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CUCHULLAIN
     
 
Cuchullain as a young boy armed with two spears
 
 
The 1912 illustration "Young Cuchullain" by the artist Stephen Reid.
 

 

IRELAND'S GREATEST WARRIOR

Of all the men of Ulster the only one not effected by the curse was the hero Cuchullain. Cuchullain is regarded in Irish mythology as being the greatest warrior Ireland ever had. We are told that Cuchullain was the son of the sun god Lugh and a mortal woman. We are also told that Cuchullain was the grand nephew of Fergus. Therefore the Darcys can boast that Cuchullain was a blood relative of theirs.

Cuchullain was once known as Setanta, however one day while a child he was attacked by a fearsome dog belonging to a blacksmith called Cullan. Setanta killed the dog at once with the greatest of ease. Although Setanta had acted in self defence Cullan the blacksmith was not at all pleased. For a time we are told that Setanta had to guard Cullan’s home in place of his former dog. With the result that Setanta became known as Cuchullain. "The Hound of Cullan."

Cuchullain shortly afterwards joined the Red Branch. Despite Fergus’s pleas, Cuchullain would not defect to Connacht and remained loyal to Ulster.

 

 
 
Cuchullain kills Cullan the blacksmith's hound
 
 
Cuchullain kills Cullan the blacksmith's fearsome hound.
 

 

CUCHULLAIN THWARTS MEAVE

At first Cuchullain waged a guerrilla war against Meave’s army. Hiding in the trees he would kill a great deal of them with stone slingshots and spears. At first Meave and her army suspected that it was a whole army waging war on them and little could they have guessed that it was one individual that was barely old enough to be a man. Fergus and the Red Branch defectors suspected it was Cuchullain but even though they hated Connor, they loved Cuchullain and admired how he was able to stand up to Meave’s army. So they said nothing of their suspicions. However in time Meave discovered that it was one man who was waging war against her army.

She then agreed with Cuchullain that she would send one of her greatest warriors to duel with him. However Cuchullain killed him easily and indeed the dozen or so other warriors sent to challenge him.

 

CUCHULLAIN MEETS FERGUS IN COMBAT

Meave we are told then decided to change tactics. She felt that Fergus and the Red Branch had been holding back in telling her about Cuchullain and needed to find out who’s side they were really on. She first sent a member of the Red Branch called Ferdia who was a boyhood friend of Cuchullain’s, to fight him in single combat. Ferdia and Cuchullain tried to talk each other out of fighting. But in the end they fought and Cuchullain killed Ferdia. Next Meave sent Fergus.

Fergus however had a plan. He and Cuchullain were not willing to fight each other. Fergus convinced Cuchullain to pretend to be afraid of him and run away. Cuchullain did so. Due to this action Cuchullain and Fergus avoided fighting each other.

 

 
Cuchullain carries his dying friend Ferdia
 
 
Cuchullain laments after killing his friend Ferdia.
 


 
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