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Blathnat: Irish Mythology

Goddess of the Tuatha de Danann

Blathnat is an Irish goddess of abundance and tales of her appear in the Ulster Cycle describing her as the beautiful, scheming and unfaithful queen of the sorcerer Cu Roi.

The intense love affair between Blathnat and Cuchulainn led to the death of her husband, Cu Roi. A common theme, Blathnat was one of the many women of the Otherworld who caused great harm to the mortal men who fell in love with them.

Blathnat belonged to the god-like tribe of the Tuatha de Danann who were considered benign deities by the druids and Celtic tribes. She owned a huge cauldron of plenty which was pulled by three cows. The cauldron brought abundance wherever it went.

In the Ulster Cycle of mythology, the tragic love triangle between Blathnat, Cu Roi and Cuchulainn is told.

Blathnat lived happily with her father, Mend, in the Otherworld kingdom of Inis Fer Falga (known today as the Isle of Man) she was abducted during a raid by Cuchulainn and Cu Roi. The pair also stole the cauldron of plenty and the three cows belonging to Blathnat Inis.

Cuchulainn and Cu Roi fell in love with the beautiful Blathnat and quarrelled over her. Cu Roi claimed Blathnat as part of the booty of the raid and Cuchulainn refused to let Blathnat leave with Cu Roi.

Cu Roi was a powerful sorcerer and skilled warrior. He humiliated Cuchulainn by cutting off all his hair after burying him up to his shoulders in the ground. Cuchulainn watched with sadness as Cu Roi left with Blathnat and all the booty. Blathnat was taken to Cathair Chonroi which was Cur Roi’s fortress in Dingle Peninsula in modern County Kerry.

Although Blathnat became the queen of Cathair Chonroi and was treated well by her husband, Cu Roi, the Otherworld kingdom of Cathair Chonroi was a forbidding and lonely place with its castle on top of a high peak in the Slieve Mis mountains.The castle was impenetrable because Cu Roi used spells and magic to confound his enemies. The castle would whirl around at night and the entrance couldn’t be found by those seeking to do Cu Roi harm.

A year later, Blathnat met Cuchulainn when he paid a visit to the castle. Cu Roi was away but had instructed Blathnat to be hospitable to their guest. Very soon, Cuchulainn and Blathnat became lovers and plotted the murder of Cu Roi so they might live together.

Cu Roi was not an easy man to kill because his soul rested in the stomach of a salmon which lived in a stream in the Slieve mountains. Blathnat had learned the secret of Cu Roi’s mortality by constantly flattering him. Once she knew, she told Cuchulainn to kill the salmon first before trying to slay Cu Roi.

Cuchulainn waited at nightfall for a signal from Blathnat so he may enter the castle while Cu Roi lay asleep. When Blathnat poured milk into a stream following out of the castle, the two lovers escaped by running across the battlements of the castle. But Cu Roi’s poet, Ferchertne, saw Cuchulainn and Blathnat fleeing the castle and guessed what had occurred.

Blathnat led Cuchulainn to her husband’s bedroom door and Cuchulainn murdered Cu Roi with a sword while he slept.

Cu Roi’s poet grabbed Blathnat’s hand and hurled himself from the castle’s walls, taking Blathnat with him to the ground below. Cuchulainn could only watch in horror as Blathnat and Ferchertne died instantly.

Some years later, Cuchulainn met his death at the hand of Cu Roi’s son, Lugai, after conspiring with the warrior goddess Medb. Lugaid ensured Cuchulainn suffered an agonising death in revenge for the murder of his father.

The druids and Celts in Ireland regarded Blathnat as an evil woman of the Otherworld who willingly plotted to kill her husband, Cu Roi, with her lover, Cuchulainn.

The modern interpretation of Blathnat’s actions is a young woman forced to marry a ma she didn’t love and was rescued by her true love, Cuchulainn.

The truth of the matter likely lies somewhere between the two.