An Tána – or in English, the Táin – is the Old Irish word for a raid or a foray, usually involving attacking a neighbour and carrying off slaves and cattle and whatever else was available, although most wealth in those days involved cattle. The most famous examples are the Táin Bó Fraoch or the Cattle Raid of Fraoch and the Táin Bó Cúailnge, or the Cattle Raid of Cooley (an area in the north east of Ireland).
The latter is the central tale in the manuscripts dealing with what is known as the Ulster Cycle comprising almost eighty tales of heroes. Unfortunately, most of early Irish literature has been lost. Originally, tales were passed down in a strictly oral tradition until the advent of Christianity in the mid fifth century. The mythological and heroic tales were then recorded by scribes in the early monasteries and centres of Christian learning and it is not surprising that they overlaid the pagan tales with Christian overtones. The manuscripts that survive show clear linguistic signs of having been copied from earlier manuscripts, now lost, having been destroyed between the eight and eleventh centuries during the incessant Viking raids of that period. Much of what was saved was then, in turn, destroyed during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries by the organised policy of the English Penal Laws in a deliberate attempt to destroy Irish culture.
The oldest of the surviving manuscripts is the Book of the Dun Cow, or Leabhar na hUidre, an 11th century manuscript written in the monastery at Clonmacnoise, now preserved in the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin. Unfortunately, the MS contains a rather jumbled version of the Táin Bó Cúailnge, which is augumented by another jumbled account in The Yellow Book of Lecan, a 14th century manuscript now held at Trinity College Dublin.
The origins of the Táin are much older than the surviving manuscripts. The language of the earliest versions of the tales have been dated to the 8th century while some of the verse elements are possibly two centuries earlier. Most Celtic scholars now believe that the tales of the Ulster or Heroic cycle must have had a long oral existence before they were given a Christian overhaul bu monastic scribes.
I just want to let everyone know that my book Raiding Cúailnge will be published on Wednesday 20 April 2016 as a multi-format ebook. As many of you may know, the book is an historical / fiction novel based on Old Irish manuscripts. I hope you’ll take time to take a look at
where you can download the book for free with this coupon YR29P which is valid for one month, when you go to the check-out.
Could you also take a moment to spread the word about my book to everyone you know?
Thank you so much for your support!
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I wrote a recent post somewhere where I was almost gloating about having cracked this blog thingy and I wrote something just now, destined, I though, for the Book category and then I did something – probably not saved the bloody thing – and it all disappeared. I know if that happened in Word or something like that, I could probably get it back but here, I am a mere suckling in the wilderness.
Anyway, what I had written about was that this day two weeks from now, my first novel , Raiding Cúailnge, will be published. Published, is that the right term?. My novel will be available as an Ebook at all major retailers.
Does that demean, diminish or belittle the work? Does it open the floodgates to vapid twaddle if everyone has a “licence” to write? What do the gatekeepers of traditional publishers feel about the inroads being made into the preserves of the privileged few who landed a contract with a publishers? To tell you the truth, I don’t care. I couldn’t care less about it but Iam just thrilled to have my novel, my brainchild, out there, available online to God knows how many countless millions if they could only just find it!
Holy-Moly, I’ve been uploading bits of Celtic Trivia into what I though was an on-going bloggy thing on Celtic Trivia but it turns out,I think that it was one post, which I inadvertently opened and edited or added stuff to it and called it, each time, a new name, i.e. Celtic Trivia 2 and then later on Celtic Trivia 3, expecting them to be listed one under the other. Instead I appear to have a single post.
But what, I’d like would be for each post, under the category of Celtic Trivia, to follow one after the other. So, here goes
This piece of Celtic trivia features Clothes. Men wore a thigh length tunic (léine) over baggy trousers; brightly coloured. The léine was fastened at the waist with a sash. Wool was often dyed before being woven. The principle dyes were made from flowers, bark, berries, leaves or lichen boiled with salt or stale urine. The wool was first soaked, then boiled. Imported dyes, especially the scarlet from Parthia / Scythia, much favoured for its intensity, or the royal purple, the dye of the Phoenicians (made from the glands of the murex snails), were much sought after but were beyond the reach of most.
Women’s clothes were long and loose, made of linen or wool.- a sleeveless tunic over a long dress with a lightweight shift underneath. A shawl or cloak (brat) fastened at the shoulders with a brooch or pin completed the outfit.
Cloaks could have a small hood (cochall) with bands of decorative weaving and tasseled fringes round the lower edge but most were simple and unadorned.
Celtic Trivia – when & who
Here’s a snippet of info about the Celtic Way of Life. I suppose I had better clarify what I mean by Celtic or rather when and who I refer to.
|Late Bronze Age
||C1300 – 800 BCE (before the current era)
||800 – 600 BCE (Hallstatt Iron Age C)
|Late Iron Age
||600 – 475 BCE (Halstatt iron Age D)
Now I am certainly not an expert or even particularly knowedable about much of these periods but, because of the novel I was writing, Raiding Cúailnge, I found my self adapting background details for my setting of the North East of Ireland circa 400 BCE and while much of the information and backropund information I collected was to do with the widely varying tribes of Celtic people roaming Europe, my tale is firmly set in Ireland during what is known among the manuscripts as the Ulster Cycle, which describe some episodes from the life of my main character, Setanta, aka Cú Chulainn.
Anyway, these are the original documents on which all the known translations are based.
None of the manuscripts contain a complete account of the period so I hope my stitching together of events in my novel will be acceptable, even to the purists.
|The Book of the Dun Cow
||Written in the 11th century. Thought to have been based on texts from the 9th century which in turn were based on texts from 7th century (texts no long extant)
|The Yellow Book of Lecan
||Circa 14th century. Ditto re earlier texts
|The Book of Lenister
||Late 12th century
That’s probably enough for now.