Tuaim Drecain----'Whorl of the Dragon'
One would expect a placename in an early medieval story to have contextual
In §323 of the Yellow Book of Lecan version of Sanas Cormaic (ed. Meyer,
[Coire Brecain .i. saobhc[h]oire mor fuil eter Erind Albain a leth fothuaid
.i. comruc na n-ilmuire. In muir timc[h]ell nErenn aniarthair & in muir
timc[h]ell nAlban anairt[h]uaidh & a mmuir andeass eter Eirinn & Albain.
Foscerd iarom imonsech fo c[h]osmailius luathrinde & docuiredar cach ai i
tuaim alaile amail orceil tairechtae & suigthe sis i fudomhoin co mbi a
coire obele nosuigfedh cid Erind [&] focherad ind for aonchoi.]
The sense is that there are three seas which mix together in Coire Brecain
(Brecan's Cauldron/Whirlpol) in a circular motion similar to that of a
'luathrinde,' which DIL (rind) says is the name of an ornament or motif in
engraving. DIL S 125 5 translating roundly states "of three currents meeting
and forming a vortex." It is an easy step to visualise the familiar whorled
ornament motifs common in early Irish decoration. The part which includes
'tuaim' is less easy to pin down: [...docuiredar cach ai i túaim alaile
amail orcéil tairechtae & súigthe sís i fudomhoin...]. DIL D235 86ff.
translates, "it puts each of them in the place of another," ('tuaim' is
translated as "place"). If, consistent with the context we venture a much
more specific meaning for 'tuaim' as ring or spiral we can translate ['it
puts each of them into the spiral of another'] = "spiralling into one
another like a vortex ?...? and sucked down into the depths etc" which is
enough for the present proposition, because it's only 'tuaim' that's of
concern. 'Tuaim' as ring or spiral attached to 'drecain' gives the place
name Tuaim Drecain, if not it's primary significance, a secondary one as a
recognisable ornamental motif resonant of the three paths in the story.
Dragon's head on interlace ornament is a commonplace.
How might this visual representation tie in with 'túaim' "mound"? Greene's
note on the word 'túaim' in Celtica 4 (1958, 44) notes the meaning "bend in
a river" in place names which might tie in with the idea of "vortex or
circular motion" Túaim in some placenames may relate to bends/whorls in a
river. The Woodford river runs through the parish of Tomregan in Cavan.
Some passage graves were corbelled, i.e. stones were laid upon one another
so that each layer made a smaller circle; the final construction being a
beehive type, the method of building probably involving the layers-of-stones
going round and round in a spiralling movement till they were done
Any opinions on all that?