Story Archaeology

Uncovering the layers of Irish Mythology through a regular podcast and related articles.

Circling the Táin 03: The Birth Pangs of Ulster

A graphic showing a ringed planet, with a bull on the central planet, and images representing characters from the Táin on satelites around the planet

In this episode, we continue our exploration of the troublesome conceptions and births that stand behind much of the material of the Táin tradition. This time, we examine the births of the doomed Deirdre, the fated Cú Chulainn and re-re-visit the importance of Macha’s story.

Join the Story Archaeologists as we attempt to disentangle webs of prophecy and poor decision-making, and try to understand what all these little worms are about!

Read the texts for yourself!

Here are links to the texts and translations that we used for the birth of Deirdre:

from the Book of Leinster (LL)

Longes mac n-Uislenn – edited by Vernam Hull

The Exile of the Sons of Uisliu – translated by Vernam Hull

late version translated by Douglas Hyde



Here are the texts on Macha:

Noinden Ulad; The Story of Macha

More Stories of Macha – Revisited

An original translation of Compert Con Chulainn, the Conception of Cú Chulainn, will be uploaded in the coming days

Need some revision?

You may find it helpful to revisit our episodes on Macha:

Series 1 – Mythical Women; Episode 2 – The Story of Macha

Series 5 – Revisiting Mythical Women; Episode 2 – Revisiting Macha


Don’t forget to subscribe to get the latest posts! Related Articles will be posted in the days to come…

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Check our Reading List for further reading and resources.

by The Story Archaeologists

Music: “Tam Lin” by Gian Castello

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