Noínden Ulad, also Ces noínden Ulad ‘The debility of the Ulstermen’

  • Early Irish
One of the remscéla of the Ulster Cycle. Not to be confused with Ces Ulad, which attributes the weakness of the Ulstermen to a different event.



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.] Hull, Vernam [ed. and tr.], “Noínden Ulad: The debility of the Ulidians”, Celtica 8 (1968): 1–42.
Based on YBL (In Ceas Naigen), the Book of Fermoy, Harleian 5280 and RIA B iv 2.
[ed.] [tr.] Thurneysen, Rudolf [ed. and tr.], “Tochmarc Cruinn ocus Macha”, Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie 12 (1918): 251–254.
Internet Archive: <link> Internet Archive: <link>
Edition, with German translation.
[ed.] [tr.] Windisch, Ernst [ed. and tr.], “Über die irische Sage Noinden Ulad”, Berichte über die Verhandlungen der Königlich Sächsischen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Leipzig, Philologisch-Historische Classe 36 (1884): 336–347.
Internet Archive: <link>
Edition, with German translation, of the texts in LL and Harleian 5280.
[tr.] Gantz, Jeffrey [tr.], Early Irish myths and sagas, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1981.
[tr.] Draak, Maartje, and Frida de Jong [trs.], Van helden, elfen en dichters: de oudste verhalen uit Ierland, Amsterdam: Meulenhoff, 1979.

Secondary sources (select)

Toner, Gregory, “Macha and the invention of myth”, Ériu 60 (2010): 81–109.  
This paper provides new literary analyses of two tales associated with Emain Macha, both of which feature a woman called Macha: Noínden Ulad, which purports to tell the origin of the debility that the Ulstermen suffered during the Táin, and the story of Macha Mongrúad, who overthrew her enemies and forced them to construct the fort of Emain Macha. The discussion considers issues of warriorhood, justice and gender, and seeks to disentangle the themes of sovereignty and war in relation to the women called Macha. Two of the four women bearing the name Macha are, in all probability, relatively late innovations, and the primary function of the remaining two figures lies in warfare.
Ó Broin, Tomás, “The word noínden”, Éigse 13 (1970): 165–176.
Ó Broin, Tomás, “What is the ‘debility’ of the Ulstermen?”, Éigse 10:4 (1963): 286–299.
Dennis Groenewegen, Patrick Brown
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November 2010, last updated: January 2024