Stories, Myths & Legends

Cúchulainn and Sualtam

Towards the end of the battle of the Brown Bull of Cooley  Cúchulainn lay in a terribly wounded state, his loud groans of pain were heard at great distance by his human father Sualtam who hurried to his side to tend his wounds but Cúchulainn would not let him insisting that he go and try rouse the champions of Ulster from their magical curse of suffering labour pains. Sualtam mounted upon Cúchulainn's great war horse 'Grey of Battle' and quickly rode to the stronghold of Emain Macha.  Once there he gave three great shouts:

'Men are being killed, women raped, and cattle raided in Ulster!'

The men of Ulster were too far under the curse of Macha to heed the first two shouts, but on the third he partially awakened the druid Cathbad, who cursed him for trying to disturb King Conchobar at this time.  This apathy so enraged Sualtam that he turned his horse very sharply and made it rear in anger, as it reared the sharp edge of the throwing shield pressed against Sualtam's throat and cut off his head.  The uncontrolled battle horse charged through the stronghold with Sualtam's severed head still calling out -

'Men are being killed, women raped, and cattle raided in Ulster!'

Now at last the warriors roused themselves and King Conchobar himself was roused and he swore:

'The skies are above us, the earth is beneath us, the seas encircle us; Unless the heavens and all the stars fall down, and the earth beneath us falls away, and the seas flood in to drown us, I will restore every woman to her home and every cow to her byre!

Cúchulainn heard the noise of the Champions of Ulster finally being roused to action and knew his father had succeeded in his quest.


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