It is said that the name Caílte means slender and fierce, which renders it a very suitable name for this character. He was a member of the Fianna who was as known for his athleticism as his willingness to help. He was a great personal friend of Fionn Mac Cumhaill, and most of the tales of the deeds of the Fianna involve Fionn and Caílte along with a few of the other more prominent members. Like Fionn, he was descended from the Baoiscne clan, a clan known for its generosity of spirit. There is nothing that he wouldn’t do for his brothers in the Fianna, and certainly nothing he wouldn’t do for Fionn. It is often his interventions that get the Fianna out of trouble. His feats usually involve great speed, as he was particularly known for his lightness of foot.
Stories of Caílte:
While out hunting, the Fianna were accosted by a hag. She refused to let them pass, and demanded that they race her. If they lost she would kill them and eat them. Caílte raced her, overtook her, turned around and cut off her head.
When Fionn wooed Gráinne, she demanded of him the gift of the male and female of every animal in Ireland in one single drove. Caílte ran the length and breadth of Ireland, collecting each animal, and managing to keep them all in one group, and drove them to Gráinne before the sun had set that very day.
He brought a herd of hares to Tara and placed them in a house with nine open doors. By racing around the house all night he was able to keep all the hares in until morning.
The king of Ireland wished to have a fistful of sand delivered to him every morning from each of the four shores of Ireland, as he could tell by the smell of the sand whether any enemies had landed during the night. Three men offered their services. The first man said that he could do the task as quickly as a leaf fall from a tree. The second man told him that he could do it as quickly as a cat slinks between two houses. The third man (Caílte) said that he could finish this task as fast as a woman changes her mind. The king, impressed by this, tasked him with the job. “I have just returned,” Caílte replied, holding out the bags of sand.
Faithful comrade, good friend, and proactive member of the Fianna. You never get the sense that he ever expects to be owed any gratitude or service in return for his feats. He is delighted to possess such athletic skill as it renders him useful, but he does not let pride swell his head. For him, he is but one member of a tribe, and he never begrudges anyone else their place.