How Setanta became Cuchulainn


Setanta Cu-chulainn

Long ago, around the time of Christ, there lived a boy named Setanta. His uncle, Conor MacNessa, was the king of Ulster. The king lived in a great fort, at a place called Eamhain Macha. (near the town of Armagh). Conor MacNeassa had a troop of boys under his care which were called the Macra. The king had made a playing field for them near his own for. Here the boys were trained to run and wrestle and play at war with their toy swords and spears. They played hurling and other games too. If the boys were good enough they would become a warrior in Conor's legendary army the Red Branch Knights.

Setanta lived with his mother near Dún Dealgan (Dundalk). Setanta longed to join the Macra, but his mother thought he was too young. He begged her day after day untils she game him is way. Setanta set out alone for the king's fort. It was a long journey but Setanta had his hurley and sliotar to play with. He hit the sliotar far ahead and forward to catch it on his hurley before it hit the ground.

When Setanta reached the fort he saw the Macra playing a game of hurling. He ran in among the boys and caught the ball. The other boys were furious that this boy had joined their game uninvited. They attacked Setanta from all sides and threw their spears at him. Setanta caught the spears on his shield, Setanta fought off the boys bravely. The noise disturbed the King who was playing chess and he went to see what was happening. The king was very angry. Setanta shouted "I am you nephew, I have come from Dundalk and I have come to join the Macra"The king admired Setanta's bravery and welcomed him to the Macra. Setanta love his life in the Macra and time passed quickly.

There was a blacksmith in Ulster named Culann who mad swords and spears for Conor Mac Neasa and his warriors. One day Culann invited the king, his knights and Setanta to a feast in his fort. When king Conor was setting out for Culann's fort, Setanta was playing a game of hurling. He told the king tat he would follow as soon as the game was finished.

Before the feast began, Culann asked if everyone was in, for if everyone was, he would release his fierce hound, who guarded his fort. "We are all here," said the king, forgetting about Setanta. Culann let loose his hound. 

As soon as the game was over, Setanta set out for the feast. As soon as he came near Culann's for he deard the deep growls of a wolfhound. Suddenly the holund feapt forward and attacked. Setanta had no weapons but his hurley and sliotar. With all his strength Setanta hurled his sliotar down the hound's throat. The hound fell dead.

Inside the fort they heard the noise, Conor jumped to his feet and cried out 'We have forgotten Setanta". Conor and the Red Branch knights rushed out expecting to find the you boy torn to pieces. Conor was amazed and delighted to se Culan's great hound laying dead at Setant's feet. The warriors shouted with joy. Only one man was sad. It was Culan. He had lost the wolfhould he loved and guarded his house faithfully every night. "I will be your watch-dog" said Setanta. Culann agreed. From that day on Setanta was called Cúchulann which means the Hound of Culann.

Cúchulann later went on to become the greatest warrior in the Red Branch Knights.