The Curse Of Macha, Ulster
For over a thousand years Emain Macha - now called Navan Fort - was the chief stronghold of the celtic kings of Ulster. It came by its name in a strange way. Even stranger was the curse that came with it.
A chieftain named Crunniac lived alone in the mountains, and one morning, after a terrible storm, he saw a woman running towards his house. She was very beautiful, but it was her extraordinary speed that astounded him. She moved across the rocky ground faster than any creature he had ever seen.
He invited her into the house, where she made herself at home at once.Then he asked her name, but on this point she refused to answer. Nevertheless, they fell in love and married, and doubtless Crunniac found terms of endearment to call her by. She prooved an excellent wife, and their happiness was complete when she announced that she was pregnant.
One day they received a message from Conor, the king of Ulster. He invited them to a feast at the palace, with a fair and royal games in the grounds to follow.
Crunniac felt his wife should stay at home, the time for the baby's birth being so near. But the king had summoned them both, and so she accompanied him.
After a splendid feast the fair took place. There was music and dancing and much merriment, and the wine flowed freely. Finally, the moment came that everyone had been waiting for - the start of the chariot racing.
The king's horses were by far the fastest and won the races with ease. The crowd applauded loyally, declaring that nothing could beat them.
"My wife is faster," said Crunniac rashly, having drunk too much wine. Angrily, the king called for Crunniac's wife and demanded that she should race against his horses..
"Not now!" she pleaded. "Wait, please, until my child is born." But the king told her Crunniac would be put to death if she refused. So she raced the king's chariot - and won.
"What is your name?" the king asked, astonished.
"My name is Macha," she replied. Then, as the sky darkned and thunder rolled, she gave birth to twins - a boy and a girl.
"My twins will bring upon the men of Ulster a blessing and a curse!" she cried. "The blessing will bring them power. The curse will make them weak when they most need strenght."
From that day the place was called Emain Macha - "Twins of Macha" - and a curse was put on the men of Ulster.
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