Myths & Legends
Myths & Legends
From the legendary Cú Chulainn, through to St Monina in the Christian era, there is a story to interest all visitors. Choose a legend and then cycle around the landscape that shaped the tale. Take in the spectacular scenery and ever changing views. Cycle through history and walk in the footsteps of Legends.
Slieve Gullion plays a key role in the legend of Cú Chulainn.
According to mythology, the mountain is named after Culann the smith. It is here that Sétanta spent his childhood and received the name Cú Chulainn.
Culann invited Conchobhar mac Neasa, king of Ulster, to a feast at his house on the slopes of Slieve Gullion. On his way, Conchobhar stopped at the playing field to watch the boys play hurling. He was so impressed by Sétanta's performance that he asked him to join him at the feast. Sétanta promised to join him after he finished his game. Conchobhar went ahead, but he forgot about Sétanta, and Culann let loose his ferocious hound to guard his house.
When Sétanta arrived, the hound attacked him, but he killed it; in one version by smashing it against a standing stone, in another by driving a sliotar (hurling ball) down its throat with his hurley. Culann was devastated by the loss of his hound, so Sétanta promised to rear him a replacement, and until it was old enough to do the job, he himself would guard Culann's house. The druid Cathbhadh announced that his name henceforth would be Cú Chulainn, "Culann's Hound".
In the Táin Bó Cuailnge, the nearby Gap of the North is where Cú Chulainn single-handedly fended-off the army of Méabh.
Fionn mac Cumhaill
On the southern end of the mountain summit lies the South Cairn also known as the “Calliagh Berra’s House”. This chamber was opened in 1789 by locals who found a small quantity of human bone inside. No bones from the excavation survive so unfortunately we cant establish if they were female and possibly those of the legendary Calliagh Berra.
Just along from the South Cairn lies the Calliagh Berra’s lake, the very lake that the ill fated Fionn swam in.
Further down the slope you will find the Calliagh Birra's Chair, an outcrop of rock that local people would visit it and take turns sitting on the “chair” during Lughnasadh. (Sunset on 31 July—Sunset on 1 August)