Cú Chulainn

  • Mag Muirthemne
Young Ulster hero and chief character of Táin bó Cuailnge and other tales of the Ulster Cycle; son of Súaltam or Lug and Deichtire (sister to Conchobor); husband of Emer (ingen Forgaill)
See also: Culann the smithCulann the smith
Entry reserved for but not yet available from the subject index.

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SúaltamSúaltam
Entry reserved for but not yet available from the subject index.

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DeichtireDeichtire
Entry reserved for but not yet available from the subject index.

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Conchobar mac NessaConchobar mac Nessa
(time-frame ass. with Ulster Cycle)
king of the Ulaid in tales of the Ulster Cycle; son either of Cathbad or Fachtna Fáthach (father) and Ness (mother); husband of Mugain; father of Cormac Cond Longas, Cúscraid Mend Macha, Furbaide Fer Bend and Fedelm Noíchrothach; fosterfather of Cú Chulainn.
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LugLug
Lug Samildánach, Lug Lámfada
Prominent member of the Túatha Dé Danann in Irish literature, a king and warrior whose all-round mastery of many skills and disciplines earns him the epithet Samildánach. Through his mother, he is descended from the Fomoire and his maternal uncle Balor is the one-eyed leader of the Fomoire whom he kills in the battle of Mag Tuired.
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Emer ingen ForgaillEmer ingen Forgaill
Emer
(time-frame ass. with Ulster Cycle)
wife of Cú Chulainn in the Ulster Cycle of tales
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Aífe ingen AirdgemeAífe ingen Airdgeme
(time-frame ass. with Ulster Cycle)
Character in the Ulster Cycle of Irish literature, notably the tragic tale Aided óenfir Aífe. When the Ulster hero Cú Chulainn stays in Alba to receive training-in-arms from Scáthach (her mother or sister), Aífe has an affair with him and later gives birth to his only son. In the Yellow Book of Lecan version, Aífe is called a daughter of one Ardgeimm.
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Conall CernachConall Cernach
(time-frame ass. with Ulster Cycle)
warrior of the Ulaid in the Ulster Cycle; son of Amergin and Findchóem
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Fer DiadFer Diad
(time-frame ass. with Ulster Cycle)
warrior in tales of the Ulster Cycle
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Findabair [daughter of Medb and Ailill]Findabair, Finnabair
(time-frame ass. with Ulster Cycle)
daughter of Medb and Ailill in the Ulster Cycle
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ScáthachScáthach
(time-frame ass. with Conchobar mac Nessa, Ulster Cycle)
A warrior woman and instructor of warriors in the Ulster Cycle, notably responsible for training the hero Cú Chulainn.
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SenbeccSenbecc (úa Ébricc/E(i)bricc)
Senbecc ua Eibric
No short description available
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See also references for related subjects.
O'Donnell, Thomas C., Fosterage in medieval Ireland: an emotional history, The Early Medieval North Atlantic 9, Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2020.  
abstract:
Fosterage was a central feature of medieval Irish society, yet the widespread practice of sending children to another family to be cared for until they reached adulthood is a surprisingly neglected topic. Where it has been discussed, fosterage is usually conceptualised and treated as a purely legal institution. This work seeks to outline the emotional impact of growing up within another family. What emerges is a complex picture of deeply felt emotional ties binding the foster family together. These emotions are unique to the social practice of fosterage, and we see the language and feelings originating within the foster family being used to describe other relationships such as those in the monastery or between humans and animals. This book argues that the more we understand how people felt in fosterage, the more we understand medieval Ireland.
Pettit, Edward, “Corieltauvian ‘boar horse’ coin iconography as a precursor of medieval Celtic boar myths”, Studia Hibernica 46 (2020): 27–39.  
abstract:

This article suggests that an iconographic design found on early instances of a series of Iron Age British coins may foreshadow medieval Celtic myths about fantastic boar. Parallels are drawn with traditions about Balar’s boar, Cú Chulainn and Formáel’s boar, and with the Welsh episode of Menw and Twrch Trwyth.

Theuerkauf, Marie-Luise, “The road less travelled: Cú Chulainn’s journey to matrimony and the Dindshenchas of Tochmarc Emire”, in: Egeler, Matthias (ed.), Landscape and myth in northwestern Europe, Borders, Boundaries, Landscapes 2, Turnhout: Brepols, 2019. 213–238.
Boyd, Matthieu, “The timeless tale of Bricriu's feast”, North American Journal of Celtic Studies 1:2 (November, 2017): 151–172.  
abstract:
The early Irish tale Fled Bricrenn ‘Bricriu's feast’ is set at an impossible time relative to the centerpiece of the Ulster Cycle, the epic Táin bó Cúailnge. Key characters, including Bricriu himself, are not available after the Táin, while the integral episodes involving Ailill and Medb would make no sense before the Táin. The embarrassing behavior of the heroes Lóegaire and Conall is also inconsistent with the way they are portrayed in other texts. Although there are limited parallels with other kinds of medieval literature, such as the verse tradition of French Arthurian romance, these problems are most helpfully addressed by recourse to contemporary Fan Fiction studies in conjunction with the medieval concept of glossing. Even if it does contain authentic lore, Bricriu's feast comes into focus as a comically distorted, but serious-minded reflection on the rest of the Ulster Cycle, including the Táin. The major themes of this reflection include the devaluation of fame through excess of praise, and the worthiness of the hero's community to benefit from him, even as the hero's own status depends on serving their interests and enacting their values.
Arbuthnot, Sharon, “The phrase troig mná trogain in exhortative speech”, Studia Celtica Fennica 12 (2015): 5–20.  
abstract:
The phrase troig mná trogain appears in a number of Irish narrative texts from the medieval and Early Modern periods. It is clearly a reference to an undesirable experience. In light of this, there has been a tendency to interpret the phrase as meaning 'the pangs of a woman in childbirth'. Such an understanding does not seem justified, however, by the established semantic ranges of the words listed in DIL as trog, trogan or trogain. The purpose of this article is to reinstate Kuno Meyer’s century-old suggestion that the last element of this phrase is trogan 'raven' and to refine and build upon this, arguing that ben trogain is a kenning for the Morrígain in her bird-aspect and asking whether the first element of the phrase under discussion might be the word for 'foot'. Following this line of thought, it seems possible that the phrase in question is an allusion to that defining moment in medieval Irish literature when the Morrígain alights upon the dying Cú Chulainn, setting foot upon his spilt intestines.
Journal volume:  Studia Celtica Fennica: <link>
Edel, Doris, Inside the Táin: exploring Cú Chulainn, Fergus, Ailill, and Medb, Berlin: curach bhán, 2015. xii + 372 pp.  
abstract:
This is the first literary-critical study of the Táin Bó Cúailnge in its entirety, and as an autonomous literary work. The key to a more deeply probing understanding of the semiliterate epic is the study of its characters: what they do and why they do it – why more important than what. Why reveals the differences between the various versions. Most promising is the multilayered Recension I, mainly preserved in Lebor na hUidre, which testifies of the keen interest of its compilers in the portrayal of the characters, while the version in the Book of Leinster, with its tendency to omit what might lessen the heroes’ prestige, pays for its greater unity with loss of depth. The multifacetedness of the characters in the early version, combined with the deceptive simplicity of the plot, lends the work a remarkable pragmatism. Despite occasional baroque descriptions of battle frenzy, the main heroes Cú Chulainn and Fergus embody a heroism reined in by prudence. All through the war they do everything in their power to limit the use of force. Ailill and Medb represent a new type of ruler-entrepreneur, who seeks to realize his aim at the lowest possible cost and accepts failure matter-of-factly. So the epic has no fatal end-point. The greater part of the two armies are able return to their countries. The theme of mutual destruction is relegated to the Battle of the Bulls. The lasting antagonism between the North and the remainder of the island must have endowed the Táin with contemporary significance at various points in time, as the allusions to (near-)contemporary events suggest.
(source: publisher)
Edel, Doris, “Cú Chulainn on the couch: character portrayal in Táin bó Cúailnge”, in: Toner, Gregory, and Séamus Mac Mathúna (eds), Ulidia 3: proceedings of the Third International Conference on the Ulster Cycle of Tales, University of Ulster, Coleraine 22–25 June, 2009. In memoriam Patrick Leo Henry, Berlin: curach bhán, 2013. 127–136.
Ireland, Colin, “From protected to protector: some legal language in Cú Chulainn’s boyhood deeds”, in: Huld, Martin E., Karlene Jones-Bley, and Dean Miller (eds.), Archaeology and language: Indo-European studies presented to James P. Mallory, Journal of Indo-European Studies, Monograph Series 60, Washington, D.C.: Institute for the Study of Man, 2012. 15–22.  
abstract:
Sport was the foundation of Cú Chulainn’s early training, and through sport one can see the makings of the great warrior he was to become. In his sporting and gaming activities one sees the application of early Irish law in terms of protection for the young Cú Chulainn and, subsequently, for his legal protection of others. This paper examines legal terminology that demonstrates how the young Cú Chulainn not only physically overcomes his opponents but also manages to place them legally under his protection.
Bock, Franziska, “Cú Chulainn’s Revival: literarische Transformationen eines irischen Mythos im frühen 21. Jahrhundert”, Kulturelle Identitäten 4, PhD thesis, Marburg Universität; Peter Lang, 2010–2011.  
abstract:
Seit der Wiederentdeckung Cú Chulainns und seiner Stilisierung zum irischen Nationalhelden im Irish Literary Revival im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert ist das Interesse an ihm ungebrochen. Auch zu Beginn des 21. Jahrhunderts befassen sich Autoren unterschiedlicher Nationalitäten mit den Erzählungen um diesen irischen Helden. Auf der Basis von 18 Werken zeigt dieses Buch die Veränderungen des Helden vom Mittelalter bis in die Moderne auf und legt dar, wie sich das Bild eines Kriegers gewandelt hat. Dabei werden die Werke nicht nur im Einzelnen, sondern auch im Vergleich betrachtet, um Gemeinsamkeiten und Unterschiede der Bearbeitungen aufzuzeigen.
Means-Shannon, Hannah, “Seeing double: the transforming personalities of Alan Moore’s Promethea and the Ulster Cycle’s Cuchulain”, Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics 1:2 (2010): 93–104.
Clarke, Michael, “An Irish Achilles and a Greek Cú Chulainn”, in: Ó hUiginn, Ruairí, and Brian Ó Catháin (eds.), Ulidia 2: proceedings of the Second International Conference on the Ulster Cycle of Tales, Maynooth 24-27 July 2005, Maynooth: An Sagart, 2009. 238–251.
Clarke, Michael, “Achilles, Byrhtnoth, and Cú Chulainn: from Homer to the medieval North”, in: Clarke, Michael, Bruno Currie, and Oliver Lyne (eds), Epic interactions: perspectives on Homer, Virgil and the epic tradition presented to Jasper Griffin by his pupils, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. 243–272.
Ó hUiginn, Ruairí, “Rúraíocht agus Rómánsaíocht: ceisteanna faoi fhorás an traidisiúin”, Éigse 32 (2000): 77–87.
Findon, Joanne, “A woman’s words: Emer versus Cú Chulainn in Aided Óenfir Aife”, in: Mallory, James P., and Gerard Stockman (eds.), Ulidia: proceedings of the First International Conference on the Ulster Cycle of Tales, Belfast and Emain Macha, 8–12 April 1994, Belfast: December, 1994. 139–148.
Pehnt, Annette, “Skulls and gulls: Cuchullin in the Scottish Gaelic ballad”, in: Mallory, James P., and Gerard Stockman (eds.), Ulidia: proceedings of the First International Conference on the Ulster Cycle of Tales, Belfast and Emain Macha, 8–12 April 1994, Belfast: December, 1994. 263–268.
Sayers, William, “Cú Chulainn, the heroic imposition of meaning on signs, and the revenge of the sign”, Incognita: International Journal for Cognitive Studies in the Humanities 2 (1991): 79–105.
Ó Fiannachta, Pádraig, “The fight with Fer Diad”, Journal of the County Louth Archaeological and Historical Society 18:1 (1973): 62–68.
Dobbs, Margaret E., “Cuchulainn, an Irishman or a Briton?”, Journal of the County Louth Archaeological Society 5:4 (1921–1924): 252–253.
Nettlau, Max, “The Fer Diad episode of the Tain Bó Cuailnge (LL. 82 a 21 – 88 b 52) (suite) [part 2]”, Revue Celtique 11 (1890): 23–32, 318–343.
Internet Archive – part 1: <link>, <link> Internet Archive – part 2: <link>, <link>