Síaburcharpat Con Culaind ‘The phantom chariot of Cú Chulainn’

  • Early Middle Irish
  • Cycles of the Kings, Ulster Cycle
  • Early Middle Irish
  • early Middle Irish.

Textual relationships
Related: Atbér mór do mathibAtbér mór do mathib

Middle Irish poem on Cú Roí mac Dáire and his exploits, which are brought far afield, even extending into Greece, Asia, Africa and in general terms, ‘the south of the world’ (descert domain). He is depicted as a warrior fighting against dog-heads (Conchinn) and commanding a fleet and army, with Fomoiri and Amazons (Cígloiscthi) in his service, as well as a lord of opulent wealth. The poem concludes with the assertion that Gregory the Great is of Cú Roí’s lineage.

Cles Con CulainnCles Con Culainn

A repertory of Cú Chulainn's feats, similar to that contained in Scéla Conchobuir meic Nessa.


Cycles of the Kings
Cycles of the Kings
id. 80
Ulster Cycle
Ulster Cycle
id. 1797


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)

See more
Lóegaire mac Néill
Lóegaire mac Néill
(fl. 5th century)
(time-frame ass. with Lóegaire mac Néill)
according to medieval Irish tradition, high-king of Ireland, son of Níall , and a contemporary of St Patrick

See more
Saint Patrick
Saint Patrick
(fl. 5th century)
No short description available

See more


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.] Ó Béarra, Feargal, “A critical edition of Síaburcharpat Con Culaind”, Ph. D. thesis, National University of Ireland, Galway, 2004.
[ed.] Meyer, Kuno [ed.], “Síaburcharpat Conculaind”, in: Osborn Bergin, R. I. Best, Kuno Meyer, and J. G. OʼKeeffe (eds), Anecdota from Irish manuscripts, vol. 3, Halle and Dublin, 1910. 48–56.
CELT – edition: <link> Celtic Digital Initiative: <link>
Based on Egerton 88, with variants from Additional 33993.
[ed.] Best, Richard Irvine, and Osborn Bergin [eds.], Lebor na hUidre: Book of the Dun Cow, Dublin: Hodges, Figgis, 1929.
CELT – edition (pp. 1-338): <link> Internet Archive: <link>
Diplomatic edition of the LU version.
[ed.] [tr.] Crowe, John O'Beirne [ed. and tr.], “Siabur-charpat Con Culaind”, The Journal of the Royal Historical and Archaeological Association of Ireland, 4th series, 1:2 — 1871 (1878): 371–448.  
comments: Translation reproduced, with a number of changes, in Hull, Eleanor (ed.), The Cuchullin saga in Irish literature (1898): 273-287, with notes on 295-298. Also catalogued separately as Crowe, John O'Beirne, “The phantom chariot of Cuchullin”, in The Cuchullin saga in Irish literature (1898).
Internet Archive: <link>, <link>
Based on LU.
[tr.] Corthals, Johan, Altirische Erzählkunst, Forum Celticum: Studien zu keltischen Sprachen und Kulturen, 1, Münster: Lit, 1996.
Translation into German
[tr.] Crowe, John O'Beirne [tr.], “The phantom chariot of Cuchullin”, in: Eleanor Hull (ed.), The Cuchullin saga in Irish literature: being a collection of stories relating to the hero Cuchullin, 8, London, 1898. 273–287, 295–298.  
A somewhat revised version of Crowe’s translation published previously in 1871.
Internet Archive: <link>, <link>
Revised version of Crowe's translation.

Secondary sources (select)

Ó Béarra, Feargal, “The otherworld realm of Tír scáith”, in: Gisbert Hemprich (ed.), Festgabe für Hildegard L. C. Tristram: überreicht von Studenten, Kollegen und Freunden des ehemaligen Faches Keltologie der Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, 1, Berlin: Curach Bhán, 2009. 81–100.  
The journey of the hero to the Otherworld is a familiar theme in the early literature of Ireland. The Early Middle Irish didactic text Síaburcharpat Con Culaind contains three separate accounts of Cú Chulainn’s journeys to the hostile otherworld realms of Lochlainn, Ifrend and Tír Scáith. The contrasting of the imagery of light and dark as well as that of diametrically opposite concepts through the creation of sets of homonymic pairs i. e. the creation of coincidentia oppositorum, is a quite common penchant of the Christian redactors, and is found in much of the earlier literature. Much of the imagery found in the Síaburcharpat Con Culaind account of the journey to Tír Scáith bears a close resemblance to that of the dread-inspiring mediaeval Christian imagery of Hell. The redactor of the tale sought to appropriate the pre-existing native familiarity with the concept of an orbis alius as a means of introducing his audience to the torments and horrors of the unfamiliar Christian (unhappy) orbis alius, thus furthering the propagation of the Faith and satisfying the Church’s hunger for the salvation of souls.
(source: publisher, slightly redacted)
Szövérffy, Joseph, “Siaburcharpat Conculainn, the Cadoc-legend, and the Finding of the Táin”, Bulletin of the Board of Celtic Studies 17:2 (1957): 69–77.
Johnston, Elva, “The salvation of the individual and the salvation of society in Siaburcharpat Con Culaind”, in: Joseph Falaky Nagy (ed.), The individual in Celtic literatures, 1, Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2001. 109–125.
Thurneysen, Rudolf, “Zur keltischen Literatur und Grammatik: 5. Zu Siaborcharpat ConCulainn”, Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie 12 (1918): 284.
Internet Archive: <link>
Dennis Groenewegen, Patrick Brown
Page created
October 2010, last updated: January 2024