Heritage > Myths and Legends > Ireland
The Curse of Macha
Navan Fort (previously known as Emain Macha) was the stronghold of
the Celtic kings of Ulster. There is a story behind this.
Crunniac (a chieftain) lived by himself in the mountains. One morning
after a terrible storm, he gazed upon a beautiful woman running towards
his house at incredible speed. He had never seen anything move so fast!
He let her in his house, where she quickly made herself comfortable.
She refused to give him her name. However they fell in love and married.
A happy marriage followed which was made complete by the news that she
Conor (the King of Ulster), invited them to a feast at the palace,
with a fair and royal games there after. Crunniac had reservations,
and felt his wife should stay at home and rest because the birth of
their baby was nearing. In the end they both attended because the King
had so wished.
The fair was lively and full of enjoyment, much wine was drunk. Then
came the chariot racing ~ the main attraction of the day! As
you would expect, the Kings horses won every race, simply because they
were the fastest. Having drunk too much wine, Crunniac blurted
out, "My wife is faster." The King was angry, and declared a
challenge: "Crunniac's wife vs. my horses!"
Crunniac's wife did not want to undertake the challenge, but the King
made it clear that if she did not, Crunniac would be put to death. She
had no choice, therefore she raced ~ and won!
The King was flabbergasted by this act and wanted to know who this
woman was? "My name is Macha," she spoke. The skies darkened, and as
the thunder rolled, she gave birth to a boy and a girl ~ twins they
A blessing and a curse would arise from the birth of the twins. "The
blessing will bring them power. The curse will make them weak when they
most need strength," she exclaimed.
This is where the name Emain Macha "Twins of Macha" came from. That
is, from the day the twins were born, a curse was put on the men of