Wednesday, July 20, 2005


UI's Celtic Mythology - Conlai

Conlai, sometimes known as Connla, was the doomed son of the great Ulster hero Cuchulainn. According to one tradition, Cuchulainn had visited the Land of Shadows in order to challenge the warrior woman Aoifa to single combat. After the fight, which the hero just managed to win by the use of his cunning, they became lovers and Conlai was conceived. When he left, Cuchulainn gave Aoife a gold ring. Years later Conlai wore this ring on a visit to Ulster, where he challenged the local heroes to combat. Just like his father, Conlai was quick to anger and soon overcame Conall, Cuchulainn's foster-brother.
Despite the misgivings of his wife Emer, Cuchulainn could not resist fighting the young stranger himself. Too proud to announce his own identity when challenged by Cuchulainn, Conlai accepted the possibility of death and drew his sword. Although Cuchulainn was impressed by sword-play which matched his own, he lost temper the moment Conlai cut off one of his locks of hair. The terrible combat only ended when Cuchulainn drove his spear through Conlai's stomach. Only then did Cuchulainn notice on his young opponent's finger the gold ring he had given to Aoifa. Cuchulainn, overwhelmed with remorse and grief, carried the dying Conlai to his house and afterwards buried his forgotten son.

I have to say of all the Celtic myths, this one is one of my favourites. I think it's beautifully tragic like a truly great story should be.


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