EDAIN (Echraide)

The daughter of King Ailill and Queen Medhbha of Connacht, Edain was described as the most beautiful woman in all Ireland. Her name means ‘Horse-riding Edain, and she is probably the Irish equivalent of the Welsh Rhiannon and the Gaulish Epona
Midhir, a god associated with rebirth, who lived in the sidh of Bri Leith, sought Epona’s hand in marriage, to which she consented. However, Fuamhnach, Midhir’s first wife was so jealous of the beauty of Edain that she turned her into a pool of water, that turned into a worm and the worm into a beautiful fly whose music filled the air. Surprisingly, Midhir was quite content to have Edain remain around him, even in this strange form. Still enraged, Fuamhnach conjured up a strong wind that blew the fly to a far-away rocky coast where she lay helpless for a total of seven years until Oengus Mac In Og found her, placed her in a crystal bower and brought her back to Midhir. Edain’s travails were not over, however, as Fuamhnach once again caused a strong wind to blow her into a goblet of wine and Edain was subsequently swallowed. But even this did not signify the end for Edain Echraide. The woman who swallowed the wine became pregnant, and, 1,102 years after she had been first born she was reborn, and was this time simply known as Edain grand-daughter of Etar.
When Edain came of age the second time around, Eochaidh Airemh became the King of Ireland, but, as he was unmarried his warriors refused to follow him. Learning of Edain’s uncompromising beauty, he took her as his wife. News of the marriage reached Midhir and the god realised that this must be the reincarnation of his long lost second wife, and he set off to Tara to reclaim her. Edain accepted the account, but refused to leave Eochaidh Airemh without his permission. The king refused his consent but swore to give up the girl if Midhir could beat him in a chess match. Eochaidh Airemh won the early games and, as a forfeit required Midhir to build a huge causeway across the bogs of Meath. After winning the final game Midhir claimed his former wife, returning to Tara one month later to collect her. However the king had barred all the doors against him so the god simply appeared in their midst, took Edain by the hand and flew up with her through the smoke hole of the great hall in the guise of a pair of swans.
Eochaidh Airemh and his warriors set off in hot pursuit and, upon reaching the sidh of Bri Leith, began to dig it up. Midhir appeared to the company and promised to return Edain, whereupon he produced fifty identical women, all the exact likeness of Edain. The king chose carefully but the one he picked was his own daughter, also known as Edain, although some call her Ess. It was quite some considerable time before the king realised his mistake, and by that time Edain, or Ess, had borne him a son, the hero Conaire Mor