The Name of Medb hErenn

Heroic & Dark Fantasy and Science Fiction Character created by Kevin L. O'Brien

Unknown, © by Gallego

The Name of Medb hErennhe name Medb hErenn is Old Irish. Unfortunately, the problem is that she was born around 1500 B.C.E., well before the arrival of the Gaels. As such, Gaeilge (Irish Gaelic) in any form would not have been spoken anywhere on the island. To get around this dilemma, Kevin L. O'Brien decided that in the fictional universe of Medb hErenn, Primitive Irish was actually an amalgam of the languages of all the races native to Ireland, which were in turn quite similar to one another. This issue will be dealt with in more detail in the essays on the races and the prehistoric pseudohistory of ancient Ireland, but for now, this makes it possible to use Gaeilge names and words in the stories with no anachronistic concerns.

Medb is pronounced "mayv"; that is, like the English "may" with a "v" tacked on to the end. The Anglicized version of this name is Maeve, while variant Gaeilge spellings include Medba, Medhbh, Meidhbh, Meadhbh, and Meabh, and the modern form is Méabh. hErenn is pronounced "hair-rain"; that is, like the English words "hair" and "rain" run together. The modern Gaeilge form is hÉireann.

hErenn is the adjective form of Erin, the Old Irish word for Ireland, and means "of Ireland". Hence, Medb hErenn means "Maeve of Ireland". She did not begin using this name until her exile; before then, she called herself Medb Inon Mhic Cruachan, which means "Maeve Daughter of Cruacha". Medb is derived from the same root word as mead, and is generally translated in one of two ways: "the intoxicating one", which is to say "she who intoxicates", and "the intoxicated one", as in "she who is intoxicated". As such, Medb hErenn can be translated as either "the intoxicating Irish woman" or "the drunken Irish woman". Though the latter is less flattering, both translations are fairly accurate.

Back to Her Character Profile.