Deirdre Characters (James Stephens)

James Stephens

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Conachur mac Nessa

Conachur mac Nessa, king of Ulster, strong and willful, beloved by his people. Pride forces him to ignore a prophecy that the infant Deirdre will bring destruction upon Ulster. She is brought up as his ward. Seeing her, he determines to make her his queen. After her escape to Scotland, he resorts to treachery in an attempt to lure her back.


Nessa, the Ungentle, the mother of Conachur. Daughter of a king of Ulster, she was called Assa, the Gentle, until she set forth to seek vengeance on the murderer of her tutors.


Cathfa, a magician, Conachur’s father. He forces Nessa to marry him as an alternative to death, but she later leaves him. It is he who makes the direful prophecy about Deirdre.

Fergus mac Roy

Fergus mac Roy, king of Ulster, who, at eighteen, is so in love with the still-beautiful Nessa that, to get her to marry him, he temporarily abdicates his throne to the sixteen-year-old Conachur. The abdication proves permanent, and Fergus becomes one of Conachur’s most trusted followers.


Clothru, the daughter of the high king of Connacht, and Conachur’s first wife. She is killed by her sister Maeve.


Maeve, the sister of Clothru. Claiming to avenge Clothru’s death, Conachur instead falls in love with Maeve and marries her against her wishes....

(The entire section is 466 words.)