inion-an-tsneachta: CÚ CHULAINN (Irish her…


CÚ CHULAINN (Irish hero) ~ Ulster Cycle

Cú Chulainn is perhaps the most famous Irish mythological hero, whose childhood name was Sétanta. He gained his better-known name as a child after he killed Culann’s fierce guard-dog (cù, in Irish) in self-defence and offered to take its place until a replacement could be reared. At the age of seventeen he defended Ulster single-handedly against the armies of queen Medbof Connacht in the epic Táin Bó Cúailnge (“Cattle Raid of Cooley”). He is mainly known for his terrifying battle frenzy, or ríastra (translated as “warp spasm” and as “torque”), in which he becomes an unrecognisable monster who knows neither friend nor foe. He fights from his chariot, driven by his loyal charioteer Láeg and drawn by his horses, Liath Macha and Dub Sainglend.

In more modern times, Cú Chulainn is often referred to as the “Hound of Ulster”.