Aided óenfir Aífe ‘The death of Aífe’s only son’

  • prose
  • Ulster Cycle
Short tale about the only son of Cú Chulainn and Aífe, and the boy’s death at the hands of his father. This entry covers two versions: (1) AOA I = a late Old Irish text preserved in the Yellow Book of Lecan, which is the best known version, and (2) AOA II = a younger, much abridged version in TCD 1336, which serves to introduce the topic of legal accountability and compensation (corpdíre).
The earliest version (AOA I):
pp. 214a–215a in facsimile cols 955–957
beg. ‘Aiged enfhir Aifi andso’
A younger version (AOA II):
cols 842–843
Here entitled Ainfer Aife.
The earliest version has been dated to the 9th century (Meyer),(1)n. 1 “It may be safely ascribed to the ninth century”, Kuno Meyer, ‘The death of Conla’, Ériu 1 (1904): 113. or the later 9th or 10th century (Van Hamel).(2)n. 2 “probably the later ninth or tenth century”, A. G. van Hamel, Compert Con Culainn and other stories (1933): 9.
prose (primary)
verse (secondary)

Prose. In AOA I, there are various instances of rosc, such as the dialogue between Condere mac Echach and Connla and that between Emer and Cú Chulainn. In AOA II, a poem is attributed to Cú Chulainn.

Textual relationships
Cf. Tochmarc Emire; the dinnshenchas of Lechtán Óenfhir Aífe; the version told by Geofrey Keating; the Early Modern Irish version Oidheadh Chonlaoich.
Related: Oidheadh Chonlaoich (mic Con gCulainn)Oidheadh Chonlaoich (mic Con gCulainn)


Ulster Cycle
Ulster Cycle
id. 1797


Connla mac Aífe
Connla (var. Connláech) or Conla; or Óenfir Aífe (‘Aífe’s only son’)
son of Cú Chulainn and Aífe; tragically killed in single combat by his honour-bound father

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Aífe ingen Airdgeme
Aífe ingen Airdgeme
(time-frame ass. with Ulster Cycle)
Character in the Ulster Cycle of Irish literature, notably the tragic tale Aided óenfir Aífe. When the Ulster hero Cú Chulainn stays in Alba to receive training-in-arms from Scáthach (her mother or sister), Aífe has an affair with him and later gives birth to his only son. In the Yellow Book of Lecan version, Aífe is called a daughter of one Ardgeimm.

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(time-frame ass. with Ulster Cycle, Conchobar mac Nessa)
A warrior woman and instructor of warriors in the Ulster Cycle, notably responsible for training the hero Cú Chulainn.

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Cú Chulainn
Cú Chulainn
Young Ulster hero and chief character of Táin bó Cuailnge and other tales of the Ulster Cycle; son of Súaltam or Lug and Deichtire (sister to Conchobor); husband of Emer (ingen Forgaill)

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Conchobar mac Nessa
Conchobar mac Nessa
(time-frame ass. with Ulster Cycle)
king of the Ulaid in tales of the Ulster Cycle; son either of Cathbad or Fachtna Fáthach (father) and Ness (mother); husband of Mugain; father of Cormac Cond Longas, Cúscraid Mend Macha, Furbaide Fer Bend and Fedelm Noíchrothach; fosterfather of Cú Chulainn.

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Trácht ÉiseTrácht Éise
Entry reserved for but not yet available from the subject index.

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“It may be safely ascribed to the ninth century”, Kuno Meyer, ‘The death of Conla’, Ériu 1 (1904): 113.
“probably the later ninth or tenth century”, A. G. van Hamel, Compert Con Culainn and other stories (1933): 9.

Primary sources Text editions and/or modern translations – in whole or in part – along with publications containing additions and corrections, if known. Diplomatic editions, facsimiles and digital image reproductions of the manuscripts are not always listed here but may be found in entries for the relevant manuscripts. For historical purposes, early editions, transcriptions and translations are not excluded, even if their reliability does not meet modern standards.

[ed.] Hamel, A. G. van [ed.], Compert Con Culainn and other stories, Mediaeval and Modern Irish Series, 3, Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1933.
CELT – Compert Con Culainn (1-8): <link> CELT – Aided Óenfir Aífe (9-15): <link> Internet Archive: <link>
9–15. Version from YBL.
[ed.] [tr.] Meyer, Kuno [ed. and tr.], “The death of Conla”, Ériu 1 (1904): 113–121.
Internet Archive: <link>
Version from YBL.
[dipl. ed.] Binchy, D. A. [ed.], Corpus iuris Hibernici, 7 vols, vol. 6, Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1978.  
comments: numbered pp. 1926–2343; diplomatic edition of legal material from:
  • Dublin, Trinity College, MS 1336 (continued)
  • Dublin, Trinity College, MS 1387
  • Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Rawlinson B 502
  • Dublin, Trinity College, MS 1308
  • London, British Library, MS Additional 4783
  • London, British Library, MS Nero A 7
  • Copenhagen, Det Kongelige Bibliotek, MS NKS 261b
  • Dublin, National Library of Ireland, MS G 3
  • Dublin, National Library of Ireland, MS G 11
  • Dublin, Royal Irish Academy, MS C i 2
  • Dublin, Trinity College, MS 1318/16
  • Dublin, Trinity College, MS E 3. 3
2127.19–2128.17 Version from TCD 1336.
[ed.] [tr.] OʼKeeffe, J. G. [ed. and tr.], “Cuchulinn and Conlaech”, Ériu 1 (1904): 123–127.
Internet Archive: <link>
Version from TCD 1336.
[tr.] Gantz, Jeffrey [tr.], Early Irish myths and sagas, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1981.
[tr.] Kinsella, Thomas [tr.], The Tain: translated from the Irish epic Táin Bó Cuailnge, London: Oxford University Press, 1969.
[tr.] Draak, Maartje, and Frida de Jong [trs.], Van helden, elfen en dichters: de oudste verhalen uit Ierland, Amsterdam: Meulenhoff, 1979.

Secondary sources (select)

Thurneysen, Rudolf, Die irische Helden- und Königsage bis zum siebzehnten Jahrhundert, Halle: Niemeyer, 1921.  

Contents: Part 1 (chapters 1-23): Allgemeines; Part 2 (chapters 1-85): Die Ulter Sage.

Internet Archive: <link>
Findon, Joanne, “A woman’s words: Emer versus Cú Chulainn in Aided Óenfir Aife”, in: James P. Mallory, and Gearóid Stockman (eds), Ulidia: proceedings of the First International Conference on the Ulster Cycle of Tales, Belfast and Emain Macha, 8–12 April 1994, Belfast: December, 1994. 139–148.
Dennis Groenewegen, Patrick Brown
Page created
March 2011, last updated: January 2024