Brislech Mór Maige Muirthemne, also known as Aided Con Culainn

  • Old Irish
  • prose, verse
  • Ulster Cycle

Old Irish saga about the slaying of the Ulster hero Cú Chulainn, Conall Cernach’s revenge, Cú Chulainn’s ‘phantom speech’ (síabur-chobra) delivered after his death and a lament by Emer.

  • Old Irish
  • Old Irish.

Pokorny (1921) dated the text to the mid-8th century or even earlier, which would make it one of the earliest Irish sagas to survive.(1)n. 1 Julius Pokorny, ‘Germanisch-irisches’, Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie 13 (1921): 123. Kimpton, in a more recent, more detailed analysis, concludes that “instances of early Old Irish features [...], occurring in both poetic and prose portions of the text, suggest an original date of composition for the tale in the early eighth century”, while the simultaneous appearance of Middle Irish verbal forms suggest to her that the “LL text presents a late ninth- or early tenth-century reworking of an early eighth-century composition, with later scribal modernizations”.
prose, verse (primary)
Textual relationships
A version of the text (Aided Con Chulainn) is listed in the Middle Irish tale-lists. The dindsenchas poem beg. Achall ar aicce Temair deals with some of the consequences of Cú Chulainn's death and Conall Cernach's vengeance. See also the Early Modern Irish rendition known sometimes as Oidheadh Con Culainn.


Ulster Cycle


Cú ChulainnCú 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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Conall CernachConall Cernach
(time-frame ass. with Ulster Cycle)
warrior of the Ulaid in the Ulster Cycle; son of Amergin and Findchóem
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Erc mac Cairpri Niad FerErc mac Cairpri Niad Fer
Erc, son of Cairpre Nia Fer (king of Tara) and Fedelm ... daughter of Conchobar mac Nessa; eponym of Duma nEirc
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Lugaid mac Con RoíLugaid mac Con Roí
(time-frame ass. with Ulster Cycle)
Warrior in the Ulster Cycle, son of Cú Roí. In the tale Brislech Mór Maige Muirthemne, he is identified as the one who slew Cú Chulainn after wounding him with a spear.
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Julius Pokorny, ‘Germanisch-irisches’, Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie 13 (1921): 123.

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.] [tr.] Kimpton, Bettina [ed. and tr.], The death of Cú Chulainn. A critical edition of the earliest version of Brislech Mór Maige Muirthemni, Maynooth Medieval Irish Texts 6, Maynooth: School of Celtic Studies, National University of Ireland, 2009.
Based on LL and H 3. 18
[ed.] Thurneysen, Rudolf [ed.], Zu irischen Handschriften und Litteraturdenkmälern [I], Abhandlungen der königlichen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen, Philologisch-Historische Klasse 14.2, Berlin, 1912.  
comments: Continued by Rudolf Thurneysen, Zu irischen Handschriften und Litteraturdenkmälern II (1913).
13–19 H 3. 18
[ed.] [tr.] Stokes, Whitley [ed. and tr.], “Cuchulainn’s death [abridged from the Book of Leinster, ff. 77, a 1 – 78, b 2]”, Revue Celtique 3 (1876–1878): 175–185, 152.
Internet Archive: <link>, <link>, <link> Internet Archive – originally from Google Books: <link>
Part of the LL text.
[tr.] Tymoczko, Maria [tr.], Two death tales from the Ulster Cycle: The death of Cu Roi and The death of Cu Chulainn, Dolmen Texts 2, Dublin: Dolmen Press, 1981.
The first complete English translation, including verse sections.
[tr.] Carey, John [tr.], “[Various contributions]”, in: Koch, John T., and John Carey (eds), The Celtic Heroic Age. Literary sources for ancient Celtic Europe and early Ireland & Wales, Celtic Studies Publications 1, 4th ed. (1995), Aberystwyth: Celtic Studies Publications, 2003. [Various].
§86 LL version
[tr.] d'Arbois de Jubainville, Marie-Henri [tr.], “[Various contributions]”, in: d'Arbois de Jubainville, Marie-Henri, L’épopée celtique en Irlande, Cours de littérature celtique 5, Paris: Thorin, 1892. [Various].
Internet Archive: <link>

Secondary sources (select)

Pokorny, Julius, “Germanisch-irisches [1. Nochmals altir. gildae; 2. Germanische Lehnworte im Irischen]”, Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie 13 (1921): 111–129.
Internet Archive: <link>
Thurneysen, Rudolf, Die irische Helden- und Königsage bis zum siebzehnten Jahrhundert, Halle: Niemeyer, 1921.  
comments: Part 1 (chapters 1-23): Allgemeines; Part 2 (chapters 1-85): Die Ulter Sage
Internet Archive: <link>
Dennis Groenewegen,Patrick Brown