HER STORY & TIMELINE
Queen Maeve (or Medb, the old Irish spelling) is one of the most famous queens in Ireland. Much of her story is featured in the Tain Bo Cuilnge (Cattle Raid of the Cooley) saga and she is one of the leading characters in the Ulster Cycle tales.
Known as the “Warrior Queen of Connacht”, Maeve is believed to have taken over from her father who was the King of Connacht, when he went on to become High King of Ireland.
To some, she was a goddess and impressive woman, and the reason behind most of her husbands becoming kings. For others, a feisty and belligerent character who set out to cause trouble. Whatever her true character, Maeve will certainly be known as a unique and memorable part of Ireland’s history and culture.
Maeve is said to have been born in Rathcroghan (in Irish Ráth Cruachan, meaning "fort of Cruachan"), County Roscommon. Rathcroghan was known as the ancient capital of Connacht.
It is thought that Maeve was given reign of Connacht by her father around 80 BC, although several dates have been reported by historians over the years.
Maeve marries King Conchobar mac Nessa and, although they did have a son, Amalgad, their marriage was shortlived. Maeve went on to marry Tinne mac Connrach, Eochaida Dala and Ailill mac Mata and it is believed that she bore approximately ten children between all three of them.
Táin Bó Cúalinge (Cattle Raid of Cooley) is a legendary tale that features Maeve as its central character. The story centres around a cattle-raid in Ulster, whereby Maeve is keen to own the great bull of Cooley and summons an army to gain possession of it. In the end, Maedh manages to take the bull back to Connacht with her but the animal was supposedly set upon and killed by her husband Ailill's White-Horned Bull.
It is believed that Maeve was killed at a later battle in Ulster (following the Cattle Raid of Cooley). A bizarre part of this story is that she was killed by a slingshot that bore a single piece of cheese! Maeve's burial place is thought to be at the summit of Knocknarea in County Sligo. It is thought that Maeve is buried upright facing her enemies in Ulster. Today, there is, in fact, a Knocknarea Queen Maeve Trail which takes walkers towards Maeve’s supposed burial site.