> Charles scríbas:
> > I've always found the name Bealtaine to conote "a mouth of fire"
> > as in the opening between the two fires of Bealtaine.
> The problem with that explanation, if you mean it by way of
> an actual etymology, is that the vowel of the first syllable
> of "Beltaine" (modern "Bealtaine", Sc.G. "Bealltainn") is
> historically short, while the vowel of "bél" (modern "béal",
> Sc.G. "beul") is always long. A change in vowel quantity in
> a stressed syllable would be highly unusual, I think. David
> can speak to this, if I'm mistaken.
> The only exception I know to Beltaine having a short vowel
> is Keating's artificial spelling in his reprise of the Sanas
> Cormaic explanation, which is quoted from "Foras Feasa ar
> Éirinn" in DIL:
> "ón teinidh sin do-níthí i n-onóir do Bhéil ghairmthear
> Bealltaine don fhéil uasail ar a bhfuil lá an dá apstal
> mar atá Pilip agus Seamus; Bealltaine .i. Béilteine nó
> teine Bhéil"
MacBain has it:
May-day, Irish béalteine, Early Irish beltene, belltaine, *belo-te(p)niâ
(Stokes), "bright-fire", where belo- is allied to English bale ("bale-fire"),
Anglo-Saxon bael, Lithuanian baltas, white. The Gaulish god-names Belenos and
Belisama are also hence, and Shakespeare's Cym-beline. Two needfires were
lighted on Beltane among the Gael, between which they drove their cattle for
purification and luck; hence the proverb: "Eadar dà theine Bhealltuinn" -
Between two Beltane fires.
Dineen offers these alternative spellings:
Béaltaine (Meath) and Beáltaine (Connacht and Donegal)
I've also seen the spelling of Béilteine in a listing of various Irish month
names int he different Irish language forms (i.e. Béarla na Feinne, Béarla na
bhFilí, Béarla Eadarscartha, Béarla Teibhide, and Gnáith Bhéarla.