Cuchullain's Stone . Knockbridge Dundalk Co Louth

Cuchullain's Stone Knockbridge Dundalk

Cuchullain, the great Irish warrior, fought off the army of Queen Maeve of Connaght ,who came to capture The Brown Bull of Cooley. She has been unable to defeat him and she conspires with Lugaid son of Cú Roí, Erc son of Cairbre Nia Fir and the sons of others Cú Chulainn had killed, to draw him out to his death. His fate is sealed by his breaking of the taboos upon him. Cú Chulainn's taboos included a ban against eating dog meat, but in early Ireland there was a powerful general taboo against refusing hospitality, so when an old crone offers him a meal of dog meat, he has no choice but to eat. In this way he is spiritually weakened for the fight ahead of him.

Lugaid has three magical spears made, and it is prophesied that a king will fall by each of them. With the first he kills Cú Chulainn's charioteer Laeg, king of chariot drivers. With the second he kills Cú Chulainn's horse, Liath Macha, king of horses. With the third he hits Cú Chulainn, mortally wounding him. Cú Chulainn ties himself to a standing stone in order to die on his feet. This stone is traditionally identified as one still standing at Knockbridge Dundalk County Louth. Due to his ferocity even when so near death, it is only when a raven lands on his shoulder that his enemies believe he is dead. Lugaid approaches and cuts off his head, but as he does so the "hero-light" burns around Cú Chulainn and his sword falls from his hand and cuts Lugaid's hand off. The light disappears only after his right hand, his sword arm, is cut from his body.

Conall Cernach had sworn that if Cú Chulainn died before him he would avenge him before sunset, and when he hears Cú Chulainn is dead he pursues Lugaid. As Lugaid has lost a hand, Conall fights him with one hand tucked into his belt, but he only beats him after his horse takes a bite out of Lugaid's side. He also kills Erc, and takes his head back to Tara, where Erc's sister Achall dies of grief for her brother.