Goibniu was the god of smithcraft and creator of weapons for An Tuatha Dé Danann. His name is derived from the Irish word for smith – an Gobha. It is said that he could forge a weapon with only three blows from his hammer.
He is usually named together with his brothers, Credné, the bronze-worker and Luchtné, the carpenter and the three of them made up a trio of crafters for An Tuatha known as ‘an Trí Dé Dana’. They often worked together to forge weapons with each one making a part of the whole. Goibniu forged lance-heads, Luchtné cut shafts for them and Credné fixed the two parts together. Dian Cecht, the healer, was also thought to be his brother.
Goibniu is most famous for his role in the Second Battle of Moytura. He created a magical enchantment so that every lance and spearhead made by him would never miss their target and never failed to kill. Any weapon broken or shattered in battle would be fully restored and ready for use the following morning.
When the Fomorians saw the magical weapons, they sent Rúadán to spy on Goibniu. Rúadán was the son of Bres and Brigid, who was half fomorian, half an Tuatha, but he had taken the side of the Fomorians at the battle.
He disguised himself as a Tuatha Dé Danann warrior and went to look for Goibniu. He found him at his forge and asked for a spear. Without suspicion, Goibniu gave him one, but as soon as Rúadán got it into his hand, he thrust it through the smith’s body. Before he died, Goibniu pulled out the spear and fired it back at Rúadán, who died shortly afterwards from the blow.
Goibniu, on the other hand, was taken to the ’Well of Slaine’, made by the healer, Dian Cecht and his family. He was healed of his wounds by its magical waters and then returned to battle, making weapons for An Tuatha Dé Danann who eventually won Ireland from the Fomorians.
Goibniu was also known for his hospitality. He had a special drink, a mead or ale called the ‘fled Goibnenn’, that gave the gift of immortality to the Tuatha De Danann. This drink is sometimes called the ‘feast of Goibniu’ and is said, in some sources, to cure disease. He also owned a cow who gave endless milk.
Following the departure of Tuatha Dé Danann, Goibniu is believed to have lived on in Irish folklore as ‘Goban Saor’. He was believed to have been a legendary craftsman and builder of bridges and round towers. ‘Goban Saor’ means Goibniu the Architect and marvellous structures that are still visible all over Ireland were said to have been inspired by him.