This is the first little insert into the emer project. First Emer is mainly known as The wife of Cúchulainn, the great and terrible Ulster Champion- son of the God Lugh, a man that few will challenge and few control.
What courage did Emer have to love Cuchulainn? She loved him through great trails, family disapproval, warrior women training him and bearing him a son, and a fairy wife of a God seducing the one great Hound of Ulster, champion of Red Branch.
For the information we have now it seems we can’t study Emer without Cuchulainn, mainly becuase there are a lot more stories about him than her.
Cuchulainn is taken first by her beauty and then by her mind. She understands his riddles, a common test for the time and we see in the shadows that Emer wasn’t just a companion, she seems to shine thru as a equal.
She tests him as well during their unapproved courtship by giving him tasks and the first and most available story is outlined below…
Cúchulainn scales the walls and slips into Forgall’s gardens to find Emer playing her enchanted harp and surrounded by her maidens. After a short conversation, Emer decides that Cúchulainn pleases her. Regardless of this, Emer’s magical harp has long ago given her a vision of the three tasks any suitor must accomplish in order to win her hand. These include –
After Emer lists these requirements, Cúchulainn leaves. Emer’s maidens immediately report all that has occurred to Emer’s father. The lineage of Forgall includes that of the “giants who live below the sea” (see Fomorians), and so Forgall’s wrath at hearing about Cúchulainn’s visit causes his body to swell and steam as he plans his revenge against the unwanted suitor.
The next day, during the festival known as the “gathering at high summer”, Forgall suggests to King Conchobar mac Nessa that Cúchulainn is in need of training and should be sent to the famed ‘Isle of Shadows’ to train with the renowned warrior-woman Scáthach. As Cúchulainn listens, Forgall makes it clear that such training would be a prerequisite of gaining permission to marry his daughter Emer. Hearing this, Cúchulainn agrees to go. He sets sail immediately, coming ashore at Scáthach’s homeland.
Cúchulainn’s journey across the Isle of Shadows is fraught with perils, including:
Surviving these dangers, Cúchulainn reaches the abode of the warrior Scáthach, who agrees to teach him after hearing him earnestly express his desire to win his beloved’s hand in marriage. When his training is complete, Cúchulainn returns home. Emer’s father Forgall, however, has no intention of keeping his promise (having sent Cúchulainn away in the hopes that the boy would be killed). With his body swollen into giantish proportions by rage, Forgall sends his warriors to kill Cúchulainn.
Forgall and Emer watch from the balcony of his treasure room as Cúchulainn performs the ‘salmon’s leap’ over the surrounding walls, then strikes three blows against Forgall’s men. Each blow kills eight, but spares one (fulfilling Emer’s second challenge). Seeing these accomplishments, Forgall grows afraid, and shrinks to normal size again. Cúchulainn enters the treasure room, and his approach frightens Forgall into stumbling backwards, which causes him to fall from the balcony to his death. Cúchulainn then lifts Emer in one arm and her weight in gold and silver in the other, fulfilling the last of Emer’s challenges. Cúchulainn and Emer are wed soon after.