Irish bards formed a professional hereditary caste of highly trained, learned poets. The bards were steeped in the history and traditions of clansyllabic and used assonance, half rhyme and alliteration. As officials of the court of king or chieftain, they performed a number of official roles. They were chroniclers and satirists whose job it was to praise their employers and damn those who crossed them. It was believed that a well-aimed bardic satire, glam dicin, could raise boils on the face of its target. However, much of their work would not strike the modern reader as being poetry at all, consisting as it does of extended genealogies and almost journalistic accounts of the deeds of their lords and ancestors. The Metrical Dindshenchas, or Lore of Places, is probably the major surviving monument of Irish bardic verse. It is a great onomastic anthology of naming legends of significant places in the Irish landscape and comprises about 176 poems in total. and country, as well as in the technical requirements of a verse technique that was
"the driving-off of cows of Cooley", more usually rendered The Cattle Raid of Cooley or The Táin) is a legendary tale from early Irish literature, often considered an epic, although it is written primarily in prose rather than verse. It tells of a war against Ulster by the Connacht queen Medb and her husband Ailill, who intend to steal the stud bull Donn Cuailnge, opposed only by the teenage Ulster hero Cúchulainn. Traditionally set in the 1st century AD in an essentially pre-Christian heroic age, the Táin is the central text of a group of tales known as the Ulster Cycle. It survives in two main written versions or "recensions" in 12th century manuscripts, the first a compilation largely written in Old Irish, the second a more consistent work in Middle Irish.
An Táin - English TranslationA graphic novel by Colmán Ó Raghallaigh
English translation © Cló Mhaigh Eo, 2006.
Queen Méabh is consumed by jealousy when she finds that her husband, Ailill, has bested her for riches and wealth. To him belongs the Fionnbheannach, a white-horned bull believed to have no equal in Ireland. Or so it seems…
This is a new and exciting retelling of the greatest tale in the Irish language, the Táin or Tain Bó Cuailgne as it is better known. Ranked among the great epics of the world it was written down in the Book of Leinster, the earliest manuscript in Irish, sometime before 1106 A.D. The nobility, courage and tragedy of the original are subtly blended together in this graphic novel.