Dogs in Celtic Mythology

Dogs feature throughout Celtic mythology, valued for their loyalty and intelligence as well as their abilities to hunt and protect. They were often depicted in stories and art as companions and guardians.

The well known warrior hero, Cú Chulainn was strongly linked to dogs from a young age. Indeed, his name translates as "Hound of Culainn". He was originally called Setanta but became known as Cú Chulainn after he killed a wolfhound belonging to Culann, the blacksmith. Full of remorse and guilt, Setanta offered to protect Culann in place of the dog and thereafter adopted the new name. 
Fionn MacCumhail was the most celebrated leader of the warriors known as the Fianna. Many stories mention his two faithful hounds, Bran and Sceolan, who followed him fearlessly into battles and hunts. They were said to be Fionn's relatives; some stories say they are his cousins, other his nephews. Their mother, Uirne (or Tuiren), had been transformed into a wolfhound when she was pregnant. She gave birth to two pups; one male and one female. Although Uirne was eventually able to revert to her human form, her offspring, Bran and Sceolan could not and they lived the rest of their days as Fionn's loyal hound companions. 
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