Connla's Well

The noble name of Sinann seek ye from me,
Its bare recital would not be pleasant,
Not alike now are its action and noise
As when Sinann herself was free and alive.

~~ Translated from the Irish of Cuan 0' Lothchain ~~

Sinann* was the daughter of the learned Lodan, who was the son of Lir, the great sea king of the Tuatha De Danaan colony of Erin, from whose son and successor, Manannan, the Isle of Man derives its name and ancient celebrity.

In those very early times there was a certain mystical fountain that was called Connla's Well (situated, so far as we can gather, in Lower Ormond). As to who this Connla was, from whom the well had its name, we are not told; but the well itself appears to have been regarded as another Helicon by the ancient Irish poets.

Over this well there grew, according to the legend, nine beautiful hazel-trees, which annually send forth their blossoms and fruits simultaneously. The nuts were of the richest crimson colour, and teemed with the knowledge of all that was refined in literature, poetry and art.

No sooner, however, were the beautiful nuts produced on the trees, than they always dropped into the well, raising by their fall a succession of shining red bubbles. Now during this time the water was always full of salmon; and no sooner did the bubbles appear than these salmon darted to the surface and ate the nuts, after which they made their way to the river.

The eating of the nuts produced brilliant crimson spots on the bellies of these salmon; and to catch and eat these salmon became an object of more than mere gastronomic interest among those who were distinguished in the arts and in literature without being at the pains and the delay of long study: for the fish was supposed to have become filled with the knowledge which was contained in the nuts, which, it was believed, would be transferred in full to those who had the good fortune to catch and eat them.

It was forbidden to women to come within the precincts of Connla's wonderful well; but the beautiful Lady Sinann, who possessed above every maiden of her time all the accomplishments of her sex, longed to have also those more solid and masculine acquirements which were accessible at Connla's well to the other sex only.

To possess herself of these she went secretly to the mystical fountain; but as soon as she approached its brink, the water rose up violently, burst forth over its banks, and rushed towards the great river now called the Shannon, overwhelming the Lady Sinann in their course, whose dead body was carried down by the torrent, and at last cast up on the land at the confluence of two streams.

After this the well became dry for ever; and the stream which issued from it was that originally known by the name of the Lady Sinann or Shannon; but having fallen into the great succession of lakes which runs nearly through the center of Ireland, the course of lakes subsequently appropriated the name to itself, which it still retains, whilst the original stream is now unknown.

The original Sinann is, however, believed to have fallen into the present Shannon, near the head of Lough Derg, not far from Portumna.

*Sinann is pronounced "shannon", as in Gaelic the "si" at the beginning of a word is a "sh" sound...

From On the Manners and Customs of the Ancient Irish by Eugene O'Curry