Saturday, 23 July 2011

Cú Chulainn

 the young Cú Chulainn

Cú Chulainn , which means ‘Culann's Hound,’ is an Ulster mythological hero who appears in the stories of the Ulster Cycle.  There are several versions of his origin.  The most popular, though not the oldest, record that Cú Chulainn was the son of the god Lugh and Deichtine, who was the sister of Conchúr mac Nessa.  Cú Chulainn’s birth name was Sétanta.

He gained the name Cú Chulainn as a child after he killed Culann's fierce guard dog in self-defence.  He offered to take the guard dog’s place until a replacement could be reared.  In modern English Cú Chulainn is sometimes called ‘the Hound of Ulster.’

At the age of seventeen he defended Ulster single-handedly against the armies of queen Medb of Connacht.  His exploits are including in the epic Táin Bó Cúailnge, which means ‘Cattle Raid of Cooley.’ He fought from his chariot, driven by his loyal charioteer Láeg, and drawn by his horses, Liath Macha and Dubh Sainglenn. 

 Cú Chulainn in battle 

It was prophesied that his great deeds would give him everlasting fame, but that his life would be a short one.  Both prophesies turned out to be true.  There are many wonderful and mysterious stories about Cú Chulainn.  They are tales that have been told in Ireland for two thousand years.

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