The story of The Táin (cattle raid) is well known, but this new version of the tale makes the story accessible to younger readers. Re-told by Celtic scholar Liam Mac Uistin, the story is revealed to the reader in easily-understood language that brings the famous tale to life. The story is told at a cracking pace and contains all the elements of an epic tale – love, hatred, war, peace, greed, heroism and, ultimately, fate.
The book tells the story of Maeve, Queen of Connacht, and her husband Ailill, and their petty greed and jealousy. Maeve believes that she is more rich than Ailill and he disagrees. So they decide to do an inventory of all that they each own. They soon discover that he has a magnificent bull called Finnbeanach and that she has not got a bull of equal match. So Maeve sets out to find a bull of equal measure to that of Ailill. Upon discovering that such a bull existed in Cooley in Ulster belonging to Daire Mac Fiachna, Maeve decides to get the bull. She puts a spell on Daire and all of his warriors, putting them into a deep sleep. Only one man is resistant to the spell – Cúchulainn – and it is left to him to single-handedly defend Ulster against the forces of Maeve.
Along with the telling of the story of the Tain, the book also branches out to tell the background story of Cúchulainn – how he got his name, his marriage to Emer and his seduction by Fann, Queen of the Land of the Shee. However, the bulk of the book is taken up with the constant daily battles between Cúchulainn and the warriors of Maeve resulting in lots of blood, gore and death.
This book, published by O’ Brien Press, would be suitable to be used as a class novel in senior classes, or used to teach the Myths and Legends Strand of the SESE History curriculum. It should be available in most bookshops or online at the O’ Brien Press website, cost €6.99