Sunday, March 17, 2013

Serglige Con Culainn

What would St. Patrick's Day be with out The Pogues? Here they are in all their early 80's glory
performing The Sick Bed of Cu Chulainn, or The Wasting Sickness. A classic Irish song dating from the 11th century from the Ulster Cycle of Irish Mythology, The Book of Dun Cow. It tells of a curse of illness inflicted upon the hero Cú Chulainn by otherworldly women and his recovery with the aid of his wife Emer. His developing relationship with one of his attackers, Fand, occasions his wife's "only jealousy".
the story of the song below the break:

The great Ulster hero Cú Chulainn is charged with catching two birds each for the women assembled at Muirthemne, but when he hands them out there is none for his wife Emer. He determines to catch two even more beautiful birds for her, which are linked by a golden chain and sing a magical sleeping song. He only grazes them with his spear, however, and is put to sleep next to a stone pillar. He dreams he is approached by two women with whips who beat him so severely as to rob him of his strength, inducing a wasting sickness. He lies ill for nearly a year, until the otherworldly Aengus visits him, inviting him to County Roscommon, where he can be cured and introduced to Aengus' sister Fand, who wants to be with him. Cú Chulainn returns to the pillar where he fell ill, and meets Angus' and Fand's sister, Lí Ban, who explains that she was one of the women who whipped him, but that she wishes him no further harm. She requests his aid in defending her kingdom in Mag Mell.

Cú Chulainn still suffers from his wasting sickness, and stalls going to Mag Mell for some time. Finally Emer berates her husband into shaking off the illness, and he journeys to Mag Mell with his charioteer
Láeg. He dispatches Lí Ban's enemies and trysts with Fand, but this is discovered by Emer, who confronts Fand. After much discussion both women recognize the other's unselfish love, and request that Cú Chulainn take the other. This is interrupted with the return of Fand's husband,Manannán mac Lir, who takes Fand away with him and shakes his cloak between her and Cú Chulainn so that they may never meet again. The druids give Cúchulainn and Emer a potion of forgetfulness, and they forget the entire affair.

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