Stories, Myths & Legends

The Birth of Cúchulainn

Dechtire the mother of Cúchulainn was sitting at her wedding feast about to be married to the Ulster chieftain Sualtam.  When a mayfly landed in her wine cup.  She drank the wine without noticing and fell into a deep sleep.  Lugh the god of light appeared to her in a dream and revealed to her that he was the mayfly that she had swallowed.  He transformed Dechtire and her fifty serving maidens into a flock of birds and they all disappeared without trace.

Many months later the Warriors of Emain Macha were out hunting when they noticed a wondrous flock of beautiful birds, so they decided to give chase to these birds.   They followed in their chariots for a long while until darkness fell and they discovered that they had arrived at Brugh na Boyne the home of the Gods and Goddesses.   Suddenly they saw a large hall of such magnificence that they could never remember seeing its like before.  

A tall, handsome man greeted them and invited them inside for some food and drink.  When they entered they saw a beautiful woman with her fifty serving maidens seated at the table which was laden with the most sumptuous feast they had ever laid eyes on.  When they had finished eating and drinking they were offered beds for the night and duly retired.  However their sleep was broken by the cries of a new born baby in the middle of the night.

When they awoke their host revealed that he was none other than Lugh the long-handed and that the woman was Dechtire half sister of King Conchobar mac Nessa, and that she had just given birth to a son who was to be taken back to Emain Macha and raised in the court and trained in the ways of the warrior.  Thus the warriors escorted Dechtire, her new son and her fifty maidens back to Emain Macha where there was much rejoicing at her safe return.  Sualtam received herself and her child into his home and cared for the boy as his own flesh and blood and he was named Setanta, later known as the hero Cúchulainn.


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