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Scáthach ("Shadowy") is a figure in the Ulster Cycle of Irish mythology. She is a legendary Scottish warrior woman and martial arts teacher who trains the legendary Ulster hero Cú Chulainn in the arts of combat. Texts describe her homeland as "Alpi," which commentators associate with Alba, the Gaelic name of Scotland; she is especially associated with the Isle of Skye, where her residence Dún Scáith (Fort of Shadows) stands.

Scáthach's instruction of Cú Chulainn appears in Tochmarc Emire (The Wooing of Emer), a foretale to the great epic Táin Bó Cúailnge. Cú Chulainn and Emer fall in love, but her father Forgall forbids the union until Cú Chulainn has completed his warrior training. Cú Chulainn and his friend Ferdiad travel to Dún Scáith, where Scáthach teaches them feats of arms, and gives Cú Chulainn his deadly spear, the Gáe Bulg.

Cú Chulainn begins an affair with Scáthach's daughter Uathach, but accidentally breaks her fingers. She screams, calling her lover Cochar Croibhe to the room. Despite Uathach's protests, he challenges Cú Chulainn to a duel, and Cú Chulainn dispatches him easily. To make it up to Uathach and Scáthach, Cú Chulainn assumes Cochar's duties, and becomes Uathach's lover. Scáthach eventually promises her daughter to him, without requiring the traditional bride price. Scáthach also grants Cú Chulainn the "friendship of her thighs" when his training is almost complete. When her rival, the warrior woman Aífe, threatens her territory, Cú Chulainn defeats her in battle and forces her to make peace. Aífe also sleeps with Cú Chulainn, producing his son Connla, who Cú Chulainn kills years later without realizing their relation.

See also


  • MacKillop, James (1998). Dictionary of Celtic Mythology. London: Oxford. ISBN 0-1986-0967-1.


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


Proper noun


  1. (Irish mythology) The female warrior who trains Cúchulainn in the arts of war in the Ulster Cycle of Irish mythology.


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