Conn of the Hundred Battles

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Conn Cétchathach ("of the Hundred Battles", pron. [kɒn ˈkeːdxəθax]), son of Fedlimid Rechtmar, was, according to medieval Irish legend and historical tradition, a High King of Ireland, and the ancestor of the Connachta, and, through his descendant Niall Noígiallach, the Uí Néill dynasties, which dominated Ireland in the early middle ages, and their descendents, including Scottish clans like the Clan Donald.


Literary tradition

Early life and accession

The Annals of the Four Masters says that five roads to Tara, which had never been seen before were discovered on the night of Conn's birth.[1] According to the Lebor Gabála Érenn, he took power after killing his predecessor Cathair Mór.[2] In other sources his predecessor is Dáire Doimthech.[3] The Lia Fáil, the coronation stone at Tara which was said to roar when the rightful king stood on it, roared under Conn for the first time since Cúchulainn split it with his sword when it failed to roar for Lugaid Riab nDerg.[4] In the saga Baile in Scáil ("The Phantom's Ecstatic Vision"), Conn treads on the stone by accident while walking the ramparts of Tara, implying that the stone had been lost and half-buried since Cúchulainn's time. A druid explains the meaning of the stone, and says the number of cries the stone made is the number of kings who will follow Conn, but he is not the man to name them. A magical mist arises, and a horseman approaches who throws three spears towards Conn, then asks him and the druid to follow him to his house, which stands on a plain by a golden tree. They enter, and are welcomed by a woman in a gold crown. First they see a silver vat, bound with gold hoops, full of red ale, and a golden cup and serving spoon. Then they see a phantom, a tall beautiful man, on a throne, who introduces himself as Lugh. The woman is the sovereignty of Ireland, and she serves Conn a meal consisting of an ox's rib 24 feet (7.3 m) long, and a boar's rib. When she serves drinks, she asks "To whom shall this cup be given?", and Lugh recites a poem which tells Conn how many years he will reign, and the names of the kings who will follow him. Then they enter Lugh's shadow, and the house disappears, but the cup and serving spoon remain.[5][6] An earlier text, Baile Chuinn Cétchathaigh (The Ecstatic Vision of Conn of the Hundred Battles") gives a poetic list of kings, many of which are recognisable from the traditional List of High Kings of Ireland, but without narrative context.[7]

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