The Ancient Irish Epic Tale Táin Bó Cúalnge eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 487 pages of information about The Ancient Irish Epic Tale Táin Bó Cúalnge.
title; for all young gentlemen, untill they come to be eighteen years of age, were termed so” (Cotgrave), and of the same word in Old French, which was “un jeune homme de condition honorable” (J.  Loth, Les Mabinogion, I, page 40, note).  A liss or rath is a fortified place enclosed by a circular mound or trench, or both.  A dun is a fortified residence surrounded by an earthen rampart.  In the case of names of places and persons, I have thought it best to adhere as closely as possible to the spellings used in the LL. manuscript itself.  It is of the utmost importance to get the names of Irish places and of Irish heroes correctly determined and to discard their English corrupted spellings.  There are certain barbarisms, however, such as Slane (Slemain), Boyne (Boann), and perhaps even Cooley (Cualnge), which have been stereotyped in their English dress and nothing is to be gained by reforming them.  The forms Erin (dative of Eriu, the genuine and poetic name of the island) and Alba have been retained throughout instead of the hybrids “Ireland” and “Scotland.”  Final e is occasionally marked with a grave (e.g. Mane, Dare) to show that it is not silent as it often is in English.

I quite perceive that I have not always succeeded in reproducing the precise shade of meaning of words certain of which had become antiquated and even unintelligible to the native scholars of the later Middle Irish period themselves.  This is especially true of the passages in rosc, which are fortunately not numerous and which were probably intentionally made as obscure and allusive as possible, the object being, perhaps, as much the music of the words as the sense.  Indeed, in some cases, I have considered myself fortunate if I have succeeded in getting their mere drift.  No one takes to heart more than the present writer the truth of Zimmer’s remark, that “it needs no great courage to affirm that not one of the living Celtic scholars, with all the aids at their disposal, possesses such a ready understanding of the contents of, for example, the most important Old Irish saga-text, “The Cualnge Cattle-raid,” as was required thirty or more years ago in Germany of a good Gymnasium graduate in the matter of the Homeric poems and without aids of any kind."[13] However, in spite of its defects, I trust I have not incurred the censure of Don Quijote[14] by doing what he accuses bad translators of and shown the wrong side of the tapestry, thereby obscuring the beauty and exactness of the work, and I venture to hope that my translation may prove of service in leading students to take an interest in the language and literature of Ireland.


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The Ancient Irish Epic Tale Táin Bó Cúalnge from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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