Ailill Mac Máta is a king of Ireland from Irish Celtic mythology. He was one of the main characters in the major Irish tale entitled: “The Razzia of Cooley’s Cows”.

History of King Ailill Mac Máta

A mythological king depicted in the Razzia of the Cooley Cows

Aillil is portrayed in most writings as the son of Rossa Ruadh mac Ferghus Feirghe king of Laigin. As an adult he married Queen Medb, also known as Queen Maeve.

In fact, the royal couple are featured in the lyrics of “La Razzia des Vaches de Cooley”. They would argue at the very beginning of the story for a story of wealth: each one assuring the other that he is richer than the other. At the end of the discussion, all the assets of the spouses are then counted, listed, until a judgement is obtained. It then appears that Ailill owns one more bull than his wife.

Refusing to let Ailill win, Queen Medb then decided to go and get one of the most beautiful bull of Ulster: the Brown of Cooley. The bull was initially given to her willingly, but very quickly the owner of the animal recanted, learning that if he had refused this gift, the bull would have been taken by force.

Medb then enters in a great anger, and decides to launch his army and the troops of all the kings of his coalition against Ulster to recover Taurus. They will then face the brave Cúchulainn, who will fight day and night until victory.

In addition to these writings, many manuscripts would also tell that many years later Aillil and his wife would give birth to a son named Maine Aithreamhail Mac Oilioll. This son would take over the power of the Connacht after Medb’s death.

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