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Encyclopedia > CĂșchulainn
Young Cúchulainn, 1912 illustration by Stephen Reid.

In Irish mythology Cúchulainn (also spelled Cú Chulainn or Cuchullain) is the pre-eminent hero of Ulster in the Ulster Cycle. His mother was Deichtine, sister of king Conchobar mac Nessa; his father was either the god Lugh, or Deichtire's mortal husband Sualtam, and his foster-father was Fergus mac Róich. His charioteer, Láeg, is ever-present by his side. Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... 1912 is a leap year starting on Monday. ... The mythology of pre-Christian Ireland did not entirely survive the conversion to Christianity, but much of it was preserved, shorn of its religious meanings, in medieval Irish literature, which represents the most extensive and best preserved of all the branches of Celtic mythology. ... Ulster (Irish: Cúige Uladh) is one of the four provinces on the island of Ireland. ... Wikipedia does not yet have an article with this exact name. ... In Irish mythology, Deichtine or Deichtire was the sister of Conchobar mac Nessa and the mother of Cúchulainn. ... In Irish mythology, Conchobar mac Nessa (also Conchobor, Conchubar, Conchobhar, Conchubhar, Conchúr, Conchúir, Conor) was king of Ulster during the events of the Ulster Cycle. ... Lug or Lugh is an Irish sun god and king of the Tuatha Dé Danann whose name means light or brightness. His epithets include Lámfhada (long hand), for his skill with a spear or sling, and Samildánach (multi-talented, skilled in many arts). He is handsome, perpetually youthful... In Irish mythology, Sualtam was the mortal father of Cuchulainn by Deichtine. ... In Irish mythology, Fergus (or Fearghus) mac Róich (or mac Róeg) is the former king of Ulster during the events of the Ulster Cycle. ... ...


Cúchulainn was almost undefeatable in battle due to his spear (which sang for the blood of its enemies) and his warrior frenzy, comparable to that of the Norse berserkers. It is described in Thomas Kinsella's translation of The Táin this way: Norse is related to Scandinavia, and may mean: Ancient Norse mythology Medieval Norsemen, i. ... For other uses, see Berserker (disambiguation). ... Thomas Kinsella (born May 4, 1928) is an Irish poet, translator, editor and publisher. ...

"The Warp-Spasm overtook him : it seemed each hair was hammered into his head, so sharply they shot upright. You would swear a fire-speck tipped each hair. He squeezed one eye narrower than the eye of a needle; he opened the other wider than the mouth of a goblet. He bared his jaws to the ear; he peeled back his lips to the eye-teeth till his gullet showed. The hero-halo rose up from the crown of his head."

This frenzy caused him to turn about in his skin; his sinews bulged with knots the size of a baby's head; a poisonous black mist rose above his head; and he snapped his jaw shut with enough force to kill a lion, showering sparks. In this fearsome state he could not tell friend from foe, killing in front and behind alike.


A Manx story tries to account for this frenzy. The story claims that Cúchulainn came to the Isle of Man to have his spear made by a famous smith in return for the promise of a part of the land he would conquer. While he waited for the spear to be made, he discovered and captured a mermaid named Teeval "the princess of the sea" who gave him the ability to call on her for help in battle in return for her freedom. The story says that when he called out to her for help, a great strength flowed into him and he cut down his enemies like grass.


The warp spasm of the hero Sláine in the comic book 2000 AD is based on Cúchulainn's frenzy. Warp spasm (riastradh in Irish Gaelic) is a mythological feat found in Celtic myth by which warriors enter a frenzied state of contortion in battle that makes them invincible. ... For other characters with the same name, see Sláine. ... 2000 AD logo 2000 AD is a weekly British science fiction oriented comic. ...

Contents

Cúchulainn's childhood

His childhood name was Sétanta (prounounced as shay-don-da), but he gained the name Cú Chulainn ("Culann's Hound") when, as a child, he killed (in self-defence) the fierce watchdog of Culann the smith. Out of obligation he offered to take its place while a replacement was reared. He took arms when, at the age of seven, he heard the druid Cathbad prophesy that anyone who took arms that day would have everlasting fame, although his life would be short - one of the reasons he is compared to the Greek hero Achilles. In the Ulster Cycle of Irish mythology, Culann was a smith whose house was protected by a ferocious watchdog. ... Smith can refer to a person who practices smithing, to a very common family name or to part of a place name or location. ... In the Celtic religion, the word Druid denotes the priestly class in ancient Celtic societies which existed through much of Western Europe north of the Alps and in the British Isles. ... Cathbad is the chief druid in the court of Conchobar mac Nessa in the Ulster Cycle of Irish Mythology. ... For other uses, see Achilles (disambiguation). ...


Emer and Cúchulainn's training

In Cúchulainn's youth he was so beautiful the Ulstermen worried that, without a wife of his own, he would steal their wives and ruin their daughters. They searched all over Ireland for a suitable wife for him, but he would have none but Emer, daughter of Forgall the Wily. The Ulaid, also known as the Ulaidh and the Ulad, are a people of Early Ireland who gave their name to the Irish Province of Ulster. ... In the Ulster Cycle of Irish mythology, Emer, or in modern Irish Eimear, daughter of Forgall the Wily, was Cúchulainns wife. ...


However, Forgall was opposed to the match. He suggested that Cúchulainn should train in arms with the renowned warrior-woman Scáthach in Scotland, hoping the ordeal would be too much for him and he would be killed. Cúchulainn took up the challenge. In the meantime, Forgall offered Emer to Lugaid mac Nóis, a king of Munster. However, when he heard that Emer loved Cúchulainn, Lugaid refused her hand. Scáthach (shadowy) is the female warrior who trains Cúchulainn in the arts of war in the Ulster Cycle of Irish mythology. ... Scotland (Alba in Scottish Gaelic) is a country in northwest Europe, occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain. ... Alternate uses: See Munster (disambiguation). ...


Scáthach taught Cúchulainn all the arts of war, including the use of the Gae Bulg, a terrible, barbed spear, thrown with the foot, that had to be cut out of its victim. His fellow trainees included Ferdiad, who became Cúchulainn's best friend and foster-brother. In Celtic mythology, Gáe Bulg (notched spear) was the spear of Cuchulainn, given to him by Aife. ... In Irish mythology, Ferdiad (also Fer Diad, Ferdia) was Cuchulainns best friend and foster-brother. ...


While there he slept with Scáthach's rival Aífe and left her pregnant. Aífe (Modern Irish Aoife EE-fah) is the name of several characters from Irish mythology: 1. ...


Cúchulainn returned from Scotland fully trained, but Forgall still refused to let him marry Emer. Cúchulainn stormed Forgall's fortress, killing twenty-four of Forgall's men, abducted Emer and stole Forgall's treasure. Forgall himself fell from the ramparts to his death.


Conchobar mac Nessa, the king of Ulster, had the "right of the first night" over all marriages of his subjects. He was afraid of Cúchulainn's reaction if he exercised it in this case, but would lose his authority if he didn't. A solution was found - Conchobar would sleep with Emer on the night of the wedding, but Cathbad the druid would sleep between them. In Irish mythology, Conchobar mac Nessa (also Conchobor, Conchubar, Conchobhar, Conchubhar, Conchúr, Conchúir, Conor) was king of Ulster during the events of the Ulster Cycle. ... Cathbad is the chief druid in the court of Conchobar mac Nessa in the Ulster Cycle of Irish Mythology. ... In the Celtic religion, the word Druid denotes the priestly class in ancient Celtic societies which existed through much of Western Europe north of the Alps and in the British Isles. ...


Seven years later, Connla, Cúchulainn's son by Aífe, came to Ireland in search of his father, but Cúchulainn took him as an intruder and killed him when he refused to identify himself. In Irish mythology, Connla was a son of Aife and Cuchulainn. ...


The Cattle Raid of Cooley

At the age of seventeen, Cú Chulainn single-handedly defended Ulster from the army of Connacht in Táin Bó Cúailnge (the Cattle Raid of Cooley). The men of Ulster were disabled by a curse, so Cú Chulainn prevented Medb's army from advancing by invoking the right of single combat at fords. He defeated champion after champion in a stand-off lasting months. When Fergus was sent to face him he agreed to yield, so long as Fergus agreed to return the compliment the next time they met. Finally, he fought a gruelling three day duel with his best friend and foster-brother, Ferdiad. The Ulstermen eventually roused, and the final battle began. Fergus kept his side of the bargain and yielded to Cú Chulainn, pulling his forces off the field. Connacht's other allies panicked and Medb was forced to retreat. Connaught redirects here. ... The Táin Bó Cúailnge, or Cattle Raid of Cooley, is the central tale in the Ulster Cycle, one of the four great cycles that make up the surviving corpus of Irish mythology. ... . (, Medb, Medhbh, Meabh, Maeve, Maev) is queen of Connacht in the Ulster Cycle of Irish mythology. ... In Irish mythology, Ferdiad (also Fer Diad, Ferdia) was Cuchulainns best friend and foster-brother. ...


Cúchulainn and Cú Roí

Cúchulainn had encounters with Cú Roí mac Dáire of Munster, both as an ally and an enemy. In the Ulster Cycle of Irish mythology, Cú Roí (Cú Ruí, Cú Raoi) mac Dáire is a king of Munster and a sorcerer who can change his form at will. ...


The troublemaker Briccriu once incited three heroes, Cúchulainn, Conall Cernach and Lóegaire Búadach, to compete for the champion's portion at his feast. In every test that was set Cúchulainn came out top, but neither Conall nor Lóegaire would accept the result. Cú Roí settled it by visiting each in the guise of a hideous churl and challenging them to behead him, then allow him to return and behead them in return. Conall and Lóegaire both beheaded Cú Roí, who picked up his head and left, but when the time came for him to return they fled. Only Cúchulainn was brave and honourable enough to submit himself to Cú Roí's axe; Cú Roí spared him and he was declared champion. Briccriu (Bricriu, Briccirne, Bricne), is a warrior, poet and troublemaker in the Ulster Cycle of Irish Mythology. ... Conall Cernach (Conall the Victorious) is a heroic warrior of the Ulaid in the Ulster Cycle of Irish mythology. ... In the Ulster Cycle of Irish mythology, Lóegaire Búadach (Lóegaire the Victorious) is a hapless Ulster warrior who mainly functions as comic relief. ...


Cú Roí, again in disguise, joined the Ulstermen on a raid on Inis Fer Falga (probably the Isle of Man), in return for his choice of the spoils. They stole treasure, and abducted Blathnat, daughter of the island's king, who loved Cúchulainn. But when Cú Roí was asked to choose his share, he chose Blathnat. Cúchulainn tried to stop him taking her, but Cú Roí cut his hair and drove him into the ground up to his armpits, before escaping, taking Blathnat with him.


Later, Blathnat betrayed Cú Roí to Cúchulainn, who beseiged his fort and killed him. However Ferchertne, Cú Roí's poet, enraged at the betrayal of his lord, grabbed Blathnat and leaped off a cliff, killing her and himself.


Emer's only jealousy

Cúchulainn had many lovers, but Emer's only jealousy came when he fell in love with Fand, wife of Manannan mac Lir. Manannan had left her and she had been attacked by three Fomorians who wanted to control the Irish Sea. Cúchulainn agreed to help defend her as long as she married him. She agreed reluctantly, but they fell in love when they met. In Irish mythology, Fand was Queen of the Fairies, and wife of Manannan. ... In Irish mythology, Manannan mac Lir was a sea and weather god. ... In Irish mythology, the Fomorians (Irish Fomóire, Fomórach) or Fomors were a semi-divine race who inhabited Ireland in ancient times. ... The Irish Sea separates the islands of Ireland and Great Britain. ...


Manannan knew their relationship was doomed because Cúchulainn was mortal and Fand was a fairy; Cúchulainn's presence would destroy the fairies. Emer, meanwhile, tried to kill her rival, but when she saw the strength of Fand's love for Cúchulainn she decided to give him up to her. Fand, touched by Emer's magnanimity, decided to return to her own husband. Manannan shook his cloak between Cúchulainn and Fand, ensuring the two would never meet again, and Cúchulainn and Emer drank a potion to wipe the whole affair from their memories.


Cúchulainn's Death

The figure of Cúchulainn is used to commommorate the Easter Rising on the ten shilling coin

In Dublin, a statue of Cúchulainn in the General Post Office shows his demise, this image was also used on the ten shilling coin produced for 1966. Medb conspired with Lugaid, son of Cú Roí, Erc, son of Cairbre Nia Fer, and the sons of others Cúchulainn had killed, to draw him out to his death. own image File links The following pages link to this file: Cúchulainn Irish ten shilling coin Categories: GFDL images ... own image File links The following pages link to this file: Cúchulainn Irish ten shilling coin Categories: GFDL images ... The Easter Rising (Irish: Éirí Amach na Casca) was a militarily unsuccessful rebellion staged in Ireland against British rule on Easter Monday in April 1916. ... The Irish ten shilling coin featured Cúchulainn, the mythical Irish hero, the coin was produced for the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising and commenced circulation on April 12 1966 and was designed by T Hugh Paget. ... Dublin (Irish: Baile Átha Cliath1),is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Ireland, located2 near the midpoint of Irelands east coast, at the mouth of the River Liffey and at the centre of the Dublin region3. ... The General Post Office (GPO), designed by Francis Johnson is located in Dublins OConnell Street, is the headquarters of An Post, the Irish postal service. ... The Irish ten shilling coin featured Cúchulainn, the mythical Irish hero, the coin was produced for the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising and commenced circulation on April 12 1966 and was designed by T Hugh Paget. ... See also: 1965 in Ireland, 1967 in Ireland and the list of years in Ireland. Events February 13 - The Bishop of Clonfert protests over the content of The Late Late Show. ... In the Ulster Cycle of Irish mythology, Lugaid mac Con Roí was the son of Cú Roí mac Dáire. ... Cairbre Nia Fer (Niafer, Niaper), was the King of Tara in the Ulster Cycle of Irish Mythology. ...


Cúchulainn's fate was sealed by his breaking of the geasa upon him. In Cúchulainn's case, his geasa included both an obligation to accept any meal offered to him, and a ban against eating dog meat. His enemies contrived to force him to break one of these geasa by the simple approach of offering him a meal of dog meat. In this way he was spiritually weakened for the fight ahead of him. A geasa is a vow or obligation placed upon a person (usually a hero, such as Cuchulainn) in Irish mythology. ...


Mortally wounded by Lugaid's spear, Cúchulainn tied himself to a pillar-stone in order to remain standing. Only when a raven landed on his shoulder did his enemies believe he was dead. Lugaid cut off his head, but as he did so Cúchulainn's sword fell from his hand and cut Lugaid's hand off. A spear is an ancient weapon, used for hunting and war. ...


Conall Cernach had sworn that if Cú Chulainn died before him he would avenge him before sunset, and he kept his promise. He pursued Lugaid, and fought him with one hand tucked into his belt, as his opponent had lost a hand, but he only won after his horse took a bite out of Lugaid's side. Conall Cernach (Conall the Victorious) is a heroic warrior of the Ulaid in the Ulster Cycle of Irish mythology. ...


He also killed Erc, and took his head back to Tara, where his sister Achall died of grief for her brother. The Hill of Tara, located near the River Boyne, is today a mound in County Meath, Leinster, Ireland, on which the grass has veiled the rich heritage of the country. ... In the Ulster Cycle of Irish mythology, Achall, the daughter of Cairbre Nia Fer, committed suicide (or died of grief) after her brother was killed by Conall Cernach. ...


References

  • The Tain, translated by Thomas Kinsella from the Táin Bó Cuailnge, Oxford University Press, 1969; ISBN 0192810901
  • Simon James, The World of the Celts, Thames and Hudson Ltd, London, 1993; ISBN 0500050678

In the animated series, Gargoyles, Cúchulainn is a featured character in the episode, "The Hound of Ulster". In this episode, part of the World Tour story arc, the travelers, especially Bronx, play an important role in awakening an Irish wastral, Rory Dugan, to realizing that he is the reincarnation of the Irish hero who is depicted much like the Marvel Universe's Thor. An animated series or cartoon series is a television series produced by means of animation. ... The principal characters of Gargoyles, from left to right: Bronx, Hudson, Goliath, Lexington, Broadway (behind), Brooklyn Gargoyles is an acclaimed Walt Disney superhero animated series that aired from October 24, 1994 to 1997 featuring a clan of six warrior creatures that were turned to stone during the day. ... The Marvel Universe is the fictional shared setting where most of the comic stories published by Marvel Comics take place. ... Thor (often called The Mighty Thor,) is a Marvel Comics superhero, based on the thunder god of Norse mythology. ...


 
 

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