Tiompan bec ro bói ac na mnaib
cona leithrind airgit báin
cona deilgnib oir buidhe
cona thétaib findruine
The women had a little tiompan
with léithre of bright silver
with pins of yellow gold
with its strings of findruine
The word 'léithre' would seem to mean 'restraint' and relate to the verb 'leithrigh' (restrain)
which is found the 'focloir' (wordlist) appendixed to the 1824 edition of the Tiomna Nuadh
(New Testament) by Huilliam O Domhnuill (William O' Donnell). 'Leithrigh' is also found in an
18th century glossary by Seumas Ó Broin (Egerton 158) and would be related to the plural
term 'léithrinn' (fetters) found in William Shaw's dictionary of 1780.
In ancient sources, the word appears glossed as an 'urchall' which is a spancel, a short rope
to tether the foreleg of an animal; it also appears as the parts of a 'táball' (sling) in which
fingers can get caught.
The singular form of the word is applied to the harp which probably indicates a singular
object, which seems to discount the possibility of the word being synonymous with the wires of
the harp. The glosses to the Amhra Choluim Chille offer some guesses at the meaning of the
word 'céis' which unfortunately do not help much in the definition of 'léithre'.
céis ... ainm do tharraing ar a mbí ind léithriu
name of a nail on which is the léithre
is i in cheis isin chruit ani chongbas in lethrind cona tétaib inti
it is the céis in the cruit that holds the léithre with its wires in it
Since the word is being used in a gloss to explain the meaning of 'céis', the glossator surely
must have understood the contemporary meaning of léithre. The second quote above does
not seem to indicate that the léithre is the gamut of wires on the harp, as here a nail holds the
léithre while the léithre holds the wires. This would seem to indicate the cheekband on the
Gaelic harp. The cheekband was a piece of metal nailed onto the wood through which the
pins passed: a veritable 'pin board'. It is documented as having the ancient forms 'léithriu'
(nom.), 'leithrind' (acc. sg. and dat. pl.) and 'leitrinne' (gen.).
The following quote from Agallamh na Seanórach might then indicate a tiompan with pegs of
gold and perhaps cheekband of silver and wires of 'findruine'.