The Celtic Web Site
Celtic myths - Page 3 - Heroes
There are four main cycles in Irish myth:
- Foundation- dealing with events up to about 400 BC
- Ulster- ca 1st century AD
- Fenian - late 2nd century on
- Historic - 5th century on
Only the first two cycles were produced by and concern the pre-Roman Celtic peoples
The Foundation cycle - including "Lebor Gabala" (The Book of Invasions)- contains stories about the gods, the early invaders and the arrival of the Irish Celts. These myths concern the Celts' pre-history. The Book of Invasions accounts for pre-Celtic times in Ireland. The many megalithic monuments in Ireland were co-opted into Celtic history and attributed to Celtic deities.
The Ulster cycle - These myths concern the heroic deeds of Ulster champions, including Cuchulainn and King Conchobar. "Táin Bó Cuailnge" (The Cattle Raid of Cooley) is probably the best known work
King Conchobar led a warrior band called the Red Branch Champions. The Red Branch was the name of Conchobar's fabulously luxurious court in Emain Macha.(His own room had bronze walls and pillars, gold and jewel decorations and a silver ceiling)
Cuchulainn was the most famous member of the Red Branch. Other great heroes among its members were Laeghaire the Battle-winner; Conall the Victorious; Fergus. The bard was Fedlimid; the wise man in the band was Sencha and the druid was Cathbad. The troublestirrer among them was Bicriu, who set the heroes arguing over their entitlement to the "champion's portion" - the best cut of meat.
There were two main Welsh families of heroes and gods.
- Children of Dôn
- the Children of Llyr
Dôn was the sky goddess. Her god children included Gwydion (male) and Arianrod (female) Dôn also gave birth to the hero called Nudd or Lludd, who himself fathered the hero Gwyn and is credited with having founded London and amassed huge wealth
Llyr was the sea god. His children included Brân the Blessed, Branwen the Fair Bosomed, and Manawyddan.
John Patrick Parle, The Twilight of the Celtic Gods on http://realmagick.com/articles/30/2130.html
and Gods of Ancient Wales and the Celtic Britons on http://realmagick.com/articles/33/2033.html#credits