Story Archaeology

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

Tag Archives: Ulster Cycle

Verba Scathaige – Scathach’s Words

We opened the episode “Women Warriors: The Training of Cú Chulainn“, with a reading, in Irish and English, of Verba Scathaige. This is the poem that Scáthach creates using her imbás forosna, one of the most advanced poetic techniques, used in story to see events far off in time and space. This attribute of Scáthach’s …

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Circling the Táin 04: Harder, Faster, Stronger, Better – The Boyhood Deeds of Cú Chulainn

Harder, Faster, Stronger, Better! In this episode, we get to examine some remarkable exploits of one of the central figures in the Tain tradition: Cú Chulainn.  We explore stories told by some of the characters who know the hero, remembering him as a child. Join the Story Archaeologists as we try to decide if  the young Cú Chulainn can be considered …

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Circling the Táin 03: The Birth Pangs of Ulster

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 …

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Circling The Tain 02: Portents and Prophecies

The richly interwoven stories that make up the Táin tradition contain a wide diversity of characters. There is much to explore. Even their back stories have back stories! In this episode, we explore the back stories of two such characters: the well-known Ulster king, Conchobar Mac Nessa, and the lesser-known Ulster hero, Conall Cernach. Join the Story …

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A Battle between Equals

In a recent episode, 6.01 – The Quarrel of The Two Swineherds, we discussed a magical battle between two equal antagonists. These were Friuch and Rucht, the swineherds attached to the chieftains of Munster and Connacht respectively. As we made clear in the podcast, this pair were in no manner low status menials. As with the cup …

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Circling the Tain 01: The Quarrel of the Two Swineherds (or “Where It All Began”)

Welcome to Series 6, “Circling the Tain”. In this series, we will delve into the fascinating web of stories making up the Tain tradition, with the Tain Bó Cúailnge, “The Cattle Raid of Cooley”, at its core. We begin this exploration with the story of two talented swineherds and their shape-shifting,poetic quarrel. Join the Story …

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Noínden Ulad – The Story of Macha

Edited by Vernam Hull, Celtica 8 (1968), pp 1-42. Translation by Isolde Carmody. Annotated terms are marked in bold, with the notes at the end of the text. §1 Cid dia mboí in ces for Ultaib? Ni ansae From what [cause] was the debility on the Ulstermen? Not hard.

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Revisiting Mythical Women 2 – Revisiting Macha

In the second of our “revisits”, we look back at our discussions on Noinden Ulaid and the Dindshenchas stories of Emain Macha in Co. Armagh. This was the first discussion that we had about cóir, although we were then using the Egyptian term Ma’at, signifying natural order and justice. Reviewing this episode really highlights how …

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A Description of the Sid of Labraid

Paraphrased from Laerg’s poem in Serglige Con Chulainn, “The Love-Sickness of Cú Chulainn” from “Serglige Con Chulainn“, ed. Myles Dillon from Lebor na hUidre; lines 486 – 513 Poetic rendering by Chris Thompson   Colba do lepthaib crónda, úatne finna forórda, is sí caindell ardustá in lía lógmar lainerdá. Soft crimson beds there are Emblazoned …

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The Ulster Women’s War of Words 2: Lendabair

In “Fled Bricrenn 1: The Feasting Hall“, we discussed the so-called Ulster Women’s War of Words.  This is where the partners of the three contending heroes take turns to boast of their own greatness as well as that of their men-folk. Here is the second of these poetic weapons, here weilded by Lendabair, partner to …

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