Fergus mac Róich – Red Branch Leader and Warrior

Stair na hÉireann/History of Ireland

Fergus mac Róich is a character of the Ulster Cycle of Irish mythology. Formerly the king of Ulster, he is tricked out of the kingship and betrayed by Conchobar mac Nessa, and becomes the ally and lover of Conchobar’s enemy queen Medb of Connacht, and joins her expedition against Ulster in the Táin Bó Cúailnge. The name Fergus (Fearghus) means “man-strength” or “virility”, and Fergus is described as being of enormous size and sexual potency. This leads him into many a precarious situation as in the story of the Táin Bó Flidhais.

Fergus becomes king of Ulster after his predecessor, Eochaid Sálbuide, is killed, along with the High King Fachtna Fáthach, by Eochu Feidlech in the Battle of Leitir Ruad. While king, he desires Eochaid Sálbuide’s daughter Ness, but she will only consent to marry him if he allows her son Conchobar to be king for a year, so his…

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