The OG Hound: Cú Chulainn
Last time I wrote about the badassery of Saint Bríd and this time I’m going to push the Irish history agenda more, but it’s prompted by an unlikely source.
I was scrolling through twitter trying to find the dankest of memes for…marketing purposes, when I came across a trailer for Marvelous Games Fate/EXTELLA
Yes a character trailer for a Japanese Single player action game reminded me of one of Ireland’s greatest heroes. If you check their tweet you can see the character is called Cu Chulainn, the unrivaled Hunter of Ulster.
In Irish folklore, we have different ‘cycles’, which can be likened to saga eras and this hero comes from the Ulster Cycle. To further educate you all against your wishes, because I’m on a roll now: Ulster is one of the 4 provinces of the island of Ireland and the only province that is split between the country of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
A smith named Cullan, decided to have a big old party, inviting esteemed guests such as Conchobar mac Nessa, the High King of Ulster. The King’s nephew, Sétanta was playing hurling and HERE’S ANOTHER FACT TANGENT DON’T TRY TO STOP ME LOTTIE!
Hurling one of the 2 national sports of Ireland, alongside Gaelic football and is one of the fastest sports in the world that isn’t some sort of running nonsense. There was a really bad game on Playstation 2 a few years ago that tried to give gamers the experience of playing these sports.
Back on course and long superhero name origin story short…Culann unleashed his fearsome dog which attacked Sétanta. Someone got their wires crossed, it was super awkward. Sétanta had to defend himself and so fired a sliotar (the ball in hurling) at the hound, where it went right down his throat and instantly killing the poor but angry beast.
To repay for this slight, Sétanta offered himself to take the dogs place as Cullan’s guard, thus becoming the “Hound of Cullan” aka Cú Chullain.
But his story doesn’t end there, in fact he went on to be involved in many great tales, and legendary feats. Maybe one day I’ll tell you about his battle with the notorious Queen Medb, who is connected to the Celtic character Morrigan (not in a fanfic way, least not that I know of). That battle is really interesting because it’s all over a big cow.
There’s been many comic books and other adaptations of Cú Chullain over the years and he’s appeared as a random character in games such as Smite. I’ve no idea if any of this history will cross over to Fate/EXTELLA, though I suspect not. But it’s still cool to see more games take inspiration from Irish Lore, so good on ya Marvelous Games.