• Heritage Guide No. 86: The route of Táin Bó Cúailngein counties Westmeath and Meath

Táin Bó Cúailnge (‘the Cattle-raid of Cooley’) (TBC) is one of the most famous pieces of literature in Ireland (see synopsis). Many regard it as a work of fiction, and the myriad place-names mentioned in it are often perceived as ‘suspect’ or ‘not real’. This guide takes the view that, while the story may be fantastic, the topographical settings reflect an early medieval reality. It follows in the footsteps of Gene Haley and Thomas Kinsella, who published the first detailed reconstruction of the route in 1970. It also takes cognisance of older scholars like Standish Hayes O’Grady, W.F. De Vismes Kane, Denis Kelly, Henry Morris, Thomas Shaw, Paul Walsh and Colm Ó Lochlainn, who treated the toponymic aspects of TBC with great respect. By correlating the principal versions of the story with their work and with folklore sources such as the Schools Collection of 1938–9 (henceforth Sch. Coll.), it is possible to plot in detail the ebb and flow of Medb’s forces across the north midlands. 

In so doing we are in fact retracing three journeys: the Outward Route of Queen Medb from Tulsk, Co. Roscommon, via Termonbarry, Longford, Granard, Crossakeel, Kells, Navan, Slane and Annagassan to Cooley in Co. Louth; the Homeward Route from Cooley—with Donn Cúailnge (the brown bull of Cooley) in tow—via Ardee, Rathkenny, Teltown, Mullingar and Athlone; and, finally, Donn Cúailnge’s fateful return journey to Ulster via Athlone, Crossakeel and Rathkenny. 

Heritage Guides are included free with Archaeology Ireland subscriptions.

Author Frank Prendergast
Publication Data September 2018
Subjects Solar Alignments, passage tombs

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Heritage Guide No. 86: The route of Táin Bó Cúailngein counties Westmeath and Meath

  • ISBN: ISSN 0790-982X
  • Author(s): Frank Prendergast
  • Availability: In Stock
  • €5.00

Tags: Myth, folklore, Táin Bó Cúailngein