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Lug

Lug

An important and popular deity in Celtic* mythology, Lug (or Lugh) was a god of the sun and light known for his handsome appearance and skills in arts and crafts. A patron of heroes, Lug appears in many Irish and Welsh legends.

Lug was the son of Cian and the grandson of Balor, the king of the evil Formorians, a race of violent, supernatural beings who lived in darkness. Warned by a prophecy that he would be killed by his grandson, Balor locked his daughter Ethlinn in a crystal tower. In spite of his efforts, she gave birth to a son. Balor ordered the infant drowned, but a Celtic priestess rescued the child and raised him. According to some legends, Lug was raised by the smith god Goibhniu, his father's brother.

When Lug reached manhood, he went to the court of Nuada, the ruler of the Tuatha Dé Danaan, to offer his services as a warrior and master crafts worker. The Tuatha Dé Danaan, another race of supernatural beings, were the sworn enemies of the Formorians. Lug soon became involved in the ongoing war between the two groups. Besides getting magic weapons from the craft gods Goibhniu, Luchta, and Creidhne, Lug also helped organize the military campaigns of the Tuatha Dé Danaan.

During one battle King Nuada fell under the spell of Balor's evil eye, which had the power to destroy those who looked at it. Lug pierced the eye with a magic stone and killed Balor, thus fulfilling the prophecy and defeating the Formorians as well.

Lug became king of the Tuatha Dé Danaan, married the mortal woman Dechtire, and had a son named Cuchulain, who became a great hero. In a saga called the Cattle Raid of Cuailgne, Lug fought alongside Cuchulain in battle and soothed and healed him when he was wounded.

patron special guardian, protector, or supporter

supernatural related to forces beyond the normal world; magical or miraculous

prophecy foretelling of what is to come; also something that is predicted

saga story recounting the adventures of historical and legendary heroes; usually associated with Icelandic or Norse tales of the Middle Ages

Eventually defeated by invaders, the Tuatha Dé Danaan retreated underground and were gradually transformed into the

* See Names and Places at the end of this volume for further information.

fairies of Celtic folklore. Meanwhile, Lug became a fairy crafts worker known as Lugh Chromain, a name that later turned into leprechaunthe tiny sprite or goblin of Irish folklore.

See also Celtic Mythology; Cuchulain; Dwarfs and Elves; Leprechauns.

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lug

lug1 / ləg/ • v. (lugged , lug·ging ) [tr.] carry or drag (a heavy or bulky object) with great effort: she began to lug her suitcase down the stairs. ∎ fig. be encumbered with: he had lugged his poor wife around for so long. • n. a box or crate used for transporting fruit. lug2 • n. 1. a projection on an object by which it may be carried or fixed in place: mount the fitting directly to the lugs at each side of the box. 2. inf. an uncouth, aggressive man: a hood who, despite his fancy clothes, remains a lug. lug3 • n. short for lugworm. lug4 • n. short for lugsail.

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lug

lug1 pull, drag along. XIV. prob. of Scand. orig. (cf. Sw. lugga pull a person's hair, lugg forelock, nap of cloth); perh. rel. to Sc. and north. lug (i) flap, lappet XV, (i) ear XVI, prob. orig. ‘something that can be pulled or laid hold of’.

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lug

lug.
1. Projecting plate, ear, or tab on either side of a pipe for fixing it to a wall.

2. Crossette.

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lug

lug2 large marine worm. XVII. of unkn. orig.

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lug

lugbug, chug, Doug, drug, dug, fug, glug, hug, jug, lug, mug, plug, pug, rug, shrug, slug, smug, snug, thug, trug, tug •bedbug • ladybug • doodlebug •humbug • firebug • thunderbug •jitterbug, litterbug •shutterbug • Rawlplug • earplug •fireplug • hearthrug

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Lug

Lug

Nationality/Culture

Irish/Celtic

Pronunciation

LOO

Alternate Names

Lámhfhada, Ildanach

Appears In

The Book of Invasions, The Cattle Raid of Cooley, other Celtic legends

Lineage

Son of Cian and Ethlinn

Character Overview

An important and popular deity in Celtic mythology, Lug (or Lugh) was a god of the sun and light known for his handsome appearance and skills in arts and crafts. A protector of heroes, Lug appears in many Irish and Welsh legends. Lug is also the father of the famous Irish hero Cuchulain.

Major Myths

Lug was the son of Cian (pronounced KEE-an) and the grandson of Balor (pronounced BAH-lor), the king of the evil Fomorians (pronounced foh-MAWR-ee-uhnz), a race of violent beings who lived in darkness. Warned by a prophecy—or prediction—that he would be killed by his grandson, Balor locked his daughter, Ethlinn, in a crystal tower. In spite of his efforts, she gave birth to three children. Balor became furious and threw the infants into the ocean, but a Celtic priestess rescued one child and raised him in secret. According to some legends, Lug was raised by the blacksmith god Goibhniu (pronounced GOYV-noo), his father's brother.

When Lug reached manhood, he went to the court of Nuada (pronounced NOO-uh-duh), the ruler of the Tuatha De Danaan (pronounced TOO-uh-huh day DAH-nuhn), to offer his services as a warrior and master crafts worker. The Tuatha De Danaan, another race of supernatural beings, were the sworn enemies of the Fomorians. Lug soon became involved in the ongoing war between the two groups. Besides getting magic weapons from the craft gods Goibhniu, Luchta (pronounced LOOK-tuh), and Creidhne (pronounced KREV-nee), Lug also helped organize the military campaigns of the Tuatha De Danaan.

During one batde, King Nuada fell under the spell of Balor's evil eye, which had the power to destroy those who looked at it. Lug pierced the eye with a magic stone and killed Balor, thus fulfilling the prophecy and defeating the Fomorians as well. Lug became king of the Tuatha De Danaan, married the mortal woman Dechtire (pronounced DEK-tir-uh), and had a son named Cuchulain (pronounced koo-KUL-in), who became a great hero. In the saga The Cattle Raid of Cooley, Lug fought alongside Cuchulain in battle and soothed and healed him when he was wounded. Eventually defeated by invaders, the Tuatha De Danaan retreated underground and were gradually transformed into the fairies of Celtic folklore. Meanwhile, Lug became a fairy crafts worker known as Lugh Chromain, a name that later turned into leprechaun—the tiny sprite or goblin of Irish folklore.

Lug in Context

The legend of Lug illustrates a larger pattern of myth found in Celtic mythology that reveals much about the settlement of Ireland and surrounding areas. Celtic myths feature a recurring theme of different races battling for and gaining control over the land. This reflects a historical pattern of different waves of human settlers in Ireland. The history of Ireland is one of frequent invasion and conquest by various peoples, and it makes sense that this would be shown in the culture's mythology.

Key Themes and Symbols

In Celtic mythology Lug represents destiny and justice. After escaping from his evil grandfather's plot to kill him as an infant, Lug later joins forces with his grandfather's sworn enemies. He kills Balor on the battlefield, an act that fulfills an old prediction and exacts revenge for Balor's treatment of Lug. Lug, as a leader of the Tuatha De Danaan, also represents kingship.

Lug in Art, Literature, and Everyday Life

In Celtic art, Lug was usually depicted holding his two favorite weapons: a sling, which he used to kill Balor, and a magic spear that was powerful enough to fight on its own. Although not as popular as some other Celtic heroes, including his son Cuchulain, Lug remains an important part of Irish culture. Citizens in some areas of Ireland even claim to be descendants of Lug.

Read, Write, Think, Discuss

Compare the myth of Lug and Balor to the Greek story of Cronus and Zeus. How are the two tales similar? How are they different? Do you think the similarities suggest that one of the myths developed from the other, or do you think the two myths just happen to share themes that are important in many cultures?

SEE ALSO Celtic Mythology; Cuchulain; Dwarfs and Elves; Leprechauns

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