Cu Chulainn fought from Samain (1 November) until Imbolc (1
February). Finally the men of Ulster began to recover from the curse.
King Conchobar led an army against that of Medb. Fergus was persuaded
to fight and he was a ferocious warrior. Eventually Fergus and Conchobar came up against
one another, hurling insults, but Cormac, Conchobar's son, had a level head and suggested
that Fergus go and attack the surrounding hills in order to calm his temper.
He did so and the ensuing noise woke Cu Chulainn. He had been tied up
in a nearby fort, to prevent him from joining the battle and to allow his wounds time to
heal, but when he learnt of what was happening he broke the bonds and tore after Fergus.
He invoked the promise and Fergus did retreat, taking with him his men
and all the men from the other provinces, leaving only the men from Connacht to fight
By nightfall Cu Chulainn had defeated the men of Ulster and had Medb at
his mercy. She begged for a favour, Cu Chulainn's protection over her men while they
returned to Connacht. He granted it.
Unbeknown to him some of Medb's men had already gone behind enemy lines
and captured the bull, the Donn, and he had been sent ahead with eighty heifers. She had
captured the bull as had been boasted.
But that did not give Cu Chulainn protection. As the end of the battle
drew nigh he was struck in the stomach with a spear. He tied himself to a standing stone,
so that he would die standing upright. He fought until a black crow, the bird of the
war-goddess, Morrigan, landed nearby. He was distracted and the deathblow was dealt and he
And thus ended the Cattle Raid of Cooley.
But it was not over for the two bulls. For when the Donn arrived in
Connacht he gave three challenging bellows and was answered by Findbennach.
These two bulls fought for days, all over Ireland, but eventually the
Donn returned with a dead and mangled Findbennach hanging from his horns. He made for his
home and as he reached a small hill there he heart broke and he died. And thus perished
the two bulls, the Donn and Findbennach, the reason for the Cattle Raid of Cooley.