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[Ir., having a hundred (wiles)].

Familiar figure from Irish and Scottish Gaelic (where he is known as Ceudach) folklore, especially since the beginning of the 19th century. He is often an interloper in Fenian tales, where he may disguise himself in skins. Although he always appears to want to join the Fenians, his reasons are unclear; he is often quarrelsome. Céadach is his usual name, but he may have many others, such as Abartach. In a story recorded on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, he gives himself the grand moniker Ceudach Mac Rìgh nan Collach, ‘The Yearling Son of the King’.

In one of the best-known stories about him, Céadach is sent on a dangerous mission where he is expected to be killed; he returns a hero. Against the wishes of his beautiful wife, Céadach agrees to accompany the Fianna to war. The wife makes Fionn mac Cumhaill agree to hoist sails if her husband does not return. Although he leads the Fianna to victory, Céadach is stabbed in the last battle. Before dying Céadach warns Fionn not to hoist the sails, because his wife's breath will blow a blast that would destroy everything for a hundred miles. When the wife receives the body, she takes her husband to a desert island where three brothers do daily battle with armies of giants who return to life each night. The wife asks the brothers to use their magical power to restore Céadach, which they do. To repay them, Céadach kills all the giants and lies in wait at night to see how they are revived. When he sees an ancient hag sprinkling the giants with drops from a churn, he beheads her, making the island forever safe.

See Alan Bruford, ‘Gaelic Folk-Tales and Mediaeval Romances’ (Dublin, 1969), 123–9.

Subjects: Religion.

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