eDIL - Electronic Dictionary of the Irish Language

The electronic Dictionary of the Irish Language (eDIL) is a digital dictionary of medieval Irish. It is based on the ROYAL IRISH ACADEMY’S Dictionary of the Irish Language based mainly on Old and Middle Irish materials (1913-1976) which covers the period c.700-c.1700. The current site contains revisions to c.4000 entries and further corrections and additions will be added in the coming years.

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FÉTH FÍADA is not easily translated. It occurs in various spellings and in various texts from the medieval period and might be described best as a kind of cloaking device employed by the Túatha Dé Danann to ensure that they were not seen by mortals. In the tale Altram Tige Dá Medar, for example, Manannán mac Lir urges the defeated warriors of the Túatha to divide up and make use of the FÉTH FÍADA 'tar nach faici na flaithi' (through which the chiefs were not seen, Ériu xi 207).

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CRÚACH 'a stack or rick of corn' was used also of conical-shaped mountains or hills. In medieval Irish, Crúach as a proper name referred to the mountain now best known as Croagh Patrick in Co. Mayo. The association with Saint Patrick came from later traditions which held that the saint fasted there for 40 days and from there banished the snakes from Ireland. From 'rick', the English equivalent of 'crúach', the mountain acquired its common local name, The Reek.

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FÁELAD 'to become or behave like a wolf' occurs in the name Laignech Fáelad. Laignech and his descendants are associated with Ossory and are said to 'go in the shapes of wolves' (no theghedh fri faeladh) and 'kill livestock in the manner of wolves' (do mharbhdaís na hindile fó bés na mac tíre). Ossory is also the location for a separate, late twelfth-century, werewolf tale recounted by Gerald of Wales in his Topographia Hibernica, so it seems there was a more wide-spread tradition of werewolf-activity in this part of Ireland.

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LUS frequently occurs in the names of plants, including LUS IN SPARÁIN or what is commonly known in English as 'Shepherd's Purse'. Although the Irish name translates as 'the plant of the purse', tradition nevertheless attests to its usefulness to shepherds. One Early Modern text in particular tells us: a cur fó bráighid na caerach ocus ní feicfi in mac tíri iat 'hang it around the necks of sheep and the wolf will not see them' (O'Gr. Cat. 227)

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