I am finally getting around to writing up my notes. I would have preferred to do this sooner, but beloved family were visiting and they always get priority.
The conference opened with an intriguing presentation by Kicki Ingridsdotter (NUIG) on ‘A narrative typology of death and killing in Táin Bó Cualnge: a micro-motif index of sorts.’ There was sadly no hand-out for this presentation (though Ulidia, the publication of proceedings, will be published for this conference at a later date).
Kicki began by outlining all the instances of killing in this “episodic military campaign” and then attempted to categorize them.
1. Initial Intimidation by Cú Chulainn : severed heads as a warning / boundary marker
3. Death of Fróech
4. killings at the Ford
5. single combats
6. battle of Muirthemne
7. small clusters of single combat / last of them is Fer Diad
8. remaining deaths occur after Fer Diad, with aggression enganged in by others (except 2 in the final battle)
9. final battle
The boundary crossing motif is prevelant with warnings not to cross various rivers, with Cu placing the boundary. Rivers almost act, themselves, as boundaries, guardians, or places of destruction. There are weaker motifs of the river being controlled by Cú Chulainn: the man who crosses with the stone, and the 3 rivers that rise-up for Cú Chulainn.
There is a category of family or proxy for family as a motif in the deaths. These all revolve around Ailill and Mebd.
Ford killings are prevelent, and involve place, places not specified but placename given, someone guarding a place, single combats, and attacks on Cú Chulainn.
It is interesting to note that Cú Chulainn’s foster brother is the only death in the Táin to have been mentioned as inflincted by a sword through the heaart.
Kicki sees the amount and detail of killings as a motif that is meaant to “gross out” the listener.