Interview with Conchobar mac Nessa
Brigid: Good morning, everyone, and welcome to Live! With Brigid. I'm your host, Brigid, Irish goddess extraordinaire, and I've got with me one of the most polarizing figures in our mythology: King Conchobar mac Nessa of Ulster. Your Majesty, welcome to our show.
Conchobar: Thanks, Brig. I'm happy to be here.
Brigid: Conchobar, we're here to learn a bit more about you today. Unfortunately, you're not exactly an eligible bachelor, am I right?
Conchobar: That's not true. I've gone through quite a few wives, including Maeve, queen of Connacht, but I'm currently single and ready to mingle. More than once, I've gone to a few bars in Emain Macha, where I've picked up some lovely ladies. Gals, come and get me!
Brigid: But what about your famous romance—or, shall we call it, ill-fated romance—with Deirdre?
Conchobar: Uh, that's a bit of an awkward question. But Deirdre's dead. She killed herself after I bumped off Naoise. He's dead, too.
Brigid: That's no problem for us gods, you know. Ladies and gentlemen, let's bring out Deirdre and Naoise!
[Crowd alternately cheers and boos.]
Deirdre: Hello again, Conchobar.
Brigid: So Deirdre, can you tell us what happened? From your perspective?
Deirdre: Fine. So my dad was Fedlimid, chief bard to King Conchobar. My mom was pregnant with me when Conchobar's alleged father, the druid Cathbad, prophesied that I'd be a really gorgeous girl but that I'd bring tragedy to Ulstermen.
Naoise: Yeah. The warriors of Ulster wanted to kill Deirdre at birth, but Conchobar was already in lust—with a baby!
Conchobar: Hey! That's not fair…
Naoise: So he decided to take Deirdre from her family and marry her when she got old enough. One day, Deirdre saw a cow being skinned; its blood came gushing out and a raven was drinking it.
Deirdre: And I knew, then and there, that I wanted a guy that reminded me of that moment. I told my friend Leabharcham that the love of my life would have raven-black hair, skin white as a cow's hide, and blood-red lips. Kinda like a male Snow White.
Naoise: Lo and behold, she met gorgeous old me and we fell in love. Of course, Conchobar was really jealous—even though he could've had any woman besides Deirdre in Ireland—and banished Deirdre, me, and my brothers from Ireland.
Conchobar: I didn't banish you guys! You chose to leave. It's not my fault you ran away to Scotland.
Naoise: But then you tricked us, you treacherous slug! You sent us a note that you'd pardon us all when we came back to Ireland and that we'd be able to go back to our lives.
Conchobar: Yeah, but what life? You were living with the woman that should have been my wife, my queen. She was the most beautiful woman in Ulster—of course she should have been with me!
Deirdre: Says who? What about what I want?
Brigid: Lady, gentlemen, please settle down.
Naoise: Shut it, Brigid.
Naoise: Sorry. Anyway, back to the story of what really happened. We eventually went home, of course, because who wouldn't want to go home after months of being stuck in the middle of nowhere? So we headed back to Ireland—specifically Ulster, since Conchobar wanted us back to be part of his court… or so he said.
Deirdre: Yeah, right. He pardoned us, or so he said, and when we came back to Emain Macha, Conchobar's lackey, Eoghan, killed Naoise and his brothers. All three of them! [lunges at Conchobar]
Conchobar: [ducks backwards] Hey, hey, hey! We're all dead now, anyway! What difference does it make?
Naoise: All the difference in the world. You killed me and my brothers, then took Deirdre as your virtual hostage. You kept her as your "guest" for an entire year. Then you asked her what man in Ulster she hated more than any other.
Conchobar: I was hoping her opinion of me might've changed by then…
Deirdre: Not likely! Of course I said I hated you more than anyone else in Ulster because you killed the man I loved!
Conchobar: So I sent you to live with Eoghan. Wasn't that better? [laughs evilly]
Deirdre: Hardly. He was the one that actually killed Naoise. It was when I was riding in Eoghan's chariot on my way to live with him. I knew I couldn't live with the man who killed my beloved, so I threw myself off the chariot. I hit my head on a rock and died.
Conchobar: You were mine! Or, you should have been— Why, I oughta…
Brigid: Okay, everyone. Thanks for coming. This has been Live! With Brigid. On next week's episode, see Fionn mac Cunhaill confronts Diarmaid and Grainne.