Celtic peoples held lakes and rivers to be sacred as evinced from their mythology. According to the myths the rivers Shannon and the Boyne were created by goddesses. The sacred nature of water is also evident in the archaeological record due to the many finds of votive offerings of precious objects in watery places. Sometimes river names reveal creation myths not by gods but by furrowing animals. It may be indicative of how sacred these animals were once considered.
The pig was one
such animal, spending its lifetime furrowing through the earth creating
river like meandering channels. It gives its name of the River Suck in
Connacht which is one of the main tributaries of the River Shannon. The
word derives from the old Irish word for pig ‘socc’ or more specifically the pigs digging instrument the snout. The river, Afon
Soch and the village named after it Abersoch in Wales contain the
element ‘soch’ which is of Celtic origin and thus related to the Irish word ‘socc’.
Wales also there is the river Twrch (literally 'hog') in Ystalyfera and
Llanuwchllyn are other examples, as is the river Hwch (sow) near
Llanberis. Banw, a word for a 'piglet', is apparent in the river names
Banw in Montgomeryshire and the rivers Aman (from Amanw) and Ogwen.
Image: River Suck at O’Flynn’s Lock C. Roscommon.