|“||Lugh was seen as a wild child in his youth. Spending most of his time playing pranks or fooling around with gods and men and beasts. He earned his title as trickster even before he left his mum's teats. So imagine our surprise when that same wild child became one of our greatest heroes.||„|
|— Unnamed God|
Lugh was a Celtic deity, who was also a warrior-hero and king of men, who was also a member of the Tuatha Dé Danann. His domain as a god was included war, smithing and the arts, and was also sometimes seen as a trickster.
Lugh was a master of many talents. As the god of oaths, he held domain over rulers and nobility. He also served as the god of justice in its many forms; his judgement was often swift and without mercy. In what may seem like a contradiction, Lugh was also a trickster who was willing to lie, cheat, and steal to overcome his opponents.
His grandfather was the Fomorian god Balor, while his parents were Cian and Ethniu and he was the father of Cú Chulainn, a legendary hero of Irish folklore. As a result, Lugh had a unique heritage. Such a background assisted him in inventing a number of notable Irish games, inluding horse-racing, sports, and fidchell, the Irish precursor to chess. He was connected to Scottish god Lugus, who was connected to Hermes.
Powers and Abilities
Lugh's father is Cian of the Tuatha Dé Danann, and his mother is Ethniu: daughter of Balor, of the Fomorians. Their union is a dynastic marriage following an alliance between the Tuatha Dé and the Fomorians. Cian gives the boy to Tailtiu, queen of the Fir Bolg, in fosterage. Lugh, the foster-son of Tailtiu, is described as the "son of the Dumb Champion" and is called "descendant of the poet."
Lugh joins the Tuatha Dé Danann
As a young man Lugh travels to Tara to join the court of King Nuada of the Tuatha Dé Danann. The doorkeeper will not let him in unless he has a skill he can use to serve the king. He offers his services as a wright, a smith, a champion, a swordsman, a harpist, a hero, a poet, historian, a sorcerer, and a craftsman, but each time is rejected as the Tuatha Dé Danann already have someone with that skill. When Lugh asks if they have anyone with all those skills simultaneously, the doorkeeper has to admit defeat, and Lugh joins the court and is appointed Chief Ollam of Ireland. He wins a flagstone-throwing contest against Ogma, the champion, and entertains the court with his harp. The Tuatha Dé Danann are, at that time, oppressed by the Fomorians, and Lugh is amazed how meekly they accept their oppression. Nuada wonders if this young man could lead them to freedom. Lugh is given command over the Tuatha Dé Danann, and he begins making preparations for war.
Sons of Tuireann
Tuireann and Cian, Lugh's father, are old enemies, and one day his sons, Brian, Iuchar, and Iucharba spot Cian in the distance and decide to kill him. They find him hiding in the form of a pig, but Cian tricked the brothers into allowing him to transform back to a man before they killed him, giving Lugh the legal right to claim compensation for a father rather than just a pig. When they try to bury him, the ground spits his body back twice before keeping him down, and eventually confesses that it is a grave to Lugh. Lugh holds a feast and invites the brothers, and during it he asks them what they would demand as compensation for the murder of their father. They reply that death would be the only just demand, and Lugh agrees. He then accuses them of the murder of his father, Cian, and sets them a series of seemingly impossible quests. The brothers go on an adventure and achieve them all except the last one, which will surely kill them. Despite Tuireann's pleas, Lugh demands that they proceed and, when they are all fatally wounded, he denies them the use of one of the items they have retrieved, a magic pigskin which heals all wounds. They die of their wounds and Tuireann dies of grief over their bodies.
Battle of Magh Tuireadh
Using the magic artefacts the sons of Tuireann have gathered, Lugh leads the Tuatha Dé Danann in the Second Battle of Mag Tuireadh against the Fomorians. Prior to the battle Lugh asks each man and woman in his army what art he or she will bring to the fray; he then addressed his army in speech, which elevated each warrior's spirit to that of a king or lord. Nuada is killed in the battle by Balor. Lugh faces Balor, who opens his terrible, poisonous eye that kills all it looks upon, but Lugh shoots a sling-stone that drives his eye out the back of his head, killing Balor and wreaking havoc on the Fomorian army behind. After the victory Lugh finds Bres, the half-Fomorian former king of the Tuatha Dé Danann, alone and unprotected on the battlefield, and Bres begs for his life. If he is spared, he promises, he will ensure that the cows of Ireland always give milk. The Tuatha Dé Danann refuse the offer. He then promises four harvests a year, but the Tuatha Dé Danann say one harvest a year suits them. But Lugh spares his life on the condition that he teach the Tuatha Dé Danann how and when to plough, sow, and reap.
Later life and death
Lugh instituted an event similar to the Olympic games called the Assembly of Talti which finished on Lughnasadh (1 August) in memory of his foster-mother, Tailtiu, at the town that bears her name (now Teltown, County Meath). He likewise instituted Lughnasadh fairs in the areas of Carman and Naas in honour of Carman and Nás, the eponymous tutelary goddess of these two regions. Horse races and displays of martial arts were important activities at all three fairs. However, Lughnasadh itself is a celebration of Lugh's triumph over the spirits of the Otherworld who had tried to keep the harvest for themselves. It survived long into Christian times and is still celebrated under a variety of names. Lúnasa is now the Irish name for the month of August.
Lugh was responsible for the death of Bres. He made 300 wooden cows and filled them with a bitter, poisonous red liquid which was then "milked" into pails and offered to Bres to drink. Bres, who was under an obligation not to refuse hospitality, drank it down without flinching, and it killed him.
One of his wives, Buach, had an affair with Cermait, son of the Dagda. Lugh killed him in revenge, but Cermait's sons, Mac Cuill, Mac Cecht, and Mac Gréine, killed Lugh in return, spearing him through the foot then drowning him in Loch Lugborta in County Westmeath He had ruled for forty years. Cermait was later revived by his father, the Dagda, who used the smooth or healing end of his staff to bring Cermait back to life.
Myths and Legends
- Lugh is said to have invented the board game fidchell.