The Tain.

By Thomas Kinsella

Printed: 1970

Publisher: Oxford University Press.

Dimensions 13 × 20 × 2 cm

Language: English

Size (cminches): 13 x 20 x 2

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Softback. black cover with tan title and white figures on the front board.

F.B.A. provides an in-depth photographic presentation of this item to stimulate your feeling and touch. More traditional book descriptions are immediately available.

This is a rare softback edition reviewing the Irish creation myth. I found this book a wonderful description because it includes the seven pre-tales to the Táin story/epic which provide the context for the events that happened. I used this for an interpretation of the Táin called  ‘Awakening the Beasts of the Dream’ (Shannon Pot Books 2015) which uses these seven pre-tales and adds in one other story which is recognised as a precursor -the Cattle Raid of Fróech (Táin Bó Fróech).
Together all of these seem to present us with a ‘creation myth’ – the way that the ancestors understood the creation of the world before the coming of Christianity and we must remember that the scribes were writing down the tales in the new culture and philosophy. I am grateful to Kinsella for his brilliant and clear translation which as he explained in the book’s notes – altogether took a lot longer and was more complex a task than originally thought – I can well understand why as he had to take the ‘mangled’ remains of old texts and place them into a sequence that makes sense to the modern reader. A great work, for which we are eternally grateful.
Táin Bó Cúailnge (Modern Irish pronunciation; ‘the driving-off of the cows of Cooley’, commonly known as The Táin or less commonly as The Cattle Raid of Cooley, is an epic from Irish mythology. It is often called ‘The Irish Iliad’, although like most other early Irish literature, the Táin is written in prosimetrum, i.e. prose with periodic additions of verse composed by the
characters. The Táin tells of a war against Ulster by Queen Medb of Connacht and her husband King Ailill, who intend to steal the stud bull Donn Cuailnge. Due to a curse upon the king and warriors of Ulster, the invaders are opposed only by the young demigod, Cú Chulainn. The Táin is traditionally set in the 1st century in a pagan heroic age, and is the central text of a group of tales known as the Ulster Cycle. It survives in three written versions or “recensions” in manuscripts of the 12th century and later, the first a compilation largely written in Old Irish, the second a more consistent work in Middle Irish, and the third an Early Modern Irish version. The Táin has been influential on Irish literature and culture. It is often considered Ireland’s national epic.

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