In the Táin Bó Cúailnge, the men of Ulster are disabled by a curse placed upon them by Macha to feel her labor pains in their hour of greatest need, thus disabling them when the army of Connacht attacks.

Cúchulainn is immune to this curse. As I understand it, he is immune because he is yet a beardless youth, and so a curse upon the men does not apply to him. This makes sense, since, when an exhausted Cúchulainn sleeps three days, the boys of Ulster come to the defense.

I've also read that the explanation of his immunity is due to his demi-godhood, being that he is the son of Lugh, the Long Arm.

So why isn't Cúchulainn's charioteer, Loeg mac Riangabra, affected? I can't find where it's stated he's older that Cúchulainn, but if I'm mistaken on that point, I must not be alone

Related question: Why isn't Súaltam disabled by Macha's curse?

1 Answer 1


Láeg may have been a descendant of the Tuatha Dé Danann. His father Riangabar may have been one of the fairy folk, sidhe, a later version of the Tuatha Dé Danann. This would explain why he would be exempted from Macha's curse.

Cu Chulainn, the hero of the chief epic Tain Bo Cuailnge ("The Cattle-Raid of Cooley"), whose father is alternately made out to be Lug or the mortal Sualtam; and Loeg, Cu chulainn's charioteer, is the son of the elf-chieftain Riangabar, as are the charioteers of some other Ulster heroes.

- Fulk, Robert D. “History in Medieval Scandinavian Heroic Literature and the Northwest European Context.” In Epic and History, ed. David Konstan and Kurt A. Raaflaub, 328–46. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010.

  • 1
    I cannot find any reason to explain Súaltam's immunity - although he didn't seem to have done much, so perhaps he wasn't immune after all. I'll edit it in if I find anything more concrete.
    – Semaphore
    May 7, 2015 at 23:52
  • I rather expected the answer would be much the same for both. Seems I was wrong. Perhaps I should ask about Súaltam in a separate question?
    – femtoRgon
    May 8, 2015 at 1:49
  • @femtoRgon If you would like to - buffing question count can't hurt :)
    – Semaphore
    May 8, 2015 at 1:52

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