The Eblani ( Ἐβλάνοι) or Eblanii ( Ἐβλάνιοι) (manuscript variants: Ebdani [ Ἐβδανοί]; Blani [Βλάνοι]; Blanii [Βλάνιοι]) were a people of ancient Ireland uniquely recorded in Ptolemy's 2nd-century Geography, in which they inhabit a region on the east coast, roughly north of County Dublin. Ptolemy also lists a "city" called Eblana ( Ἔβλανα), which he locates between the estuaries of the rivers Buvinda (Βουουίνδα) and Oboca (᾿Οβόκα), implying a coastal site between the Boyne and probably the Liffey respectively.[1] O'Rahilly tentatively suggested that the tribal name, which he speculatively reconstructed as *Ebodanī, may have survived in the toponym Edmann, a region on the east coast, probably in County Louth, occasionally mentioned in early texts.[2] O'Rahilly's line of reasoning was inspired by the form Ebdanoi [ Ἐβδανοί] found in one manuscript family of Ptolemy's work, but this variant is demonstrably the result of a transcriptional error for Eblanoi ( Ἐβλάνοι) in a majuscule script, where Λ has been misread as Δ, and not vice versa as O'Rahilly reasoned. This defective reading cannot therefore be cited in support of his hypothesis.[3]

Local historian Brendan Mathews has more recently suggested a link with the passage grave system at the mouth of the Delvin river, originally of at least eight tombs, which would have been a prominent landscape feature and established harbour in Ptolemy's day. The linguistic shift from Eblana to Delvin (Irish Albhain) seems far more likely.


  1. Ptol. Geog. 2.2.7-8 (ed. K. Müller [Paris 1883-1901]); P. Freeman, Ireland and the Classical World (Austin, Texas, 2001), pp. 69, 77-9
  2. T.F. O'Rahilly, Early Irish History and Mythology (Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1946), pp. 7-8
  3. K. Müller (ed.), Claudii Ptolemaei Geographia (Paris 1883-1901) I, p. 79 (apparatus criticus)
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