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Liath Macha


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[Ir., grey of Macha].

Favourite horse of the Ulster hero Cúchulainn, the other being Saingliu or Dubh Sainglenn. Both horses were magical, having risen out of a grey lake at Sliab Fúait [Slieve Fuad], but each is credited as a gift from Macha (which of the three is not specified) or the Mórrígan, with whom Macha is sometimes confused. Cúchulainn catches and tames both horses by springing onto their backs. For an entire day they tear round the ‘circuit’ of Ireland but cannot throw off their boy rider, after which they are gentle. The horse is portrayed as showing extraordinary love for his master, refusing to be saddled and shedding tears of blood before Cúchulainn's final battle. Some accounts have Liath Macha dying with his master, taking eighty enemy warriors with him; others report that Liath Macha and Saingliu return to their lakes after Cúchulainn's death.

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