind,

pa6b yny oscord. Each in his troop.

Also the following lines in the twelfth-century manu-
script of the Black Book of Carmarthen : see Evans'
autotype facsimile, fo. 9 b :

Ar gnyuer pegor And every dwarf

y ssit y dan mor. There is beneath the sea,

Ar gnyuer edeinauc And every winged thing

aoruc kyuoethauc. The Mighty One hath made,

Ac vei. vei. paup. And were there to each

tri tiychant tauaud Thrice three hundred tongues

Nyellynt ve traethaud. They could not relate

kyuoetheu [jy] trindaud The powers of the Trinity.

I should rather suppose, then, that the pigmies in the
water-world were believed to consist of many grades
or classes, and to be innumerable like the Luchorpain
of Irish legend, which were likewise regarded as diminu-
tive. With the Luchorpain were also associated 1
Fomori or Fomoraig (modern Irish spelling Fomhoraigh\
and Goborchinn, ' Horse-heads.' The etymology of the
word Fomori has been indicated at p. 286 above, but
Irish legendary history has long associated it with muir,
1 sea,' genitive mam, Welsh mor, and it has gone so far
as to see in them, as there suggested, not submarine
but transmarine enemies and invaders of Ireland. So
the singular fomor, now written fotnhor, is treated in
O'Reilly's Irish Dictionary as meaning 'a pirate, a sea
robber, a giant,' while in Highland Gaelic, where it is
written fomhair or famhair, it is regularly used as the
word for giant. The Manx Gaelic corresponding to
Irish fomor and its derivative fomorach, is foawr, ' a
giant,' and foawragh, 'gigantic,' but also 'a pirate.'

1 See the Revue Celtique, i. 257, and my Hibbert Lectures, pp. 92-3.


I remember hearing, however, years ago, a mention
made of the Fomhoraigh, which, without conveying any
definite allusion to their stature, associated them with
subterranean places : An undergraduate from the
neighbourhood of Killorglin, in Kerry, happened to
relate in my hearing, how, when he was exploring some
underground rdths near his home, he was warned by
his father's workmen to beware of the Fomhomigh.
But on the borders of the counties of Mayo and Sligo I
have found the word used as in the Scottish Highlands,
namely, in the sense of giants, while Dr. Douglas Hyde
and others inform me that the Giant's Causeway is
called in Irish Clochdn na bh-Fomhorach.

The Goborchinns or Horse-heads have also an interest,
not only in connexion with the Fomori, as when we
read of a king of the latter called Eocha Eachcheann l ,
or Eochy Horse-head, but also as a link between the
Welsh afanc and the Highland water-horse, of whom
Campbell has a good deal to say in his Popular Tales of
the West Highlands. See more especially iv. 337, where
he remarks among other things, that 'the water-horse
assumes many shapes ; he often appears as a man,' he
adds, ' and sometimes as a large bird.' A page or two
earlier he gives a story which illustrates the statement,
at the same time that it vividly reminds one of that
part of the Conwy legend which (p. 130) represents the
afanc resting his head on the lap of the damsel forming
one of the dramatis persons. Here follows Campbell's
own story, omitting all about a marvellous bull, however,
that was in the end to checkmate the water-horse :

'A long time after these things a servant girl went
with the farmer's herd of cattle to graze them at the side
of a loch, and she sat herself down near the bank.
There, in a little while, what should she see walking

1 The Four Masters, A. M. 3520.




towards her but a man, who asked her to fasg his hair
[Welsh ffeua]. She said she was willing enough to do
him that service, and so he laid his head on her knee,
and she began to array his locks, as Neapolitan damsels
also do by their swains. But soon she got a great
fright, for growing amongst the man's hair, she found
a great quantity of liobhagach an locha, a certain slimy
green weed T that abounds in such lochs, fresh, salt, and
brackish. The girl knew that if she screamed there
was an end of her, so she kept her terror to herself, and
worked away till the man fell asleep as he was with his
head on her knee. Then she untied her apron strings,
and slid the apron quietly on to the ground with its
burden upon it, and then she took her feet home as fast
as it was in her heart 2 . Now when she was getting
near the houses, she gave a glance behind her, and
there she saw her caraid (friend) coming after her in the
likeness of a horse.'

The equine form belongs also more or less constantly
to the kelpie of the Lowlands of Scotland and of the
Isle of Man, where we have him in the glashtyn, whose
amorous propensities are represented as more repulsive
than what appears in Welsh or Irish legend : see p. 289
above, and the Lioar Manninagh for 1897, p. 139.
Perhaps in Man and the Highlands the horsy nature of
this being has been reinforced by the influence of the
Norse Nykr, a Northern Proteus or old Nick, who takes
many forms, but with a decided preference for that of
' a gray water-horse ' : see Vigfusson's Icelandic-English
Dictionary. But the idea of associating the equine form
with the water divinity is by no means confined to the
Irish and the Northern nations : witness the Greek

1 In another version Campbell had found it to be sand and nothing else.

2 As to this incident of a girl and a supernatural, Campbell says that he
had heard it in the Isle of Man also, and elsewhere.


legend of the horse being of Poseidon's own creation,
and the beast whose form he sometimes assumed.

It is in this sort of a notion of a water-horse one is
probably to look for the key to the riddle of such con-
ceptions as that of March ab Meirchion, the king with
horse's ears, and the corresponding Irish figure of
Labraid Lore 1 . In both of these the brute peculiarities
are reduced almost to a minimum : both are human in
form save their ears alone. The name Labraid Lore is
distinct enough from the Welsh March, but under this
latter name one detects traces of him with the horse's
ears in Wales, Cornwall, and Brittany 2 . We have also
probably the same name in the More of Irish legend :
at any rate More, Marc, or Margg, seems to be the
same name as the Welsh March, which is no other
word than march, 'a steed or charger.' Now the Irish
More is not stated to have had horse's ears, but he and
another called Conaing are represented in the legendary
history of early Erin as the naval leaders of the Fomori,
a sort of position which would seem to fit the Brythonic
March also were he to be treated in earnest as an his-
torical character. But short of that another treatment
may be suspected of having been actually dealt out to
him, namely, that of resolving the water-horse into a
horse and his master. Of this we seem to have two
instances in the course of the story of the formation of
Lough Neagh in the Book of the Dun Cow, fo. 39-41 :
There was once a good king named Maired reigning
over Munster, and he had two sons, Eochaid and Rib.

1 See the Revue Celtique, ii. 197. He was also called Labraid Longsech, and
Labraid Longsech Lore. The explanation of Labraid Lore is possibly that it
was originally Labraid More, and that the fondness for alliteration brought
it into line as Labraid Lore : compare K.ud E^aweraint in Welsh for Nuct
ILaweraint. This is not disproved by the fact that Labraid Lores grand-
father is said to have been called Loegaire Lore: Loegaire Lore and Labraid
Lore are rather to be regarded perhaps as duplicates of the same original.

2 See my Arthurian Legend, p. 70; also Hibbert Lectures, p. 590.



He married a wife named Ebliu (genitive Eblinde), who
fell in love with her stepson, Eochaid. The two brothers
make up their minds to leave their father and to take
Ebliu with them, together with all that was theirs, includ-
ing in all a thousand men. They proceed northwards,
but their druids persuade them that they cannot settle
down in the same district, so Rib goes westwards to
a plain known as Tir Cluchi Midir acus Maic uic, ' the
Play-ground of Mider and the Mac 6c,' so called after
the two great fairy chiefs of Ireland. Mider visits
Rib's camp and kills their horses, then he gives them
a big horse of his own ready harnessed with a pack-
saddle. They had to put all their baggage on the big
horse's back and go away, but after a while the nag lay
down and a well of water formed there, which eventu-
ally burst forth, drowning them all : this is Loch Ri,
' Rib's Loch, or Lough Ree,' on the Shannon. Eochaid,
the other brother, went with his party to the banks of
the Boyne near the Brug, where the fairy chief Mac
Oc or Mac ind Oc had his residence : he destroyed
Eochaid's horses the first night, and the next day he
threatened to destroy the men themselves unless they
went away. Thereupon Eochaid said that they could
not travel without horses, so the Mac Oc gave them
a big horse, on whose back they placed all they had.
The Mac Oc warned them not to unload the nag on the
way, and not to let him halt lest he should be their
death. However, when they had reached the middle
of Ulster, they thoughtlessly took all their property off
the horse's back, and nobody bethought him of turning
the animal's head back in the direction from which they
had come : so he also made a well *. Over that well

1 The original has in these passages respectively siblat's afual corbo t/iipra,

' minxit urinam suam so that it was a spring' ; ar na siblad afual ar na bad

fochond bdis doib, ' ne mingat urinam suam lest it should be the cause of


Eochaid had a house built, and a lid put on the well,
which he set a woman to guard. In the sequel she
neglected it, and the well burst forth and formed Lough
Neagh, as already mentioned, p. 382 above. What
became of the big horses in these stories one is not
told, but most likely they were originally represented
as vanishing in a spring of water where each of them
stood. Compare the account of Undine at her un-
faithful husband's funeral. In the procession she mys-
teriously appeared as a snow-white figure deeply veiled,
but when one rose from kneeling at the grave, where
she had knelt nought was to be seen save a little silver
spring of limpid water bubbling out of the turf and
trickling on to surround the new grave : Da man sich
aber wieder erhob, war die weisse Fremde verschwunden ;
an der Stelle, wo sie geknieet hatte, quoll cin silberhelles
Brimnlein aits deni Rasen ; das rieselte und rieselte fort,
bis es den Grabhugel des Ritters fast ganz umzogen hatte ;
dann rann esfurder und ergoss sich in einen Weiher, der
zur Seite des Gottesackers lag.

The late and grotesque story of the Gilla Decair may
be mentioned next : he was one of the Fomorach, and
had a wonderful kind of horse on whose back most of
Finn's chief warriors were induced to mount. Then
the Gilla Decair and his horse hurried towards Corka-
guiny, in Kerry, and took to the sea, for he and his horse
travelled equally well on sea and land. Thus Finn's
men, unable to dismount, were carried prisoners to an
island not named, on which Dermot in quest of them
afterwards landed, and from which, after great perils, he
made his way to Tir fo Thuinn, ' Terra sub Unda,' and
brought his friends back to Erin \ Now the number

death to them' ; and silt's, ' minxit,' fo. 39 b. For a translation of the whole
story see Dr. O'Grady's Silva Gadelica, pp. 265-9 ', also Joyce's Old Celtic
Romances, pp. 97-105.

1 See the story in Dr. O'Grady's Silva Gadelica, pp. 292-311.


of Finn's men taken away by force by the Gilla Decair
was fifteen, fourteen on the back of his horse and one
clutching to the animal's tail, and the Welsh Triads, i.
93 ii. ii, seem to re-echo some similar story, but they
give the number of persons not as fifteen but just one
half, and describe the horse as Du (y) Moroed, 'the
Black of (the) Seas,' steed of Elidyr Mwynfawr, that
carried seven human beings and a half from Pen ILech
Elidyr in the North to Pen ILech Elidyr in Mon,
'Anglesey.' It is explained that Du carried seven on
his back, and that one who swam with his hands on
that horse's crupper was reckoned the half man in this
case. Du Moroed is in the story of Kulhwch and Olwen
called Du March Moro, ' Black the Steed of Moro,' the
horse ridden in the hunt of Twrch Trwyth by Gwyn ab
Nud, king of the other world; and he appears as a
knight with his name unmistakably rendered into Brun
de Morois in the romance of Durmart le Galois, who
carries away Arthur's queen on his horse to his castle
in Morois 1 . Lastly, here also might be mentioned the
incident in the story of Peredur or Perceval, which
relates how to that knight, when he was in the middle
of a forest much distressed for the want of a horse,
a lady brought a fine steed as black as a blackberry.
He mounted and he found his beast marvellously swift,
but on his making straight for a vast river the knight
made the sign of the cross, whereupon he was left on
the ground, and his horse plunged into the water, which

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