Medb was one of the daughters of the king of Tara, who killed her pregnant sister. Medb then married Aillil and took over the territory of Connacht which would have belonged to her sister. She was most famous for her role as the queen of Connacht during the Battle or the Brown Bull of Cooley, but she also has many mystical qualities, which mark her out as one of the many Celtic goddesses. She was the goddess of sovereignty and territory, as can be seen from her independent and territorial character. She refused to let any king rule at Tara who had not first mated with her, and she was generally depicted as extremely promiscuous. Her name has strong links to twhe word ‘mead’ and her constant seducing of different men is related to the intoxicating effects of this drink.

Medb and the Táin Bo Cuailnge
As in all her relationships, Medb had to be the dominant partner in her marriage with Aillil. She felt her superiority was being challenged one evening during a recital the two made of their respective property. Aillil said he had a white bull of matchless beauty among his herds. Medb had nothing to compare with this, but she had heard that an Ulster man, Cooley, had a famous brown bull. Medb wanted to possess this bull in order to surpass her husband, and she sent messengers to Cooley, demanding the bull. Cooley was inclined to grant her request until he heard one of the messengers, while drunk, say that even if Cooley did not give up the bull, that Medb would take it by force. Cooley resented being dictated to by such a woman and so refused to part with the bull. Thus began the famed Táin Bo Cuailnge, “the Cattle Raid of Cooley”, in which Medb sent all the hosts of Connacht to try to seize the bull. Cúchulainn, the famous hero of Ulster, stood against them for a time until the armies of Ulster were in a position to fight back. Medb tried to weaken the opposition through bribery and trickery, but was unsuccessful. She persuaded her greatest warrior, Ferdia, to fight against Cuchulainn, who was his foster brother, in single combat, and this led to the death of the last champion of Connacht. Her followers were then heard to repent that they had ever been guided by such a vengeful woman. On the eve of the final confrontation between the two armies the bull of Cooley was sent into Connacht for safe keeping. The bull bellowed on entering new pastures and was heard and set upon by Aillil’s bull. The two animals gored each other to death, symbolising the wasteful conflict between Connacht and Ulster. Medb was ultimately killed herself by the son of her murdered sister, and it was thought that she was killed by a sling shot bearing a piece of cheese!

Medb was a strong and independent character, with a knowledge of magic and sorcery. She never shirked her part of the work, and knew well how to encourage and lead her followers. She was definitely the stronger partner in her marriage with Aillil. She was always depicted as beautiful but was often seen dressed for war, leading the charge in her own chariot. At times she was depicted as laughable, but she was a strong woman who was not to be crossed. She was harsh and domineering, and thought nothing of causing an entire war simply to acquire more possessions and reassure herself of her superiority.


Macha was an Irish war goddesss, strongly linked to the land. Macha was the wife of Crunniuc. She, was thought to be one aspect of the triple death-goddess, the Morrigán (the “Great Queen” or “Phantom Queen”), consisting of Macha “Raven”, Badb “Scald Crow” or “Coiling”, and Nemain “Battle Furey” Macha is associated with both horses and crows. They often appeared at the scene of a battle disguised as a raven or other bird, and took a decisive role in the battle. There were three elements in Macha: the first was the maternal reproductive part, the second the agrarian element and the third was the element of sexual fertility. All three parts combined to form a mother goddess figure based on war and fertility.

As Goddess of the land, they are said to be cognate with Ana or Danu, and Macha is said to the one of the Tuatha de Danann.

Tales of Macha
The most famous part of the Macha legend was the race in which she ran while pregnant. It was said that she went to the house of Cruind, a farmer, and circled on the flagstones outside his house three times before entering the dwelling and embarking on an affair with him. Macha became pregnant and later in a conversation with the king of Ulster, Cruind boasted that Macha could outrun any horse. The king demanded to see this put to the test despite the protestations of Macha. She appealed for a delay until she had given birth but the king refused and she was forced to compete. One version of the tale states that she died after the race, giving birth to twins. In her drying pain and anger, she curses the men of Ulster to nine times nine generations, that in their time of worst peril they should suffer the paid of child birth.

Macha combined many elements, some associated with mother goddesses, such as the power to offer fertility. She also was able to take such gifts away, leaving suffering behind.


Lugh was the son of the beautiful Eithne who was the daughter of Balor of the Evil Eye. Balor imprisoned Eithne in a high tower so that she would never have a son, as it had been prophesised that he would be slain by his own grandson. But, in stealing the great cow called Glas Ghoibhneann from Cian, Balor drew him to his island in search of his property. It was then that Eithne first saw Cian, who she recognised from her dreams. Lugh was thus conceived.

Stories of Lugh
When Lugh was born his grandfather ordered him to be killed. Ignoring the cries of his distraught mother, he was cast to the waves and all believed him to be drowned. However, the woman druid called Birog who had woven magic spells to bring Cian and Eithne together, cast another spell. That spell brought Lugh from the sea into the arms of his father. Lugh was fostered by Taillte daughter of the King of the great plain, and of Echaid the Rough. He was taught all the arts and his skill was so great with a sword and his reach so long and accurate that he acquired the name, Lugh of the Long Arm.
One day when Lugh had grown; at the time when King Nuadhu had been restored to his throne, he arrived at the door of the King’s fort. He asked the doorkeeper to tell the King that he wanted to join his household. The Doorkeeper told Lugh that no one could join the King’s household without a special skill. “I am a builder” said Lugh. “We already have a builder” said the Doorkeeper. “I am a smith, a champion, a harper, a warrior, a poet, a magician, a physician, a cup-bearer and a brazier” said Lugh” “But we already have someone who possesses each of the skills you mention” said the Doorkeeper. “Then do you have someone who is skilled in all these things together” said Lugh. And indeed there was no one so Lugh was admitted to the King’s household.
Before the second battle of Moytura, Nuadhu gave Lugh charge over his army. Lugh identified the special skill of all the leaders of the troops before going into battle. At the battle Lugh killed his grandfather Balor. Balor had lifted his eye with the intention of poisoning all it would behold. Lugh slew his grandfather with a slingshot that he aimed into his Evil Eye. Lugh became the new King of the Tuatha De Danann. He spared the life of Breas, who had connived against them in exchange for agricultural advice. Lúnasa the Irish word for August is called after him.

Lugh the possessor of all the arts was a great King and leader. He is seen as being an inventor of the arts, a guide on the journey , no matter what the road and also having an influence on and association with wealth and prosperity like the Tuatha de Danann generally.


Diarmuid was a young lieutenant of Finn, the now aging hero and leader of the Fianna. At a banquet Grainne, who was at the time betrothed to Finn, fell in love with the young hero Diarmuid. She placed him under a geis, a bond that compelled him to take her from the palace at Tara. Therefore Diarmuid fled Tara with his leader’s fiancée.

Tales of Grainne & Diarmuid
Diarmuid faced the double-edged sword of betraying the geis or betraying his leader. He took Grainne into exile and they fled the Fianna who pursued them to win her back for the king. She had initially tricked Diarmuid into this situation and her powers of manipulation were strong. The couple were chased all over Ireland, but they were assisted by the god of love, Oenghus. They entered the forest of Duvnos which contained the tree of Immortality. In the forest a giant, Sharavan the Surly, guarded the tree of Immortality, and Diarmuid made an agreement with him that Sharavan would leave the lovers in peace if Grainne and Diarmuid did not take any of the berries from the tree. But Grainne soon persuaded her lover to pick berries and Diarmuid killed Sharavan in the process. Soon Finn and his men caught up with the pair, and they entered the forest. Finn knew that they were hiding in the tree of Immortality but decided to try to draw Diarmuid out. He and Oisín played chess beneath the branches and Diarmuid couldn’t resist dropping a berry onto the board to signify to Oisín which move to make. Having been assured that Diarmuid was indeed amongst the branches, Finn sent Garva up to kill him. But Diarmuid won and threw the body down. But Oenghus changed his appearance so that Finn believed the body thrown to the ground was in fact Diarmuid.

Grainne manages to pull Diarmuid away from his allegiance to the king and using the geis draws him into an unbreakable bond to her. From this the love between the two appears to be strong, and Grainne plays a masterful role in the relationship


The Formorians are seen as euhemerised sea deities (or sea pirates) who were plunderers and intimidators of all the invaders of Ireland. They did not settle in Ireland but instead made raids from their impregnable Island Fort of Tory.

This race is often depicted as ugly, dark and demonic, sometimes seen as giants or elves and were witnessed with goat or horse heads or other terrible features. It is also said that they were fearsome creatures with only one eye, one arm and one leg. They exacted taxes from the Irish settlers sometimes cutting off the noses of those who did not pay their dues.

Stories of The Formorians
The Formorians haunted the Partholonians who did battle with them but did not manage to eradicate them. They were themselves, exterminated by a plague leaving the Formorians still powerful. Thirty years later, the Nemedians arrived in Ireland and continued the work of the Partholonians building fortresses, clearing the landscape of forest and bringing forth new lakes. This race was heroic in defeating the Formorians three times, but alas, were themselves defeated by this terrible race in their fourth encounter. This was catastrophic for the Nemedians who then had to pay annual taxes to the Formorians at Samhain injuring their dignity. But the Nemedians make a last brave attempt at battle attacking their almost impregnable tower on Tory Island. They did manage to kill the Formorian King, Conand but alas the rest of the brave Nemedians were slaughtered and scattered around the world; their offspring becoming later invaders of Ireland in the form of the Fir Bolg and the Tuatha De Danann. It was the leader of the Formorians, Balor, who is strongly associated with the Second Battle of Moytura. This was when the Formorians gathered a huge force from Scandinavia and from Ireland for the battle. This ‘Northern’ source obviously has echoes of the later invasions by the Vikings. It was in the Second Battle of Moytura that was an encounter between the ‘evil eyed’ Balor and the ‘many skilled’ Lugh. In an encounter which echoes David and Goliath, Balor was, by a defeated by a stone fired into his eye. The Formorian king, the handsome Breas, survived by agreeing to give agricultural advice.

The Formorians were a malevolent race of sea gods with a ghostly presence that haunted all who attempted to rule or Ireland. They were aggressive in nature and had the power to humiliate. Even though they are generally depicted as ugly, though with exception such as the beautiful Breas. Like the Tuatha they are another supernatural, underworld race.

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