Queen Maeve was the powerful warrior ruler of Connacht, a kingdom in Ireland.
One night, she and her husband, Ailill, argued over who had finer possessions. They matched each other evenly except for one item, Ailill’s magnificent white-horned bull.
Enraged at losing the argument, Maeve searched for an animal that would match Ailill’s. She learned of the Brown Bull of the kingdom of Ulster, a bull so large that fifty boys could ride on its back.
Determined to own the bull, Maeve commanded her army to invade Ulster and bring it back to Connacht.
Maeve’s timing was perfect. The soldiers of Ulster were paralyzed for five days and five nights by Macha’s curse.
Only the Ulster warrior Cuchulainn was strong enough to fight on. He met the armies of Connacht as they crossed a river into Ulster.
Single-handedly, he slaughtered hundreds of Connacht soldiers and slowed their advance to a crawl.
For five days, he fought alone, until finally the curse began to wear off and the Ulster soldiers formed ranks for battle. But it was too late for Cuchulainn.
Exhausted and surrounded, Cuchulainn suffered a severe spear wound in his stomach.
With his last breaths, he bound himself to a stone pillar so that he would die on his feet.
The war goddess Morrigan, who had been spurned by Cuchulainn earlier, turned into a crow and landed on his shoulder in triumph.