Short summary - The Cuchullin Saga - Irish Sagas

British literature summaries -

Short summary - The Cuchullin Saga
Irish Sagas

The birth of Kuhulin

Once birds of an unknown breed came upon the land of the villages and began to devour all the fruits, cereals, grass, all greenery to the very root. Then, in order to save their food, the Uladas decide to equip nine chariots and go hunting for birds. The governor of the settlements Konkhobar and his sister Dehtire also go hunting. Soon they overtake the birds. Those fly in a huge flock led by the most beautiful bird in the world. There are only twenty of them, and they are divided into pairs, each of which is connected by a gold chain. Suddenly, all but three birds disappear, and it is precisely after them that the Ulados rush, but then night catches up with them, so these three birds are hiding. Then the Uladas pull up the chariots and send several people to look for some shelter for the night. The messengers quickly find a lonely new house, covered with white bird feathers. It is not finished inside and is not cleaned up in any way, and it does not even have any dresses and blankets. Two owners, a husband and wife, sitting in the house, affectionately greet those who entered. Despite the lack of food and the small size of the house, the villages decide to go there. They enter it as much as they were, along with horses and chariots, and it turns out that all this takes up very little space in the house. They find there and plenty of food and blankets. After they are accommodated for the night, a beautiful young man of unusually tall appears at the door. He says the time has come for dinner, and the fact that the food was eaten before was just a snack. And then they are served various foods and drinks, according to the taste and desire of everyone, after which they, having become full and hungover, begin to have fun. Then the husband asks Dehtira to help his wife giving birth at that moment in the next room. Dehtir enters the parturient woman. Soon she gives birth to a boy. When the villages wake up in the morning, there is no longer any house, no owners, no birds. They return home, taking with them a newborn boy.


He is brought up under Dehtir until he grows up. At a young age, he becomes seriously ill and dies. Dehtira is very sad about the death of his adopted son. For three days she doesn’t eat or drink anything, and then she is possessed by intense thirst. Dehtira is served a cup of drink, and when she brings it to her lips, it seems to her that some tiny animal wants to jump into her mouth from the cup. The rest do not notice any animal. Again they serve her a cup, and while she is drinking, the animal slips into her mouth and makes its way inside her. At that very moment, Dehtir falls into a dream that lasts until the next day. In a dream, she sees a husband and announces that now she conceived from him. He also says that it was he who created the birds, created the house where the villages spent the night, and created a woman tormented by childbirth. He himself took the form of a boy, who was born there and whom she raised and recently mourned for Dehtira. Now he has returned in the form of a small animal that has penetrated her body. Then he called his name - Meadow of the Long Arm, the son of Etlen - and said that from him Dehtir would have a son named Setanta. After this, Dehtire became pregnant. No one among the villages can understand from whom she conceived, and they even begin to say that the culprit is her brother Konkhobar. After that, Sualtam, the son of Roig, marries to Dehtir. And Konkhobar gives his sister to him as a wife. She is very ashamed to get up on his bed, already pregnant, and begins to beat herself on the back and hips until, as she thought, she is freed from the fetus. At this moment, she regains her virginity. After that, she rises on the bed of Sualtam and gives birth to his son the size of a three-year-old child. He is called Sethanta, and his adoptive father becomes Kulan the blacksmith. The boy bears Setant's name until he kills Kulan's dog and serves him for it. From then on, they began to call him Kukhulin.


Kuhulin's disease

Once a year, all the specialties gathered for the Samhain holiday, and while this holiday lasted (for seven whole days), there was nothing but games, festivities, feasts and refreshments. The favorite thing of the assembled warriors was to boast of their victories and deeds. Once on such a holiday all the villages gathered, except for Konal the Victorious and Fergus, the son of Roig. Kuhulin decides not to start without them, since Fergus is his adoptive father, and Konal is his sibling. While the audience is playing chess and listening to songs, a flock of birds flies to a nearby lake, no one more beautiful than anyone has ever seen in all of Ireland. Women are embraced by the desire to receive them, and they argue whose husband will be more agile in catching these birds.

One of the women, on behalf of everyone, asks Kuhulin to get birds, and when he starts to curse, he accuses him of being the culprit of the squint of many Uladian women in love with him, for he himself is crooked in one eye with rage during the battle, and women do this is to be like him. Then Kuhulin makes such a raid on birds that all their paws and wings fall into the water. Cuchulainn, with the help of her charioteer Loig, captures all the birds and divides them among the women. Each receives two birds, and only Inguba, the beloved of Kukhulin, is left without a gift. She promises her to catch the most beautiful birds next time.

Soon two birds appeared over the lake, connected by a gold chain. They sing so sweetly that everyone falls asleep, and Kuhulin rushes at them. Loig and Inguba warn him that a secret power is hidden in the birds and it is better not to touch them, but Kuhulin cannot help but keep his word. He throws stones at birds twice, but misses twice, and then pierces the wing of one of them with his spear. The birds immediately disappear, and Kukhulin goes to a high stone and falls asleep. In a dream, he appears two women in green and purple cloaks and beat him with lashes almost to death. When Kukhulin awakens, he can only ask to transfer him to bed in the house. There he, without uttering a word, lies a whole year.

Exactly one year later, on the same day of Samhain, when Kukhulin is still in bed surrounded by several settlements, a certain husband suddenly enters the house and sits right in front of the Kukhulin's bed. He says that Kukhulin will be healed by the daughters of Ayd Abrat - Liban and Fand, who is in love with him, if he helps their father deal with the enemies. After that, the husband suddenly disappears, and Kukhulin gets up from the bed and tells the Uladzim about everything that happened to him. On the advice of the leader of the Conkhobar settlements, he goes to the very stone where the disease overtook him a year ago, and there he meets a woman in a green cloak. She turns out to be the daughter of Aid Abrat named Liban and says that she came to ask him for help and friendship at the request of her sister Fand, who loves Kuhulin and will connect his life with him, if he helps Liban's wife - Labride fight against his enemies. However, Kuhulin is not able to go with her right away and decides to send Loig first so that he finds out everything about the country where Liban came from. Loig leaves with Liban, and meets with Fund, with Labride, but if Fund is very kind to Loig and amazes him with his beauty, then Labride is not happy because a difficult battle with a huge army awaits him. Labride asks Loig to hurry after Kuhulin, and he returns. He tells Kukhulin that he saw many beautiful women and Fand, surpassing the beauty of everyone else, while Kukhulin, during the story of his charioteer, feels that his mind is clearing and his strength is coming. He asks Loig to call his wife Emer. Emer, having learned what is happening with her husband, at first blames the inaction of the Ulad, who in no way seek a means to help him, and then urges Kuhulin to overcome himself and get out of bed. Kukhulin shakes off his weakness and numbness and again goes to the stone, which he had a vision. There he meets Liban and sets off with her to Labride.

Together they go to look at the enemy army, and it seems untold to them. Kuhulin asks Labride to leave, and early in the morning kills the leader of their enemies - Eokhaid Yul - when he goes to the stream to wash. A battle ensues, and soon the enemies take to flight. But Kuhulin cannot subdue his fury. On the advice of Loig Labride, he is preparing three vats of cold water to cool the ardor of the hero. After that, Kuhulin shares the bed with Fand and spends next to her for a month, and then returns home.

Shortly after his return, he again calls on Fand for a love date. But Emer finds out about this, takes a knife and, accompanied by fifty women, goes to the appointed place to kill the girl. Kuhulin, having seen Emer, stops her and forbids her to approach Fand. From this, Emer falls into great sorrow, and the amazed Kuhulin promises to never part with her. Now is the time to grieve Fand - she is abandoned and must return to herself. However, Fand’s husband, Manannan, who left her when she fell in love with Kuhulin, finds out what is happening and hurries to Fand. Having met her husband, she decides to return to him. But when Kukhulin sees that Fand is leaving with Manannan, he falls into great sorrow and goes to the mountains, where he lives, not accepting food or drink. Only sent by Conkhobar, the sorcerers, druids and singers manage to bind Kuhulin, drink it with a drink of oblivion and bring it home. Emer gives the same drink, and Manannan shakes his cloak between the fandas and Kuhulin so that they never meet.

The death of Kuhulin

Cuchulainus is going to battle, but fifty women of the royal family are blocking his path, so as not to start up new feats. With the help of three vats of cold water, they manage to cool his ardor and keep him from going to battle that day. But other women reproach Kukhulin in inaction and urge to protect their country. Kukhulin equips and approaches his horse, but he turns three times to his left side, which portends a great misfortune. On the night before the campaign, the war goddess Morrigan smashes Kuhulin’s chariot, because she knows that he will not return home. Nevertheless, Kuhulin sets off on his journey. On the way, he visits his nurse, and then meets three curves in the left eye of the old women, grilling dog meat. On Kukhulin there was a vow - not to refuse food from any hearth, but not to eat dog meat. He is trying to go round old women, but they notice him and invite them to try their food, Kukhulin eats dog meat with his left hand and puts the bones under his left thigh, which makes them lose their former fortress. Then Kuhulin, along with his charioteer Loig, arrives at the scene of the battle.

Meanwhile, the leader of his enemies, Erk, comes up with such a trick: all their troops move into a single wall and put up a pair of strongest warriors and a caster on each corner, who will have to ask Kuhulin to lend him a spear that can hit the king. Approaching an enemy army, Kukhulin immediately gets involved in a battle and works with a spear and sword so that the plain becomes gray from the brains of those killed. Suddenly Kukhulin sees on the edge of the army two fighting soldiers and a caster, who calls on him to separate the fighters. Kuhulin strikes everyone with such a blow that the brain protrudes through their nose and ears and they fall dead. Then the caster asks him for a spear, Kukhulin refuses to give it away, but threatens to be dishonored for stinginess, agrees. One of the enemy warriors - Lugayd - throws a spear at Kuhulin and kills his charioteer Loig. Kuhulin goes to the other flank of the army and again sees two fighting. He parted them, casting them in different directions with such force that they fell dead at the foot of a neighboring rock. The caster standing next to them again asks for a spear from him, Kukhulin again refuses, but under the threat of disgracing all the estates gives him away. Then Erk throws a spear at Kukhulin, but falls into his horse named Gray from Mahi. A fatally wounded horse escapes into the Gray Lake, from where Kukhulin once obtained it, taking off half the drawbar on his neck. Kuhulin, however, rests his foot on the remaining half of the drawbar and once again passes through the enemy army from end to end. Again, he notices two fighters fighting each other, separates them the same way as the previous ones, and again meets the caster, who asks for a spear from him. This time, Kukhulin had to give him up under the threat of dishonoring his family with avarice. Then Lugayd takes this spear, throws it and falls right into Kuhulin, and even so that his insides fall on the pillow of the chariot. A mortally wounded Kukhulin asks permission from the enemies around him to swim in the Black Lake, and they allow him. He hardly reaches the lake, bathes, and then returns to the enemies and binds himself to a high stone, not wanting to die lying or sitting. At this moment, Gray from Mahi appears to protect him while there is still a soul in him and a ray of light emanates from his forehead. He kills fifty with his teeth, and thirty warriors with each hoof. For a long time, the soldiers hesitate to approach Kuhulin, thinking that he is alive, and only when the birds sit on his shoulders does Lugide cut off his head. throws him and goes straight into Kuhulin, and even so that his insides fall on the pillow of the chariot. A mortally wounded Kukhulin asks permission from the enemies around him to swim in the Black Lake, and they allow him. He hardly reaches the lake, bathes, and then returns to the enemies and binds himself to a high stone, not wanting to die lying or sitting. At this moment, Gray from Mahi appears to protect him while there is still a soul in him and a ray of light emanates from his forehead. He kills fifty with his teeth, and thirty warriors with each hoof. For a long time, the soldiers hesitate to approach Kuhulin, thinking that he is alive, and only when the birds sit on his shoulders does Lugide cut off his head. throws him and goes straight into Kuhulin, and even so that his insides fall on the pillow of the chariot. A mortally wounded Kukhulin asks permission from the enemies around him to swim in the Black Lake, and they allow him. He hardly reaches the lake, bathes, and then returns to the enemies and binds himself to a high stone, not wanting to die lying or sitting. At this moment, Gray from Mahi appears to protect him while there is still a soul in him and a ray of light emanates from his forehead. He kills fifty with his teeth, and thirty warriors with each hoof. For a long time, the soldiers hesitate to approach Kuhulin, thinking that he is alive, and only when the birds sit on his shoulders does Lugide cut off his head. and they allow him. He hardly reaches the lake, bathes, and then returns to the enemies and binds himself to a high stone, not wanting to die lying or sitting. At this moment, Gray from Mahi appears to protect him while there is still a soul in him and a ray of light emanates from his forehead. He kills fifty with his teeth, and thirty warriors with each hoof. For a long time, the soldiers hesitate to approach Kuhulin, thinking that he is alive, and only when the birds sit on his shoulders does Lugide cut off his head. and they allow him. He hardly reaches the lake, bathes, and then returns to the enemies and binds himself to a high stone, not wanting to die lying or sitting. At this moment, Gray from Mahi appears to protect him while there is still a soul in him and a ray of light emanates from his forehead. He kills fifty with his teeth, and thirty warriors with each hoof. For a long time, the soldiers hesitate to approach Kuhulin, thinking that he is alive, and only when the birds sit on his shoulders does Lugide cut off his head.


Then his army goes south, and he remains to swim and eat the fish he has caught.

At this time, Conal the Victorious learns of the death of Kuhulin. They once made a pact: the one who dies first will be avenged by the other. Konal sets off in the wake of the enemy troops and soon spots Lugaid. They agree on a duel and on different roads arrive at the appointed place. There, Conal immediately injures Lugayde with a spear. Nevertheless, their battle lasts a day, and only when Konal’s horse - Red Dew - pulls a piece of meat from Lugayd’s body, Konal manages to chop off his head. Upon returning home, the Uladas do not hold any triumph, considering that all the honors belong to Kuhulin. He appeared to those women who kept him from going to battle: his chariot swept through the air, and Kukhulin himself, standing on it, sings.