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 (> 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.