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Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 466

Conachur mac Nessa

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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. Much later, when she leaves him, her unforgiveness is such that she goes to great lengths to take back every bit of the riches she brought with her.


Deirdre, Conachur’s ward, brought up to see only women servants and the ugliest guards in Ulster. Evading them, however, she finds three youths around a campfire. She falls in love with the eldest and, to escape Conachur, persuades them to take her away. Brought back from Scotland by Conachur’s pretense of friendship and promise of safety, she escapes him again in death.


Lavarcham, Conachur’s conversation-woman. In charge of Deirdre’s upbringing, she decides to groom her to be queen. She reports on Deirdre to Conachur and in turn tells Deirdre all she needs to know about the king, but she cannot succeed in making Deirdre want him as a husband.


Naoise, who is a brave and handsome youth of nineteen when first seen by Deirdre. She loves him and lives six years with him and his brothers in Scotland. Tricked into returning with her, he is killed.


Ainnle and


Ardan, Naoise’s brothers, also killed as a result of Conachur’s treachery.

Felimid mac Dall

Felimid mac Dall, Conachur’s storyteller and Deirdre’s father.


Uisneac, Conachur’s brother-in-law and father of Naoise, Ainnle, and Ardan.

mac Roth

mac Roth, Maeve’s spy, who makes possible her secret preparations to leave Conachur.

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