We'll look at the basics on Maeve - home, family life, relationships, ruling from Rathcroghan, burial, and cultural inspiration she has become.
(Text first published on www.QueenMaeve.org)
"How do you spell that?!"
Medb (the Old Irish spelling) – in Middle Irish: Meḋḃ, Meaḋḃ; in early modern Irish: Meadhbh; in reformed modern Irish Méabh, Medbh; sometimes anglicised Maeve, Maev, Meave or Maive (pronounced May-v).
Who was Queen Maeve?
It is said that her father gifted her with Connacht, or Connaught, and no king could rule here unless they were married to Queen Medb. She had many husbands, and ruled for many years.
Medb appears in much of the literature of the Ulster saga tales, and our most famous epic literary tale, the Táin Bó Cuailnge (Cattle Raid of Cooley) features her strongly as the protagonist. Or is that the antagonist...?
Historically, she would have lived sometime around the years 0 - 100AD, if she existed as a real flesh and blood queen. And that is the question - was she real?
A queen, or a Goddess of the land? A priestess of a sovereignty Goddess, who rose to power? An archetypal figure, representing... what? These are some of the riddles of Queen Maeve. Share your views in the comments below!
Queen Maeve's Family Tree
Meadb of Cruachan, daughter of Eochaid Feidleach, another of Conchobar’s wives, mother of Amalgad, Conchobar’s son, so that Conchobar was Meadb’s first husband, and Meadb forsook Conchobar through pride of mind, and went to Tara, where was the High-King of Ireland.
The reason that the High-King of Ireland gave these daughters to Conchobar was that it was by Eochaid Feidleach that Fachtna Fathach had fallen in the battle of Lettir-ruad in the Corann, so that it was as his eric these were given to him, together with the forcible seizure of the kingship of Ulster, over Clan Rudraidhe: and the first cause of the stirring up of the Cattle-raid of Cuailnge was the desertion of Conchobar by Meadb against his will.
Yellow Book of Lecan, 351b-353a
Eh... why were all her sons called Maine?
Back when they all had other names, Medb asked a druid which of her sons would kill Conchobar (king of Ulster), and he replied, "Maine". A little bit concerned that she didn't have a son called Maine, she decided to rename all her sons as follows:
- Fedlimid became Maine Athramail ("like his father")
- Cairbre became Maine Máthramail ("like his mother")
- Eochaid became Maine Andoe ("the swift")
- Fergus became Maine Taí ("the silent")
- Cet became Maine Mórgor ("of great duty")
- Sin became Maine Mílscothach ("honey-speech")
- Dáire became Maine Móepirt ("beyond description")
The prophecy was fulfilled when Maine Andoe went on to kill Conchobar, son of Arthur, son of Bruide — not Conchobar, son of Fachtna Fathach, as Medb had assumed the druid meant.
Medb and Ailill also had a daughter, Findabair. She got to keep her own name, but was offered around as a prize during the Táin - Medb was bribing Connacht warriors with marriage to the fine Findabair if they'd go against the Ulster hero CúChulainn in single combat.
In Part 2 - Maeve's Mammy & More!
Next: Queen Maeve of Connacht - Part 2
Final: Queen Maeve of Connacht - Part 3
Go check out Maeve's home at Rathcroghan, and if you like this, Please Share :-)