Irish Mythology

The Gods and Spirits of Ireland

MEDB

Irish Mother Goddess

Also known as Maeve, Meadhbh, Méabh

Picture of the Irish Mother Goddess Medb from our Irish mythology image library. Illustration by Chas Saunders.

Bloodthirsty Queen of Connaught

With her you get Sex, Death and Drink thrown in absolutely free. She liked her suitors to fight to the death, offering them the incentive of a crown as a prize. Of course they had no idea how short their reign would be. Her name means ‘Intoxication’ — which in her case was invoked by more than just the drink.

Her current boyfriend owned a famous White Bull. She thought it would be fun to match it by sending some of her hooligans to snatch the famous Brown Bull of Ulster. It would also offer an opportunity to test the mettle of Cúchulainn, son of Lugh. He was a real broth of a boy, who had taken the post of warrior and hero for the King of Ulster. This sort of cattle raiding leads to serious conflict and Cúchulainn was a serious conflictor. Nothing like a little strife to spice up life.

Meanwhile the bulls were having their own conflict. They hated each other and being seriously legendary bulls rampaged and fought over the whole of Ireland.

The White Bull eventually won and the Brown Bull thundered back to Ulster, mortally wounded and shedding enough entrails to start meat pie factories throughout the realm.

Meanwhile the Ulster men, for a little light entertainment, had captured a female warrior called Macha and forced her to run a race whilst heavily pregnant. She won of course but cursed all Ulster men to suffer childbirth pangs whenever they engaged in conflict. They laughed, but Macha was related to Mórrígan, a goddess not to be messed with. So when conflict started Medb had the Mórrígan and Macha’s curse on her side.

Cúchulainn was impervious to such things and carried on regardless as his men writhed on the ground. There was a weak spot. In his quest for fame and glory Cuchulainn had dismissed immortality as only fit for wimps.

The Mórrígan had tried to persuade him he was not going to win this fight, but he spurned her advances and was forced to lash himself to a rock. Mortally wounded, he fought to the last gasp, with Mórrígan in crow form perched on his shoulder.

When Christianity arrived, Medb was taken down a few notches and faced relegation in the form of Mab, spiteful Queen of the Fairies. Think of that the next time you hear the sweet flittery poem about Queen Mab in Romeo and Juliet.

Medb Facts and Figures

Name: Medb
Pronunciation: Coming soon
Alternative names: Maeve, Meadhbh, Méabh

Gender: Female
Type: Goddess
Celebration or Feast Day: Unknown at present

In charge of: Motherhood
Area of expertise: Mother

Good/Evil Rating: NOT OKAY, be careful
Popularity index: 188

Cite this article

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Article last updated on May 23, 2019 by Rowan Allen.
Editors: Peter J. Allen, Chas Saunders

References: Coming soon.

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