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Characters: Celtic Mythology
Celtic Mythology has Loads and Loads of Characters. These are the most famous ones.

Mortals and Half-Mortals

Cu Chulainn

"Cuchulainn was an unstoppable warrior hero in Irish legend who was renowned throughout the British Isles for his unmatched prowess in combat, his superhuman deeds, his Justin Timberlake-like good looks and his infamous "Warp Spasm" - a violent bloodthirsty berserker rage which caused his face to contort into hideous positions, made his hair to stand up on end, and prompted one of his eyes to bulge out of his head." (From his Badass of the Week page.)
  • The Ace: Boy, if there ever was one...
  • Angst Coma: "The Wasting Sickness of Cu Chulainn" is an entire story about his year-long illness.
  • Badass: This is the guy who tied his spilled intestines to a rock so he could keep standing and killed someone AFTER he died. Definitely extremely badass.
  • Berserk Button: Do not threaten the province of Ulster if you want to live. You'll get a Gae Bolg to the torso.
  • Bi the Way: His relationship with Ferdia.
    "I loved the noble way you blushed,
    And loved your fine, perfect form..."
  • Blood Knight: The type that lives for dueling, not bloodbaths. In a twist, he always challenges people to duels because that's the surest way to prevent bloodbaths (Cu Chulainn being The Chosen One and all.)
  • Burning with Anger: Cu Chulainn was hot-tempered in a very literal sense.
    And the snow melted for thirty feet all around him, because of the intensity of the warrior's heat and the warmth of Cu Chulainn's body. And the gilla remained a good distance from him for he could not endure to remain near him because of the might of his rage and the warrior's fury and the heat of his body.
  • The Chosen One (Because Destiny Says So)
  • Creepy Good
  • Divine Parentage: He's the son of Lugh the Long-Handed, which is responsible for a lot of his badassery. The rest is being The Chosen One.
  • Does Not Know His Own Strength: One of his earlier trysts went a bit awry when he accidentally broke a woman's fingers while having sex with her. This did not end well. He also had a bit of trouble taking up arms due to the fact that he shattered just about every spear, sword, or shield Conchobar gave him, as well as seventeen chariots.
  • Don't Wake the Sleeper: Once as a child, when someone was once sent to wake him, Cu Chulainn struck the man in the face so hard that he shattered his skull and killed him. Nobody dared to wake him up ever again.
  • Engagement Challenge: For Emer, whom he ends up Happily Married to.
  • Full Potential Upgrade: Not just his weapon, but his chariot, too.
  • Genius Bruiser: Cu Chulainn may be incredibly strong and powerful and an amazingly skilled warrior, but he's also extremely intelligent and cunning, and in fact, judging by his love life, it would seem that he actually values intelligence and good wits far more than he does good looks or skill at combat.
  • High-Pressure Blood: Entering a warp spasm caused him to spray clouds of it from his body.
  • Horrifying Hero: While in a warp spasm.
  • Hot-Blooded
  • Jumped at the Call
  • Just a Kid: It wasn't uncommon for Cu Chulainn to be underestimated because of his age
  • Kid Hero: Cu Chulainn's exploits start from as early as age five, and his most famous one (the Tain) occurred when he was only seventeen.
  • Ladykiller in Love: Cú Chulainn sleeps with dozens of women and yet was Happily Married to Emer. This is one of the very few mythologies that distinguish his active libido from his genuine love for Emer.
    • This is also Played With—Emer is perfectly fine with it because she doesn't feel threatened at all by the other women and knows that it's purely sex, unlike Ms. Hollywood Nerd.
  • Long-Haired Pretty Boy
  • Lovecraftian Superpower: The warp spasm.
  • Mangst: He accidentally killed his only son.
  • Multicolored Hair: Described as having hair that starts blond at the ends, red in the middle, and brown at the roots.
    • Cu Chulainn is said to have inspired the trait of putting lime in one's hair to stiffen it for battle; something started when the men of Ulster tried to imitate the Hound's hair during the warp spasm. Lime in the hair will eventually lighten it, leaving your roots dark with regrowth, the middle hair not yet completely damaged, and the tips being absolutely ruined.
  • One-Man Army: The Táin Bó Cúailnge is less Connacht vs. Ulster and more Connacht vs. one incredibly badass teenager.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname Although the real name is Setanta while Cu Chulainn means "The hound of Chulainn" (a title he got after killing Chulainn's hound and taking its place)
  • Pretty Boy: At least when he's not in Warp Spasm mode.
  • Really Gets Around
  • Rule of Seven: Seven fingers on each hand, seven toes on each foot, and seven jeweled pupils in each eye.
  • Secret Test of Character: He gives one to Emer by testing her wits with riddles, and she passes with flying colors by testing him with her own riddles. This is primarily what he saw in her.
  • So Beautiful, It's a Curse: Cu Chulainn is listed in "The Courting of Emer" as having exactly three faults: "that he was too young and smooth-faced, so that young men who did not know him would be laughing at him, that he was too daring, and that he was too beautiful." Of course, this was less of a problem for him than it was for just about every other man in Ulster, who unanimously decided they needed to get him hitched before he ended up bedding half the populace. It didn't work.
  • Superpowered Alter Id: The Warp Spasm.
  • Technicolor Eyes: Seven jeweled pupils in each eyenote 
  • Too Cool to Live: Invoked - Cu Chulainn was prophecised to be incredibly accomplished, but also very short-lived.
  • Training from Hell: With Scathach, on Emer's request.
  • Warrior Poet
  • Wise Beyond Their Years
  • Younger than They Look: According to the Tain, the Wooing of Emer (in which Cu Chullain is clearly a young man) apparently happened when he was six.

Emer

The beautiful and intelligent daughter of King Forgal, and Cuchulainn's wife. She may not be an Action Girl, but she is definitely a character in her own right.

Aoife

A deadly warrior, whose rivalnote  Scathach gave Cu Chulainn his Training from Hell. One of Cu Chulainn's flings, and the only one he got pregnant; after she almost defeats him in combat, he decides the two of them must have a son. Cú Chulainn left Aoife a ring and told her to give it to their son, who was to be named Connla, and to send him to Ireland when the ring fit his finger. Along with a bunch of awkward conditions. Connla went to find his father, and in one of the weirder episodes of the Ulster Cycle it did not go well.

Taliesin

A Welsh figure, he was born a mortal boy named Gwion Bach. The goddess Cerridwen chose him to stir a potion containing all the knowledge in the world, and when the potion started bubbling, a few drops of the potion landed on his finger and he instinctively stuck it in his mouth, accidentally gaining the potion's knowledge and pissing off Cerridwen when she found out. He tried to flee from her by turning into various animals, then into grain of wheat amidst more wheat. Cerridwen then turned herself into a hen and ate him. Eventually she realized she was pregnant, planned to kill the baby when he was born, but in the end couldn't bring herself to because he was so beautiful. So she put him in a basket and sent him down the river, where a poor couple found him and named him "Taliesin." He became the greatest bard in the world.

Math ap Mathonwy

One of the many protagonists of the branches of the Mabinogion and king of Gwynedd. For no logically explained reason he had to rest his feet on a virgin's lap 24/7 or else he'd die. The only exception is during warfare. Most remembered for his eccentricity and many cruel and unusual acts.

Fionn mac Cumhaill

An Irish hero with one of the greatest names ever - it is usually anglicised as Finn McCool - Fionn was the leader of the Fianna, a band of legendary warriors. He's most famous for (accidentally) gaining the wisdom of the Salmon of Knowledge when he burnt his thumb while he was cooking the thing for his master, meaning whenever he wanted to access that wisdom all he to do was suck his thumb.
  • Action Pets: His hounds Bran and Sceolach are actually his cousins; their mother was cursed into the form of a dog when she gave birth, resulting in the twins being Mode Locked. They grew up with the combined abilities of humans and dogs, and are sometimes said to be Monster Progenitors for the Irish Wolfhound breed.
  • Awesome McCoolname
  • Expy: Bizarre example. Look at his description versus Taliesin above and swap out 'Salmon of Knowledge' for 'Potion of Knowledge'. You'd think thumb-based origin stories wouldn't be so common. Of course due to the age of the material there's no way to tell if Finn is Taliesin's Irish counterpart or Taliesin Finn's Welsh one.
  • Healing Hands: An indirect version: his hands could imbue water with healing properties.
  • King in the Mountain: Supposedly sleeping in a cave beneath Dublin, to awaken to defend Ireland in her hour of greatest need.
  • Locked into Strangeness: Fionn received his signature white hair when a curse turned him into an old man. The curse was soon broken, but his hair stayed white.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: In a similar way to Cu Chulainn. Fionn's real name was Demna, while he named named "Fionn"(meaning "fair of hair") because of his white hair.
  • Our Giants Are Bigger: Some stories depict him as a giant rather than a normal man.
  • Warrior Poet: Yet another one.

Queen Medb/Maeve

This lady is the Warrior Queen of Connacht, and you do not want to get on her bad side. She's known for her ego, sexual endeavours, and, though she's more bloodthirsty than the more famous heroes, she's a renowned guardian of the land. It's theorised by some that she might have been a mythical goddess.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Consider the deeds of the Badass Dark Action Girl in her lifetime. Then consider that she was taken down by a piece of cheese while she was taking a bath.
  • Arch-Enemy: Conchobar mac Nessa, king of Ulster. Through a marriage arranged by her father, he was her first husband and she left him later on after having one son by him. After a political assembly at Tara, he raped her. (It's probably no coincidence that she required all her following husbands to be without meanness.) She hated him so much that when a druid told her that her son Maine would kill Conchobar, she renamed all of her seven sons so she wouldn't have all her eggs in one basket. Turns out the druid was talking about a different Conchobar.
    • Also Ulster, as in the land itself. She made a path through the landscape that would 'forever show her contempt' for the place. We did warn you not to get on her bad side. The legend is she is also buried upright, keeping an eye on her enemies there.
  • Black Comedy: See Alas, Poor Villain above. I mean, come on, she was killed by a piece of cheese! With a slingshot! While bathing in a lake!
  • Dark Action Girl: Defeated all her siblings in combat to prove herself Badass, or so she boasts to her husband as they duel with their egos across the pillows. Not an Unusual Euphemism, as it turns out. She also murdered a pregnant woman and later waged one of the most epic wars in Irish legend to steal a bull (still not an Unusual Euphemism) so she'd be more wealthy than her husband.
  • Genius Bruiser: Probably, since not only did everyone worth noting inside and outside her kingdom come to her for advice since her judgement was greatly valued, but she also deserved her title of warrior queen.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Her enemies certainly felt this way about her, but to her own subjects she was wise and fair.
  • Hypocrite: She has her final husband, King Ailill, killed after he cheated on her.
  • Lady of War
  • Manipulative Bastard: Her favourite tokens of bribery were riches and sex slaves, and even the off time she fails you can't help but admire how conniving her ploys were.
  • My Girl Is a Slut: She made it very clear that if a man wanted to marry her he had to meet the following criteria: he had to be without meanness, fear and jealousy. The last one was because she really got around. She also wasn't above trading sex for bargains with her enemies.
  • Pride: It's likely one of the reasons she fell for Ailill was because he was able to match her Awesome Ego. Expect plenty of Badass Boasts to follow.
  • Really Gets Around: Any time Maeve is mentioned she's then followed by a list of many husbands and/or lovers.
  • Well, Excuse Me, Princess!: She and Ailill have a few moments.

Conn of the Hundred Battles

An Irish High King around the 3rd century A.D., friend of Fionn mac Cumhaill.
  • A Father to His Men: So much as he'd even go to war on behalf of them.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Naturally.
  • Elite Army: Controlled the Fianna at the point in time when Fionn mac Cumhaill was their leader. This is a given.
  • Because Destiny Says So: The Stone of Destiny at Tara roars when he steps on it, which means he's going to be King, then the god Lugh tells him how long he will reign and the names of the kings to follow him.
  • Declaration of Protection: He refused to banish his second wife, even though her presence was allegedly causing famine.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: She was banished anyway after Conn's son challenged her to a game of fidchell and she lost.
  • The Gloves Come Off: When Mug Nuadat came back after Conn forced him and his forces to flee for Spain, not only did he defeat Conn and divide their land in two in a treaty of his own devising, but then broke he broke his own treaty and tried to take the rest of the land. Conn was thoroughly not amused at this point and retreated, regrouped and first defeated Nuadat's allies in the north, then marched south and killed Nuadat in a surprise night attack. If he knew what was good for him, he would've stayed in Spain.
  • Happily Married: Both his marriages were good, though both ended in tragedy.
  • Heartbroken Badass: Probably had a bout of this after his second wife was banished, and maybe after his first wife died.
  • Heroic Spirit: Given the perseverance required for those 'Hundred Battles'.
  • Hit-and-Run Tactics: Used these well in defeating Nuadat.
  • Papa Wolf: to just about everyone, providing they weren't his enemies.
  • Romancing the Widow: After hearing his wife had died, a fairy woman sprung up out of the blue and agreed to marry him.
  • The Strategist: He had to be, given that he spent most of his 20-50 years (accounts vary) fighting rival tribes off his land, waging full-fledged war against invaders and enemies and helping those who came to him for protection.

King Arthur

See here.

Gods and The Fair Folk

Lugh the Long-Handed

The Ace of the gods, associated with the sun (according to victorian archaeologists, anyways), fertility, and liberating Ireland from the monster Balor. Not much is known past that, but he did have a fling with his hot midwife when she helped his wife give birth safely—the midwife in turn had Cuchulainn, Ireland's greatest hero, and the rest is (alleged) history. He is sometimes considered to be the Morrigan's husband, due to both deities being powerful warriors associated with, well, fertility''.
  • The Ace: Of course. He got into the Tuatha de Danaan solely because while they had masters of all fields, none were a master in all fields like him.
  • Bishōnen: Yet again. The Celts love these.
  • Combo Platter Powers: Comes with the territory of being an ace.
  • Handsome Lech
  • Light is Good: God of the light in general, and fertility. Getting any "evil" vibes from that? Even if he is not the Sun god as previously thought - a role that might actually belong to his foe, Balor of the Evil Eye -, he still represents the light of the thunder flashes.
  • Really Gets Around: And nobody minds.
  • Shock and Awe: A popular interpretation is that he is actually some sort of thunder god, with his name more or less meaning "lightning flash".
  • Warrior Poet: Literally a warrior and a poet. The Irish love the trope's version as well.
  • What Does He See In Her? He's (possibly) married to the Morrígan, of all people. Then again, they have a couple of things in common...note 

The Morrígan

The most infamous Celtic goddess, her name means "great/phantom queen." Due to the fragmented nature of Celtic mythology, she is associated with several related figures—the Washer At the Ford (a harbinger of death who washed the clothes of the soon-to-be-dead in the river), Macha (either a goddess or one of The Fair Folk, forced to run a race while pregnant and ended up giving birth after winning), and Badb, another warrior-goddess. Nobody's really sure of anything with her, aside from the facts that 1) she is a war-goddess, and 2) nobody's sure of anything with her. Tellingly, she is one of the few deities who wasn't Brought Down to Normal and didn't get her Serial Numbers Filed Off.
  • Blood Knight: Unusual in that she's a bloodthirsty female deity, and uses her wits to cause bloodbaths instead of solve them. She draws a marked parallel with Kali in that respect.
  • The Chessmaster: If you want to completely ruin someone (even if they don't deserve it), you've got to be smart.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Modern artists portray her dressed in black with black hair, when in the actual myths her hair and clothes were frequently red—red was the ancient Celtic color of death. The former isn't wrong, though, since it's more of a Palette Swap than an actual mistake.
  • Cryptic Conversation: Many unfortunates piss her off because they can't understand what the hell she's saying.
  • Dark Action Girl: Doesn't get much darker and action-y than her.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: For all that she makes people wet themselves, she is still Chaotic Good, and she will generously reward people who pass her tests.
  • Flanderization: For some reason]], Goths view her as a misunderstood and regal persona rather than the Badass, ill-tempered, insanely vengeful figure she is in myth.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: On one hand, she's an amazon who has no problem trading sex for little things like lifelong glory and prosperity. On the other hand, if you piss her off she will fuck your shit up. She won't just kill you—first she'll ruin everything you stand for as you watch helplessly (but not quite enough to send you over the Despair Event Horizon), and then she'll make absolutely sure your death is long, agonizing, and pointless.
  • The High Queen: On a good day.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: When someone's name literally means "phantom queen," you'd best tread carefully around her.
  • Really Gets Around: Her fertility aspect is overshadowed in modern times by her violent tendencies, but very obvious in the myths.
  • Sadly Mythtaken: Some people compare her to Athena, when she's the exact opposite—Athena was a war goddess who dealt more with strategy, while the Morrigan positively loves carnage.
  • Spell My Name with an S: Even worse than usual in Celtic myth. She's either the Morrígan/Mórrígan/Morríghan/Morrigu, or Mor-Ríoghain. All of them are technically correct, since they mean "phantom/great queen".
  • Spell My Name with a "The": The Morrígan. Understandably, most people drop the "the" since it gets awkward after a while.
  • Things That Go Bump in the Night: She announced her presence by screaming war-cries to wake everyone up. Whoever had the balls to check would be rewarded if they helped her out, or punished if they pissed her off.
  • Trauma Conga Line: One of her specialties, and the main reason she's so pants-wettingly feared.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Characters often make reference to "the Morrígan's harvest" after a battle—that being the eyes, souls, or heads of the dead. After a battle, everyone still alive would clear the hell out to ensure that the Morrígan's "harvest" went peacefully.
    • Also, there is the phrase "Garden of Morrigan," or some variation, in referrence to how battlefields tend to become overgrown with plantlife due to all that fertilizer left behind. Which is also beleived to be the source of her association with fertility.

The Dagda

The father-figure of the Tuatha de Danaan. Another deity with a title for a name, "the Dagda" means "the good god" when literally translated. He was one of the first High Kings of Ireland, the god of music and poetry, and known for a magic cauldron that could feed any number of people without a problem.

Aengus Óg

The Irish god of love, mainly romantic, but possibly also familial. He likes to help people out of tight spots, but can also be a warrior of vengeance when he's sufficiently outraged, normally by a wrong done to someone close to him. His most well-known story is probably Aisling Oenguso, The Dream of Aengus.
  • Angst Coma: In 'The Dream of Aengus'. A beautiful woman comes to see him every night in his dreams and plays the harp to him, but he cannot touch her. He goes into a 'wasting sickness' until his parents find the girl in real life.
  • Declaration of Protection: He does this a few times. For his foster-son Diarmuid in 'Diarmuid and Gráinne', for his foster-daughter in 'The House of the Two Pails', and for his foster-father's wife Étaín in the 'The Wooing of Étaín'.

Nuada Airgetlám

The first king of the Tuatha de Danann. He was highly respected and close friends with the Dagda and Lugh.
  • Badass Transplant: Possibly the Ur Example.
  • The Lancer
  • Meaningful Name: Airgetlám literally means 'silver hand', which is fitting since Nuada literally has a silver hand.
  • Nice Guy: Pretty much as nice as they come in Irish mythology. Even after regaining his throne from an unpopular king (Bres) after he lost the arm and got a new one, he gracefully steps aside to allow Lugh/the Dagda (depending on who you ask) to take over later on after meeting the guy and deciding he was pretty swell and good enough to lead his people in battle.
  • Only Sane Man: Once you take a look at everyone else's track record. He'd often make fairly reasonable requests, such as halving the territory with the Fomorians and, after only just having his own arm chopped off, insisting Sreng fight him with one of his arms tied behind his back. On both of those counts his negotiations were turned down.

(Saint?) Brigid

An immensely popular figure even today, she is one of the patron saints of Ireland and second only to St. Patrick (yes, that one). She presides over healing, poetry, and smithwork—some believe that she was originally a goddess who had her Serial Numbers Filed Off, as that fits the "triple goddess" concept. (And Christianity's general tendencies.) Another "coincidence" is that her festival day is February 1, the day of Imbolc (and Goddess!Brigid's sacred day) in the pagan communities. St. Brigid's Well is a well-known landmark for those who suffer chronic illness or injury. She is also associated with fire, and before Christianity set in there was a temple where her "sacred flame" was constantly tended to by priestesses/nuns.
  • The Chick
  • Combo Platter Powers
  • Continuity Snarl: We know that Brigid is in charge of healing, poetry, and smiths. We don't know much else about her—or we don't know who knows much else about her, because everyone's arguing over who gets her in the first place.
  • The Heart: She was so beloved that the Christians adopted their own version of her instead of demonizing her like the rest of the Celtic pantheon.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: Compared to other gods and especially the Morrigan, she gets rather little mention in myth.

Rhiannon

The fairy wife of King Pwyll in Welsh Mythology. He offered to marry her when she said she didn't like her other suitor, so she accepted. When her first son was born, he vanished and the maids panicked, not only because their king's heir was gone but because they might be blamed for it. So they killed a few puppies from a recent litter, smeared the blood on the unconscious Rhiannon, and said she'd eaten her own son in a fit of madness. ...Yeah. This wasn't good for Rhiannon, and everyone started howling for the evil fairy to be killed. Pwyll really wanted to believe Rhiannon but he was also responsible for, you know, ruling, so to compromise he said that she'd have to carry visitors from the courtyard to his hall on her back for seven years. Luckily her son was alive, had been named Pryderi by his adopted parents, and reunited with them when he was of age. Past that the different versions of the story get a little contradictory, but everything sorted out in the end. Except for Pwll getting killed in a battle, but Rhiannon eventually married Manawydan, another of the Fair Folk.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Both in-story (a sidhe woman who married a human) and meta, if you believe that she was once a horse-goddess with her Serial Numbers Filed Off.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Carrying visitors from the courtyard to Pwll's hall for seven years.
  • Cool Horse: Rhiannon's mount when Pwyll met her. Rhiannon's punishment essentially forced her to become a Horse of a Different Color, and the vanished foal grew up with Pryderi and became his trusted mount. Some believe Rhiannon to be a goddess due to the recurring motif, even though there's no actual evidence in the Mabinogion.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Yep.
  • Fantastic Racism: Definitely. Strangely enough, Pryderi doesn't get much trouble despite being her son.
  • Good Is Dumb: Pwyll is an honorable, caring man, a just king, and a seasoned warrior... Who is rather lacking in sense.
  • Kick the Dog: She was the figurative dog who was kicked, and there were literal puppies that were killed to frame her.
  • Sincerest Form of Flattery: Some Renaissance Faires have banned the name "Rhiannon" because so many people have it already.


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