Monday, July 25, 2005


UI's Celtic Mythology - Cuchulainn

Since there is alot of information about Cuchulainn, for today I will only go into some detail on his early years:

Cuchulainn, in Irish mythology, was the champion warrior of Ulster. His name means the "Hound of Culann", although he was usually called the Hound of Ulster. Cuchulainn was the Irish Achilles, a larger-than-life fighter whose bouts of temper often caused grief to himself and others. Cuchulainn's mother was Dechtire, the daughter of the druid Cathbad, an advisor to the King Conchobar Mac Nessa. It was Cathbad who foretold that Cuchulainn would become a great warrior but die young. Shortly after her marriage to Sualtam Mac Roth, who was the brother of the deposed Ulster ruler Fergus Mac Roth, Dechtire along with fifty of her kinswomen flew to the otherworld in the form of a flock of birds. During the wedding feast she had swallowed a fly and dreamed as a resut of the sun god Lugh, who told her to make this journey. Cathbad reassured his son-in-law by saying that Dechtire had merely gone to visit her otherworld relations, for her mother was the daughter of the god Aonghus. In fact, Lugh kept Dechtire there for his own pleasure for three years.

When Dechtire and her women returned to Emain Macha, the stronghold of the Ulster kings, in the form of brightly coloured birds, Dechtire was expecting Lugh's son, Setanta. Sualtam Mac Roth was so pleased to have his wife home again that when the boy was born he accepted him as his own child.

As a youth, Setanta quickly learned the ways of the warrior, but it was not obvious to everyone just how strong and brave he was until he killed an enormous hound with his bare hands. One day, arriving late at the gate of a house where King Conchobar Mac Nessa was being entertained by the Ulster smith Culann, the young hero was attacked by the ferocious guard dog and only saved himself by dashing out its brains on one of the gate's pillars. Their host had now lost a faithful guardian, so Setanta offered to take the hound's place while a replacement was found. When Culann thanked the young warrior but declined his offer, it was decided that henceforth Setanta would be known as Cuchulainn ("the hound of Culann").

Tomorrow I will go into Cuchulainn's exploits on the battlefield. Incidentally, the above version of how Setanta killed Culann's hound was not the one told to myself and my fellow classmates in school. I read that Setanta took his hurl and drove his sliotar (the ball) into the Hound's mouth thus killing it. In fairness, I think it was a better story to tell children as opposed to this one with the dog's brains being dashed on one of the gate's pillars!


<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

© 2008 United Irelander.