Celtic Heroes by Derek Guckian




Celtic Heroes are the heroes in Celtic mythology and or/history that reside in Ireland and Britain and in most of central and western Europe. They are put into the warrior society and are specifically made up into different groups and tribes, such as Red Branch, Sianna, High Kings, and so many more. Each group has many distinctive heroes and kings.


headman-exile-helmet-iron-age-natives-series-thumb.jpgFergus Mac Roich- He was the leader of the warriors of the red branch. When his half brother Fachtna died, he was next in line to rule the throne. He fell in love with Fachtna's wife Nessa and married her as long as her son Conchobar could rule the throne for one year. After a year or more the people still wanted Conchobar to rule due to his great ability to rule, so Fergus let Conchobar keep the throne as he preferred to be a military leader of the red branch. At the time, he raised Chuchulainn to be a leader of the red branch. After Conchobar had killed the sons of Uisnech and one of Fergus's sons, Fergus and a small band left Ulster and joined Conchobar's enemy Connacht. He took place in the ulster cattle raid and became a lover of queen Medb and is killed by Connacht for she was Ailill's wife and Conall cernach avenges him and kills Ailill.(1)

Cuchulainn-thumb2.jpgCuchulainn- One of the most famous of the Celtic heroes within the Red Branch was Cuchulainn, despite being born from mortal parents, was related to Lugh the sun god and Dugda the benevolent god. At a young he killed a great hound that belonged to the smith Culann. Cuchulainn was destined to live a short life but become the greatest Celtic hero that ever lived. He received training from Fergus and used the Kings spears and chariot. He had single handedly defeated Medb and his army when they attacked ulster. He had also survived against the war-goddess Morrigan when he refused to love her and won a duel against an evil druid Calatin. He married Emer daughter of the chieftain Fogall, he had many affairs but Emer wasn't concerned until he met Fand who was the wife of a sea/magic god. Medb caused Cuchulainn to go mad by sending him demons from Calatin. After eating dog meat send by morrigan he was cured. He died at twenty seven at the hands of Lugaid who speared and beheaded him but was avenged by Conall Cernach. (1)

220px-Freyr_by_Johannes_Gehrts.jpgConall Cernach- He was the second greatest warrior of the Red Branch only through Cuchulainn. He was the son of Amorigin and Findchaem, served as a champion to Conaire Mor, defended the city until he was forced to retreat from the city and left the king to die. Ulster and Connacht had fought over a prized hound and whoever had a warrior that had done greater deeds would win the boar. Cet Mac Maga claimed that Conall was a better warrior than him but his brother Anluan was better than Conall. Conall boasted that he was truly superior and lifted Anluans head to show him, Conall and Cet fought. Conall proved victorious. He would have won the hound however it was killed during the fight, so in the end, no one won. He avenged Cuchulainns death by killing Lugaid and bringing Cuchulainns body back to the city for a proper burial. He also avenged Fergus by killing Ailill.(1)


Sianna
finn.jpgFinn Mac Cumhaill- Another famous Celtic hero within Sianna. Finn was born from Cumhaill and Muirenn. His mother fled into a forest when he was born because Cumahail had been slain by Goll Mac Morna and Lia. As Finn aged he went through severe training set up by the Fianna, soon his clan rejoined the Fianna, and thereafter Finn became the chieftan. He fell in love with a woman named Sadb who a dark druid also loved her, but the druid kidnapped her and Finn never saw her again, fortunately he found their son Oisin. Many different stories depict his death, some say he was killed by five men and others say he just slept in the underworld until Ireland faced great peril. (2)
Conn_of_the_Hundred_Battles.JPGCumhaill- He was the leader of the Baiscne clan and bore the famous warrior Finn Mac Cumhaill. Before Finn was born Cumhaill fought a great clan battle over the leadership of Fianna. Goll Mac Morna and Tadg worked together to overthrow Cumhaill to rule Fianna together. Tadg began to weaken Cumahaill with magic which greatly contributed to his death. He still managed to cut out one of Goll's eyes and significantly weaken him more but was eventually killed by Lia lord of Luachar.(2)

diarmuid.jpgDiarmait- The adopted son of Angus Og and traveling companion of Finn Mac Cumhaill. When he was born his father killled his wife and her lover Roc. He brought the boy back to love as a wild boar and ordered it to find Diarmait and kill him. Cormac Mac Airt send his lovely daughter Grainne to marry Finn but she loved Diarmait instead and married him. Finn tracked them down many years but finally forgave him for taking his bride after sixteen years of turmoil. One day a magic boar had been spotted near Tara and Diarmait assisted Finn in the hunt. The boar mortally wounded Diarmait and he died of his wounds. (2)

High Kings

headman-with-headgear-iron-age-natives-series-thumbnail.jpgConaire Mor- He was the greatest king of Ulster during the period of king Conchobar. He removed his stepfather Eterscel from the throne as the king of Ireland. Through his period of rule Ulster experienced great sucess and peace, until he was removed from rule by his brothers after they pillaged his kingdom. Fate seemed to conspire against him when he refused to punish his brothers for their crimes and met his end at the hands of a savage band of pirates. (3)
giant.MacCool.lg.jpgConn Cetchathach- He was the king of Ireland before Finn Mac Cumahail was born. His parents were unknown, although there was certainty that they were Femlimid Rechtaid and Medb Lethderg. He became a king by killing Cathair Mor and destroying his kingdom, he married Cathair's daughter shortly afterward. Conn hired Goll Mac Morna to kill Cumhail and promoted him after Cumhail's death. Conn was said to have been killed by Ulster soldiers who disguised themselves as women and killed him. (3)
advice.gifCormac Mac Airt- The ruler of Ireland during the period that Finn was captain of Fianna. He was always in the thought of as a great and powerful leader ruling with wisdom. One day a warrior offered Cormac three golden apples in exchange for three wishes, so Cormac accepted. He gave the wishes to his family; the first wish was for his daughter, the second his son, and the third for his wife. He allowed all but the third wish and he was lost in a sudden mist. He was welcomed in by a stranger who offered to feed him but due to fate he could not eat until he was in a gathering of fifty. He fell asleep and when he awoke he was among fifty that included his wife and kids. He ruled for a long period of time afterwards until his son succeeded him from the throne. (3)


All these stories demonstrate the violent nature of Celtic Tribes and kingdoms, all the petty and significant prizes fought for and won. All of which describes the importance of dominance, popularity and masculinity. Treating one another with hostility and selfishness toward non-tribesmen. It also shows the rarity of benevolence and kindness in Celtic society, eventually they were unified, concurring most of Europe, however, for a brief period because of the hostility.


Resources
1. Joe, Jimmy. Red Branch. Timelessmyths. 11 august, 1999
2. Joe, Jimmy. Sianna. Timelessmyths. 25 november, 1999
3. Joe, Jimmy. High Kings. Timelessmyths. 11 august, 1999

Bibliography-
1-http://www.timelessmyths.com/celtic/redbranch.html
2-http://www.timelessmyths.com/celtic/fianna.html
3-http://www.timelessmyths.com/celtic/highkings.html