Kings & Queens :: Medb

Name:  Medb/ Maeve/ Maebh / Medba/ Maev/ Meadhbh/ Méadhbh/ Meave/ Maive

Race:  Celtic

Province:  Connaught

Profession:  Queen, Warrior

Father:  Eochu Fedlech

Mother: Cruacha

Brothers: Finn Emna (the three Finns of Emain): 

Bres Nár Lothar

Sisters: Ethne Inguba married Conchobar Mac Nessa Clothra also married Conchobar Mac Nessa Mugain was consort to Conchobar also.

Uncles:  Eochaid Airem    Ailill Anglonnach

Cousins: Derbrenn  Mess Buachalla

Cousins once removed:  Conaire Mór (son of Mess Buachalla)

Nephews:  Furbaide Ferbenn  Lugaid Riab nDerg (Red Stripes)


'Queen Maeve and the Druid' after original illustration by Stephen Reid 1910

Husbands: Conchobar Mac Nessa  Ailill (A Connaught Chieftain)  Tinde son of Connra Cas Eochaid Dála Ailill Mac Ross 

Sons:  Orlám (killed by Cúchulainn)    

The seven sons called Maine:

Maine Mathremail - like his mother

Maine Athremail - like his father

Maine Mo Epert - the talker

Maine Milscothach - the honey worded

Maine Andoe - the quick

Maine Mingor - the gently dutiful

Maine Morgor - the very dutiful

Ciar son of Fergus Mac Roich Conmaic also a son of Fergus

Daughters: Finnabair  Cainder Faife

Foster Son: Etarcomol

Consorts:  Fergus Mac Roich

Associated Deities:  Medb the Intoxicated : Aengus Mac Óg : Mór Muman

Associated Sites:  Cruachu (modern Sligo/ Roscommon) 

Lough Ree in Co. Roscommon (death-place) Inchcleraun Island 

Knocnarea Co. Sligo (Maeve's Cairn) Knockmaa near Tuam Co. Galway also the sidhe mound of Finn Bheara the Fairy King of Galway.

Medb was a queen living in approximately the 1st century B.C. (She was once considered a historical queen but now is considered mythological).  She is most famous as a protagonist in the story of the Cattle Raid of Cooley (The Táin Bó Cuailnge) and adversary of Cúchulainn the legendary Celtic hero.  

She lived in Co. Sligo in Connaught  and there are many monuments which are linked to her name.  She was named after the Celtic Goddess of  Intoxication. Firstly she married Conchobar Mac Nessa of Ulster but they did not get on well so her sister Ethne married him instead.  She then married a Connaught chieftain called Ailill but that did not work out either, so finally she was married to Ailill a son of the King of Leinster.   She also frequented the area in Roscommon known as Rathcroghan today which was called Cruachain in ancient times and was said to hold the entrance to the Otherworld, which is now called the Cave of the Cats.

In many accounts the attributes of Medb are very similar to the attributes of the Goddess Medb and there is therefore confusion over which of them is the mortal and which the immortal.  There also was a Medb in Leinster called Medb Lethderg (Red-Side or Half-Red) who married nine men in order to give them Kingship of their territories.  This story sounds more like the Goddess Medb who conferred sovereignty on the Kings by a ritual of intoxication and then a 'marriage' to them.

Queen Medb has many attributes of the goddess and may be an aspect of the goddess in human form just as the Goddess Macha lived among mortals and married the farmer Crundchu in one of her manifestations.  Medb has an insatiable sexual appetite and boasts openly of sleeping with thirty men in one day.  She has a sacred grove known as Bile Meibe  and two tree-dwelling creatures perch on either of her shoulders the squirrel and the raven.  

She mates with the hero Fergus Mac Roich 'Son of Great Horse' who himself has a large sexual appetite so that he satisfies her. 'she used to know thirty men every day or go with Fergus once.'  During the battle of the Táin Bo, Medb wanted to pass water and Fergus hid her with his shield, the water she passes forms three great dykes 'so that a mill could find room in each dyke'.  The place became known afterwards as Fual Medba,  'Medb's Urine'.  Natural features are frequently formed through the actions of supernatural beings.

Medb murdered her sister Clothra while she was pregnant with Furbaide son of Conchobar Mac Nessa, the baby survived this and when he grew up he murdered Medb in revenge with a slingshot of hard cheese while she was bathing in a lake on an island in Lough Ree, Co. Roscommon.  His name was Furbaide Ferbend.

Stories, Myths and Legend associated with Queen Medb:

The Cattle Raid of Cooley 

The Battle of Muirthemne  

The naming of Mag Mucraime

The Pillow-Talk of Medb and Ailill

The Birth of the Bulls

The Death of the Bulls

The Combat of Ferdiad and Cúchulainn (full version)

Aengus Óg and Caer Ibormeith

The Awakening of Ulster


Cúchulainn slays Finnabair

The Boyhood Deeds of Cuchulain

The Firbolg

Scél Muicce Mac Dathó  

The Story of Mac Dathó's Pig  


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