Story Archaeology

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Cú Chulainn’s Wild Ride

In Section 32 of Fled Bricrenn, Cú Chulainn explains to Loegaire and Conall that he won’t fight them for the Champion’s Portion, as he’s had a busy day:

Is and asmbert Cuculaind: ‘Rosirius andú
morbrughi h-Érinn’, ol se, ‘Bregha Midii, Muiriusc Murteme Machae Magh Medbhai, Cuirech Cletech Cernai, Aidne Aidli Asul, Lia Linde Locharna, Fea Femen Fercnaie, Corunn Umald Irruss, Cerai Maonmag Mucraime, Tenmagh Tulcai Turedai Tedba Tlachtgai Tailtiu Temair, Cualai Cermnaie,
Rocrogneo Roscre Innu. Ferr limm cech cles codlud, dili lim longad oltas cech ná. Tongi di dia toingi mo tuad, mad am saithiuch bidh & codulta, is cles limm & is cluichi daum comrac fria h-oinfer.’

from Fled Bricrenn in the Codex Vossianus

32. It was then Cú Chulainn spake thus:
“To-day have the Grey and I visited the great plains of Erin, namely, Bregia
of Meath, the seashore marsh of Muirthemne Macha, May
Medbn, Currech Cleitech Cérna, Lia
of Linn Locharn, Fea Femen Fergna, Urros
Domnand, Ros Roigne Eó.
And to sleep and to eat it liketh me better than everything. By the god of my
folk I swear ‘twould be but fun and frolic for me to fight a duel had I my fill
of food and of sleep.”

from Bricriu’s Feast, translated by George Henderson.

The lists of placenames do not match up between the Codex and Henderson’s edition. In mapping the route, I have worked from the Codex.  I have done my best to identify these places using Hogan’s Onomasticon Goedelicum, but some remain obscure to me.

Here, for fun and to aid in visualising the story, is a Google Map showing the places visited by Cú Chulainn and Liath Macha, with a route shown that reflects the order in which those places are mentioned.  I had initially assumed that the places were grouped only alliteratively, but there are clusters of names that refer to places within a region of the country, e.g. Umall, Irrus and Cera are all in the Galway / Mayo region.
In order, from Section 32 of Fled Bricrenn, the Liath Macha brings Cu Chulainn to:

Linde in Leith (Sliabh Fuait)

Brega Midi



(Ard) Machae

Magh Medbhai







Lia Linde Locharna – only identified as one of the great brugaid (hostels) of Ireland

(Mag) Fea

(Mag) Femen

Fercnaie  – I can’t identify this place



(My hand slipped – I don’t think Liath Macha was a swimmer!)




(Mag) Mucrama



Turedai  – I can’t identify this either!






Cermnaie  – somewhere in Mide

Rocrogneo – I interpret this as “Ro-” (great) “Croghan” (Crúachán)

Ros Cre


I brought the route back to end at Dún Rudraige, the site of Bricriu’s feast. There’s a bit of wiggling as I tried to make it stop drawing lines!

Total distance (give or take): 2,271 miles


Isolde Carmody

August ’13

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