The Prophecy of Scathach
Irish and Celtic myths and legends, Irish folklore and Irish fairy tales from the Ulster Cycle
Cú Chulainn hears echoes of the future
It was often the way in olden times in Ireland that women would fight alongside the men, fierce and unbowed, and accorded the honour of warriors too. So it was with the fearless Scáthach, the legendary Scottish warrior woman whose name meant "the Shadow"!
She lived in a sinister castle called Dún Scáith, or the Fortress of Shadows, situated on the Isle of Skye in Scotland, and it was her teaching that Cú Chulainn sought in order to perfect his mastery of the arts of battle. As they parted company, she gave him the words of a prophecy which had come to her through the Imbas of illumination, the Vision which shines:
When you are an unbeaten champion,
great challenges await you,
alone against the vast hoard.
Warriors will be set aside by you,
necks will be broken by you,
you sword will strike blows to the rear
against Setante's red river.
Hard-bladed, you will cut the trees
by the sign of slaughter, by manly feats.
Cattle will be carried from your hill,
captives will be surrendered by your people
harried by an army for a fortnight,
your cattle will walk the passes.
You will be alone in great hardship against the host.
Scarlet gushes of blood will strike
upon many split and shattered shields.
A band of brigands you will join
and will bring away many people and oxen.
Many wounds will be inflicted
upon you, O hound of Chulainn.
You will suffer a vengeful wound
when you do battle at the last wall.
From your red-pronged weapon there will be defeat,
men pierced against the furious wave,
against the whale-tooth fiercely thrust,
a whale performing feats with blows.
Women will wail and tear their clothes,
Medb and Ailill boast of it.
No death-bed awaits you
after slaughters of great ferocity.
Clochafarmore standing stone, where Cú Chulainn died, is marked on the map below.
We now have an amazing Patreon page as well, where you can listen to the many myths and legends on the Emerald Isle! Exclusive to our Patreon, you can now hear stories of ancient Ireland, folklore and fairy tales and more, all professionally narrated. It's at times like these that it's most important to support artists and creative people whose income might be reduced, so if you'd like to support the work that goes into Emerald Isle, the Patreon can be found here: https://www.patreon.com/emeraldisle
Further Tales from the Ulster Cycle
The greatest heroes and warriors of ancient Ireland understood well that the greater part of battles were fought in the hearts and minds of men and women. A tired and bloodied warrior may fight like a cornered wolf if his courage is up, while a well fed and rested champion may sag in dismay at the touch of fearful sorrow. This was a different ma ... [more]
Irish legends have this peculiar property – so long and so often have they been repeated down through the millennia that oftentimes one tale might cross into another, over and back, and leave its track behind. Some stories are far older than they might seem, and some contain shadows and echoes stretching back to the very beginning. Such is ... [more]
Bláthíne, whose name means “little flower” in Irish, was one of the ladies of the Tuatha Dé Danann, that mystical race of warlocks whose hardened red-gold bronze had shimmered in the sunshine when they ruled Ireland. Her beauty was famed throughout this world and the otherworld, but her story is a warning to all who ... [more]
It was often the way in olden times in Ireland that women would fight alongside the men, fierce and unbowed, and accorded the honour of warriors too. So it was with the fearless Scáthach, the legendary Scottish warrior woman whose name meant "the Shadow"! She lived in a sinister castle called Dún Scáith, or the For ... [more]
It was a warm and balmy summer's night, heavy with the fragrances of heather and honeysuckle, when Aengus, son of Dagda, awoke to find a beautiful young woman approaching him where he had slept. He was immediately taken with her grace and elegance, and his heart yearned for her, but when he tried to speak, she vanished! He stayed in his bed ... [more]
Many and infamous were the weapons of the tribes of Ireland, and fierce the warriors who wielded them in battle, but few were as notorious as the spear of fire and poison, the Lúin Cheltchair, which thirsted for blood so much that it had to be kept in a cauldron of poison, held down with chains by four foreigners – for who would risk t ... [more]
Cúchulainn, although still a young man, had made many powerful enemies, but none more bitter and dark than Queen Medb of Connaught, whose armies he had routed and whose ambitions he'd thwarted. Long into the dark nights of winter, year after year she brooded on the humiliations visited upon her, for undying is the wrath of a Queen. Sh ... [more]
Queen Medb had invaded Ulster and the lands of the north, thinking it would be an easy victory since the men of Ulster were crippled with birth pangs as a result of a curse place on them, but Cúchulainn had dogged her every step savagely. Attacking her supply wagons, ambushing her men from the trees, burning tents at night, he fought sing ... [more]
Queen Nessa had been known as a gentle and sweet natured woman when she was a maid, but through the hardships of the world she became cold and ruthless. Still, for all that she was still a rare beauty and an indomitable warrior, which many men find to be an irresistible combination! And so it was with King Fergus Mac Ríoch, master of all ... [more]
They say the fury of a storm in a high tempest has nothing on the fury of a woman scorned, and few women have ever felt quite so scorned as Aoife the warrior-queen after she found out that her lover Cúchulainn had married another woman, Emer! She had borne a son for him, but in her wrath she decided to turn the child against him. She spok ... [more]
In the age of heroes, forgotten by all but the storytellers and the legend-weavers, when champions strode the land of Ireland, their halls and Duns now covered in moss, echoing to no songs but those of the blackbird and the red-breasted robin, the people of Ulster were gathered together for a great celebration at Emain Macha, the capital of Ulster. ... [more]
A quarrel arose between Queen Medb of Connacht and the King of Ulster regarding who had the most wealth, but all of his men were cursed with the pains of a pregnant woman giving birth so they couldn't ride out to meet her marching army. Only Cúchulainn who had the blood of the Sidhe running through his veins could even walk, let alone fi ... [more]
Cathbad the Druid was well known throughout the lands of Ireland for his subtle skill and cunning ways, he could make birds speak the language of men and the very stones themselves sing, it was said! But like all Druids, he could also tell the portents of the day, as the ripples may be seen from a rock cast into a still pool in the deepest forest. ... [more]
Cruinniuc was a farmer in the northern part of Ireland back in the days of legend, and often legends are told of heroes and their mighty deeds, but this tale is about humbler folk who change the path of history nonetheless. Cruinniuc wasn't a bad sort but his life had been struck with ill fortune for years – his wife had passed away an ... [more]
The chariot games in Ireland of old were a great event – the mightiest of kings, warriors, princes and champions from around the world would travel from afar to watch and join the fiercely contested races. Each man and his team of horses would thunder round the track, and the cheers of the onlookers would shake the hills. And so it was for ... [more]
It was the time of heroes in ancient Ireland, when giants walked the land, before Fionn MacCumhaill had sent the seven shadows of the Glen back to their dark and restless sleep with his flashing sword, and even before his son Oisín had slain the worm of the lakes, when Setanta was young. He it was who became one of the mightiest heroes of ... [more]
King Aillil, husband to Queen Medb whose famous cattle raid started a war with Cú Chulainn, was deep in his cups as the sun set on Samhain night, red and cloud-torn over the ancient fortress of Rathcroghan. Bothered by the whispering winds, he took a notion that it would be a good test of courage if one of his warriors would go out and put a ... [more]
Bricriu of the venomous tongue he was called, and well named indeed he was, for he loved nothing better than to cause trouble and spread rumours and half-truths to unsettle people. As such he decided to hold a great feast, although he knew that by his reputation few would be interested in attending, so he made a special effort to entice them. He ... [more]
One of the most famed legends of old is that of the war that was fought over the Brown Bull of Cualgne. Now while it might seem an odd thing for us today to think of a war fought over a bull, the matter is not so simple as it might seem, and the bull was no ordinary bull either! For it was in the time of Cú Chulainn, the hound of Chulainn, t ... [more]