The name Red Branch comes from the name of the assembly hall in Emain Macha. It was called "Craebh Ruadh" in Irish Gaelic. The Red Branch became a military order, who served as the king's personal bodyguard as well as defending Ulaid (Ulster) from other provinces. The men of Red Branch were an elite group of warriors. They often fight in chariots or on foot.

The House of the Red Branch were original descendants of Ross the Red, king of Ulaid (Ulster). These descendants were also called Clan Rury.

Fergus served as leader (captain) of the Red Branch, till the treachery of Conchobar in killing the sons of Uisnech. Fergus and many Ulster warriors renounced their fealty to Conchobar, and went into exiles to the court of Connacht.

Below is the list of warriors, including those of the Red Branch, as well as other warriors from other kingdoms in the cycle.


Red Branch Warriors of Ulster
Connacht and Other Warriors


Related Articles:
      Ulaid Cycle


Geneology:
      House of the Red Branch (Ulaid)






 
Fergus Mac Roich
Laegaire Buadach
Conall Cernach
Cú Chulainn
Cormac Connloinges
Dubthach Dóeltenga      


Genealogy:
     House of the Red Branch (Ulaid)



Fergus Mac Roich
 

Fergus Mac Roich was the leader of the warriors of the Red Branch. Fergus was the son of Ross the Red and Roich (Roy). Fergus was also the brother of Sualtam and the uncle of Conchobar Mac Nessa, king of Ulster.

When Fergus' half-brother, Fachtna (king of Ulaid), died, Fergus was entitled to rule Ulaid (Ulster). However, Fergus wanted to marry Fachtna's widow, named Nessa, whom he was in love with. Nessa agreed to marry Fergus if her son was allowed to rule Ulster for one year before Fergus take over. Fergus agreed. But after one year, Conchobar ruled Ulster with such wisdom that the people did not want Conchobar to step down from the throne. Fergus was not only willing to accept his nephew as king, he also preferred to be free from the responsibilities comes from ruling.

Fergus was one of the champions of the military order called the Red Branch. Fergus was one of Conchobar's warriors, who founded Cú Chulainn (Cu Chulainn) when he was born. He vowed that he would train Cú Chulainn as a warrior of the Red Branch. Fergus was also there when Cu Chulainn changed his name from Setanta at the mansion of Culann.

Fergus wanted to reconcile the sons of Uisnech and Conchobar, during the formers' exiles over the girl Deirdre. When Conchobar broke his words to not harm the sons of Uisnech, they were not only killed by the king's order, but one of Fergus' sons was killed while the other son had betrayed him. Fergus and other warriors renounced their fealty to Conchobar and went into exile. Fergus and his followers joined Ulster's archenemy, Connacht.

Here, in the court of Connacht, Fergus became not only most trusted adviser to Queen Medb (Maeve), but also her frequent lover, even though she was married to the king, Ailill.

As a former Red Branch warrior, Fergus took part in Connacht's cattle raid in Ulster, where he was an important military advisor of Maeve. Fergus refused to fight his former pupil, Cu Chulainn in single combat. He would have killed Conchobar in battle, had Cormac not pleaded for his father's life.

Later, Ailill's jealousy caused the Connacht king to kill Fergus, while the warrior was swimming in a lake. Fergus was avenged, when his former pupil, Conall Cernach, killed Ailill.

In the Welsh Culhwch and Olwen, Fergus has been equated with Fercos son of Poch.

 
Related Information
Name
Fergus MacRoich.

Fercos son of Poch (Welsh).

Related Articles
Ross the Red, Conchobar Mac Nessa, Medb, Ailill, Cú Chulainn, Conall Cernach.

Genealogy: House of the Red Branch.



Laegaire Buadach
 

The name Laegaire Buadach means "Laegaire the Triumphant".

Laegaire Buadach first appeared as one of the champions of Conchobar who found Deichtine's son, Cú Chulainn, called Setanta at the time of birth.

Laegaire was also one of the champions to contend for the champion portion in the Bricriu's Feast, against two other warriors from the Red Branch, Conall Cernach and Cú Chulainn (Cu Chulainn), but shrank from the beheading game. In the pig feast of Mac Datho, he failed to recount a better heroic deed than Cet Mac Maga.

In the Welsh Culhwch and Olwen, Laegaire has been equated with Luber Beuthach.

 
Related Information
Name
Lóegaire, Laery.
Laegaire, the Triumphant.

Luber Beuthach (Welsh).

Related Articles
Conchobar, Cú Chulainn, Conall Cernach, Cet Mac Maga.
Bricriu's Feast, Feast of Mac Datho.



Conall Cernach
 

Conall was the son of Amorigin and Findchaem (Finachoom), daughter of Cathbad and Maga. Conall was the husband of Niam. He was often called Conall Cernach - Conall the Victorious. Conall was also the cousin and foster-brother of hero Cú Chulainn (Cu Chulainn) as well as the cousin of the sons of Uisnech (Usnech).

Next to Cú Chulainn, Conall was the best warrior of the Red Branch. Conall and Cu Chulainn had as children, pledged to avenge the one who would die first. He was one of the supporters and champions of Conaire Mor the high king of Ireland. He was one of the warriors defending Conaire Mor, during the destruction of Da Derga's hostel. Conall was forced to withdraw from the fighting, when he was severely wounded, leaving his dying king.

Conall attended the feast of Bricriu, where Bricriu held a beheading game, with champions. Conall and his chief Cettmac refused to take part. Therefore, Cú Chulainn became the greatest champion of Ireland.

In another feast, both Ulster and Connacht, claimed the right to possess the swiftest hound (Ailbe) that belonged to Mesroda Mac Datho, a king or chieftain of Leinster. Both Ulster and Connacht threatened Mesroda with war if he doesn't give the hound to them. So Mesroda asked both Ulster and Connacht to claim the prizes. Mesroda served the boar in a feast. It was decided that the champion who done the greatest heroic deeds would have the champion portion of the giant boar, as well as his hound. Cet Mac Maga claimed the rights, besting each Ulsterman with his tales of his adventure. It was only when Conall arrived that Cet conceded Conall was a better warrior. But Cet claimed that had his brother come to the feast, then Anluan would be a better warrior than Conall. Conall told him that Cet's brother was already here, and produced Anluan's head. Fighting broke out between Connacht and Ulster. In the end Conall killed Cet. The hound was killed during the fighting, so in the end, neither side won the hound.

Conall was too late to save Cú Chulainn, when the hero again fought alone against Medb's host, in the Slieve Fuad. When Conall founded Cú Chulainn's headless body, Conall pursued his enemy and severed Lugaid's head. Conall brought Cú Chulainn's head back to Emain Macha for burial.

Conall avenged Fergus Mac Roich's death, when Ailill, king of Connacht, murdered Fergus.

Later the aged warrior retired to Cruachain, where three redheaded men from Munster ambushed Conall. His head was brought to Munster, as revenge for the death of Lugaid and his father Cu Roi, who was killed by Cu Chulainn.

In the Welsh Culhwch and Olwen, Conall has been equated with Corvil Bervach.

 
Related Information
Name
Conall Cernach ("Conall the Victorious").

Corvil Bervach (Welsh).

Related Articles
Cú Chulainn, Cet Mac Maga, Conchobar Mac Nessa, Medb, Ailill, Cathbad.

Destruction of Da Derga's Hostel.

Genealogy: House of the Red Branch.



Cú Chulainn
 

The greatest hero in Celtic myths and was one of the principal character in the Ulaid Cycle. Cú Chulainn (or Cu Chulainn) was the son of Deichtine and the sun god, Lugh Lamfada. Though Lugh was his father, he called himself Cu Chulainn Mac Sualtam, after his stepfather, who was the brother of Fergus Mac Roich. Cú Chulainn was also grandson of the great druid Cathbad, and cousin the sons of Uisnech and of Conall, who was also his foster-brother.

Cú Chulainn was called Sétanta (Setanta or Setante) at birth. His name was to change to Cé Chulainn when he was still a boy; he killed great hound belonging to Culann, a master-smith. The name Cú Chulainn means, "Hound of Culann".

When Cu Chulainn overheard from Cathbad, that the youth who take up arms that day, that lad would become the greatest warrior in Ireland; his life would be the most glorious, but short. Cu Chulainn immediately went to his king, he asked to take up arms like a man. Conchobar agreed and gave him spears and chariot, but the spears broke when he shook them, and the bottom of the chariot shattered when he stomped his foot on it. He broke many spear and the chariots. Cu Chulainn was not satisfied with any of them, until he two spears that belong to Conchobar, and the king's own war-chariot. His favourite horses were Liath Macha (Grey of Macha) and Dubh Sainglenn (Saingliu). His charioteer was named Laeg Mac Riangabra.

Cu Chulainn trained under Fergus, before he received training under Scathach, a warrior woman from the Land of Shadow (island of Skye). From Scathach he learned the Salmon's Leap and the dreaded gae bolg, a deadly spear. His sword was either called Caladbolg or Claidheamh Soluis (Sword of Light). He was a lover of another woman warrior, named Aife, whom he had a son with. Years later, he would kill his son Connla in single combat, when he used the gae bolg on his son.

Cu Chulainn was named champion of Ireland during the beheading game at Bricriu's Feast. Cu Chulainn single-handedly defended Ulster, when Medb and the army of Connacht in the cattle raid at Cuailnge. The war-goddess Morrigan attacked him when he refused to return her love during his duel with Loch. He also fought an unfair duel with the evil Druid named Calatin and his sons, until an Ulster exile, named Fiacha, aided him.

Cu Chulainn used the gae bolg on his friend Fer Diad Mac Damann. Cu Chulainn was wounded and too exhausted to face another duels the next day. Medb and her army were free to invade Ulster.

By this time, the curse upon the warriors of Ulster was lifted.

Cu Chulainn married Emer, daughter of a chieftain named Fogall (Forgall). Cu Chulainn lived in Dun Murthemney with Emer. He had many mistresses in his short life. They included Niam, wife of Conall, and Bláithíne (Blathnat), wife of Cú Roi. (I didn't include Aife, because he was not married to Emer yet.) Emer, who was aware of her husband's love affairs, was never jealous. That wasn't until Cu Chulainn met Fand, the beautiful wife of Mananann Mac Lir, the god of sea and magic, that Emer became jealous.

In the last year of his life, Medb plotted Cu Chulainn's death, to avenge the defeat. Cu Chulainn was driven mad by phantoms sent by daughters of Calatin (witches). He was lured into fighting another battle against Medb's army. Cu Chulainn broke his geis when an old woman (Morrigan) gave him dog meat to eat.

In the unfair fighting, Cu Chulainn's horses and faithful charioteer Laeg was killed. Cu Chulainn was mortally wounded from his own spear, gae bolg, hurled by Lugaid Mac Cu Roi. When Cu Chulainn was dead, Lugaid beheaded the hero and severed his hand. Conall Cernach arrived to battlefield to save cousin, avenged his death by beheading Lugaid.

The "Hound of Culann", Cú Chulainn, had died at the age of twenty-seven.

 
Related Information
Name
"Hound of Culann".
Cu Chulainn, Cú Chulainn, Cuchulainn;
Cu Chulainn Mac Sualtam, Cu Chulainn MacSualtam.
Sétanta, Setanta, Setante.

Cu Chulaind (Welsh).

Related Articles
Lugh, Emer, Fergus Mac Roich, Fer Diad Mac Damann, Lugaid Mac Cu Roi, Conchobar Mac Nessa, Medb, Cathbad, Laeg Mac Riangabra.

Cattle Raid of Cuailnge, Bricriu's Feast.

Genealogy: House of the Red Branch.


Cú Chulainn
Stephen Reid
Illustration, 1912



Cormac Connloinges
 

Cormac was the son of Conchobar Mac Nessa, king of Ulaid (Ulster).

Cormac was one of the champion of Conaire Mor, high king of Ireland (see the Destruction of Da Derga's Hostel for full story).

Cormac was also one of the exiles, when Conchobar had the sons of Uisnech killed. He became companion of Fergus Mac Roich, during his exile, and took part in the Connacht's cattle raid in Ulster. When Fergus was about to strike Conchobar down with his sword, only the Cormac's pleas restrained Fergus.

 
Related Information
Name
Cormac, Cormacc, Carmac.

Cormac Connloinges.

Related Articles
Conchobar Mac Nessa, Fergus Mac Roich, Deirdre and the sons of Uisnech, Conaire Mor.

Destruction of Da Derga's Hostel.

Genealogy: House of the Red Branch.



Dubthach Dóeltenga
 

A Red Branch warrior. Dubthach Dóeltenga was the son of Lugaid Mac Casrubae. Dubthach was like Bricriu, another character in the Ulster Cycle, causing troubles and strifes, because he often reviling other warriors, very much like the Greek solider Thersites, in the Trojan War.

Dubthach appeared in the tale of Deirdre, titled Longes mac nUislenn (The Exile of the Sons of Uisliu), as one of Red Branch warriors, whom Noísi trusted to be his guarantee of safe passage back to Ulster. When Conchobar had Noísi and his brothers treacherously murdered, he joined Fergus Mac Roich in retaliation against Conchobar. Dubthach killed Conchobar's son and grandson, Maine and Fiachna (son of Fedelm). Dubthach had also massacred the all the young girls living in Emain Macha, while Fergus set fire to Emain Macha. Dubthach joined Fergus and Cormac Connloinges, along with 3000 of Ulster warriors in exile, living in the court of Ailill and Medb, rulers of Connacht, Ulster's traditional enemy.

Dubthach also took part in the Cattle Raid of Cuailnge, and Destruction of Da Derga's Hostel, as one of the warriors of the high king Conaire Mór.

 
Related Information
Name
Dubthach Dóeltenga – Dubthach the "Chafer-tongued".

Dubthach, Dubtach, Dodllillad.
Dubthach Mac Lugdach.

Related Articles
Conchobar, Fergus Mac Roich, Cormac Connloinges, Deirdre, Noísi, Ailill, Medb.






 
Cet Mac Maga
Anluan Mac Maga

Lugaid Mac Cu Roi
Fer Díad MacDamann
Mac Cécht
Scáthach
Aífe


Cet Mac Maga
 

Champion of Connacht. Cet was the son of Maga and brother of Anluan. Cet was Connacht' greatest warrior. Cet was sometimes called Cettmac Conlingas.

According to Feast of Mac Datho's Pig, Cet wounded Cúscraid, son of Conchobar Mac Nessa, in the neck, so that Cúscraid couldn't talk without stammering. Cet attacked Cúscraid when the latter raided his cattle. So Conchobar's son was known as Cúscraid Menn or Cúscraid the Stammer.

Cettmac was indirectly involved with death of Conchobar Mac Nessa. When Conall created a brain-ball, a bullet for a sling. Cet stoled the brain-ball from Conchobar's palace. With his sling, Cet used the brain-ball, which became lodged in Conchobar's head. Though Conchobar survived the attack, the physicians told the king to never get excited, otherwise his brains would explode. Conchobar died seven years later after the attack.

Conall Cernach killed Cet, during the feast at Mesroda Mac Datho's dun at Leinster.

 
Related Information
Name
Cet MacMaga, Cettmac Conlingas.

Related Articles
Anluan, Conchobar Mac Nessa, Conall Cernach.



Anluan Mac Maga
 

A Connacht warrior. Anluan was the son of Maga and brother of Cet.

Conall Cernach killed Anluan, before the Ulster champion attended the feast of Mac Datho. Fight broke out when Conall produced Anluan' head to Cet. Anluan' brother was also killed in combat with Conall.

 
Related Information
Related Articles
Cet Mac Maga, Conall Cernach.



Lugaid Mac Cú Roí
 

A warrior from Munster. Lugaid (Lewy) was the son of Cú Roi (king of Munster) and Bláithíne (Blathnat).

When Cú Chulainn (Cu Chulainn) killed his father, Lugaid conspired with Medb (Maeve), seeking the hero's downfall.

Lugaid killed Cu Chulainn, by hurling the hero's own spear (gae bolg) back at him. When the dying Ulster hero drank water from the lake, Lugaid beheaded Cu Chulainn. Lugaid had his own hand severed when Cu Chulainn dropped his sword. Lugaid also cut of Cu Chulainn hand in revenge.

Conall Cernach arrived too late to save Cu Chulainn, pursued his enemies. Conall pursued and killed many enemies before he beheaded Lugaid. Conall returned Cu Chulainn's head and body to Emain Macha for burial.

 
Related Information
Name
Lugaid MacCú Roí, Lugaid Mac Cúroí.

Lugaid, Ludhaid, Lúí (Irish).
Lewy, Luga (English).

Related Articles
Cú Roi, Cú Chulainn, Conall Cernach, Medb.

Genealogy: House of the Red Branch.



Fer Díad Mac Damann
 

Firbolg warrior. Fer Díad (Fer Diad) was the son of Damann or Damáin.

Fer Díad was a childhood companion of Cú Chulainn (Cu Chulainn). They had vowed eternal friendship and love one another like brothers. Like Cú Chulainn, Fer Díad sought training from the famous woman-warrior Scathach, but could not cross the Bridge of Leaps.

Fer Díad became one of champions who fought for Medb of Connacht. At first, Fer Diad along with Fergus Mac Roich and many Ulster exiles refused to fight Cu Chulainn in single combat. Several times Medb tried to induce Fer Díad to fight Cú Chulainn, during the Cattle Raid of Cooley; Fer Díad refused each time because of his friendship with Cú Chulainn. Medb finally prevailed on Fer Díad, by promising him to allow the young Firbolg to marry her daughter, Findabair, as well as threatening to have all the court bards to named him as a coward.

For three days, Cú Chulainn and Fer Díad fought one another. At the end of each of the first two day, they would retire and attend each other wounds and slept side by side. But their relationship was strained. On the final day, Fer Díad fell to Cú Chulainn's invincible spear, the gae bolg. Cú Chulainn despaired that he had killed his most beloved companion. Cú Chulainn, who was also wounded and exhausted from the duel with Fer Diad, lost conscious, allowing Medb's army to cross the ford.

Fer Díad's body was recovered by Medb's army and buried with full honour.

 
Related Information
Name
Ferdia, Ferdiad; Fer Díad MacDamann.

Related Articles
Cú Chulainn, Fergus Mac Roich, Scathach, Medb.



Mac Cécht
 

Mac Cécht (Mac Cecht) was one of the champions of Conaire Mór, the high king of Ireland. Mac Cecht was the son of Snade Teched and the foster-son of Conaire Mor.

Mac Cecht was one of the defenders of Da Derga's hostel. After hours of defending his king, Conaire ordered to fetched him a cup of water. Mac Cecht agreed to find water, when Conall Cernach and two other champions said they would defend the king. Mac Cecht, however, had trouble finding water for his king, because the Dananns used their Otherworld's magic to hide the water in the lakes and streams.

By the time, Mac Cecht returned with water, the enemies had just beheaded Conaire Mor. Mac Cecht killed his enemies. With the cup, he poured water through the lips of his king. Conaire's severed head spoke praises for Mac Cecht's duty towards his king.

Mac Cecht attacked the surviving pirates, killing many before he was lying among the wounded and the deads.

 
Related Information
Name
MacCecht, MacCécht.

Related Articles
Conaire Mor, Conall Cernach.



Scáthach
 

A famous woman warrior. Scáthach (Scathach) lived in the Land of the Shadow (which was possibly the island of Skye, near mainland Scotland). She was among the greatest women warrior, who trained young warriors in special technique in combat. Her greatest pupil was the Ulster's hero, Cú Chulainn (Cu Chulainn).

When Cú Chulainn started wooing Emer, he was told that she would only marry the greatest champion in Erin (Ireland). Cú Chulainn sought Scathach. The hero journey to the Land of Shadow, where encountered several other young warriors at the Bridge of Leaps, who also seek to train under Scathach, including Fer Díad MacDamann, a Firbolg warrior. Not one of the warriors there could cross the river. Those who tried to leap across, were either thrown back or else falling to his death. Cú Chulainn tried to leap three times and was thrown back. It was only the last leap, that Cú Chulainn mastered the Salmon's Leap. Accomplishing this Scathach agreed to teach Cú Chulainn.

From Scathach, Cú Chulainn learned two important skills: the Salmon's Leaps and wielding the deadly spear called gae bolg. With this spear, Cú Chulainn killed many great warriors, including Fer Díad and his son Connla. Cú Chulainn would also die from the gae bolg.

Scathach's chief enemy was another woman warrior named Aife, whom she has feud with. When Aife and her followers raided Scathach's island, Scathach slipped sleeping powder into Cú Chulainn's drink, to prevent the youth from taking part in the coming battle. However, Cú Chulainn only slept a couple of hours before he wakened and joined the battle against. Cú Chulainn defeated Aife, more through a ruse than actual prowess. The hero forced Aife to surrender and to make peace with Scathach.

She also taught Connla, the son of Cú Chulainn and Aine, her style of combats, though Scathach did not teach the gae bolg.

 
Related Information
Name
Skatha.

Related Articles
Aife, Cú Chulainn, Connla, Fer Díad MacDamann.



Aífe
 

A woman warrior. Aífe (Aife) possibly came from Britain. Aife was the chief enemy of Scathach, who was also a woman warrior. So great was her prowess and skills in battle, that even if Scathach did not feared Aife, she was wary, since Aife was stronger of the two.

Aife was more than match for Cú Chulainn (Cu Chulainn), and successfully repelled all attacks from the young hero. Aife was known to love her horses beyond all things. Cú Chulainn used that knowledge to defeat her in combat. During the combat, Cú Chulainn used a ruse to catch Aife off guard, by saying that one of her horses was wounded. When Aife momentary took her eyes off Cú Chulainn, the youth jumped and quickly subdued her, threatening her. Aife agreed to surrender and ended her long feud with Scathach.

Aife and Cú Chulainn became lovers, and she bore him a son named Connla. Cú Chulainn placed a geis on his son. The hero told Aife, she must send her son to him when Connla could wear the hero's ring Cú Chulainn gave her. Their son must never reveal his identity, and fight all who block his way and to never refuse a fight.

Years later, when Connla was still a boy, but was a man in size, he sought his father when he could wear Cú Chulainn's ring. When each of King Conchobar's warriors went to confront the boy and ask for his identity, Connla would either kill or subdue the warrior. Among the warrior Connla bounded, was Conall. When Cú Chulainn encountered the boy, the boy refused to give his name and fought with his father. Cú Chulainn realised that the boy was his son, but could not prevent the tragedy, since he placed the geis upon the boy. The boy was more than a match for Cú Chulainn, until the hero used his most devastating weapon, the gae bolg. Cú Chulainn killed his son with the deadly spear. Cú Chulainn returned to Emain Macha with Connla's body, and revealed to the king he had killed his son. Conchobar gave Connla a hero's funeral.

 
Related Information
Name
Aifa.

Related Articles
Cú Chulainn, Scathach.









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