God of smithing; member of the Tuatha Dé Danann and creator of their weapons. He is usually named together with Luichtne the carpenter, Creidne the wright, and Dian Cecht the leech. His Welsh counterpart is Gofannon and his Gaulish is Gobannos.
Goibniu who was not impotent in smelting,
Luichtne, the free wright Creidne,
Dian Cecht, for going roads of great healing,
Mac ind Oc, Lug son of Ethliu.
--The Book of Invasions--
Goibniu was the smith of the Tuatha Dé Danann, and interestingly enough, we are never told of his parentage. However, if we take into consideration his Welsh counterpart of Gofannon, we might assume that he is the son of the hypothetical Danu, or perhapse a brother of the Dagda and Dian Cecht.
There are two important texts which attest to him, the earlier being a charm in the St. Gall codex, and the later being "The Second Battle of Magh Turedh" in Harl. 5280. In the St. Gall codex, he is called upon in a spell to remove a thorn:
...dodath scenn toscen todaig rogarg fiss goibnen aird goibnenn renaird goibnenn ceingeth ass:-
very sharp is Goibniu’s science, let Goibniu’s goad go out before Goibniu’s goad!
In "The Second Battle of Magh Turedh," Ruadan son of Bres and Brighidh was sent to kill Goibniu. As Ruadan was 3/4 TDD (and a grandson of the Dagda), the Fomorians felt that he would make a good spy. He asked for the impliments of a spear from Goibniu, and had the weapon assembled by a woman named Cron. Ruadan then took the spear and flung it at Goibniu who, although wounded, pulled out the spear and killed Ruadan. At his death, Brighidh invented the practise of keening--that high-pitched wailing for the dead, sometimes associated with the beansídhe.
Goibniu then went to the Well of Slaine, provided over by Dian Cecht and his family, and was healed of his wounds by its magic waters. He then returned to battle, making weapons for the TDD, who eventually won Ireland from the Fomorians.
Rachel Bromwich goes on to connect this to the Welsh story of Gofannon killing Dylan eil Ton, but there is little information on this slaying to understand if it has a similiar context to that of Goibinu and Ruadan.
Goibniu apparently lived on in Irish folklore as Goban Saor, a legendary craftsman who built the round towers.
SOURCES Anonymous. Lebor Gabála Érenn: Book of the Taking of Ireland Part 1-5. ed. and tr. by R.A.S. Macalister. Dublin: Irish Texts Society, 1941.
Anonymous. Cath Maige Tuired: The Second Battle of Mag Tuired. ed. and trans. by Elizabeth A. Gray. Dublin: Irish Texts Society, 1982. URL: http://www.ucc.ie/celt/published/T300010/index.html
Anonymous. "The St. Gall Incantations." Thesaurus Palaeohibernicus : a collection of old-Irish glosses, scolia, prose, and verse ed. by Whitley Stokes and John Strachan. first edition: Cambridge University Press, 1901. Reprint: Dublin : Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1975.
MacCulloch, J.A. Religion of the Ancient Celts. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1911.
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Mary Jones © 2004