Stories, Myths &Legends

How Cúchulainn got his name

At first the son of Dechtire and Sualtam was called Setanta.  As a child he was the strongest of all his peers and won all the sports competitions.  One day while playing Hurley single-handed against a team of other boys and beating them, he was summoned to the court of King Conchobar so that he might attend a feast at the house of the sidhe blacksmith Culann.  Setanta promised to come along as soon as his game was finished.

When the Ulster champions entered the smith's hall, the king gave permission for Culann to let loose his fierce guard hound, forgetting that Setanta had not yet arrived.   When Setanta came into Culann's front yard the hound attacked him fiercely, Setanta reacted quickly and hurled his sliotar (Hurley ball) into the mouth of the hound choking him, he then grabbed him by his hind legs and smashed out his brains on a rock.

Culann the chief smith was enraged to find that his guard dog had been killed.   Setanta apologised and promised to find another hound and train it for Culann but in the meantime he himself would act as Culann's guard.  Thus from that time onwards he was known as Cúchulainn - the hound of Culann.


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