Cú Chulainn by Dr Mark Williams – 6 Sep 2022

This week we turn to the greatest of Irish heroes, who defends the entirely of Ulster single-handedly aged only seventeen. We look at the stories about him, including the great epic of medieval Ireland, the Táin, and at the complex women in his life—his wife, Emer, his fairy lover Fand, and the voracious Queen Medb or Maeve. Finally we turn to the ways in which Cú Chulainn was reimagined as a nationalist symbol at turn of the 20th century.

Reading: The Táin, trans. Ciaran Carson

don’t worry if you miss it – we will send you a recording valid for two weeks the next day


Dr Mark Williams is Fellow and Tutor in English at St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford. He is a specialist in the medieval languages and literatures of Wales and Ireland, and the author of Ireland’s Immortals: A History of the Gods of Irish Myth (Princeton, 2016), and The Celtic Myths that Shaped the Way We Think (Thames & Hudson, 2021). He is in training as a Jungian psychoanalyst

Further Reading

W. B. Yeats, ‘Rosa Alchemica’ in Mythologies (many editions)

George Russell, ‘The Legends of Ancient Eire’ https://www.teozofija.info/Russell_Legends.html

Celtic Myth by Dr. Mark Williams

These lectures introduce a range of famous figures and fascinating stories from the medieval Irish and Welsh past, including many characters who number among the gods and goddesses of the Celts. The aim is to explain their cultural context and status as literature, showing who produced these stories in the form in which we have them, and why. Each lecture also draws attention to the ways any given story has been reimagined in modernity, being forged anew for our own times. In each case I have suggested one paperback to read beforehand.