The Leinster version seems to have been the favourite with modern workers, probably because it is complete and consistent; possibly its more sentimental style has also served to commend it.
It is perhaps unnecessary to say that the present version is intended for those who cannot read the tale in the original; it is therefore inadvisable to overload the volume with notes, variant readings, or explanations of the readings adopted, which might repel the readers to whom it is offered.
At the present time, an enthusiasm for Irish literature is not always accompanied by a knowledge of the Irish language. It seems therefore to be the translator’s duty, if any true estimate of this literature is to be formed, to keep fairly close to the original, since nothing is to be gained by attributing beauties which it does not possess, while obscuring its true merits, which are not few. For the same reason, while keeping the Irish second person singular in verses and formal speech, I have in ordinary dialogue substituted the pronoun you, which suggests the colloquial style of the original better than the obsolete thou.
The so-called rhetorics are omitted in translating; they are passages known in Irish as rosc, often partly alliterative, but not measured. They are usually meaningless strings of words, with occasional intelligible phrases. In all probability the passages aimed at sound, with only a general suggestion of the drift. Any other omissions are marked where they occur; many obscure words in the long descriptive passages are of necessity left untranslated. In two places I have made slight verbal changes without altering the sense, a liberty which is very rarely necessary in Irish.
Of the headings, those printed in capitals are in the text in the MS.; those italicised are marginal. I have bracketed obvious scribal glosses which have crept into the text. Some of the marginal glosses are translated in the footnotes.