The Otherworlds of Celtic myth contain tales of fairies, spirits, giants and gods. Gateways to the Otherworlds are by water, bridges, wells or underground caves, through which those on soul and spirit journeys may pass. Fairies ride in and out on the eve of Beltane when the veil between the human and Otherworlds is at its most fragile.
BLODEUEDD (born of flowers) or (flower face) was a beautiful mystical woman, magically created by Math and Gwydion, from blossoms of oak, meadowsweet and broom, in order to be the wife of Lleu, Gwydion’s nephew. This was done because Lleu’s mother Arianrhod forbade him to marry a mortal woman. The couple was happy for a time until Lleu visited Math, while Lleu was away, Blodeuedd offered hospitality to a passing huntsman, Goronwy, lord of Penllyn, the two fell in love and began plotting the murder of Lleu. The only way Lleu could be killed, was by standing with one foot on a goat’s back and the other on the edge of a bath tub, and only by a spear which had taken one year to make.
The two lovers met all the criteria to kill Lleu but after they attacked him he didn’t die, instead he changed into an eagle and flew high into the air. Math and Gwydion avenged Lleu by turning Blodeuedd into an owl.
BOANN, water goddess and mother of Aonghus god of love, she was the wife of Nechtan, and lover of Dagda, the chief god of the Tuatha De Danann who was the father of Aonghus. Dagda seduced Boann by sending her husband away on a nine month journey that seemed no more than one day.
BRAN, hero of the most famous Irish voyage myths and son of Febal, his great journey began after he found a silver branch covered with white flowers. He showed his kinsmen the magic bough and as he did this a woman appeared dressed in unusual cloth, she began singing of the wonders to be found in the lands beyond the sea. These otherworld islands, each larger than Ireland were inhabited by beautiful women with no knowledge of sickness, death or sorrow, she sang about all those living there knowing only happiness. As suddenly as she had begun singing she stopped and vanished taking the silver bough with her.
The following day Bran, and twenty seven kinsmen sailed westwards, first encountering Manannan Mac Lir, the sea god, who was driving his chariot across the waves, the sea god told Bran and his men of the wonders that awaited them. The sea appeared to be a plain of flowers, with blossoming shrubs and an orchard of fruit trees. Bran’s ship arrived at the Isle of Merriment where his crew was unable to stop laughing and in the evening they reached the Isle of Women. Bran was urged to step ashore by the women’s leader, he was hesitant so she threw a ball of thread that stuck to his hand and magically drew the ship from the waves. When the men stepped ashore, delicious food and soft beds awaited, their stay seemed to last for one year but actually many years had passed for Bran and his men. One of the men suffering from homesickness persuaded Bran that it was time to sail home, and the chief woman warned Bran that he could never set foot on soil again. When Bran arrived off the Irish coast nobody recognised him, to the people he was a legendary figure who had long ago embarked on a great voyage to the otherworlds. Bran decided to set sail again, but one of his men forgot the warning and leaped ashore, immediately turning into a pile of ash as though he had been dead for centuries. It wasn’t until the eighth century that monks documented the voyage of Bran.
BRAN THE BLESSED, son of Llyr the sea god, in Welsh mythology he was called Bendigeidfran and was another world god, he was also active as a British king in mortal affairs. He allowed the marriage of his sister Branwen to the Irish king Matholwch, without the consent of her half brother Efnisien. As punishment Efnisien cut off the lips, ears and tails of Matholwch’s horses during the wedding feast in Wales. Hostilities almost erupted between the Irish and the Britons, but Bran avoided a war by giving Matholwch a magic cauldron. With this otherworld vessel men could be brought back from the dead, but they were unable to speak.
Matholwch was unable to convince his warriors back in Ireland that Bran’s gift was adequate compensation for his injured horses. Because of this Branwen could no longer be the Irish queen, and was forced to work in the palace kitchens even though she had given Matholwch a son and heir, Gwern.
To avenge his sister Bran raised an army and sailed to Ireland to do battle, during which the Britons slew every Irish man but seven survivors, Bran died after being wounded with a poisoned arrow. As he lay dying he asked his followers to cut off his head, which could still eat and talk during the voyage home. His head was brought to London where it was buried facing Europe in order to ward off foreign invaders. It is believed King Arthur used the head for its power, the Celts believed that heads were the seat of the soul.
BRANGAINE, maid of Iseult, princess of Ireland and lover of Tristan. Iseult was promised in marriage to King Mark of Cornwall, and Tristan his nephew came to Ireland to escort her across the sea. Iseult’s mother gave Brangaine a love potion before the ship sailed, it was for Iseult and Mark to drink on their wedding night, this potion caused anyone who drank it to love only each other for the rest of their lives. During the voyage Tristan unwittingly drank the potion and offered some to Iseult. Brangaine was loyal to the lovers, keeping their secret and unbeknown to King Mark, taking Iseult’s place in the bed on their wedding night.
BRANWEN, daughter of the god Llyr, sister of Bran the Blessed and Manawydan. It was agreed that Branwen should marry High King Matholwch of Ireland, when he came to Bran’s court at Harlech. Efnisien, Branwen’s half brother was offended because he was not consulted, in retribution he cut off the lips, ears and tails of Matholwch’s horses. To keep the peace Bran offered the Irish king replacement horses and a magic cauldron. Matholwch and Branwen returned to Ireland, where the generous Branwen was at first well received, she gave Matholwch a son and heir, Gwern.
Over the years Matholwch’s family complained that the compensation from Bran was not enough. To satisfy his family Matholwch forced Branwen to relinquish her position as queen and work in the palace kitchens. During the three years she was there she reared a starling and taught it to recognise her brother Bran, she then tied a letter to its leg telling of her treatment and sent the bird across the sea. As soon as Bran knew of his sister’s fate, he and the Britons brought an army to Ireland.
BRENDAN, was a sixth century Irish saint known as the Navigator. After taking holy orders, Brendan prayed to go on a pilgrimage to lands unknown, an angel then appeared to him in a vision showing him an island. He set sail twice trying to find this island, first in a boat made of skins, then in a boat made of wood. Miraculous events took place during his voyages, a whale appeared during Easter allowing St. Brendan and his followers to hold a service on its huge back, it plunged under the waves after the service. St. Brendan had made the giant whale docile as well as stilling many whirlpools. The Devil had no effect on the Saint who remained serene even after being shown the pain of Hell. With his power St. Brendan restored to life one of the monks travelling with him after the monk insisted on seeing Hell for himself.
During his voyages he encountered terrifying mice, an enormous sea cat, and a heathen giant that he baptised. When they reached the island in St. Brendan’s vision, he found a hermit clothed in feathers. St. Brendan refused to stay in his old monastery when he returned home and moved to a retreat near Limerick, where he died.
BRES, for a time was the leader of the Tuatha De Danann, enemies of the Fomorii, sea gods who were the rulers of Ireland long before them. This was an unusual role for Bres, as his father Elatha was a Fomorii king of a land that lay under the sea. Elatha had met a Tuatha De Danann goddess named Eri on the sea shore and made love to her on the sand. This coupling resulted in the birth of Bres, Eri was careful not to reveal to her husband who Bres’s real father was.
Bres grew up and fought against the existing inhabitants of Ireland the Firbolg, at the first battle of Magh Tuireadh. During this encounter Nuada, leader of the invading Tuatha De Danann, lost a hand forcing him to retire for a time. Nuada tried using a silver replacement until Miach, son of the healing god Dian Cecht, made for him a hand of flesh and blood.
The De Danann was under the command of Bres until Nuada made a full recovery. Having no instinct for leadership Bres became a tyrant, and as soon as Nuada was well Bres and his mother Eri fled to Elatha to seek Fomorii assistance. This caused the second battle of Magh Tuireadh in which Nuada was killed. With the assistance of the sun god Lugh, the Fomorii were overcome and Bres taken prisoner.
BRIAN, was one of three sons of Tuireann, who along with his family was involved in a feud with the family of Cian, father of the god Lugh. Brian and his brothers Iuchar and Iucharba, killed Cian during his journey, after he was sent by Lugh to summon the warriors of the Tuatha De Danann to battle. Lugh gave Brian, Iuchar and Iucharba, eight tasks to perform to atone for the murder. They had to retrieve three apples from the Gardens of the Sun, a poisoned spear from the king of Persia, a healing pigskin from the king of Greece, they were to shout three times on the Hill of Mochaen, find a cooking spit belonging to the nymphs of an undersea kingdom. They also had to acquire seven pigs of King Asal of the Golden Pillars, which could be cooked and eaten one day and would magically be found alive the next. After successfully acquiring the magical items the brothers set out to perform their last task, but before they could complete it they were wounded by Mochaen and his sons. Tuireann then asked Lugh if he may borrow the magical pigskin to heal his sons, Lugh refused and Brian and his brothers died.
BRICIU, was an Ulster lord, who invited all the Ulster heroes to a great feast and ordered that the hero’s portion be given to the greatest among them. Cuchulainn, Conall and Laoghaire, three great warrior immediately began fighting each other for the honour. To test the courage of the three heroes a monster was summoned, each challenged by Briciu to cut off the monster’s head, with the understanding that the following day the man should lay his own head on the block. Cuchulalainn stepped up and beheaded the monster, after which the monster picked up its head and left. The following day Cuchulainn offered his own head, he was then pronounced the bravest man in Ireland by the monster.
BRIGANTIA (High One or Queen), was associated with water, war, healing, prosperity, and was the chief goddess of the Brigantes, the dominant tribe in the north of England before the invasion of the Romans. In Ireland she was known as Brigid, in France as Brigindo, she was worshipped throughout the Celtic world.
BRIGID (Brigit), a goddess of healing and fertility who assisted women in labour, was worshipped and known as Brigantia in Ireland and Britain. In Irish mythology she was the wife of Bres, who she bore three sons. Bres was the half Fomorii god who for a short time led the Tuatha De Danann, after the first battle of Magh Tuireadh against the Firbolg. St. Brigit was able to feed animals without reducing the available food for the people.
CAER, a fairy godmother who was loved by the Irish love god Aonghus, daughter of Ethal, one of the Tuatha De Danann. After becoming aware of Caer in a dream, Aonghus was so enamoured he became sick. Once the identity of Caer was discovered, Aonghus immediately asked her father for her hand in marriage, but because his daughter had taken the form of a swan, Ethal said it was not in his power to grant this. It was agreed that Aonghus could ask Caer to marry him, only if he was able to recognise her among the large flock of swans she lived with. The swans arrived at the Lake of the Dragon’s Mouth, where Aonghus went to the shore to meet his love, recognising her immediately he called out her name, and they were later married.
Cailte, was a Fenian warrior and poet, son of Ronan and cousin of Finn MacCool, leader of the Fianna, warrior bodyguard of the High King of Ireland. He was a formidable fighter who killed Lir, sea god and father of Manannan Mac Lir. Cailte travelled through Ireland recounting to the saint the legends of the hills, woods and lakes they encountered.
Calatin, in Irish mythology was a misshapen druid of Fomorii origin, who studied sorcery for seventeen years. Calatin, along with his many sons, all of whom had their left hands and right feet missing, were sent by Queen Medb of Connacht, to fight Cuchulainn, the Ulster hero. The druids fought valiantly with their poison spears, never missing, Cuchulainn beat them but only with the assistance of a Connacht warrior. The demise of the male Calatins did not signify the end of Cuchulainn’s woes. Calatin’s wife gave birth to three daughters, each blinded in one eye like the Germanic god Odin. The Calatin sisters learned the magic arts and became powerful witches, having the ability to deceive Cuchulainn with their spells and assist Queen Medb’s invasion of Ulster. Riding out in his chariot against the invaders, Cuchulainn met with the three Catalin sisters, who with their dark magic caused his hand and shoulder to wither weakening him gravely, he still advanced with his devoted charioteer Laeg.
CAMULOS, god of a Celtic tribe the Remi, lived in what is now known as Belgium, and was also worshipped as a divinity of war in northern Britain, at the town of Camulodonum (The Fort of Camulous), modern Colchester, Essex. The mythical city Camelot came from the name of the town. Camulos wielded a magic sword and the Romans associated him with their god Mars.
CARADAWC, in Welsh mythology was the son of Bran who was the son of the sea god Llyr. Caradawc was left as chief steward when Bran sailed with his army to Ireland to avenge the ill treatment of his sister Branwen, by the High King Matholwch. Caradawc was overthrown by Caswallon, son of the death god Beli, after the death of Bran.
CATHBAD, in Irish mythology was a seer, and druid who was advisor to Conchobhar Mac Nessa, king of Ulster. It was prophesied by Cathbad that the beautiful Deirdre would bring destruction to Ulster. Cathbad also foretold that the hero Cuchulainn would have a short and glorious life. Towards the end of his reign King Conchobhar Mac Nessa became cruel, causing Cathbad to curse the king and his stronghold, at Emain Macha. Cathbad had three children, Dechtire, mother of Cuchulainn, Elbha, mother of Naoise and Findchaem, mother of Conall Cearnach.
CERIDWEN, a Welsh fertility goddess and mother of Afagddu, who was said to be the ugliest man in the world. In compensation for his looks, Ceridwen boiled a cauldron of knowledge for a year and a day which would allow Afagddu to become wise and respected, she gave Gwion Bach, the second son the task of watching the pot. Afagddu was denied the prophetic gift, after Gwion Bach sucked his finger when a drop fell from the pot. The furious Ceridwen, chased and ate Gwion Bach, but later reincarnated him as Taliesin, who became the greatest of all the Welsh bards. Ceridwen had another ugly son Morfan, who was a fearsome warrior and fought with King Arthur during his last battle at Camlan. Sir Mordred’s men did not want to fight with Morfan because they thought he was so ugly he must be a devil.
CERNUNNOS (the Horned One), a catholic god, worshipped in Britain and France, usually depicted sitting cross-legged wearing a sleeveless tunic, bead necklace and with antlers. He was seen as a god of wild animals, the forest and plenty. He was identified with the god Mercury the messenger god, and guide of the dead to the underworld, by the Romans. The antlers of Cernunnos were transferred to the Devil, in medieval Ireland.
CESAIR, daughter of Bith, who was the son of Noah, one of Ireland’s earliest arrivals. Bith was denied a place in the Ark, but a god advised him to build a boat of his own. Cesair and Bith sailed for seven years until they reached Ireland, where Cesair married Fintan. As the rising waters of the flood washed over the land, Fintan saved himself by changing into a salmon but the rest of Bith’s family drowned. This was the first invasion of Ireland, followed by the Partholon and Nemed, the Fomorii and Tuatha De Danann, all supernatural in nature. The sons of Milesius, who came from Spain, bringing human rule to the island, were the final invaders.
CLIODHNA, was an underworld goddess of beauty in Irish mythology, who had three magical birds with the ability to sing the sick to sleep and cure them. Cliodhna was in love with a mortal youth with curling locks, named Ciabbhan. While Ciabbhan was hunting inland, Cliodhna was put into a magic sleep while on the shore near Cork, by the sea god Manannan Mac Lir, who sent a wave to pull Cliodhna back to the Land of Promise.
CONAIRE MOR, A High King of Ireland, son of a cowherd’s foster-daughter Mess Buachalla and the bird god Nemglan. His mother was in fact the daughter of Etain Oig, and Cormac, king of Ulster. So disappointed was Cormac to have a daughter, he ordered Mess Buachalla to be thrown into a pit. Two servants took pity on the baby and saved her and gave her to a cowherd. Mess Buachalla grew into a great beauty, and Eterscel the High King of Ireland decided to marry her. He had heard a prophecy that said an obscure woman would bear him a famous son. On the night before the wedding, Mess Buachalla slept with the god Nemglam, who had magnificent plumage. Conaire Mor was born, and Mess Buachalla passed him off as the son of Eterscel. Nemglam warned Mess Buachalla that their child was never to kill a bird.
Eterscel died while Conaire Mor was a young man, raising the right of succession in Tara, the Irish capital. The ancient custom of the dream was followed, this meant that after a feast one of the court would have a spell of truth sung over him as he slept. The man the courtier dreamed about would then be the next High King. The succession dream revealed a naked man walking along the road to Tara with a sling in his hand. Conaire Mor was a distance from Tara at this time, and as he headed back to the palace a flock of birds descended upon him. Their glorious plumage dazzled, Conaire Mor forgot the warning about killing birds and took out his sling. The birds shed their feathers and attacked Conaire Mor, as warriors, but of the most handsome birdlike fighters protected the charioteer and introduced himself as his father. Nemglan reminded his son that he must never harm birds as they were his own kin, as a penance Nemglan told his son to walk naked along the road to Tara, carrying only his sling. Telling his son if he did this and promised to rule Ireland in peace, he would be made High King. Conaire Mor was received at Tara as the High King, bringing peace and prosperity with his rule.
Unfortunately the Irish fell back into their old habit of cattle-raiding, Conaire Mor was reluctant to punish those who took part, his benign handling of the situation sent the country sliding back into clan warfare. Conaire Mor realised he would have to break the promise he made to his father, most likely bringing about his own downfall.
While on campaign, Conaire Mor arrived at a roadside hostel, he was greeted by three strange horsemen, their clothes, weapon, bodies and horses were all red. He was told by a hideous old woman that during his stay in the hostel, “neither skin nor flesh of you will escape from the place to which you have come, save what the birds will take in their claws.” A rebel force surrounded the hostel that same night and attacked, the building caught fire three times and three times the fire was brought under control, but all the water was used. A druid who had accompanied the rebels laid a spell of thirst on the High King and the king sent one of his companions to fetch some water. When he returned with the water, the severed head of Conaire Mor was on the floor, he poured the water into the king’s head and Conair Mor’s severed head praised him for his sense of duty.
CONALL, in Irish mythology was the foster-brother of the Ulster hero Cuchulainn. The two brothers swore an oath to avenge the other if either of them were killed. After the invasion of Ulster by Queen Medb of Connacht, Cuchulainn, who had offended the war goddess Morrigan, died doing battle against Queen Medb’s army, he had his head and sword-hand cut off by the enemy. Conall stirred the warriors of Ulster to seek revenge, and doing battle with Queen Medb’s army, Conall slaughtered those who had killed his foster-brother. Conall later ravaged the whole of Ireland as he punished every single one of Queen Medb’s allies, earning the title Caernach (of the Victories).
CONCHOBHAR MAC NESSA, an Ulster king in Irish mythology, son of Fachtna Tathach and Nessa, a local beauty who conceived Conchobhar on the eve of her royal marriage, through a secret affair with a druid. After the untimely death of her husband, Nessa was courted by his half-brother and successor, Fergus Mac Roth, she agreed to become his wife on condition he would let her son Conchobhar, rule as king of Ulster for a year. The ambitious Nessa instructed her son how to be a great ruler, and when it was time for Fergus Mac Roth to return to the throne, the people of Ulster refused to let Conchobhar step down.
Although married, King Conchobhar fell in love with Deirdre, sometimes Derdriu (of the Sorrows), daughter of an Ulster chieftain. A druid warned her father at her birth that she would be beautiful, marry a king, and cause death and destruction throughout the land. By the time Deirdre grew up Conchobhar was an old man, she spurned him and eloped with a handsome young warrior named Naoise. Never giving up his passion, the king had Naoise killed and he married Deirdre, this intolerable situation caused her to commit suicide by throwing herself from a speeding chariot. Incensed by Conchobhar’s behaviour, Fergus Mac Roth offered his services to Ulster’s enemies and a long war ensued. Conchobhar was killed by a magic sling shot, called the “brain ball,” it was made by Conall out of the brains of a slain Leinster king. The ball lodged in Chonchobhar Mac Nessa’s skull, and he was advised by doctors to avoid any excitement or strenuous activity, the “brain ball” caused his death several years later after he lost his temper and flew into a rage.
CONLAI, sometimes Connla, the doomed son of Cuchulainn the Ulster hero. Cuchulainn had visited the Land of Shadows, in order to challenge Aoifa the warrior woman, to single combat. Cuchulainn was more cunning and won the fight, he and Aoifa became lovers and Conlai was conceived, before leaving Cuchulainn gave Aoifa a gold ring. Years later when Conlai visited Ulster he wore the ring, he challenged the local heroes to combat, he fought and overcame Conall, Cuchulainn’s foster-brother. Cuchulainn’s wife beseeched him not to fight, but he was so impressed by Conlai’s prowess, too proud to announce his identity Conlai fought against his father. Cuchulainn lost his temper the moment one his locks of hair was cut off, the battle was brutal and ended with Cuchulainn plunging his sword through Conlai’s stomach, only then noticing the gold ring he had given Aoifa, on his opponent’s finger. Cuchulainn was grief stricken as he carried his dying son Conlai to his house and later buried him.
CORMAC, in Irish myth was the son of the Ulster king Conchobhar Mac Nessa, he went into voluntary exile with the deposed Ulster ruler Fergus Mac Roth, and did not consider returning home until nominated by the dying king Conchobhar Mac Nessa. Cormac had been warned by a druidess that if he went back to Ulster he would be killed, he went anyway and during his journey fell into a magic sleep. He was slain by a group of warriors, the attack had been arranged by a jealous husband whose wife had fallen in love with Cormac.
CORMAC MAC ART, was the wise and powerful High King of Ireland during the time Finn MacCool led the Fenian warrior band. Cormac Mac Art reigned approximately from 227 to 266, he impressed the Tuatha De Danann, these gods and goddesses invited Cormac Mac Art to their home in the otherworld where they gave him fantastic gifts. One of these was a beautiful silver branch that bore golden apples, and when shaken produced music that cured the sick and wounded. On his death Cormac Mac Art had to hand back the silver branch. Cellach, one of Cormac’s sons raped the niece of Aonghus of the Terrible Spear, the ensuing fight caused the death of Cellach and Cormac lost an eye. A High King could not have imperfection and Cormac was forced to step down, with his son Cairbe taking his place. Cormac Mac Art’s reputation remained strong, and later the Irish Christians also adopted him. Cormac Mac Art learned of the Christian faith before it was preached in Ireland by St. Patrick, and because of his pagan associations he ordered that he should not be buried at the royal cemetery by the River Boyne.
CREIDHNE, was the goldsmith of the Tuatha De Danann and brother of Goibhniu the smith god, and Luchtar the carpenter. When the De Danann defeated the Fomorii during the second battle of Magh Tuireadh, the three brothers could be seen on the battlefield making and repairing spears with magical speed. Creidhne crafted rivets that flew into place and instantly bonded, Goibhniu crafted a blade with three blows of his hammer and Luchtar was able to carve a handle in an instant.
CUCHULAINN (the Hound of Culann), the champion warrior of Ulster in Irish mythology, was known for his terrible temper. In anger he inadvertently slew his son Conlai, after the son had travelled from the Land of Shadows to visit Ulster. Conlai was Cuchulainn’s son by the warrior princess Aoifa, and before the fight his proud son would not reveal his identity. During the fight Conlai was pierced by his father’s sword, only after this tragedy did Cuchulainn notice the gold ring on the young warrior’s finger and realised it was the ring he had given the boy’s mother Aoifa.
Cuchulainn’s mother was Dechtire, daughter of the druid Cathbad, advisor to King Conchobhar Mac Nessa. Cathbad foretold that Cuchulainn would become a great warrior but die young. Shortly after her marriage to Sualtam Mac Roth, brother of deposed Ulster ruler Fergus Mac Roth, Dechtire flew to the otherworld in the form of a flock of birds, along with fifty kinswomen. During the wedding feast she had swallowed a fly and dreamed of the sun god Lugh, who told her to make the journey to him. In an attempt to reassure his son-in-law, Cathbad said that Dechtire had gone to visit her otherworld relations, this seemed feasible as her mother was the daughter of the god Aonghus. Lugh however had other ideas and kept Dechtire there for three years.
Dechtire and her women returned to Emain Macha, the stronghold of the Ulster kings, in the form of colourful birds, Dechtire was carrying Lugh’s son, Setana. Sultam Mac Roth accepted him as his own and the child learned the ways of the warrior. His great strength only came to light after he killed an enormous hound that had attacked him, the guard dog of Culanns. Setana offered to take the place of the dog until a replacement was found, Culann thanked the young warrior, and it was decided that he should be known from then on as Cuchulainn (the Hound of Culann).
Cathbad warned Cuchulainn that anyone going to battle on a certain day would meet an early death. Eager to confront Ulster’s enemies, Cuchulainn took up arms against three semi-divine warriors, Foill, Fannell, Tuachell and their many followers who were all killed. Cuchulainn suffered badly from the battle, his body trembled, his heels and calves appeared in front, one eye receded into his head and the other stood out red and huge on his cheek. His jaw swelled, his hair bristled like hawthorn with a drop of blood at the end of each strand, his head was covered in blood. Cuchulainn was stopped from entering into another battle through the cunning of the Ulster queen Mughain, who let out of Emain Macha one hundred and fifty naked women carrying three vats of cold water. The women placed him in the vats, the first vat burst its sides, the second boiled furiously, the last became very hot, after this Cuchulainn was tamed.
Cuchulainn fell in love with Emer the daughter of Fogall, a chieftain whose castle was close to Dublin, Cuchulainn asked for Emer’s hand, but Fogall who was against the match wanted Cuchulainn to prove his reputation as a warrior, suggesting he go and be taught for a year and a day by Scathach. Cuchulainn became the lover of Scathach’s daughter Uathach, fearing for Cuchulainn’s safety Scathach warned him not to challenge her sister Aoifa. After cleverly beating Aoifa, Cuchulainn took her as his mistress and Conlai was conceived. Eventually Cuchulainn returned to Fogall’s stronghold to claim Emer, this he did after a battle with Fogall and his warriors during which Fogall leapt to his death escaping.
Becoming the champion of Ireland in a beheading contest, Cuchulainn was unbeatable in combat, in his final battle there was to be a single-handed defense of Ulster against the invading army of Queen Medb of Connacht. King Conchobhar Mac Nessa, the tyrannical ruler of Ulster, gathered Ulstermen and others from many parts of Ireland to Queen Medb’s side. There were obstacles against Cuchulainn, he had unfortunately made enemies of the Calatin family whose three daughters were witches, the witches cast a spell on Cuchulainn which withered his hand and shoulder. Medb attacked when Ulster’s heroes were still under the effect of Macha’s curse, which left them unable to fight for five days and nights, also Cuchulainn had lost the support of the goddess Morrigan after he rejected her romantic advances. During the battle Cuchulainn managed to slow Queen Medb’s forces by using clever tactics, until the effects of Macha’s curse had worn off allowing them to respond to Sualtam Mac Roth’s call to arms.
Even with the help of the sun god Lugh, his divine father, Cuchulainn was surrounded on all sides by his enemies, Laeg, his only companion had a spear injury, then Cuchulainn suffered a stomach wound that the god Lugh could not heal. In order to keep fighting, Cuchulainn tied himself to an upright stone, as he died, Morrigan in the form of a crow landed on Cuchulainn’s shoulder, his enemies then cut off his head and right hand leaving his body for the carrion birds. His foster-brother Conall recovered the missing parts while Ulster mourned the loss of their champion whose exploits influenced Arthurian myths in Britain and France.
CULANN, an Ulster smith in Irish mythology, was considered a reincarnation of the sea god Manannan Mac Lir. His guard dog was killed by Setanta who then offered to take the place of the dog until a new one was found. Culann declined this offer and gave Setana the name Cuchulainn (the Hound of Culann).
CULHWCH, in Welsh mythology was the son of Cildydd, one of King Arthur’s knights, his wicked stepmother placed a curse on him forcing him to only marry Olwen, daughter of Yspaddaden the giant. They did in fact fall in love, and Culhwch had to persuade Olwen’s father to give his permission to allow the marriage take place. Yspaddaden’s eyelids needed to be levered up with supports to allow him to see Culhwch, the Welsh giant did not want his daughter to marry a man. During interviews held on successive days, Yspaddaden threw a poisoned spear at Culhwch and his companions, on each occasion the spear was caught and thrown back. Culhwch put out one of the giant’s eyes with a return throw, Yspaddaden consented to the marriage providing Culhwch perform a series of difficult tasks. With divine assistance and the help of King Authur’s men, Culwch succeeded in completing the tasks, he then killed Yspaddaden and married Olwen.
CULMAL (meaning sky), father of the Fenian hero Finn Mac Cumal (known as Finn MacCool), was born after his father’s death. Cumal was the leader of the Fianna and chief of the Clan Bascna, he was killed by Jadhg, a druid who was angered when Cumal eloped with his daughter.
CU ROI (meaning hound of Roi), a Munster king, who transformed himself into Uath the giant in order to choose the champion of Ireland. The three contenders for the championship, were Loaghaire, Cuchulainn’s foster-brother Conall, and Cuchulainn, all invited by Cu Roi to a beheading contest, which only Cuchulainn entered. A beautiful woman named Blathnat was taken by Cu Roi to his castle in Munsterm, even though she had declared her love for Cuchulainn. Blathnat betrayed Cu Roi by showing Cuchulainn how to enter his stronghold.
CYNON, an Arthurian knight who encountered a black man bearing a large wooden club, with only one foot and one eye. The Fomorii like fighter, ordered Cynon to go to a fountain and fill a silver bowl that he would find there with water, then throw the water against a marble slab. After Sir Cynon did this a Black Knight appeared to the sound of thunder and the singing of magic birds, in the fight that followed the Black Knight defeated his opponent Sir Cynon.
DAGDA (meaning the good god), the great god of Irish mythology, usually depicted as a man in rustic clothes, dragging an enormous club on wheels. His club could slay his enemies with one end and with the other bring the dead back to life. Considered wise, knowledgeable and well versed in the magic arts, Dagna was a chief of the Tuatha De Danann, he was a great fighter, and the lover of the war goddess Morrigan. When he wielded his club his enemy’s bones were described as “hailstones under horse’s hooves.” He led the Tuatha De Danann on the battlefield and was a formidable warrior, he was also associated with abundance, using his magic inexhaustible cauldron to satisfy everybody’s hunger.
Dagda took pleasure in eating, and before the second battle of Magh Tuireadh he visited the camp of the Fomorii his bitter enemies, during a truce at the time of the New Year festival. They made him porridge of milk, flour, fat, pigs and goats, enough to satisfy fifty men. Threatening Dagda with death the Fomorii ordered him to consume the huge meal, which he did with a massive wooden ladle, so big that a man and woman could have slept together in it. This test turned Dagda into an old man temporarily, but did not prevent him from making love to a Fomorii girl who promised to use her magic on behalf of the Tuatha De Danann. Although the eventual defeat of the Fomorii at the second battle of Magh Tuireadh, was due to the sun god Lugh, Dagda was the most respected even after the Tuatha De Danann were overthrown by the sons of Milesius, ancestors of the present day Irish. Dagda had the task of settling the defeated Tuatha De Danann underground just as the Fomorii had retreated beneath the waves. Over the centuries these deities were transformed in fairies.
DECHTIRE, mother of Cuchulainn in Irish mythology, daughter of Maga, child of the love god Aonghus and the druid Cathbad, advisor to King Conchobhar Mac Nessa of Ulster. Dechtire married Sualtam Mac Roth and during the wedding feast she swallowed a fly that flew into her cup. Falling into a deep sleep, Dechtire dreamed the sun god Lugh insisted on her and fifty of her kinswomen follow him to the otherworld as a flock of birds. A flock of brightly coloured birds reappeared at Emain Macha the capital of Ulster, three years later. The Ulstermen went after them with slings but were unable to hit any of them, the warriors returned at night to surprise the birds as they rested. They found Dechtre, her women and Lugh, sleeping in a hut on a site known for its magical properties. Upon hearing of this Conchobhar sent for Dechtire immediately, but she told her captors she was too ill to travel, the next morning she showed them her newborn son, a gift to Ulster.
DEIRDRE, was to be beautiful and cause sorrow to Ulster according to the druid Cathbad, this was foretold before Deirdre’s birth. Once she had grown up King Conchobhar Mac Nessa, who was then an old man, wished to marry her. Deirdre did not want this and persuaded Naoise and his brothers to run away to Alba with her, where they lived in voluntary exile for many years. Trickery brought them back to Ulster with the promise they would not be harmed. Conchobhar then had Naoise killed and forced Deirdre to marry him, to punish her for not loving him Conchobhar gave her to the killer of Naoise. Deirdre died when desperation caused her to throw herself from a speeding chariot.
DERBFORGAILLE, daughter of a ruler of Lochlann, her father left her on the shore as a tribute for the Fomorii, she was rescued by Cuchulainn the Ulster hero and fell in love with him, in order to follow him she turned herself into a swan. Unaware of her identity, Cuchulainn brought her down with a sling shot and she returned to human form. Cuchulainn sucked the stone out of the wound and as they were linked by blood they could then marry.
DIAN CECHT, the Irish god of healing, who with his daughter Airmid had charge of a spring whose waters restored the dying gods to life. Dian Cecht gave a silver hand to Huada (later to be known as Nuada of the Silver Hand) the leader of the Tuatha De Danann, after he lost his hand fighting the Firbolg at the first battle of Magh Tuireadh. The Tuatha De Danann would accept no imperfections and it was decided that Nuada was no longer fit to be a war leader. Bres who was half Fomorii, took his place but became a tyrant and was most unpopular. Nuada was restored as leader after Dian Cecht’s son Miach made a new hand of flesh and blood. Jealous of his son’s medical skills, Dian Cecht killed him.
DIARMUID UA DUIBHNE, of Diarmuid, of the Love Spot, was the foster-son of the Irish love god Aonghus. His mortal father gave him to the god as a child, he was returned when Diarmuid received the famous love spot as a young Fenian warrior. While hunting one night, Diarmuid and three companions sheltered in a wooden hut where they were received by a beautiful young woman. Telling him she was Youth she placed a love spot on his forehead making him irresistible to women. This created chaos in his life, as he was constantly troubled by desperate women, the worst being Grainne, daughter of High King Cormac Mac Art. Grainne was betrothed to Finn MacCool the Fenian commander, Grainne forced Diarmuid to elope with her and the runaway couple was pursued for sixteen years until the love god requested peace.
Diarmuid and Grainne settled down and had several children but destiny was about to catch up with them. Diarmund’s mortal father had killed his brother at birth, because he believed that Aonghus’s steward Roc was responsible for the pregnancy. Roc managed to revive the baby as a magic boar and told it to bring about the death of Diarmuid. While hunting with Cormac Mac Art and Finn MacCool, Diarmuid came face to face with the magic boar who charged at him, his hounds fled in fear, his sling-shot had no impact on the boar’s head, his sword broke in two, defenseless he was left bleeding to death. He could not be saved, Grainne was devastated by her loss and moved by the way Aonghus took care of Diarmuid’s corpse, which he took to his palace by the River Boyne and breathed a new soul into Diarmuid, enabling him to speak each day. This is what led to Diarmuid coming to live with the Tuatha De Danann, who by this time lived beneath the Irish soil after leaving the upper world.
DON, daughter of Mathonwy, sister of Math and wife of the god of death, Beli. She bore many children, including Amaethon, Arianrhod, Govannon, Gwydion, Gilvaethwy and Nudd, she was considered the equivalent of the Irish mother goddess Dana.
DONN (the Dark One) Irish god of the dead, his home , the House of Donn, was an assembly point on the journey to the otherworld.
DUBH, a druidess in Irish mythology, who used magic to drown the lover of her husband Enna, but in turn drowned her husband in what came to be known as Dubblinn (Dubh’s pool), eventually known as Dublin.
DYLAN (Son of the Wave), a Welsh sea god, son of Arianrhod and her brother Gwydion, who immediately after his birth headed to the sea where he swan like a fish. All the waves of Britain and Ireland were saddened by his death, brought about by his uncle the smith god Govannon who killed him.
EBER, the name of two of the three leaders who led the Milestian in their conquest of Ireland, they were Eber Donn, or Eber the Brown, and Eber Finn or Eber the Fair, the third was named Eremon. Eber Donn was unable to reach the Irish coast because his ship was wrecked by a storm caused by his war cry. The druid Amairgen had cast a spell over the turbulent sea, when Donn’s war cry broke the charm. After the defeat of the Tuatha De Danann, Amairgen’s advice was ignored by Eber Finn, who refused to acknowledge the right of his older brother Eremon to be king of the entire island. Ireland was then positioned into two kingdoms, with Eremon ruling the north and Eber Finn ruling the south. Eber Finn died in battle when he invaded Eremon’s territory, Eremon then became the first High King of Ireland.
EFNISIEN, half-brother of Bran The Blessed, in Welsh mythology, he caused the rift between Bran and King Matholwch. Because Efnisien had not been consulted by Bran over the marriage of his half-sister Branwen to the Irish king, he cut off the lips, ears and tails of Matholwich’s horses during the wedding feast. In compensation Bran gave Matholwch a magic cauldron that could restore the life of dead warriors, albeit without the power of speech. This was not considered sufficient recompense for Efnisien’s mutilation of the king’s horses, and after taking the role of queen for a time, Branwen was demoted and forced to serve in the palace kitchens. An army along with Efnisien, was sent to avenge Branwen. Matholwch laid a trap which was foiled by Efisien, he had placed behind each of Bran’s strongest warriors a sack hung from the wall containing an armed Irishman, who was to attack the Britons during the supposed feast of welcome. Efnisien inspected the wall and was told the sacks contained corn, suspecting a plot Efnisien felt the first sack and closed his fingers over the head of the warrior inside, he squeezed until the warrior’s skull cracked. He did the same with each sack, until all the warriors were dead.
At the feast Efnisien threw Matholwch’s three year old son by Branwen on to the fire, Bran held Branwen back so she was unable to save her son. During the ensuing fight the Britons almost lost the battle because of the magic cauldron, which at night kept bringing the Irish warriors who had been killed during the day back to life. To save the Britons, Efnisien destroyed the magic cauldron, he hid among the Irish dead and was thrown into the boiling cauldron, where he stretched and burst its sides, dying in the process.
ELATHA, in Irish mythology, son of Delbaeth, leader of the Fomorii and father of Bres, leader of the Tuatha De Danann, for a short time. Elatha was very handsome and fair, with golden hair, unlike the other Fomorii who were hideous. He met the goddess Eri on the sea shore where they conceived their child Bres. After Bres was removed from the leadership of the De Danann, he and his mother went to Elatha for help, but the Fomorii were defeated at the second battle of Magh Tuireadh and driven from Ireland.
EMER, daughter of Fogall, wife of Cuchulainn, who she met at the court of the High King of Ireland at Tara. She was as dark-haired as him, and fair-skinned, with eyes like his favourite falcon Fedelma. Emer’s father was a chieftain from Meath and opposed to the match, he sent Cuchulainn away to improve his fighting skills, after which time he would consider giving his blessing to the union. Cuchulainn returned but had to attack Fogall’s fortress before the wedding could take place. The marriage between Emer and Cuchulainn was not trouble free as many women were attracted to him. Before the final lone battle, against the army of Queen Medb, Emer tried to persuade Cuchulainn to remain in the fortress of Emain Macha, the seat of King Conchobhar Mac Nessa. Before he went into battle a curse was put on him by his enemies, the hideous witches of Calatin, weakening him.
EPONA, the Celtic horse goddess depicted in monuments as a woman riding a fast steed with her cloak billowing behind her. Because she is often depicted riding a horse with a foal, she is thought to be a goddess of fertility. In the Welsh myth of Pwyll, a connection exists between Epona and his wife Rhiannon, who is made to carry visitors into her husband’s palace.
ERIU or Erinn, wife of Ma Greine, son of Ogma, was one of the Tuatha De Danann. Eriu, along with her two sisters, Banba and Fotla, greeted the Milesians when they invaded, they asked the newcomers if they would name the island after Eriu. Amairgen, druid, and advisor to the sons of Milesius promised they would.
ETAIN, in Irish mythology, was one of the Tuatha De Danann who was reincarnated several times, she was second wife of the god Midir, his jealous first wife arranged for a druid to cast a spell causing Etain to be reborn as a mortal, the daughter of the Ulster warrior Etar. To hinder Midir’s search for Etain, she was turned first into a pool of water, then a worm, then a fly. Etar’s wife accidentally swallowed the fly and became pregnant with Etain, unaware of her previous existence Etain was loved by two men, the High King Eochaidh who she married and his brother Ailill. This situation ended when she remembered she was already married to Midir. High King Eochaidh lost Etain to the god during a game of chess, she lived with MIdir for a time, but eventually returned to Tara and her mortal life as Eochaidh’s queen.
ETHLINN, or Ethnea, only daughter of Balor the one-eyed giant of Irish myth. She was imprisoned by Balor, in a crystal tower on Tory island off the coast of Ireland, because it was prophesied that he would be killed by his own grandson. Cian brother of the smith god Goibhniu, reached Ethlinn and the sun god Lugh was conceived. The baby survived Balor’s attempts to have him killed and was brought up by the sea god Manannan Mac Lir, eventually fulfilling his destiny by killing Balor at the second battle of Magh Tuireadh.
ETHNE, daughter of Roc, steward of the love god Aonghus, and maid to the daughter of Manannan Mac Lir. After the attempted rape by a chieftain of the Tuatha De Danann, she would not eat or drink. Aonghus and Manannan searching for a remedy, found a magic cow whose milk never ran dry and Ethne was sustained by the milk.
FAND, wife of Manannan Mac Lir in Irish mythology, was left by her husband after they quarreled. After she was attacked by the Fomorii, Fand sent for Cuchulainn who came to her island and defeated her enemies, then remained for one month as her lover. Before he left the lovers made plans to meet again in Ireland. After finding out about the planned tryst, Emmer, Cuchulainn’s wife, took fifty of her maidens armed with sharp knives to kill Fand. An argument ensued between Fand, Emer, Cuchulainn and Manannan Mac Lir, after which Fand decided to stay with her husband and forget Cuchulainn. Manannan Mac Lir shook his magic cloak between Fand and Cuchulainn so they would never see each other again, drinks were then given to Cuchulainn and Emer by the druids to ensure forgetfulness.
FEDLIMID, the story teller was the father of Deirdre. When Fedlimid and some Ulstermen were being entertained at his house, the unborn Deirdre called from her mother’s womb. Cathcad the druid then prophesied that death and destruction would be caused by the unborn child.
FERDIA, friend and comrade of Cuchulainn and son of Daman the Firbolg, the young men were taught to fight by Scathach. During the war of the brown bull of Cuailgne, Ferdia fought on the side of Queen Medb and against his friend Cuchulainn and the Ulster men. Ferdia tried to avoid fighting against Cuchulainn but was taunted by Medb to enter into single combat which led to Ferdia being killed.
FERGUS MAC ROTH, a king of Ulster who fell in love with the widow of his predecessor, Nessa. She would marry him only on the understanding that her son, Conchobhar Mac Nessa, was allowed to rule for one year. He was so popular that after one year the people of Ulster would not let him stand down, but later when Conchobar lost support of several leading Ulstermen, Fergus led them in revolt. Conchobhar’s love for Deirdre was the cause of his unpopularity, and the fact he had her lover Naoise killed so that he could marry her. Along with Queen Medb, Fergus and three hundred Ulster warriors invaded Ulster, in the war Cuchulainn lost his life. Cuchulainn’s foster brother Conall, along with the Ulstermen defeated Medb’s army.
THE FIANNA, the Fenians, warriors and protectors of the High King of Ireland, they were led by Finn MacCool, their members came from two clans, the Bascna and the Morna. To be accepted into the band, each pending member had to undergo a test and would only become one of the Fenians if they survived the test without injury.
FINEGAS, an Irish druid who caught the Salmon of Knowledge, hoping he would become extremely wise and mistakenly gave it to the young Finn MacCool to cook, MacCool burnt his thumb on the flesh during the cooking, and sucked the burn. When Finegas realised Finn MacCool was destined to gain the wisdom he allowed him to eat the entire salmon.
FINN MacCool, leader of the Fianna or Fenians, the guardian warriors of the High King of Ireland. Cumal, Finn MacCool’s father and previous leader of the Fenians, was killed by Goll a Fenian warrior. Cumal had eloped with Hurna whose father asked Goll to avenge this dishonour. Goll slew Cumal and after Cumal’s son Finn was born he was brought up secretly. One day one of his tutors, Finegas an Irish druid, caught the Salmon of Knowledge and gave it to the young Finn MacCool to cook. While cooking the salmon he burnt his finger on the flesh, he then sucked the burn and gained the wisdom, the druid then gave him the entire salmon to eat. Due to his prowess as a warrior, Finn MacCool was appointed over the head of Goll and made leader of the Fenians, just as his father had been. Due to Goll’s graceful acceptance of the decision, Fin MacCool did not challenge Goll over the death of his father and Goll eventually married one of Finn MacCool’s daughters, but killed his son. Goll’s final act of violence was too much and he was pursued by the Fenians, the trapped Goll chose to starve rather than surrender.
The Fenians under Finn MacCool’s leadership were an admired band of warriors, their pursuit of Diarmuid Ua Diubhne, foster-son of the love god Aonghus, took sixteen years. He had taken Grainne daughter of High King Cormac Mac Art, even though she was betrothed to Finn MacCool. The Fenians pursued relentlessly and eventually a grudging peace was achieved, but Finn could never forgive Diarmuid for the elopement and was glad when his rival died after being wounded while hunting.
FINTAN, husband of Noah’s granddaughter Cesair, was the only one to survive the deluge that took his family, this he did by turning himself into a salmon.
THE FIRBOLG (bag men), in Irish mythology, their name came from the time when they were enslaved in Thrace and forced to carry bags of earth. They lived in Ireland before the arrival of the Tuatha De Danann. The Tuatha De Danann defeated the Firbolg at the first battle of Magh Tuireadh, the battle in which the De Danann leader Nuada, lost a hand. The Fomorii were beaten in the second battle of Magh Tuireadh and driven from Ireland, the battle was won due to the bravery of the sun god Lugh.
THE FOMORII, were sea gods in Irish mythology, the violent and misshapen Fomorii, having only a single hand, foot or eye, emerged from the waves to do battle with two rulers of Ireland, the Firbold and the Tuatha De Danann. The younger gods, the Tuatha De Danann, gained control of Ireland from the Firbolgs at the first battle of Magh Tuireadh. In their second battle the Tuatha De Danann, defeated the Fomorii.
FORBAI, son of the Ulster king Conchobar Mac Nessa, killed Queen Medb of Connacht with a single shot from his sling, he caught her while she was bathing and struck the queen in the forehead.
FRAOCH (wrath or fury), in Irish mythology, was a warrior who slew a water monster to secure the hand of Findbhair, daughter of Queen Medb of Connacht. To recover from his battle wounds, Fraoch visited the otherworld where his mother a goddess, and sister of the river goddess Boann, cared for him until he was well enough to claim the hand of Findbhair.
GALAHAD, the only knight at the court of King Arthur, who saw the Grail or Sangreal, possibly handling the sacred vessel. The Grail quest was of paramount importance to the Knights of the Round Table, one seat was always kept empty at the table, reserved for the knight who would find the Grail. Sir Galahad was the only knight to occupy the seat, the other knights were swallowed by the earth. Galahad was the son of Sir Lancelot, lover of Queen Guinevere, Arthur’s wife. Twelve nuns who raised Galahad told his father he should make him a knight, because no man was more deserving. After Sir Galahad had taken his place at the round table a mysterious lady announced that the sacred vessel would feed all the knights, this happened without anyone at the meal seeing or touching the Grail. Sir Gawain vowed to find the Grail’s home, along with most of the Knights of the Round table. King Arthur attempted to stop them, fearing this would be their final quest, the knights set off in different directions with Sir Percival and Sir Bors encountering the Grail together. They received the sacrament from the dead, Joseph of Arimathea, who told Sir Galahad to take a bleeding spear to the castle of the “Maimed King” and rub it on his crippled body and limbs. The task was carried out and the king restored to health.
Sir Galahad saw the Grail in a vision, he then prayed to leave the world and a voice told him his soul would live in the next life. Many miracles took place after this and for a time Sir Galahad became a king. When Joseph of Arimathea returned, Sir Galahad’s wish to leave the world was granted. The knight held the grail for a few moments, he then knelt down to pray at which time his soul left his body and was carried away to heaven by angels.
GAWAIN, in Welsh Gwalchmai, the most courteous knight at Arthur’s court and enemy of Sir Lancelot. When a water giant came to King Arthur’s hall one New Year’s Eve, and challenged the Knights of the Round Table to a beheading contest, Sir Gawain accepted and cut off its head. The Green Knight calmly picked up his head and mounted his steed, he then pointed his severed head at Sir Gawain telling him to meet with him a year from that day at a chapel, and there to take a turn at receiving a blow from an axe. On his way to this meeting one year later, Sir Gawain stayed with Sir Bercilak de Hautdesert and his beautiful wife. Gawain was tempted by her but resisted her advances for two days, on the third day Sir Gawain accepted a green sash from her, this was a token worn by a knight to show his love for a lady. When Sir Gawain reached the chapel the Green Knight turned out to be Sir Bercilak, three times the axe was swung at Sir Gawain’s neck, twice it was deflected because Sir Gawain had not succumbed to the advances of Sir Bercilak’s wife. The third time the axe cut Sir Gawain slightly, it did not sever his head because Gawain had only accepted the green sash out of politeness. Gawain wore the green sash ever after as a reminder of his momentary lapse of good conduct.
GOIBHNIU, the Irish smith god and one of the Tuatha De Danann, had the ability to make a perfect sword or spear with three blows of his magic hammer. Before the second battle of Magh Tuireadh, a Fomorii spy wounded the god when he came to see how Goibhniu made his weapons. Goibhniu brewed the ale for the otherworld feast, Fled Goibnenn, which he presided over.
GRAINNE, in Irish mythology, was the daughter of Cormac Mac Art, High King of Ireland, she was promised to Finn MacCool, leader of the Fianna, bodyguard of the High King. Grainne loved Diarnuid Ua Duibhne, foster-son of the love god Aoghus, and did not want to be with the ageing Finn MacCool. With the use of magic, Grainne escaped from Tara the Irish capital with Diarmuid, who fell deeply in love with Grainne over time. Grainne and Diarmuid had to keep moving for sixteen years to avoid being captured by the Fenians. Diarmuid was killed by a magic boar in a hunting accident, this took place after Cormac Mac Art and Finn MacCool had finally accepted the marriage between Grainne and Diarmuid. Finn did not give up on his want to marry Grainne and eventually she accepted him.
GUINEVEREE, was the wife of King Arthur and the secret lover of Sir Lancelot, her love affair weakened the unity of the Round Table. Also attracted to Guinevere was Arthur’s nephew Sir Mordred who seized Camelot, then forced Guinevere to consent to marry him while the king was abroad. The confrontation between Arthur and Mordred at the bloody battle of Camlan, brought about the death of almost every knight. The mortally wounded Arthur was taken to Avalon, while Guinevere became a nun at Amesbury where she later died. Her body was buried at Glastonbury, in close proximity to Arthur’s tomb.
GWERN, son of the Irish king Matholwch and the Welsh queen Branwen. A dispute between the two royal families saw Branwen relegated to the palace kitchens. Bran The Blessed, her brother, sailed to Ireland to avenge her. In an attempt to settle hostilities, Matholwch proposed that three year Gwern should be placed on the Irish throne. Efnisien, Branwen’s half-brother would not agree to any compromise, he grabbed the child and threw him on to a fire.
GWYDION, nephew of Math, lord of the Welsh kingdom of Gwynedd. To help his brother Gilvaethway, sleep with Gowein the woman who was Math’s foot holder, Gwydion started a quarrel between Math and Pryderi, which caused the king to go away to war. Upon his return from war, Math discovered the deception and turned his nephews into a stag and a hind for one year, a boar and sow for one year, and a pair of wolves the third year. Later Gwydion took charge of Lleu, his sister Arianrhod’s son.
GWYN AP NUDD, in Welsh mythology was an otherworld king who abducted Griddylad, daughter of Lludd Llaw Ereint, on her wedding day. Lludd Llaw Ereint was the son of the death god Beli, and the builder of London. King Arthur went after Griddylad, demanding Gwyn ap Nudd return her to her rightful husband, Gwythr. The siege of the otherworld’s castle was long and difficult leading to both parties agreeing to a compromise. Gwyn ap Nudd and Gwythyr agreed to meet in combat each May Day for all time with Griddylad going to the winner on doomsday.
IRNAN, in Irish mythology was a witch who spun a magic web to catch some members of the Fianna, the bodyguard of the High King of Ireland. The plan failed and Irnan changed herself into a monster, she then challenged any one of the Fenians to single combat. Fin MacCool volunteered for the challenge but it was decided that a warrior of his stature should not fight a hag, even in the form of a monster. The Fenian Goll slew Irnan, and was allowed to marry Finn’s daughter as a reward.
ISEULT, an Irish princess with beautiful long golden hair, cured the orphan Tristan of a lingering wound in his side. On Tristan’s arrival in Cornwall, King Mark his uncle, wanted to name him as his successor but the nobles objected. The king said that he would only marry the girl with the golden hair a swallow had just dropped. Sir Tristan recognised the hair as belonging to Iseult and offered to go on the king’s behalf to ask for her hand. When Tristan arrived in Ireland disguised as a Cornish trader, he found that the country was being terrorised by a dragon, Tristan decided to seek out its lair and fight it. He did this successfully but was weakened by the dragon’s poisonous breath and an imposter claimed to have won the battle with the dragon. Suspecting trickery, Iseult and her mother discovered the injured knight and while nursing him back to health, Iseult noticed Tristan’s sword had a piece missing exactly like the piece of metal found in the head of Morholt, the Irish champion. He had been mortally wounded by Tristan when the Irish tried to collect tribute from Cornwall. Although Iseult wanted to kill Sir Tristan her heart would not let her, and she was shocked when after he recovered, Sir Tristan asked for Iseult’s hand on behalf of King Mark. Iseult’s father agreed to the marriage as a way to restore positive relations between Ireland and Cornwall. Iseult did not want to marry the king, but her mother gave her maid Brangaine a love potion, if drunk on her wedding night it would make the couple love each other for ever. Tristan accidentally drank some of the potion and offered some to Iseult, during the journey to King Mark’s court. Iseult married the king, but on the wedding night under cover of darkness, her maid Brangaine took her place in the royal bed. The lover’s met in secret for a time but were eventually discovered by King Mark, instead of slaying the sleeping couple, he took Tristan’s sword and exchanged it for his own leaving the lovers. Tristan persuaded Iseult to return to his uncle the king after he had shown them mercy.
Sir Tristan returned to Brittany and married, it was not a happy union and he returned to meet with Iseult in secret on many occasions. War took a heavy toll on Tristan and after being seriously wounded, he sent for Iseult and it was agreed she would indicate her arrival with a white sail. Tristan’s jealous wife wanted to circumvent the lover’s meeting and told Tristan a ship with a black sail had been sighted. The devastated Tristan threw himself on his sword before Iseult could land and reach him and Iseult died of a broken heart.
ITH, lived in a great tower in Spain, from there he was able to see Ireland and decided to go there. He and ninety followers arrived after the Tuatha De Danann had defeated the Fomorii at the second battle of Magh Tuireadh. Ith was killed because the Tuatha De Danann suspected him of planning to invade, upon the return of his body to Spain, his sons swore to conquer Ireland, the invasion was led by Mil or Milesius, Ith’s uncle.
IUBDAN, in Irish mythology was the ruler of tiny people. To stop the king’s annoying boasting his court poet told him that Ulster was a land of giants. He went so far as urging King Iubdan along with his wife Queen Bebo, to travel there in secret and try the porridge of the king of Ulster, Fergus Mac Leda. King Iubdan accidently fell into the porridge, leading to him and his wife being taken prisoner by Fergus. The king would not accept a ransom offer, causing the tiny people to make his rivers and wells polluted, milk became scarce, mills were burned and the hair of men and women was cut off during the night. This continued for a year and a day, until Fergus Mac Leda agreed to release Iubdan and Bebo, providing King Iubdan’s most treasured possession, a pair of magic shoes, was given to him. The wearer of these shoes was able to walk on water as though it was dry land, and when Fergus Mac Leda put them on they magically grew to fit his feet.
KAL, in Welsh mythology he was one of the senior warriors of Arthur’s court, who became the steward Sir Kay. Possessing magic powers, Sir Kay could go for nine days and nine nights without sleep and breathe for nine days and nine nights under water.
LAEG, was Cuchulainn’s friend and renowned charioteer, his exceptional skills on the battlefield was crucial to Cuchulainn’s victories. When Fand invited Cuchulainn to the Land of Promise, Laeg was sent ahead to survey the place. During Cuchulainn’s final victory, Laeg sacrificed himself by throwing himself in front of a spear meant for his master.
LANCELOT, one of King Arthur’s knights, known as Lancelot of the Lake because the Lady of the Lake had plunged him into a magic pool when he was a child. Sir Lancelot was described as “the flower of knights,” and many women were attracted to him. Morgan Le Fay, King Arthur’s enemy and half-sister, cast a spell over the knight while he slept and shut him in a dungeon. She then forced him to choose among four enchantresses to be his mistress, he turned then all down including Morgan Le Fay, and declared his love for Guinevere. Lancelot and Guinevere kept their love affair secret for a time, but the suspicious Sir Meliagaunt, confronted Lancelot in the presence of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere. This led to a tournament to discover the truth, where Sir Lancelot killed Sir Meliagaunt. The reputation of Guinevere seemed restored, however other Knights of the Round Table did not accept this judgement by arms. Twelve knights led by Sir Agravain and Sir Mordred, went to Guinevere’s chamber and discovered the lovers. Lancelot fought his way out and several days later saved Queen Guinevere from being burned to death. This caused a rift in the Round Table and weakened the strength of King Arthur’s realm, leading to Arthur’s failed siege of Sir Lancelot’s castle in Brittany. The king’s nephew Sir Modred orchestrated another challenge against the king, the battle at Camllan, near Salisbury in which most of the Knights of the Round Table were killed. The mortally wounded King Arthur was taken by boat to Avalon by Queen Guinevere who became a nun at Amesbury where she died, her body was buried at Glastonbury near Arthur’s tomb. Sir Lancelot and Queen Guinevere were able to meet one more time before he went away to live his life as a hermit.
LIR (Lyr in Welsh), father of the sea god Manx, magician and god of healing, not much has been mentioned about him other than his name being given to Leicester, England.
LLEU (Lleu of the Skilful Hand) in Welsh mythology, his mother Arianrhod placed a series of curses upon him. He was to have no name unless she gave him one, no weapons unless she provided them, and no human wife. Lleu was raised by his uncle Gwydion and managed to overcome all the taboos, although his greatest test was the wife Blodeuedd, conjured by Gwydion and the magician Math. She fell in love with another man and plotted Lleu’s death, but he thwarted their attempt by turning into an eagle and flying away. After a relentless search Gwydion found and restored Lleu to human form, then healed his wounds.
LUGH (in Wales Lleu, in France Lugos) the Irish name for the Celtic sun god. A handsome man who was part Fomorii, the one-eyed Irish god Balor was his grandfather and Fomorii champion. The Fomorii were sea gods who challenged the Tuatha De Danann, for control of Ireland, the deformed Fomorii had a single hand, foot or eye. Lugh’s mother was Ethlinn, only daughter of Balor. Because it was prophesied that Balor would be killed by his granddaughter, he locked Ethlinn in a crystal tower on Tory Island, Ireland. Cian, son of the Tuatha De Danann healing god Dian Cecht, was able to reach Ethlinn and Lugh was conceived. Lugh was rescued from the wrath of Balor, by the sea god Manannan Mac Lir who raised him to become a formidable warrior. Before the final battle between the Tuatha De Danann and the Fomorii the De Danann leader Nuada stepped down, and at the second battle of Magh Tuireadh, Lugh killed Balor with a sling-shot, fulfilling the prophecy. As Lugh faced Balor, one eye disappeared into his head while the other expanded into a paralysing stare. Balor’s own single eye had to be raised by four servants, and the moment it was open Lugh’s shot smashed into his eye. Balor died causing the Fomorii to disperse, Lugh became known as Lamfhada (of the Long Arm) and Samildanach (the many skilled). Lugh later fought alongside his son Cuchulainn, during Queen Medb of Connacht’s invasion of Ulster, after Cuchulainn’s death his foster-brother Conall, received help from Lugh chasing Cuchulainn’s killers.
LUGUS, the name used in Britain and France for a god similar to the Irish Lugh and the Welsh Lleu.
MABON, son of the Welsh divine mother Modron, abducted when three nights old and imprisoned in Gloucester. Released due to an expedition mounted by Culhwch, because Mabon was the only one able to control the hound Culhwch needed to win the hand of Olwen. Once free Mabon captured the wild boar Twrch Twrch with the help of the hound, and was then able to take the razor from the boar’s ears, that Olwen’s father had demanded.
MAC CECHT, Irish god of eloquence and son of Ogma. After the death of Nuada at the second battle of Magh Tuireadh, Mac Cecht and his brothers could not decide whether to divide Ireland between them and consulted a stranger, Ith. Not trusting Ith,s response to their inquiry they killed him, which led to the invasion of the sons of Milesius.
MAC DA THO, king of Leinster at the time Medb was queen of Connacht. He owned a hound and boar, both animals were coveted by his neighbours, including Medb and Conchobhar Mac Nessa, king of Ulster. Mac Da Tho, promised the hound to both rulers and slaughtered the boar to provide a feast they were invited to. Fighting broke out between the Ulster king and the men of Connacht, and ended with the men of Connacht retreating. The hound that the two rulers had been fighting over, ran after the king’s chariot and had its head cut off by the king’s charioteer.
MACHA, one of the Irish war goddesses, first married to Nemed a Scythian ruler who defeated the Fomorii, the sea gods who killed her and her second husband Nuada, at the second battle of Magh Tuireadh. A later Macha laid a curse on Ulster after her husband boasted that although heavily pregnant, his wife could outrun all the king’s horses and chariots, after which the king of Ulster threatened to execute her husband if she did not race. Mach cursed all Ulstermen to suffer the pain of childbirth for five days and five nights whenever the kingdom was in danger. Macha won the race and gave birth to twins, leading to the fortress of the Ulster kings being called Emain Macha (Macha’s Twins).
MAELDUN or Mael Duin, one of the great Irish voyager’s, his father was a chieftain of the Aran Islands who attacked the Irish mainland, looted a church and raped a nun, his father was later killed. The nun gave birth to Maeldun and he was fostered by the local ruler’s wife who was the nun’s sister. Children taunted Maeldun about not being well born, this led to his foster- mother taking him to see his real mother, and his parentage being revealed. Along with three of his foster-brothers, Maeldun set off to find his father only to find he had been murdered. Maeldun, along with seventeen warriors and his foster-brothers, and after being advised by a druid of the most favourable days to launch, set sail to avenge his father’s death.
It was to be a long and difficult voyage, with the first island Maeldun came to being inhabited by murderers but not his father’s killers. The following day when they landed on the next island they were almost devoured along with their boat, by giant ants the size of horses. On the next island were large birds, they weren’t threatening and provided the voyagers with meat. On two more islands there were gigantic and dangerous horses, eventually Maeldun and his crew landed on the Island of the House of the Salmon. They discovered an uninhabited house with food and drink, there were also comfortable beds and fresh salmon supplied by a device that threw fish into the house from the sea. The next island was covered with apple orchids. Other islands contained they came to contained revolving beasts, fighting horses, a mysterious cat and fiery swine, and the ground on one of them was hot like a volcano. They encountered gigantic swine and calves too big to be cooked whole, there were sheep whose wool colour changed spontaneously, a miller who ground everything that was begrudged in the world. A population of mourners; an island divided into four kingdoms by fences made of gold, silver, brass and crystal. A castle with a glass bridge where a beautiful girl who had rejected Maeldun’s advances lived. Crying birds; a solitary pilgrim on a tiny island that magically grew bigger every year. A fountain that gushed milk, beer and wine; giant smiths; a sea of glass; a sea of clouds, where castles, forests, animals and a monster appeared suddenly. An underwater island of prophecy; a water-arch; a gigantic silver column and net, from this the voyagers cut off a small piece to keep as a souvenir. An inaccessible island on top of a pedestal. An island inhabited by a queen and her daughters where they were offered eternal youth; delectable fruits; contagious laughter; revolving fire; and a hermit who lived on half a loaf a day provided by angels and salmon given to him by an otter.
Although Maeldun had set out intent on revenge, once he caught up with his father’s killer’s and agreed to their plea for mercy. This is where the strange voyage ended that was said to contain “the sum of the wisdom of Ireland.”
MANANNAN MAC LIR, son of the Irish sea god Lir, he was a sea god, magician and healer, ruler of the Land of Promise, where he lived in Emhain (“of the Apple Trees”). His wife was the well known beauty Fand, who fell in love with Cuchulainn the Ulster hero but chose to stay with her sea god husband. Manannan shook a magic cloak between Fand and Cuchulainn to ensure they would never meet again. Manannan Mac Lir was a warrior, able to drive a chariot over the waves as easily as over a plain, and he had a ship that sailed itself. He had both divine and mortal children, one of his mortal sons Mongan, conceived through deception when Manannan slept with an Ulster queen while disguised as her husband. Mongan inherited supernatural gifts, he was born with the ability to shapeshift and became a great king and warrior.
MANAYDAN, son of Llyr, brother of Bran The Blessed and Branwen, married Rhiannon when her husband Pwyll died. One day, Manaydan, Rhiannon, her son Pyderi and his wife, were enveloped in a magical mist. When the mist cleared they were left with a deserted palace and desolate land. Manaydan and Rhiannon travelled to England where they became leather workers, they were so successful that the local craftsmen forced them to leave. After returning to Wales Pryderi and Rhiannon magically disappeared, leaving Cigfa and Manawydan alone. Manawydan attempted to grow a crop of wheat but mice stripped his fields, he caught one mouse with the intention of killing it. but was stopped by a stranger offering him whatever he wanted in return for the life of the mouse. Manaydan asked for the return of Rhiannon and Pryden, the stranger agreed revealing himself as Llwyd, magician and friend of Gwawl, the suitor Rhiannon refused so she could wed Pwyll.
MARK, king of Cornwall, husband of Iseult who was an Irish princess, and guardian of his orphaned nephew Tristan who was the lover of Iseult. The sympathetic king showed mercy when he found the sleeping lovers and did not harm them, he exchanged his sword for Tristans. The shamed lovers agreed that Iseult would return to King Mark, while Tristan went into voluntary exile in Brittany.
MATH, brother of the Welsh mother goddess Don and a great magician, during this time Pryderi ruled over Dyfed in southern Wales and Math was the lord of Gwynedd in the north. Math could only live if his feet were held in the lap of a virgin, except during war. One of Math’s nephew’s Gilvaethwy, fell in love with the woman who held Math’s feet in her lap. Gilvaethwy’s brother Gwydion tricked Math into going to war with Pryderi so the girl would be left behind. Math turned his nephews into animals after finding out he had been deceived.
MATHOLWCH, the Irish king in Welsh mythology, married to Branwen, sister of Bran The Blessed and half-sister of Efnisien. Incensed over not being consulted about Branwen’s wedding, Efnisien cut off the lips, ears, and tails of Matholwch’s horses. Bran later took his army to Ireland to avenge Branwen after she had been removed as queen and forced to work in the palace kitchens. Efnisien threw Matholwch’s three year old son Gwern into a fire and during the battle that followed all the Irish were killed and nearly all the Britons with only five pregnant women left alive.
MEDB (or Maeve), the warrior queen of Connacht, no king could reign in Connacht unless married to Medb, and according to Irish mythology held the kingdom’s sovereignty in her person. Medb was never without one man in the shadow of another, she was most famous for the invasion of Ulster where her forces captured the great brown bull of Cuailgne, and killed the Ulster hero Cuchulainn. Medb was killed by Forbai, the son of King Conchobhar Mac Nessa, while she bathed in a pool in Galway, she was killed with one shot to the center of her head.
MERLIN, wizard of Arthurian mythology, this powerful wizard is believed to have created Stonehenge, he was also said to have created King Arthur’s Round Table. The Britons were told that a great fortress they had built on Salisbury plain, would never be safe until the ground was soaked by the blood of a child with no mortal father. It was found that a girl was carrying a child conceived by a daemon, this child was Merlin, babtised as Christian Merlin still possessed extraordinary powers inherited from his daemon father. No sacrifice was necessary, as Merlin’s powers enabled him to magically deal with the two dragons found to be the cause of the problem. Merlin assisted Uther, enabling him to sleep with Igraine, the wife of a Cornish nobleman, by disguising him as her husband, from this liason Arthur was conceived. Merlin became the trusted advisor to King Arthur, who used the wizard as a messenger because of his ability to shapeshift. There are different accounts of Merlin’s death, with most believing his passion for women brought about his downfall and that possibly Viviane (the Lady of the Lake) or Nimue, daughter of a Sicilian siren, imprisoned him in an enchanted wood after he shared all the secrets of his magic with her.
MIDIR, in Irish mythology, son of Dagda, father of the gods, was more refined that his father, his first wife was Fuamnach, daughter of Beothach, Fuamnach became jealous when Midir took Etain from Ulster, as his second wife. With the assistance of a druid, Fuamnach turned Etain first into a pool, then a worm, then a fly, which was accidentally swallowed by the wife of an Ulster warrior, Etar. The reborn Etain was loved by two men, the High King Eochaidh, who she married, and his brother Ailill. High King Eochaidh lost Etain to the god Midir at a game of chess, and the memory of their marriage returned. Etain and Midir lived together for a time but she eventually returned to Tara and King Eochaidh, living as Eochaidh’s queen until her death. Midir, struggled with the leaders of the Tuatha De Danann, who succeeded his father, causing conflicts that weakened the gods.
MILESIUS, or Mil, or Mile, the name of a Spanish soldier who’s sons organised the final invasion of Ireland. The murder of a kinsman Ith, caused the Milesians to conquer the island in an act of revenge. They defeated the Tuatha De Danann, the people of the goddess Dana, who were the rulers. The Milesians won the final battle, leading to the Tuatha De Danann making their home beneath the Irish soil in the otherworld.
MODRED, Arthur’s treacherous nephew and appointed regent. While Arthur was away at war he attempted to take the throne and force Guinevere to marry him. A battle was fought when the king returned, killing most of the Knights of the Round Table, including Modred. The mortally wounded Arthur was taken to Avalon and Guinevere became a nun at Amesbury, she was later buried at Glastonbury, near Arthur’s tomb.
MONGAN, in Irish mythology was the son of the Manx sea god Manannan Mac Lir, conceived through trickery when Manannan Mac Lir, took the shape of an Ulster king in order to sleep with his queen. When only three days old Mongan’s father took him to one of his otherworld realms, the Land of Promise, where he remained until he was an adult. Mongan had supernatural abilities which enabled him to shapeshift at will to get what he wanted, in particular his wife Dubh Lacha. He became a fearless warrior and a respected king.
MORGAN LE FAY, was the half-sister of King Arthur, and his enemy. It is said she stole his magic sword Excalibur, sending it to Accolon, who challenged Arthur to combat, when Accolon dropped the sword, Arthur recognised the sword, Accolon then admitted his guilt and surrendered. After King Arthur was injured during the devastating battle against Modred and his men, it was Morgan Le Fay, along with the Queen of Northgales, and the Queen of Wastelands, who took the mortally wounded Arthur to Avalon in a black boat.
MORHOLT, the gigantic brother of the king of Ireland, who expected an annual offering from King Mark, and Cornwall. Tristan, Mark’s nephew challenged the giant and was able to kill him, but not before the giant had injured him with a poisoned sword. Before the giant died, he told Tristan that his only sister Iseult, could cure the poisoned wound.
MORRIGAN, sometimes Morrigu, an Irish goddess of death on the battlefield, she helped the Tuatha De Danann at both battles of Magh Tuireadh. The form she most favoured was the crow, and in this form she sat on the shoulder of the Ulster hero Cuchulainn, when he was killed in the war against Queen Medb’s forces. Cuchulainn had offended Morrigan by refusing her love and at the same time sealing his fate.
NAOISE, was the eldest son of Usna and his wife Eibha, daughter of Cathbad, Deirdre persuaded him to run away with her so she would not have to marry the Ulster king, Conchobhar Mac Nessa, the couple fled to Alba with Naoise’s two brothers. Fergus Mac Roth was sent by Conchobhar to bring all of them home, suspicious of Conchobhar, but trusting Fergus’s promise that none of them would be harmed, Naoise agreed to return. Conchobhar had Naoise killed anyway, leading to an angry Fergus Mac Roth joining the forces of Conchobhar’s enemy, Queen Medb of Connacht.
NECHTAN, an Irish water god who was the husband of Boann, Nechtan and his three cup-bearers had exclusive access to a holy well on Nechtan’s hill, that was the source of all knowledge. When Boann found the well, the waters rose from the ground and chased her, becoming the River Boyne.
NEMAIN, meaning dreadful or venomous, in Irish mythology was the wife of Nuada, the leader of the Tuatha De Danann. She was a goddess of war, who along with Babd, Morrigan and Macha, formed one of a group of war deities. At times they appeared as beautiful young women, other times they appeared as crows screeching over the battlefield.
NEMGLAN, was an Irish bird god who fell in love with Mess Buachalla, who was promised to Eterscel, High King of Ireland. Neglan came in a bird skin and seduced Mess Buachlla on her wedding night, Conaire Mor was conceived, and the child was passed off as High King Eterscel’s son. Mess Buachalla warned her son that he must under no circumstances kill a bird. Nemglan died when Conaire Mor was a young man, and unknown to Conaire Mor there was a prophecy about Eterscel’s successor, it described a young man walking naked along the road to Tara with a sling in his hand. One day Conaire was driving his chariot along this same road when he saw a flock of birds, he forgot his mother’s warning about never harming a bird and aimed his sling at the flock. The birds turned into warriors, and Nemglan the leader of the warriors introduced himself as Conaire’s father. To make up for his behaviour towards the birds, Conaire was told to remove his clothes and walk naked with only his sling in hand along the road to Tara, thus fulfilling the prophecy and becoming the High King of Ireland.
NESSA, wife of King Fachtna of Ulster, and mother of Conchobhar Mac Nessa, who in Irish mythology was the Ulster ruler during the lifetime of the hero Cuchulainn. Upon the death of the king, his half-brother Fergus Mac Roth proposed to Nessa. Her agreement was on the condition her son Conchobhar, be allowed to rule Ulster for one year. The besotted Fergus Mac Roth agreed, Conchobhar excelled in his role as ruler, and after a year the people of Ulster refused to let him step down from the throne.
NIAMH, wife of Conall Caernach. After nursing Cuchulainn while he was recovering from wounds sustained during the war against the men of Connacht, Niamh became his mistress. When Niamh tried to stop him from returning to battle, the witch Badb, one of the daughters of Calatin, cast a spell on her making her wander off into the countryside. Badb assumed the form of Niamh and told Cuchulainn he must return to the war.
NIAM OF THE GOLDEN HAIR, daughter of the sea god Manannan Mac Lir, she fell in love with the poet Oisin, who she lived with, in one of the otherworld realms, the Land of Promise, there poet daughter was named Plur nam Ban (Flower of Woman).
NODENS (Llud in Britain), a British god of healing, with magic hounds that cured the sick, he was worshipped during the Roman occupation. In Ireland he was Nuada of the Silver Hand, in Wales Nudd of the Silver Hand.
NUADA, also Nuada Airgetlamh (Nuada of the Silver Hand), husband of Nemain, was an Irish god and the great leader of the Tuatha De Danann, the younger generation of gods than the Fomorii, the sea gods, who would challenge them at the second battle of Magh Tuireadh. Because he lost his hand, Nuada appointed Bres as leader for a while between the two battles, and a replacement silver hand was made by Dian Cect. Unhappy with his silver hand, Nuada asked Dian Cecht’s son Miach, to make him a new one. The flesh and blood hand Miach made was so successful, Dian Cecht killed his son out of jealously. Nuada resumed his role as leader causing the second battle of Magh Tuireadh, because the half Fomorii Bres complained to his kinsmen about his treatment. At the second battle, the lethal eye of Balor killed Nuada and Nemain, before the sun god Lugh destroyed it with a sling-shot, saving The Tuatha De Danann who was later defeated by the sons of Milesius.
NUDD (Llud in Britain), had a silver hand and was known as Llud llawereint (silver handed), he was the Welsh equivalent of Nuada (Nuada of the Silver Hand). Nudd ruled Britain during the time of a troubling May Eve scream, this was found to be caused by two subterranean dragons who screamed as they fought during an annual battle. Digging a hole in the center of the earth and pouring mead into the pit was the only way to quiet the dragons.
OGMA, the Irish god of eloquence, he was a poet, and the inventor of Ogham, the earliest system of writing used in Ireland. Ogma was a son of Dagda, a god known as the Lord of Knowledge. Ogma was a fighter and a conveyor of souls to the otherworld, this was a happy task for Ogma because, unlike the dour kingdom of Hades, the Celtic otherworld was a peaceful resting place for the soul in between its next rebirth in the world. Ogma is said to have married Etain, daughter of the god of healing Dian Cecht. Ogma slew Indech, son of the Fomorii goddess Domnu, at the final battle of Magh Tuireadh. Indech was one of the leaders of the Fomorii, who were the older sea gods who had challenged the Tuatha De Danann, the younger generation of gods, of which Ogma was one. The Tuatha De Danann won the battle, and Ogma claimed the magic Fomorii sword, that was capable of recounting all the deeds it had performed, as his prize.
OSIN (Little Fawn), In Irish mythology the greatest poet in Ireland, and the son of the Fianna leader Finn MacCool, who as a boy had eaten the Salmon of Knowledge. Osin’s mother was the goddess Sadb, granddaughter of Dagda, which Ogma, the god of eloquence, Osin’s uncle.
When Fin MacCool was returning home one day with his companions and dogs, they came upon a deer which they chased towards Tara, the Irish capital and base of the Fenians. The exhausted animal eventually stopped, but instead of the dogs attacking her they played around her licking her limbs and head. Fin MacCool ordered that the creature should not be harmed, and the deer followed them until sunset as they journeyed home.
That night Finn MacCool awoke to find a beautiful woman standing next to his bed, it was Sadb, she told him that a spell had been placed upon her, but if he grew to love her the enchantments would no longer have power. Sadb became Fin MacCool’s mistress and they stayed for months in their dwelling. News arrived from Dublin of a Viking raid and the Fenians had to go and fight, they were only gone for one week, but when Finn MacCool returned he found Sadb had gone away with someone disguised as him. Finn MacCool realised it was the wizard Sadb had rejected, and organised an extensive search of the country but could not find his mistress. He returned to his hunting and one day his dogs tracked down a naked boy with long hair, two of his dogs protected the boy from the rest of the pack. The boy said he did not know who his father was but he lived with his mother who was in the form of a deer, in a quiet valley. He said that on occasion a tall dark stranger visited his mother, but she feared him and he always left in anger. One day the tall stranger hit his mother with a magic hazel wand, and she was forced to follow him, she tried to comfort her son as she left. Finn MacCool then realised the boy was his son by Sadb, and called him Osin (Little Fawn). The boy was then trained as a Fenian warrior, which involved a grueling training course. He became a fighter like his father, but also retained the qualities of poetry and eloquence from his mother.
Osin met Niamh, the daughter of the sea god Manannan Mac Lir, while hunting by the shores of a lake, she was riding a horse with silver hooves and golden mane. Niamh told Osin she had travelled a long way to invite him to her father’s otherworld realm the Land of Promise, he climbed on the horse and was never seen by his father again. In the otherworld Osin fought against a Fomorii giant, but after a time and many adventures in the otherworld he began to miss his father. Niamh gave him her magic horse so he could visit his home, she told him that if he dismounted he could never return. When Osin returned to Ireland, everyone he knew before had died. He came upon a weary and worn group of men trying to move a boulder, he moved it easily for them while remaining seated on his horse, but his saddle slipped and he fell to the ground. The horse immediately disappeared and Osin turned into a blind, frail old man.
OLWEN, in Welsh mythology, was the youngest daughter of the giant Yspaddaden. Culhwch, one of King Arthur’s warriors was cursed by his stepmother to marry only Olwen, who he came to love dearly. Angry because of the affection between Olwen and Culhwch, and to prevent a wedding, Yspaddaden devised a series of tasks for his daughter’s lover. In one day Cullwch had to uproot a forest, burn the wood for fertilizer, and plough the cleared land. He had to force Amaethon, the god of agriculture to nourish the crops, make the smith god Govannon forge tools for the work, bring four strong oxen to help, obtain magic seed. Provide honey nine times sweeter than that of a virgin swarm, get a magic cup and a hamper of delicious meat. Borrow the drinking horn of the underwater king Gwddbwyll, and the self playing magic harp belonging to Teirtu. Capture the birds of Rhiannon, whose songs could wake the dead and lull the living to sleep. Provide a magic cauldron. A boar’s tusk for the giant to shave with and shaving cream made from a witch’s blood. Steal a magic dog, leash and collar. Hire as a huntsman Mabon, son of Modron, after releasing him from prison. Find a wonderful horse and fast hounds. Steal a comb, scissors and razor from between the ears of a fierce boar. Persuade many unlikely guests to come to Yspaddaden’s stronghold. Instead of being overwhelmed by the task, Culhwch said that King Arthur’s men would help him win Olwen, he also told the giant that he would return to kill him. Culhwch succeeded and returned to claim Olwen who was his only wife for the rest of his life. One of Culhwich’s fellow knights killed the giant Yspaddaden.
OSCAR, son of Oisin the poet and warrior, and Eibhir, and the grandson of Finn MacCool, in Irish mythology. His grandmother was Sadb, who had been turned into a deer by a spell. When Finn MacCool fell in love with Sadb, the spell was lifted briefly. Oscar was one of the best Fenian (Fianna) warriors, and was bodyguard to the High King of Ireland. Because High King Cairbe disliked the Fenians having so much power, he refused to pay them for their services, and raised another band of fighters to replace them. Oscar killed Cairbe in single combat but was mortally wounded in the exchange. Finn MacCool returned from the otherworld for a short time, to mourn Oscar’s death.
OWAIN, son of Urien in Welsh mythology, and one of King Arthur’s warriors. Owain set out to find the Black Knight who killed his fellow warrior Cynon. Owain was able to wound the Black Knight but not unseat him, he chased the knight to a nearby castle and was almost imprisoned within the castle once he entered. Owain was saved by a lady named Luned, who gave him a ring. The Black Knight, who was lord of the castle, died of his wounds, Owain married his widow Luned, and became master of the Castle of the Fountain. King Arthur was worried by Owain’s long absence and sent a party of knights to look for him. Owain returned with them to King Arthur’s court and in time forgot about his wife.
An angry lady came to King Arthur’s court, accusing Owain of deceit and unfaithfulness, remorse drove him to go to the forest and become a hermit. He was saved from death by an elegant lady who used a magic potion to restore his health. After his health returned and with renewed strength, Sir Owain slew a dragon, and befriended a lion. There were many adventures for the knight and the lion, including saving Luned from death by burning, and slaying a giant. When Sir Owain reconciled with his wife Luned, after he returned to the Castle of the Fountain.
PARTHOLON, son of Sera, and leader of the earliest invasions of Ireland. Emerging from the west after the waters of the Flood had receded, he and twenty-four men and their wives, cleared the island of trees in readiness for cultivation. The race of Partholon lived in Ireland for five thousand years, until stricken by a disease that caused everyone to die within a week.
PELLES, one of the names given to the Maimed King. in his castle Carbonek, the Grail was kept. His daughter Elaine, fell in love with Sir Lancelot, and bore Sir Galahad, the only knight of Arthur’s table to see and hold the Grail.
PERCIVAL, Perceval or Parsifal, was made a knight of King Arthur’s court and set off on a Grail quest. His aunt was one of the three women who took the dying King Arthur to Avalon, after he had been wounded in the battle against Modred. Having been brought up in a forest far away from court, Sir Percival was ignorant of courtly manners and the conduct required of a knight in search of the Grail. On his journey he fell in love with the beautiful owner of a wondrous ship, but just before entering her bed, he caught sight of his unsheathed sword on the ground and the red cross on it. This reminded him of his knightly duty and the behaviour expected of him. He made the sign of the cross on his forehead, the boat then upended and changed into a cloud of black smoke. Mortified by his own moral lapse, Sir Percival punished himself for his weakness by wounding himself in the thigh. The enchantress who had attempted to mislead him disappeared with the roar of the wind.
PEREDUR, in Welsh mythology, was the seventh son of Evrawgh and the only surviving male. Before he came of age his father and brothers were killed. He became one of Arthur’s warriors, and knew how to defeat the witches who took to the field like knights, attired in full armour. After a particularly difficult battle with a leading witch, she ordered the rest of the witches to flee telling them that Peredur was destined to slay all the witches of Caer Loyw.
PRYDERI, in Welsh mythology, was the son of Pwyll, a chieftain of Dyfed in south Wales, and Rhiannon. He was taken from his cot by one of Rhiannon’s rejected suitors, and brought up by Teirnon, a chieftain who discovered him in his stable. He was named Gwri, or Golden Hair, by the chieftain’s wife, after seven years he returned home and was renamed Pryderi (Care). Rhiannon had been accused of killing her son after he disappeared, and was forced to do penance at the gate of Pwyll’s fortress, she had to tell strangers of her crime then offer to carry them on her back to Pwyll’s hall.
Upon Pwyll’s death, Pryderi beame lord of Dyfed, and gave his mother in marriage to Manawydan, son of the Welsh sea god Llyr. During their wedding banquet there was a clap of thunder and a mist appeared that no one could see through. When the mist cleared, the land was desolate, people, animals, and crops gone. The only ones left were, Pryderi, his wife Cigfa, Manawydan and Rhiannon. They managed to survive for two years living off wild honey and fish, until they decided to cross the border to Llogyr (present day England). Manawydan and Pryderi were skilled craftsmen, but made enemies because people were jealous of them, this caused them all to return to Wales. In a ruined castle, Pryderi found a golden bowl, fastened by four chains on a marble slab, when he tried to pick the bowl up, he found he could not let go, move, or speak. His mother Rhiannon tried to save him and they both disappeared in another mist.
All the strange events had been caused by a spell placed on the household by an enemy of Pwyll, Pryderi’s father. Manawydan found this out when a mouse, who was actually the wife of Llwyd, the old enemy of Pwyll, told him the truth. He found that the other mice who were devouring his crops, were really his warriors who had been magically transformed. Pryderi and his mother did reappear but said they had been forced to work as donkeys.
PWYLL, a chieftain of Dyfed, whose authority reached into the Celtic otherworld, Annwn. While hunting in the forest, Pwyll saw a pack of snow-white hounds, with red ears, chasing a stag. Wanting the stag for himself Pwyll chased the hounds away, he was then accused by a horseman wearing grey, of being discourteous. The stranger was Arawn, ruler of Annwn, he wanted Pwyll to kill a rival named Havgan, who could be slain only by a single blow, as a second one would revive him. After agreeing to change places, and shapes with Arawn for a year, and to slay Havgan, Pwyll was also expected to share the bed of Arawn’s wife, but not make love to her.
Pwyll fulfilled his promise and killed Havgan, he returned home and Rhiannon became his wife, but a rival suitor placed a curse on his household, before and after his death. For years no child was born, in anger Pwyll treated Rhiannon badly, he became worse after the birth of his son and the son’s subsequent kidnap, he then accused Rhiannon of killing the child. To pay for her alleged transgression, Pwyll forced Rhiannon to sit by his gate and tell every stranger what she had done, she then had to offer to carry them on her back to the great hall. Rhiannon’s punishment didn’t end until her son was returned seven years later, his name was Pryderi (Care).
RHIANNON, was the daughter of Hereydd in Welsh mythology, and wife of a chieftain of Dyfed, Pwyll. Gawl’s father placed a curse on Pwyll’s household, after Rhiannon rejected Gawl and married Pwyll instead. Due to the curse, it was many years before Rhiannon produced a son for Pwyll, over the years anger towards his wife had escalated, and he treated her badly. Rhiannon was blamed for killing the infant after he was kidnapped, her penance was to sit by Pwyll’s gate and tell her tale to every Stanger who came, then offer to carry them on her back to the great hall. Pryderi (Care) was finally returned, and after the death of Pwyll, Rhiannon remarried, but the curse continued and at one point Rhiannon and Pryderi disappeared, when they returned they said they had been forced to work as donkeys. Said to have magic within her, Rhiannon’s singing birds were able to wake the dead and send the living to sleep.
RONAN, king of Leinster, his second wife Eochaid loved Ronan’s son more than her husband, after her stepson rebuked her advances, she accused him of attempting to rape her. Ronan ordered his son’s execution and later died of remorse after finding out the truth. Eochaid took her own life.
RUADAN, in Irish mythology, son of the goddess Brigid, and Bres, the half-Fomorii ruler of the Tuatha De Danann. Ruadan was sent to spy on the Tuatha De Danann smith god Goibhniu, at the second battle of Magh Tuireadh. Ruadan seized one of the spears the smith god was making, and stabbed him with it, Goibhniu pulled the spear out and mortally wounded Ruadan with it. The goddess Brigid came to the battlefield and wept for her son.
RUADH, in Irish mythology was a voyager whose ship was becalmed off the coast of Ireland. Ruadh swam to find help for his dying crew, he discovered an underwater island where nine beautiful women lived. Ruadh stayed for nine nights and slept with all the women, before he left they told him that together they would bear him a son. He did not keep his promise to return to the island, and the furious women pursued him kicking the severed head of his son before them.
SADB, in Irish mythology was the mistress of Finn MacCool, the leader of the Fianna, who were the bodyguard of the High King. Sadb who had been placed under a spell by a wizard, first appeared before MacCool, as a deer. By Finn MacCool loving her, the spell was broken for a time, and Sadb was able to take the form of a woman, enabling them to live together happily for a time. When Finn MacCool had to go away and leave Sadb, the wizard returned and changed her into a deer again. For a long time he searched for Sadb, but in the end gave up. Sometime later while he was hunting, he came upon a naked boy. When the boy talked to MacCool about his mother and told him she was a deer, MacCool realised this was his son and named him Oisin (Little Fawn).
SANGREAL (Grail), the cup that Christ drank out of at the Last Supper, and believed to have received the blood of the wounded Christ. It is the holy vessel of Arthurian myth that King Arthur’s knights searched for, and while doing this were expected to adhere to a strict moral code. It was brought to Britain by Joseph of Arimathea who allowed Christ’s body to be buried in his tomb, it is also linked with the early Christian settlement at Glastonbury. The Grail was associated with a magic bleeding spear that Sir Galahad used to cure the Maimed King, who hovered between life and death in his castle. Many of King Arthur’s Knights of the Round table made a vow to find the Grail. Only Sir Galahad succeeded, his soul was released from his body and “a great multitude of angels bore it up to heaven.” The Grail is a representation of the body and blood of Christ, and Joseph of Arimathea administered it as part of the sacrament to Sir Galahad. When the Grail appeared under a white cloth, at King Arthur’s court, it fed the knights as never before, producing a never ending supply of food and drink, much like the legendary cauldron of Undry. At the end of the quest when the Grail became “Our Lords body,” Joseph of Armathea requested that Sir Galahad sip from it, thus ensuring the knights spiritual survival and allowing him to live on in a Christian otherworld.
SCATHAC, meaning shadowy, was a warrior princess in the Land of Shadows and taught martial arts. The Ulster hero Cuchulainn, was her most famous pupil, she gave him the spear named Gae-Bolg (Belly spear), when it entered the body thirty barbs opened to tear the stomach apart. Scathac’s daughter Uathach, was Cuchulainn’s mistress during his years of training, she did not want him to fight her sister Aoifa. Aoifa became Cuchulainn’s next mistress after he was able to use trickery to defeat her.
SCOTA, the earliest known ancestor of the Scots, she was the daughter of an Egyptian pharaoh, and married a wise teacher who had settled in Egypt, named Niul, their son Goidel, gave his name to the Gaels.
SEARBHAN, in Irish mythology, was a Fomorii warrior, one of the ancient sea gods. He was a warrior with one eye, one arm and one leg, who guarded a magic tree, which no one dared approach. During the sixteen year flight of Grainne and Diarmuid Ua Duibhne, from the Fenians, Searbhan befriended the lovers and allowed them to shelter in the branches of the magic tree, protecting them from their pursuer Finn MacCool. All was well until Grainne tried to eat some of the magic berries that grew on the tree, Searbhan was killed during the fight with Diarmuid that followed.
SUALTAM MAC ROTH, in Irish mythology was the brother of Fergus Mac Roth, an Ulsterman who accepted Cuchulainn as his own son, even though his real father was the sun god Lugh. After accidentally swallowing a fly on her wedding night, Dechtire fell into a deep sleep and went to the otherworld with Lugh, where Cuchulainn was conceived. While Cuchulainn was trying single handedly to defend Ulster against the forces of Queen Medb of Connacht, Sualtan Mac Roth was gathering men of Ulster who had been weakened by Macha’s curse. As Sualtan turned his horse sharply, he severed his own head with his shield, the severed head kept talking to support the warriors.
SUIBHNE GEILT (the mad one), in Irish mythology he was a king cursed by St Ronan. When King Suibhne found that St Ronan was founding a church on his land, without his permission, he was furious. He rushed to the new foundation, grabbed the saint’s psalter, throwing it into the lake, he then took hold of St Ronan. As this took place the king received a message summoning him to the battlefield. An otter returned the psalter unharmed the next day, St Ronan then cursed Suibhne, who behaved like a bird, leaping from tree to tree for seven year. When the king recovered, St Ronan prayed he would be stopped from persecuting Christians. Suibhne was then pushed to the brink as headless bodies and severed heads harassed him. Another priest helped the tormented king by writing down his tale, which allowed him to die a Christian and his soul ascend to heaven.
TAILTU, was the daughter of a ruler of Firbolg, and wife of Eochaidh Mac Erc, another Firbolg king. The task of clearing the forest of Breg and making it a plain, killed her. She was the foster-mother of the sun god Lugh, and he declared the festival of Lughnasadh be held in her honour, on the first day of August.
TALIESIN (Shining Brow), a Welsh wizard who was the first person to possess the skill of prophecy. He was originally the servant of the witch Ceridwen and his name was Gwion Bach. Ceridwen prepared a magic brew that after a year of boiling was to produce three drops of knowledge. The one who swallowed these drops would know the secrets of the past, the present and the future. While Gwion Bach was tending the fire beneath the cauldron, a drop of hot liquid fell on his finger and he sucked it to relieve the pain. He was then chased by the angry Ceridwen, during the chase he transformed into a hare, a fish and a bird, he was then eaten by the witch in the form of a grain of wheat. He was later thrown into the sea, caught in a fish trap, and renamed Taliesin because of his radiant forehead.
TARANIS (Thunderer), he was a Celtic god likened to Jupiter, monuments to him have been found all over the Celtic world. His symbol is the wheel, the Welsh word taran, meaning thunder, is still used.
TEIRNON, lord of Gwent Is Coed and foster father of Pryderi, and owner of a beautiful mare, that gave birth to a foal on the eve of the first of May, the foal then disappeared. Teirnon kept watch one year to see what happened to the foal, a giant claw reached through the stable window and took the new born foal. Teirnon cut off the hand and heard crying coming from outside, he found a three day old baby boy on his doorstep. Teirnon and his wife raised the child as their own, but as the child grew he began to resemble Pwyll, the couple then realised this was the missing son of Pwyll and Rhiannon and returned him.
TEUTATES also Toutatis, one of the Celtic gods equated with the god Mars, he was said to be part of a triad consisting of Esus and Taranis. His name means a people, or tribe, he is considered a protective deity of a tribe, the inscriptions to him are dedicated to the local deities of a region.
TRISTAN, the nephew of King Mark of Cornwall, King Mark wanted to name Tristan as his successor, but the nobles objected. Tristan was sent to escort Iseult to Cornwall where she would marry the king. During the journey, Tristan and Iseult inadvertently drank a love potion meant for King Mark and Iseult on their wedding night, the potion made them love each other for ever. Iseult did go ahead and marry King Mark, but continued to meet Tristan in secret, the lovers were discovered by the king who showed them mercy. They decided to part, Iseult stayed with her husband and Tristan left for voluntary exile in Brittany. Tristan did marry but was very unhappy, he managed to meet with Iseult on several occasions in Cornwall, but war took up much of his time. After Tristan was seriously wounded he sent for Iseult, who had once before cured him of a serious injury, it was decided she would sail to him with a magic cure, and a white sail would indicate her arrival. Tristan’s jealous wife said that a ship with a black sail had been sighted, and the devastated Tristan threw himself on his sword before Iseult could reach his bedside. She died soon after.
TUATHA DE DANANN, in Irish mythology was the people of the goddess Dana, the last generation to rule Ireland before the invasion of the sons of Milesius. At the second battle of Magh Tuireadh, the Tuatha De Danann overcame the Fomorii, the monstrous sea gods. The knowledge and magic of the Tuatha De Danann came from the cities of Falias, Gorias, Finias and Murias, and from these cities they brought four talismans to Ireland. The Stone of Fal, which screamed when the rightful king of Ireland placed his foot on it; the magic sword of Nuada, a weapon that could only inflict fatal blows; the spear or sling-shot of the sun god Lugh, who after slaying Balor brought victory to the Tuatha De Danann; and the cauldron belonging to the gods, with a never ending food supply. The Tuatha De Danann eventually went underground to reside with the fairies, and would allow mortals to enter their realm.
TUIREANN, the Irish father of three sons who killed Cian, father of the sun god Lugh. To pay for their crime, Lugh sent the sons of Tuirean on an almost impossible mission, to acquire certain items and bring them back to him. One was a cooking spit from an undersea kingdom, another was a healing pigskin belonging to a king of Greece, the men were successful in their many tasks but returned badly wounded. Tuireann begged Lugh to cure his sons with the magic pigskin, but he refused and they all died.
TWRCH TRWTH, in Welsh mythology was turned into an enormous boar to pay for his sins. He kept a comb, a pair of scissors and a razor behind his ear. The retrieval of these objects was one of the hardest of the tasks that the giant Yspaddaden set Culhwch, who wanted to marry Olwen his daughter.
UAITHNE, in Irish mythology was the magic harp of the Tuatha De Danann god, Dagda. It was stolen by their enemies the Fomorii, when Dagda discovered where it was, he called to the harp to free itself. The harp killed nine Fomorri and sang Dagda’s praises. Dagda’s harpist was also called Uaithne.
UATH (Horror), the water giant who challenged Cuchulainn, Laoghaire and Conall, the three Irish heroes, to a beheading contest. Whoever took the challenge was to chop off the giants head with an axe, then they must lay their own head on the block for the giant to chop their head off. Cuchulainn was the only one who rose to the challenge, the giant proclaimed him the Irish champion and revealed himself to be Cu Roi, the Munster king who had transformed himself into a giant in order to find the champion of Ireland.
UATHACH, was one of the lovers of the Ulster hero Cuchulainn, and the daughter of Scathach, the female warrior who had taught Cuchulainn the martial arts. Forgetting his own strength, Cuchulainn accidentally broke one of Uathach’s fingers, when he accepted a bowl of food that she handed to him. Uathach’s scream caused her previous lover to come to her aid, and during the fight with Cuchulainn that followed, he was killed and Uathach became Cuchulainn’s lover.
URIEN, father of Owain, and ruler of Rheghed in Britain, he was a skilled warrior and fought the Angles successfully when they invaded. The prophet Taliesin wrote about him.
UTHER PENDRAGON (dragon head), was able to sleep with Igraine, disguised as her husband, Gorlois, Duke of Cornwall, and from this union Arthur was born. Merlin the magician assisted in the deception, and Gorlois was eventually killed by Uther.
VORTIGERN, was a British ruler who tried to build a stronghold which kept collapsing. Merlin the magician was consulted, and found the cause of the buildings collapse was an underground pool which contained two dragons that were at war with each other, one red and one white. Merlin told Vortigern that the red dragon who represented the Saxons, would overcome the white dragon that represented the British.