Celtic Legend


Amergin White-knee was the chief Bard of the Sons of Mil (the Milesians) who invaded Ireland during the reign of the Tuatha Dé Danann. Amergin was instrumental in the taking of Ireland, because he petitioned the three major Goddesses of Ireland and gained their support. He promised Banba and Fotla that their names would be known as names of Ireland. To Eire (Eriu) he made the promise of immortality - that her name would be the name of Ireland forever. When the kings of Ireland raised a magical storm against them, it was Amergin who quieted the elements, and overcame the kings' druidry with this song:

I seek the land of Ireland.
Forceful is the fruitful sea,
Fruitful the serried mountains,
Serried the showery woods,
Showery the cascade of rivers,
Cascaded the tributaries of lakes,
Tributaried the well of hills,
Welling the people of gatherings,
Gathering of Tara's king,
Tara, hill of tribes,
Tribes of Mil's people,
Mil's ships and galleys,
Galleys of mighty Eire,
Eire, mighty and green.
A crafty incantation,
Craftiness of Bres's wives,
Bres, of Buaigne's wives,
Great Lady Eire:
Eremon harried her,
Ir and Eber sought for her -
I seek the land of Ireland.

Thus the Milesians were able to overcome the magic of the Tuatha Dé Danann and successfully invade and conquer Ireland.


Cuchulainn was born Setanta, but changed his name after killing Conchobair Mac Neasa's favorite guard dog as it attacked him. He vowed to take the place of the dog, guarding the pass into Ulster, and thus became known as the Hound of Cualainn. Its unclear who his mother was, as several women in Celtic myth are mentioned, depending on the story. The god Lugh is sometimes also mentioned as his father, but this relationship appears to be more of a spiritual link than a biological one. Cuchulainn's human father is Sualtam.

Cuchulainn studied under the warrior goddess Scathach on the Isle of Shadow and returned to Ulster to be a great warrior and leader of the Red Branch, a semi-chivalrous order of warriors of Ulster whose exploits are told in Irish mythology. He became semi-divine himself through his adventures and was later honored as a pagan god.

Many of his stories are recorded at length in The Book of the Dun Cow. He was killed in battle when he single-handedly held off Maeve's armies after tying himself to a tree so that he could remain standing.

Fionn mac Cumhail

Fionn mac Cumhail, also known as Finn mac Coul, was the legendary Irish hero and leader of the Fianna. Tales of Finn and the Fianna were widely documented in the 3rd century AD during what is now referred to as the Fenian Cycle, although much earlier written accounts have also been found in ancient Irish manuscripts.

Finn's father Cumhail, a Fianna chieftain, was mortally wounded and killed in battle by Goal mac Morn, the leader of a rival clan, before Finn's birth. Terrified for her new baby's survival, Finn's mother sent him away intrusting him to two of her closest colleagues - a druidess named Bodbal and a woman warrior named Fiachel. Together these women successfully raised Finn in secret hiding place deep within the mountains of Erie (Ireland). During this time they taught him all the lessons and skills he would need to survive he set out to avenge his father's murder.

Finn took service under several kings, but was immediately sent away in fear of a retaliation from mac Morna, when they discovered who he was. Discouraged, Finn wandered throughout Ireland until he met an old poet living near the river Boyne whom he studied under for seven years.

At the end of these seven years Finn fulfilled a prophecy when he ate the Salmon of Knowledge and gained the wisdom he would need to challenge mac Morna. Gathering 150 of the bravest and best of the Fianna, Finn challenged Goll mac Morna in battle. The battle was long, lasting a few days, but in the end mac Morna's men were no match for the Fianna and Goll mac Morna died on Finn's sword.

Finn and the Fianna continued to fight in great battles and were acknowledged figures in Celtic history. It was said that in the fields of daring, courageousness, and skill the Fianna were unequaled and that no man could hope to be better in magic, poetry, or wisdom then Finn mac Cumhail.


A young boy named Gwion Back was left to watch over a cauldron prepared by the Goddess Ceridwen. The liquid brewing inside the cauldron was intended for her horribly ugly son, Afagddu (Utter Darkness.) The liquid would give anyone that drank of it all knowledge and wisdom.

While Ceridwen was away, the boy Gwion fell asleep. He awoke to find that the fire was burning too hotly, and three drops of the precious liquid splashed out of the cauldron onto Gwion's finger. Sucking his finger to alleviate the pain, he absorbed all of the wisdom that had been intended for Afagddu.

When Ceridwen found out, she was furious, and set off after Gwion. Armed with his new knowledge, he turned himself into various animals, only to be pursued by Ceridwen who would turn herself into the animal's natural predator. Finally after a long chase, Gwion turned himself into a grain of wheat in a huge mound of grain and chaff. Ceridwen turned herself into a hen and ate every last grain, including Gwion. Nine months later she gave birth to a beautiful boy. Unwilling to kill the child, she set him adrift in a leather bag on the open sea.

Eventually the bag washed up on the shore near a fisherman's hut, and was discovered by the son of the fisherman, a boy named Elffin. When he opened the bag and saw the bright forehead of the child inside, he proclaimed "Behold the radiant brow!," whereupon the child answered "Taliesin be he called!" (Taliesin means 'shining brow.') He then spewed forth an endless stream of poetry, prophesy and wisdom. Elffin took him back to the hut and he there grew up into a famous bard and shaman, later serving at the court of King Arthur himself.

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Revised: November 17, 1998.