Setanta Setters Inc.
1102 Jancey Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15206
Where the "Setanta Setters"Kennel name is derived from
The greatest hero of Irish folklore was Cu Chulainn, the Hound of Ulster. His story his an epic one filled with magic and glory and could compete with any of the great heroic legends which came out of Greece and Rome from around the same period and has in fact been compared often to the story of Achilles.
From the mysticism surrounding his birth to the wondrous deeds he performed and battles he fought during his brief life and finally the story of his death and his foster brothers subsequent revenge Cu Chulainn's story is both heroic and tragic. The telling of his story is inextricably linked with the Tain Bo Cuailnge, The Cattle Raid of Cooley. The timescale is around two thousand years ago, about the time of the birth of Christ.
Cu Chulainn's Birth
Conor, King of Ulster, looked out of his castle window in Emain Macha and saw a large flock of strange birds in his fields. They were eating the crops and roots. He ordered them to be scared off but all attempts by his men failed. They always returned. In a temper Conor ordered his chariot and set out to scare the birds off himself. He was accompanied by his sister Deichtine; she drove the chariot and also the Ulster warriors Conall and Laegaire and many others including the satiric poet Bricriu the Poison Tongue. The birds flew off and Conor and his men chased them. They flew over the plains of Ulster and although the chariots were swift the birds always seemed to manage to keep ahead of them. They chased the birds until they had reached the bridge on the Boann river and it began to get dark. A snowstorm blew in and Conor ordered his men to unhook the chariots and look for shelter. Conor and Bricriu found a house and the couple who lived there made them feel welcome. They brought in the rest of the men and soon they were drunk and in high spirits. The man of the house told them that the woman was in labour and Deichtine went to help her. She gave birth to a boy and at the exactly the same time a horse outside gave birth to two foals.
In the morning the house had disappeared. There was nothing left but the baby and the two foals. Deichtine took the baby as her own and they all returned to Emain Macha. She raised the baby until he was a boy but he died. Deichtine was distraught at the loss of her foster son. That night in a dream she saw the face of the man of the house near the bridge of Boann. He spoke to her in her dream and told her that he was Lug mac Ethnenn (the Celtic God of Light) and it was he who had brought them to the Boann for she was to have his child and it would be called Setanta and it was to be raised in the way's of a warrior and it was to be raised with the two foals. Deichtine married Sualtam and soon grew heavy with child and when the son was born she called him Setanta.
The men of Ulster assembled to decide who should look after and raise the boy. He was given to Finnchaem, Conor's sister, and he was raised by her and her husband Amargin at Imrith Fort in Murtheimne. He was visited by all the warrior's, sage's, poet's and seer's and taught their skills and their ways.
Setanta arrives in Emain Macha
When he was six years old he told his mother he wished to go to Emain Macha to the school there for warriors. His mother thought him too young and warned him against it saying the way was to dangerous but he insisted and so he went. He took with him his toy shield made from wood, his toy spear and a hurling stick and ball. When he got to Emain Macha he saw the boys on the green. Some were practising their fighting skills and some were playing a hurling game. Without being asked Setanta joined the game and immediately outplayed all there. The boys were angry and threw their hurling-balls at him which he dodged with ease. Then they threw their sticks at him but he deflected everyone with his wooden shield. Suddenly his face became distorted and his hair stood up and his teeth were bared in anger, the hair stood up on his head and flames shot out of every tip. His face contorted and his body wrapped itself around until his heels faced forward and his knees faced backward. This was his battle frenzy known as Warp-Spasm. He rushed at all fifty of them at once knocking them down even though they were much bigger than he. Then he chased five of them through the Kings hall, one of whom was Follamain, King Conor's son. The King and Fergus were playing chess at a table. Conor grabbed Setanta by the arm and asked him what was going on. He explained who he was and what had happened in the game. Conor explained to Setanta that the boys were forbidden to allow anyone to join them until he had first claimed their protection. Setanta apologised and said if he had known that he would have done what was required. Conor explained to the boys and they agreed to take Setanta under their protection and allow him to join their ranks. Immediately Setanta was let go by King Conor he began attacking the boys again. Again Conor grabbed him by the arm and he was asked what he was doing and again he explained that whilst he had agreed to be put under the boys protection they also had to agree to be put under his protection. The boys were terrified of his war spasm and agreed even though he was not yet seven years old. He was taught by all at the warrior's school and excelled at every craft and all there agreed that Setanta was destined to become a legend.
How Setanta became known as Cu Chulainn
Culann the blacksmith had a guard dog which was as fierce and as bad tempered as it was big. It took three chains to hold it and three men on each chain. All feared the beast less it got angry and injured them and naturally Culann felt quite safe with the animal around. It happened the same night that Culann was entertaining the King and was getting prepared. The King set out from Emain on his chariot with fifty more chariot's full of warriors for the feast and, as was his usual habit, called by the school to greet the all young warriors. He stopped and watched for a while as the young Setanta easily defeated all comers in whatever games they were playing. The King called Setanta over and invited him too to the banquet at Culann's. Setanta said he was not yet finished playing with the boys and would come over presently. When Conor arrived at Culann's the blacksmith asked him if this was all of his party and forgetting about his invitation to Setanta he answered yes. Culann let loose the dog. Setanta approached the house of Culann playing his game of throwing the hurling-ball in the air and hitting it with his hurling-stick and then throwing the javelin and catching them both before they hit the ground when all in Culann's saw the hound set out for him. Although he must have seen the hound his game never faltered. All the warriors in the blacksmith's house cried in anguish as Culann's fierce guardian came closer and closer to the young Setanta. The hound sprang and Setanta at the last moment dropped the stick and ball and the spear and tackled the hound with his two bare hands. He grabbed it's throat in one hand and it's back by the other and hurled it against a pillar with such force it was hard to see it had been a hound by it's remains. All in Culann's house cried with joy and carried Setanta back to Conor. Only Culann was sad. "Whilst I am pleased you are alive and survived an attack from my hound I am saddened by it's loss. It was a faithful servant and protector and guarded my life as well as my possessions. I know not what I will do now it's dead!" Immediately Setanta agreed to raise a pup from the same litter as the hound and until it was ready to he would assume it's duties and protect the life and possessions of the blacksmith. Cu Chulainn shall be your name, the hound of Culann said the crowd. "I like that name." he said. He was not yet seven years old.
Complete Story can be found at this link at Wikipedia