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Celtic Symbolism : The Celtic Hounds

The Celtic hounds were dogs well respected by royalty and warriors. They were given as gifts to men of honour and many warriors and chiefs took the name as a title to show their loyalty and courage.
Many argue Celtic hounds to be either the Greyhound, Scottish Deerhound, Irish Wolfhound or even a mix of all these breeds.
This enclosed design is based on the similar from Folio 29r of the "Book of Kells".

Just look in the upper right and you will see the circled hounds, a zoomorphic design much related to a "triskell" the triple spiral is an ancient Celtic symbol related to the sun, afterlife and reincarnation.

Celtic Hounds can be found in celtic jewelry
designs and paintings as far back as the 17th century. Celtic Hounds symbolize hunting, healing, and the Otherworld in Celtic legends. Hounds were the traditional guardian animals of roads and crossways and are believed to protect and guide lost souls in the Otherworld.
Irish Filidh (seers) chewed the meat of a dog in a ritual to gain prophetic vision. To be called “hound” was an honorable nickname for a courageous warrior; the name of the god Cuchulain is literally “Hound of Culann;” violating a geas (sacred taboo) on the eating of dogflesh leads to the hero’s death.
The mother of the god Lugh, in whose honor the Lughnassa festival was celebrated, was killed while in the form of a small dog.
In Legends
Many Irish myths and legends include mentions of hounds. The most famous involves the Celtic hero Cuchulainn (The Hound of Ulster) or (The Hound of Culann) who killed a blacksmith's Celtic hound with his bare hands. When Culann, the blacksmith asked who would now guard his shop the young Cuchulainn offered to take the dog's place thus gaining himself the title of 'The hound of Culann'. The offer was turned down and Cuchulainn went on to become one of the greatest warrior legends of that era, but the nickname stuck. Other famous Irish hounds were Bran and Seolan who belonged to the warrior, Fionn mac Cumhaill. The mother of Bran and Sceolan was Tuiren, and was Fionn Mac Cumhaill's aunt, transformed into a hound by a fairy or Sidhe.
You can hear an audio podcast of one version of Bran's first adventures with Fionn Mac Cumhaill at http://www.podcasts.ie/armchair-ireland/myths-legends/
The Story of Mac Da Tho's Pig is very singular too, centered on a rivalry started for a spectacular hound, Ailbe, belonging to Mac Da Tho, and a champion's boasting match that develops between those of both sides in regards to the Champion's Portion of the giant pig, hence the title.
In Welsh mythology, Gwyn ap Nudd was the ruler of Annwn (the Underworld) and escorted the souls of the dead there, leading a pack of supernatural hounds, called the Cŵn Annwn (Hounds of Annwn) (see also Wild Hunt). Another well known Welsh legend is that of Prince Llewellyn 's hound Gelert, who was unjustly slain by his master after being wrongly thought to have killed a child.
Use

The Irish Wolfhound was used to hunt Wolves and Deer, but they were also used as war dogs to attack men on horseback and knock them from their saddles to be killed by others. The Deerhound being more placid was a somewhat reluctant wardog and was more used for the hunting of Deer. The Greyhound being lighter and smaller was more suited to the hunting of hares and small mammals. These Celtic hounds were often called the Irish Greyhound and the Scottish or Rough Hound and had many other names according to area.
Another breed of dog the "Galgo Español" is also though to be a descended of the Celtic hound as is the Austrian black and tan hound and the Tyrolean Hound.
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