Oidheadh Chlainne Tuireann

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Aided Chlainne Tuirenn. Irish title for the prose narrative of the Mythological Cycle known in English as The Tragic Story of the Children of Tuireann or The Fate of the Children of Tuireann. Although the core of the story may have been composed as early as the 11th century, as interpolations from the Lebor Gabála [Book of Invasions] imply, the earliest surviving text is 16th-century, with more from the 17th. Within Irish literature Oidheadh Chlainne Tuireann is often classed as one of the Trí Truagha na Sgéalaigheachta [the Three Sorrows of Storytelling, or the Three Sorrowful Stories of Erin] along with the Deirdre story and Oidheadh Chlainne Lir [The Tragic Story of the Children of Lir].

A child of Ogma and Étan (1), Tuireann fathers three sons, Brian (1), Iuchair, and Iucharba, upon the divine Ana (also Danu) herself; variant texts cite great Brigit as the mother. His paternity complete, Tuireann plays no part in the story. The action begins along the Boyne while the Tuatha Dé Danann are preparing for the great battle with the Fomorians that will be known as Mag Tuired (see CATH MAIGE TUIRED). After scenes in which two physicians speculate on repairing Nuadu's arm and Lug Lámfhota is introduced, the action focuses on Cian, Lug's father, who while travelling north becomes apprehensive about the approach of the three armed sons of Tuireann. Sensitive to the unexplained enmity between the families, Cian magically transforms himself into a pig and begins rooting the ground with a nearby herd. The most perceptive of the brothers, Brian, has spotted Cian before the transformation and so changes his brothers Iuchair and Iucharba into hounds to hunt the pigs, thus separating the magical pig, Cian, from the rest. Returned to human form, the brothers want to spare Cian, but Brian refuses, leading the brothers in stoning him after he is at least allowed the dignity of returning himself to human form. After finding his father's mangled body, Lug lays anéiric [blood price] of retrieving magical treasures and of performing a dangerous feat. The treasures to be brought back are: (1) the three apples of the Garden of the Hesperides; (2) the skin of the pig of King Tuis ‘of Greece’ that will cure all wounded and diseased persons and will turn water into wine; (3) an excellent poisoned spear currently belonging to Pisear, king of Persia, that will come to be known as Gáe Assail; (4) two steeds able to pull a chariot over land or sea, belonging to Dobar, the king of Sicily; (5) seven pigs belonging to Assal (in some texts Easal), king of the Golden Pillars, that can be eaten at night and will reappear in the morning; (6) the puppy or whelp Failinis of the king of Ioruaidh (or Iruad); (7) the cooking-spit of the women of Inis Fionnchuire (or Inis Findchuire, Finchory) beneath Muir Torrain, between Ireland and Britain; and, most enigmatically, (8) three shouts upon the hill of Miodhchaoin (or Midchaín) in Lochlainn. Through inexhaustible daring and resource, the three sons, Brian, Iuchair, and Iucharba, accomplish the first seven of Lug's tasks, but the eighth proves most exacting. Miodhchaoin and his three sons, Áed, Conn, and Corc, drive their spears through the three sons of Tuireann before they can return the attack. Miodhchaoin and his three sons are killed, but Brian, Iuchair, and Icharba lie mortally wounded. Weakened though he is, Brian lifts his brothers' heads so that all three make feeble calls, fulfilling Lug's éiric. Iuchair and Iucharba then die, and Brian returns their bodies to their father. Tuireann pleads with Lug to save Brian with Tuis's healing pigskin, but the hero refuses, still angry at the way his father has been murdered. Tuireann buries his sons in a single grave and dies soon after himself. Lug values the treasure brought by the sons of Tuireann. Gáe Assail becomes his favourite sword, and Failinis his lapdog.


Subjects: Religion.

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