Cuchulainn defends Ulster


As Meave’s army marched toward Connacht, the Ulster army, the Red Branch Knights set out to meet them. But on the way they were struck down by a strange sickness which was brought about by a magic spell. The only man to escape the spell was the hero Cuchulainn.

When Meave’s army arrived at the river Dee the only warrior there to face them was Cuchulainn. He fought and killed the best of Meave’s warriors one after the other in single combat. He killed one hundred soldiers single-handedly.

Meave’s greatest warrior Ferdia took no part in the fight. He and Cuchulainn had grown up together and they were great friends. Meave knew this so she lied to Ferdia. She told him “Cuchulainn is saying that you are hiding because you are afraid of him”. This made Ferdia mad and he eventually agreed to fight.

The two champions fought for three whole days without either gaining an advantage. They matched each other in both skill and bravery. Each evening they sent assistance to the other. Cuchulainn sent Ferdia herbs for his wounds and Ferdia sent Cuchulainn food and drink.

At sunrise on the forth day they faced each other in the middle the shallow river. Their swords clashed loudly as they battled back and forth, but neither could gain the upper hand. Cuchulainn got distracted by the cheering crowd. Ferdia saw his chance and drove his sword into Cuchulainn’s body. As Chuchulainn fell to his knees his chariot driver Laeg quickly sent his magic spear “the gae bolga” floating downstream towards him. Cuchulainn grabbed the magic spear and put it through Ferdia’s heart.

As Ferdia fell Cuchulainn took him in his arms. He felt no joy in winning the fight and wept bitterly over his friend. Soon after the Red Branch Knight broke free of the spell and drove Queen Maeve’s army from Ulster. But not before they had stolen the Brown Bull of Cooley.


Continue: The Bull Fight