I’ve just finished reading Rosemary Sutcliff’s re-telling of the Red Branch hero CuChulain – “The Hound of Ulster” for the ‘umpteenth’ time.

Every time I read it I am reminded of how (when I first read it at the age of about 11) it shaped my thinking. Not in the war-like violent battle fury that the hero undergoes when he is returning from his fight with the sons of Nechtan or the stand at the river ford near the Gap of Ulster but rather in the practice of geise – a bond or promise that binds somebody and the way that honour and honesty are crucial to the protagonist (even when he knows that the outcome will not be a good one for himself).

During my initial Earth Balm work (2001-2003) I composed two CuChulain inspired pieces – “Dectera’s Gift” and “Geise” and it is my intention in due course to revisit the story of CuChulain (Cullen’s Hound) to inspire my music.

Please find time to visit the late Rosemary Sutcliff’s official web site here. And borrow from your local library or buy the book. If you do, I hope it affects you in the same way it affected me. Rosemary’s style is not a modern one and is not to everybody’s taste.

Wikipedia has more information and links here. And more about the wider saga of the Cattle Raid of Cooley (Táin Bó Cúailnge) here.

Photograph of the cover of Rosemary Sutcliff's "The Hound of Ulster". Copyright Red Fox publishing.
Photograph of the cover of Rosemary Sutcliff’s “The Hound of Ulster”. Copyright Red Fox publishing.

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