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Connla and the fairy maiden, illustrated in a 1927 story anthology

Connla or Conlaoch is a character in the Ulster Cycle of Irish mythology, the son of the Ulster champion Cúchulainn and the Scottish warrior woman Aífe. He was raised alone by his mother in Scotland. He appears in the story Aided Óenfhir Aífe (The Tragic Death of Aífe's Only Son), a pre-tale to the great epic Táin Bó Cúailnge.

Connla was conceived after Cúchulainn, in the service of his teacher Scáthach, defeats Aífe in battle. When he returns to Ireland, Cúchulainn requests that his son be sent to him when he comes of age, but puts three geasa on him. To fulfill these conditions, Connla cannot turn back once he starts his journey, he must not refuse a challenge, and must never tell anyone his name. During his journey, Conlaoch comes upon Dundealgan, Cúchulainn's home, and is met by the warrior Conall Cernach. When asked his name and lineage, he refuses to answer and is challenged to a duel. Connla disarms Conall, humiliating him. Cúchulainn thens approaches Connla, asking the same question. Connla responds by saying, "Yet if I were not under a command, there is no man in the world to whom I would sooner tell it then to yourself, for I love your face."[1] Despite the compliment, Cúchulainn challenges Connla. In the ensuing duel, Cúchulainn is so pressed by his son's skill at arms that the famous "hero-light" transfigures his features. From this Connla knew his father, and cast aside his weapons. Cúchulainn's wife Emer, who has discovered Connla's identity, also tries to warn Cúchulainn that he is fighting his own son, but to no avail. Cúchulainn casts Gae Bulg, his invincible spear made of sea monster's bones, fatally wounding Connla. In dying, Connla finally speaks his name, and praises the valor of Ireland's fighting men. Cúchulainn, realizing he has killed his own son, is stricken by grief.

Notes

  1. ^ Squire, p. 177.

References

  • Squire, Charles. "Celtic Myth and Legend." Newcastle Publishing Co., USA, 1975. Reprinted from the first edition in 1905, Great Britain. ISBN 0-87877-029-1.
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