cu chulainn

All posts tagged cu chulainn

U is for Ulster

Published April 30, 2012 by caitlinnicoll

Ulster is a province in Northern Ireland.

The Fomorians were the first to settle Ireland. They were semi-divine beings that preceded the gods, and represented chaos and nature, much like the Titans. In some accounts, they are said to have the head of a goat, but other accounts say they are very beautiful (at least some of them).

The Tuatha De Danann are a race of people who settled Ireland during the bronze age. According to Irish mythology, they were divine;  the Irish equivalent of the Olympians. They came to Ireland led by their king, Nuada Airgetlam, bring with them four magical treasures– The Sword of Light of Nuada, The Stone of Fal, The Spear of Lugh, and the Cauldron of Dagda. After being defeated by the Milesians, the Tuatha went underground into the fairy mound, or Sidhe, and later became the Dione Sidhe of Irish and Scottish mythology.

The Dagda is the “father figure” god is Irish mythology, and was a high king of Ireland after Nuada’s death. He is said to have great power, but is ugly, crude, and extremely well endowed. When the Dagda had an affair with Boand, he made the sun stand still for nine months to hide their affair. Their son, Oengus was therefore conceived, gestated, and born in one “day”.

The Morrigan is the goddess of war and strife, and sometimes appears as a crow, a wolf, or a cow. She was the granddaughter of Nuada, and appears later in the Ulster Cycle with Cu Chulainn.

"Cuchulain Slays the Hound of Culain", illustration by Stephen Reid from Eleanor Hull's The Boys' Cuchulain, 1904

Cu Chulainn is a famous hero in the Ulster Cycle, who is often compared to Achilles (he has a similar prophesy attached to him about great deeds, everlasting fame, and a short life).  He is the son of Lugh, who was half Tuatha, half Fomorian, and Deichtine, sister to the Ulster king Concobar. He got his moniker, which means Culann’s dog, by defeating Culann’s ferocious guard dog in self-defense when he was little. At the age of seventeen, he defended Ulster against queen Medb of Connacht by himself in the Cattle Raid of Cooley.




Book recommendations for reading challenges:

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