First Day of School

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  • Cúchulainn

Setanta at School

While at home with his parents at Murtheimne Plain, the five-year-old Setanta heard exciting rumours about a school in Armagh called the Macra. It was run by the King Conchobhar of Armagh to train the best young boys of the day to be great warriors for Ulster, called the Red Branch Knights.

Setanta begged his mother to let him go there and join the warriors. However, she was worried for his safety on the long journey and said, 'You cannot go until there are some warriors to go with you.' But Setanta was determined to go immediately and once his mind was made up, his mother could do nothing to stop him.

Setanta set off with a toy shield made from sticks, a toy javelin, and a hurling stick and sliotar. For fun on the journey, he would throw his javelin ahead of him and catch it again before it hit the ground.

When Setanta arrived at the school, he saw a large group of boys playing hurling on the great plain in front of King Conchobhar's castle. Setanta loved hurling and was excited. Without getting the boys' permission to join, he charged over towards the game and immediately scored a brilliant goal.

The boys were furious that he had joined the game uninvited. They attacked him with javelins and hurleys. This brought out Setanta's burning rage for the first time. He dodged all the weapons with ease and then flattened fifty of the boys. In fact, he made such an onslaught on them that the king had to leave his castle and rescue them.

Having witnessed Setanta's incredible strength and fiery will, the king accepted him into the school. Setanta then made peace with the other boys and offered them his protection.