Bran and Sgeolan were Fionn Mac Cumhal’s faithful hounds.
They were always with him wherever he went. They were so wise that seemed human in knowledge, and they also displayed magical skills related to fairies.
By the way, two hounds were not ordinary animals, as they were the offspring of a Tuatha de Danann woman.
Fionn's mother and sister, Muire and Tuiren, would often stay with him at Almhuin, headquarters of the Fianna, where he lived.
Iollan Eachtach, a Fianna chief, asked Fionn for Tuiren's hand in marriage, which was granted under the condition that if for any reason Tuiren was going to be displeased, Iollan would allow her to return freely.
Iollan already had a sweetheart among the Tuatha de Danann, Uchtdealb of the Fair Breast, who after learning that Iollan got married become utterly jealous. She took on the appearance of Fionn's messenger and went to Tuiren's house to wish the woman a good life. Before departing, she beat Tuiren with a rod and turned her into a pregnant beautiful hound. Still in the form of Fionn's messenger, Uchtdealb brought the hound to Fionn telling him that his aunt wanted him to foster the dog. He took charge of her and grew fond of the hound first and her puppies later.
In the meantime it became known that Tuiren had disappeared, and Fionn called Iollan to account for it. He claimed she had gone for he could not find her, but begged for time to search for her. When he could not find her he went to Uchtdealb, who promised to free Tuiren if he would be hers and flee together. She respected the word given and freed Tuiren from her doggy shape, but her offspring was already born and stayed in animal form.
One was a jet black pup, the other grey. Fionn named the black Bran, the grey was Sgeolan. The grey hound was the most dangerous and seemed only to be controlled by Bran, who, like his master, was gifted in a remarkable degree with the foreknowledge of evil; so was able to give his lord many warnings to keep him from danger.
Bran would always foretell when victory was not for Fianna and for this he showed sorrow by laying down before him and howling bitterly, warning Fionn.
The Irish wolf-dog had a lithe body, a slender head, and was as fleet as the wind.
The Fianna, who used for form a godly army of a thousand or more knights, went generally to hunt accompanied by about three thousand hounds.
Bran led them all, for he was the wisest and fleetest.
Bran is described in Bardic legends as A ferocious, white-breasted, sleek-haunched hound; standing as high as mid-chest of a full grown man; fiery, deep black eyes that seemed to swim in sockets of blood. Sgeolan was described as Slightly smaller than the black beast, small headed, having eyes of a dragon, the claws of a wolf, the vigour of a lion; and the venom of a serpent.
In the same ancient poem Fionn himself, is described in highly ornate bardic language, as he leads the hounds by a chain of silver attached to a collar of gold: A noble, handsome, fair-featured Fianna prince; young, courteous, manly, puissant, powerful in action; the tallest of the warriors; the strongest of the champions; the most beautiful of the human race.
- Black Dog
- Black Shuck
- Cwn Annwn, or Hounds of Hell, and Annwn, their Underworld;
- Cusith, the fairy dog;
- Devil's Dandy Dogs, or Dando Dogs;
- Gabriel Hounds or Gabble Retchets
- Hounds of the Hills;
- Fairy Raed;
- Norse Wild Hunt;
- Sluagh or Fairy Host;
- Wild Hunt;
- Wandering Jew