November 2017 – Cuchulainn

By | November 22, 2017

The session covered:

More exploits of the Irish Celtic warrior hero Cuchulainn, the greatest hero the world has ever known.

Cuchulainn was called Setanta when he was born and given the warrior name of Cuchulainn when he was nearly seven years old after he killed a guard hound in self-defence and replaced the hound by defending its owner’s property until a new one was trained.  The hound was owned by a smith called Culann, Cuchulainn means ‘The Hound of Culann’.

The wooing of Emer –  Emer was the daughter of Forgall of Leinster and was the most beautiful woman in Ireland.  Cuchulainn wanted Emer and she set him some trials to win her hand.  It was during these trials he travelled to Skye with the aid of a magical wheel provided by his father Lugh the Celtic sun god.  In Skye he trained with Scathach a great female warrior and became an accomplished warrior and gained Gae Bolga a barbed spear which would split into 30 barbs.  It was also here he had the prophesy that he would live three and thirty years and die at the peak of his glory.  Eventually Emer was his.

Throughout there was a discussion on how he met the list of attributes of the hero.

The Champion’s Portion – We started this rollicking and entertaining tale of the Champion’s Portion.  Bricriu was a Chieftain of Ulster who built the finest house in a year and a day and invited warriors Cuchulainn, Laoghaire and Conall Caernach, amongst others to a magnificent feast with the intention to cause discord.  Though they were wary and set conditions Bricriu managed to set seeds of dissension as the tale progressed.  The Champion’s Portion was a fabulous part of the banquet which would be given to the best warrior.  Bricriu told each of the three warriors they would have it and should send their charioteers to claim the portion as theirs.  The ensuing fight is described in detail with hyperbole, and continues until it is realised that Bricriu had a hand in the proceedings.  Bricriu then spoke in turn to Fidelma the wife of Laoghaire, Lendar the wife of Conall and Emer setting in motion another chain of events which involved unseemly sprinting and the near destruction and restoration of Bricriu’s new house.

This provided the storyteller with more opportunities to illustrate Cuchulainn’s strength and skills.


Wayland D Hand, “Boundaries, Portals and other Magical Spots in Folklore”  Folklore Society, University College (1983)

Claire O’Kelly, “Concise Guide to Newgrave”

Last Updated on November 23, 2017