Story Archaeology

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

Who killed Medb? ~ a poem

£1 -punt- note 1988

And Medb? That famous queen of Connacht,

That virtuous virago – woman of renown,

Serpent wise and venomous,

How did she die?

Was it Ailill, on a night of pillow talk,

On a night of boasting and bragging,

Was there one too many pillows plumped,

To stifle her competitive tongue.

Was it Ailill who brought about her end?

No! though he might have thought of it.



Was it Nera, ghosted and goaded

Into the darkness of a Samhain night,

By the promise of a silver sword.

Did he hesitate before he carried back the warning

Of sídhe attack? – savage their anger!

No! he was loyal, although he could have stayed away.



Was it the cats from out of the darkness

Of another world? – cave strong they were,

Who had bested heroes – a champion’s portion!

Cú Chulainn, only, succeeded Medb’s test.

Did her pets turn upon her.?

No! although they may have relished the task.



And Morrigan, that sharp-eyed watcher,

Her wisdom and guidance ignored

and insulted by a bright young hero – ill done, that day

Did Medb also offend the woman,

Drawing down her raven wrath?

No! although she would gladly have done so.



A battle for bulls,

Both brown and white,

White gold and red,

Red blooded deeds,

Gold greedy hands,

These things might have been her end.

A slaughtered sister,

A sword in the side,

And a brief moment of pity for an unborn child.




There by a well on an island in a lake in a river,

There the milk of kindness dried

and hardened.

There she died,

Killed by a sister-son,

Killed by the single cast of a sling,

Killed by a piece of cheese.


Chris Thompson

June ’13

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