Studia Hibernica

Three variations on the theme of the dog-headed spear in medieval Irish: Celtchar’s lúin, Conall Cernach’s Derg Drúchtach, Lugaid’s flesc

Studia Hibernica (2016), 42, (1), 65–96.

Abstract

This article seeks to show that aspects of the late-attested myth of the origin of Cú Chulainn’s gae bolga ‘spear of the bulge’ illuminate medieval descriptions of another remarkable spear, an extraordinary horse that acts like a spear, and a divinatory rod wielded by a spearman: respectively, the lúin of Celtchar mac Uthechair, the Derg Drúchtach of Conall Cernach, and the flesc of a poet called Lugaid. This finding helps to demonstrate the essential integrity of what might otherwise seem arbitrarily fanciful passages in Mesca Ulad ‘The intoxication of the Ulstermen’, Brislech mór Maige Muirthemni ‘The great rout of Murthemne’ and Sanas Cormaic ‘Cormac’s glossary’. Also included in a footnote is a suggested solution to a crux in Lebor gabála Érenn ‘The book of invasions of Ireland’ concerning Lug’s gae Assail ‘spear of Assal’.

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Author details

Pettit, Edward