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 leprechaun—the tiny sprite or goblin of Irish folklore.