Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)

Also known as Cú Chulainn or Cuchillin, a leading Hero of Irish Myth. He dominates the "Ulster Cycle" of legends as the archetypal defender of the tribe, an epitome of Celtic nobility whose invincible battle-frenzy is festooned with Tall-Tale exaggeration: fire spurts from his mouth and a fountain of black blood from the top of his head, three vats of freezing water are required to calm him down, etc. Cuchulain's steadily darkening life was hedged with geasa (see Conditions; Curses) which finally caused his death. He appears in L Sprague de Camp's and Fletcher Pratt's "The Green Magician" (1954), Pat O'Shea's The Hounds of the Mórrígan (1985) and, recurringly, the poetry of W B Yeats. His Ulster Cycle stories are retold in Gregory Frost's 1980s Tain series and in Kenneth C Flint's A Storm Upon Ulster (1981; vt The Hound of Culain 1986 UK) and its sequel. [DRL]

further reading: The Cuchullin Saga in Irish Literature (1898) by Eleanor Hull.

see also: Celtic Fantasy.

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.